Gaming on underpowered laptops/netbooks

Aug 23, 2010
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You may have thought that gaming on slower notebooks and netbooks would be difficult, but this isn’t the case. You won’t be playing Mafia 2, but older games that are still considered some of the best ever made – like Chrono Trigger – are easily playable. I may update this thread with pictures for some of these emulators, but this will get you started.

You need

Minimum system requirements:

CPU: Intel Atom 1.6GHz +
RAM: 1GB +
GPU: Onboard +
HDD: 5GB +
OS: XP (7 should be fine too)

Recommended system settings

CPU: 3GHz Dual core +
RAM: 2GB +
GPU: AMD 4200 / 5500 series w/ 512MB VRAM +
HDD: As much as you can spare
OS: 7 (either x86-64 or x64)

The key to gaming on these systems are emulators. They are available for most systems and playback fine on the minimum specs, with some detail settings turned down. The recommended specs should be able to push every setting to high, and enable HQ filters. If you have a 16:9 monitor you will see black mattes on some of these emulators.

So, these are some of your choices:

1)Dosbox – this will run a lot of classic DOS games. I installed Wolf 3D off a CD that I still had from the 90’s and it plays perfectly, with mattes on the left and right. You can also play older RTS’s etc.

2)ZSNES – this is a SNES emulator that you can use to play some classics such as Chrono Trigger or Secret of Mana

3)Nestopia – this is an NES emulator. Great for playing through the original Final Fantasy.

4)Visual Boy Advance – for old GBA games.

5)EPSXE – this is a PSX emulator that works for most PSX games, some need patches you can find online. You can rip your PSX games to HDD and play them via Imgburn

6)Pre 2004 games such as Black and White and Max Payne can be played on older laptops .

7)Other systems, MAME etc.

I tried these out on a laptop with a P9700/2.8GHz Core 2 with 6GB RAM and a 4500MHD/9300M GS chip. On a netbook with a standard Atom, you need to turn down some of the PSX settings to maintain a smooth frame rate.

For any system, you absolutely need the latest GPU driver and the latest DirectX. For EPSXE you might need to add it as a DEP exception if you have DEP enabled for all programs. Everything can be found online.

These games will swallow hours of a time, so take heed . . . .


Virtual Boy Advance: (VBA-M)




Google for ROMs (the games) or dump them yourselves if you have spare cartridges lying around.
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