Your laptop has only an average processor and a weak graphics card? We show how it works with the games on the laptop anyway.

In the meantime, significantly more laptops and other portable PCs are sold in Germany than desktops. Even though the number of people who use their PC to play has not diminished. The logical conclusion: More and more people use their laptop to play. They like having their favorite games with them everywhere, whether it’s casual games like “Plants vs. Zombies”, strategy games like “Civilization V” or “Starcraft 2” or first-person shooters like the “Call of Duty “series. The problem is just: most commercial laptops

are not at all designed to be played with; above all, no new high-end games. Sure, there is the sinfully expensive, ultra-heavy and cumbersome version that scolds “gaming laptop”, but these devices at best still count by name to real mobile computers. For our purposes we define a laptop rather than a portable device with a screen size of 16 inches or less and a weight of at most three kilograms – a PC so you would take without hesitation on a business trip or longer holiday.

How do you elicit today’s standard laptops of an acceptable size so the appropriate power for solid gameplay? Quite simply, with a bit of knowledge and the willingness to do without some of the things you would not have noticed on the small screen anyway.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand the limitations that you have to live with when turning your laptop into gaming hardware. But do not panic: it all sounds worse than it actually is.

Most small and medium-sized laptops today have a dual-core CPU. Some models also have a quad-core installed, but their effect on gaming is less than you might think. Often, quad-cores work even slower than their binucent cousins. For example, Intel’s Core i7 820QM: Intelitself distinguishes the CPU with 1.73 GHz, with a Turbo Boost speed of 3.60 GHz. However, this does not mean that in case of emergency, a single core operates at a maximum speed of 3.60 GHz, while all other cores almost stand still during this time.

Counterexample to: Intel Core i5 540M dual-core CPU with 2.53 GHz, which supports a turbo boost of 3.06 GHz. The performance of the two CPUs in gaming is almost identical – with the difference that you pay a hefty premium premium for the 820QM. The extra cores of this CPU are only really useful if you often and intensively edit photos and videos. Memory is another error factor. Although you should pay attention to the gaming to have four gigabytes of RAM – at least if you use the 64-bit version of Windows 7 or Vista. Anything over four gigabytes is irrelevant to play. Because first and foremost it is at

Gaming neither the processor , nor the memory – but the graphics cardand audio hardware.

Perhaps the biggest difficulty in gaming on the laptop is preparing the graphics card . In particular, integrated graphics solutions – 3D hardware built into either the chipset or the processor itself – are extremely limiting. But even if your laptophas a stand-alone graphics solution, it is in all likelihood only the slimmed-down version of a desktop hardware. The number of computational units (also called shader units or shader cores) is often smaller than that of a mid-range desktop graphics card. At the same time, the clock rate and memory bandwidth can be reduced.

What most gamers do not realize, however, even the abandonment of small, graphic eye-catcher can help to make the game much smoother. You should keep in mind that you play on a small screen – with netbooks even only 11 to 13 inches. And even a 15- or 16-inch laptop is tiny compared to a desktop user’s 22- to 27-inch screens. So, if you screw back some graphic details in the game, you probably will not even notice.

Audio hardware is far less restrictive than graphics hardware. But the puny, built-in speakers in a laptop do not give the powerful sound effects that some games bring with them. If you are also on the laptopDo not want to miss out on the full sound enjoyment, you should therefore resort to a very good headset.

Depending on what type of game you want to play, the touchpad as a control element can cause problems – especially with shooters. Some newer laptops are also equipped with touchscreens – a feature that only very few games support. One exception: the strategy game “RUSE”, which works particularly well with multi-touch screens. However, most conventional games do not come around a mouse. So as not to restrict your mobility too much, leave the big gaming mice at home and choose a wireless laptop mouse.

Carrying a not too big mouse around is for many the highest of emotions – an additional keyboard is an absolute no-go. However, because the built-in keyboards are often inconvenient to play, many games allow you to independently configure the keyboard shortcuts. For example, if the arrow keys are too small for you, put their function instead on the PgUp knob or an F key.

Now that you have some basic understanding of hardware limitations, let’s talk about configurations. First of all, you have to configure your hardware – this works with suitable driver software. In particular, the graphics card driver is of existential importance. Although you can make only marginal changes to the driver commands, which affect the performance of the game even a little – the most and most effective configurations then make in the game itself – but the smallest bit helps.

The different video drivers have different options. Some have more options than others, but most of them can be ignored. One of the key features is “vsync” – a return to the days of CRT monitors, when games were still trying to sync the display with an animation frame to accurately match the refresh rate of the monitor. However, most LCDs set the refresh rate to 60Hz – so if you enable vsync, your game will never run faster than 60 frames per second.

However, if you disable vsync, the game can render the images as fast as they were rendered. The downside is that if the refresh rate is lower than the vertical refresh rate, tearing stripes traverse the image. On the other hand, this might be a good way to achieve an acceptable frame rate. Best to try it.
The texture quality settings also influence the game performance. Turning the quality off has a negative impact on overall image quality; But if you use only a small display, that does absolutely nothing.

Plus, it’s unbelievable how many useless junk programs many standard laptops are equipped with today. It’s worth taking a look at the software list and removing unnecessary programs directly. Also very powerful: the autostart. To clean up the command menu, start the configuration application with the “msconfig” command. Stay away from all official Microsoft applications, as well as anti-virus programs. Turn off some of the others, like iTunes, Adobe Updater, and so on.

Only in the game menu itself you have the true control over graphics quality and performance. Therefore, you should consider some basic settings when you want to play on your laptop .

1) If the game gives you the choice of which version of DirectX you want to use, select the older version. The performance is thereby optimized in the majority of cases significantly and the image quality suffers little noticeable.

2) Often games have predefined graphics configurations in the options menu, such as Optimum, Medium, or Low. Experiment with these settings and find out which one works best with your laptop .

3) Some games automatically enable the antialiasing feature, no matter what hardware you have. Who plays on the laptop , however, does it well to turn off the anti-aliasing. She is an incredible performance eater.

4) Texture shadows are also pretty good at performance, especially at high settings. Disabling the shadows, however, makes the game look unrealistic. Therefore, try to make friends with the low shadow quality, which costs far less power. However, if you only have lean hardware or an integrated graphics card , it is best to turn off the shadows completely.

5) If you have the opportunity to adjust the width of the distance view, reduce it to an acceptable level. But beware: turn down the far-sightedness too much, objects in the landscape pop up ugly.

6) Minimize postprocessing effects. While most games do not have the ability to post-edit settings, you’ll often find depth of field and motion blur settings instead. If posts in the game are reminiscent of a movie, postprocessing may be involved. Also water and fire effects are often postprocessing.

7) Try a lower resolution first, for example 1280×720, then gradually increase the resolution. For smaller screens, however, it is wiser to first zoom in on each resolution and check for fluid playback before resizing it.

When choosing a game, keep the power of your laptop in mind. A netbook, for example, will not be able to meet the high demands of a modern first person shooter. Casual games or older titles, however, should not cause any problems. A three kilogram laptop with an average, separate graphics solution, however, is already sufficient for most games. In the following, we show you some examples of titles that might be suitable for your system.

If you want to use your netbook to play, you are on a sub-standard level. Casual games like “Peggle”, ” Puzzle Quest“and” Plants vs. Zombies “are quite playable, especially the latter two titles have enough potential to appeal to more serious gamers, but many smaller game projects are also appealing to the hardcore gamer, even though they have low graphics quality or even old ASCII text – and that’s why they are so easy to play on netbooks, including ” Dwarf Fortress ” and ” Minecraft .”

For small, lightweight laptopswith an onboard graphics card, you can boost your gaming performance a bit – even if you have a pretty beginner model. Most strategy titles are playable without hesitation, although you may need to lower the game settings somewhat in recent strategy games like “Starcraft 2″. Also a few older shooters from the ” Call of Duty ” series and some Valve titles like “Team Fortress 2” are reasonably playable, as long as you’re willing to set the details to “Medium” or “Low”. Also at the resolution you have to turn in the case, in about 1280×720. Standard laptops with separate graphics card

are even more usable. Although they are not able to play particularly demanding games – such as the first-person shooter “Metro 2033” – even if you turn down all settings very far. But most games are not a problem if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit in terms of looks.

The main problem is the large variety of products in terms of graphics cards . Especially thin, lightweight laptops in the entry-level and mid-range segment are equipped with just about everything – from the powerful AMD Radeon HD 5850 Mobile or nVidia GeForce GT 445M to entry-level models like the nVidia GeForce GT 325M or AMD Radeon HD 5450 Mobile.

To clarify all the hints and instructions given above, let’s look at two real examples below. Our test objects: the Toshiba Satellite T235 (1.5GHz AMD Turion II Neo CPU, ultraportable) and the Asus N83j (standard 14-inch laptop with Core i5 540M and a separate nVidia GeForce GT 335M graphics card ). Much of what’s here for the Toshiba model also applies to most netbooks; except that AMD’s integrated graphics solution provides better performance for 3D applications.

Toshiba Satellite T235 No matter what we have done, we have not been able to get a reasonably good first-person shooter to work reasonably well. Even relatively modest titles like “Portal” and “Team Fortress 2”
In the strategy section, “Civilization V” was acceptable in DirectX 9 mode as long as most graphics features were down. The animations of the game were rather hakelig – because the game is based on turn-based gameplay, this is not a big problem. But you should definitely be careful to keep the card size small.
Casual titles like “Puzzle Quest” worked flawlessly. Even the charming retro-side scrolling shooter “Blade Kitten” offered acceptable benefits.

Asus N82j
The N82j belongs to a new generation laptop that supports nVidia’s Optimus technology. The system runs under normal load with an integrated graphics solution from Intel– sufficient for web surfing and office applications. If you start a game, however, the separate nVidia GeForce GT 335M turns on. And that’s roughly comparable to a beginner graphics card model for desktop computers. Not bad, but some cuts are due. Also, if we had to play the combat flight simulator “Tom Clancy’s HAWX” in DirectX 9 mode with low details, the game ran so smoothly at 30 frames per second – acceptable for this genre.

Also “Far Cry 2” ran at almost 30 frames per second in DirectX 9 mode – but here almost all graphics functions were set to “low” and the resolution turned down to 1280×720. The performance of “Civilization V” convinced, even on big maps. Again, however, the DirectX 9 mode had to be activated first and the graphic settings set to “Medium”.

So do not worry if you as a gamer like to use your laptop to play. All you need is a bit of expertise and the will to experiment and play games with low details and low resolution. While not every game is on your laptopto run; but with time, you will surely find some excellent titles that you like – no matter what hardware you have.


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