Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rant about notebook gaming

My Windows Vista BenchmarksImage by jauhari via Flickr

What is it about notebooks that makes it so... business?

Yet when you try to find games that will run on it, you will find that unless you pick a specific that has the latest and greatest video stuff (and even then, you'll often to be told that laptop chispets are NOT supported by the game box) you won't be able to run anything at all.

While it is understandable that laptops may not have the best and the brightest of chipsets (after all, power savings is a must), it shouldn't be so anemic that one is reduced to puzzle games.

Yet, I can tell you that 3 out of 4 games I find at local stores won't run on laptops nowadyas, namely mine.

And I don't have a very exotic laptop either. What I got is a Sony VAIO VGN-NR420E, Pentium M Dual Core inside, Windows Vista Home Premium pre-loaded, ready to be a entertainment machine right off the bat... DVD player, Firewire (i-link in Sony terms), 4 USB ports, built-in Wifi (A,B, and G), not a powerhouse but not a wimp either... Except the graphics: Intel 965 Express. The problem with Intel is they don't believe in "hardware rendering", which has been on NVIDIA video chips since year 2001 (GeForce 256). Thus, Intel chips have always been considered "weaklings" compared to the two juggernauts of video: NVIDIA, and ATI. The only reason Intel is still in the video business is because Intel can sell the video along with their CPUs and chipsets at a discount, making it too irresistable for the system makers to pass up who are under pressure to build a machine CHEAP, cheap, cheap, never mind the video is useless for anything that demands even a modicum of true video processing power.

And what does this do? It will do Aero for Windows Vista, and that's about it.

Yet, SOME games do run on these chipsets, interestingly, namely, OLDER games based on certain video engines. LucasGames' Republic Commando runs fine though you have to reduce the resolution and graphics details to keep the frame rate up. And also Elite Soldiers: Vietnam will run on this chipset, and produces some of the best jungle yet seen in a PC game.

The problem is nothing produced in the last few years will likely run on this laptop, and that cause a LOT of support problems overall.

Too bad the hardware and software makers can't designate hardware and software levels, like "level 1", "level 2", etc. All level 2 hardware will run all level 2 software games, and below, you get the idea.

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