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Buying a netbook to play old games, or the curse of backwards incompatibility?

Discussion in 'Techno-Magic' started by Ragusa, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    [​IMG]
    I am very, very satisfied with my computer (Quad 9450, 8GB RAM, ATI 4870, SSD and two 19" screens) as far as gaming is concerned. I have no problems whatsoever playing Dargon Age, Borderlands, Mass Effect 2 and the like, and I have generous performance reserves.

    Windows 7 64 bit is excellent as well, except for one thing: I can't reliably play old (and usually not graphics intense) games properly. A couple of days ago I tried to install Panzer General 3D: Scorched Earth and it kept crashing and I was unable to make it run. Same for other games that I tried. Before that, I had the same problem with Vista 64bit.

    All that said, as a result I'm seriously thinking about buying a netbook with Windows XP 32bit in order to be able to play old games (PS:T, BG-1, IWD-1 - and notably - Panzer General 3D: Scorched Earth), for mobile communications and to have a back-up computer in case my other one fails. Because I wouldn't do that all the time it is an added benefit that the netbook is small.

    Seeing Win7 netbooks popping up atm, I feel I have to make a decision reasonably quickly. Will the performance be sufficient? Any experiences here with Atom 270/280 CPUs?

    Sensible idea? Opinions please.
     
  2. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    I've got an Asus netbook (10") that's just over a year old now, Intel Atom N270, which I bought mainly to have a computer while I was travelling. Naturally, I installed some old games on it so I'd have something to do while in a train or on a plane, including the IE games and the Fallouts and it works perfectly. As you might expect, the performance is more than sufficient to handle these games.

    My only gripe with playing these games on my netbook is that the screen resolution of 1024x600 is just too little to support playing the games at 1024x768, which would make the screen be able to encompass the fog of war of your party. I tried the widescreen mod for BG2, but that didn't work out too well, as it doesn't appear to support this specific resolution.

    One thing to keep in mind is that you generally need to have created ISOs or something similar of your discs, because most netbooks don't have any optical drives. This gave me some problems for my copy of Fallout 2, for instance, and I would've installed Jagged Alliance 2 too, if not for the fact that I can't readily backup one of the discs.
     
  3. Topken

    Topken Elven-dragon wizard

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    get a cheap portable dvd rom drive to go with the netbook is what i say so that you can use your discs with it. as for the screen size the new ones should have a better res with their 10inch screens unless im mistaken. and try going for a tom/nvidia ion combo
     
  4. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    A portable optical drive is certainly a solution, but you don't want to have to lug that around all the time. Quite aside from the fact that you don't want to have to drag around an extra accessory for your netbook all the time if you want to play a game, it'll also put an extra load on your batteries. And hey, ISOs are just more convenient than changing CDs/DVDs all the time.

    Good call on the chipset. The chipset on mine is still the old Intel one, and that's not a very energy efficient one, nor a good performer. I don't rightly know which chipset is currently your best bet, though.

    I'd definitely also shop around for one with a higher native resolution than the 1024x600 mine has, but I also like a small pixel pitch, so there's also a definite personal preference for as high a resolution on as small a screen as possible from my side. That aside, though, a higher resolution would definitely help, if only so you don't have to scroll sideways on almost every single website you open, where 1024 pixels just isn't enough to display it fully.
     
  5. Topken

    Topken Elven-dragon wizard

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  6. Kitrax

    Kitrax Pantaloons are supposed to go where!?!?

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    My buddy as an Asus EeePC with an Intel Atom N270. I can play BG1 just fine. I don't know about BG2...but I assume it would work fine too.
     
  7. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    I'm currently eyeing an EeePC 1001P with an Intel Atom N450. Anyone has experiences with that CPU?

    An alternative would be a cheap notebook. I have seen one from Compaq made by HP with a 15,6" screen and an AMD Athlon QL-66 2.2GHz, 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD, ATI HD 3200, but it would cost slightly more (but have an internal CD drive). Iirc my sis has an excess 1 GB DDR2 RAM module flying around from her purchase of her own EeePC.
     
  8. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Besides, does anyone have an opinion on EeePC vs. cheap notebook?
     
  9. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Screen size and weight are the main issues... if you don't intend to lug it around that much, a notebook is the better option IMO.
     
  10. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    As Tal says, it depends on what you want to do with it. I have it for when I'm travelling - I always use my desktop when I'm at home - so my main requirement for a laptop was that it should be small. I choose the 10" mostly because the 9" has such a small keyboard that I can't type with ten fingers anymore.

    If you only use it at home to play old games, then a larger notebook is probably a better option, though the low price for netbooks could still swing the favor to a netbook if you're on a tight budget.
     
  11. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    I found an interesting offer by Compaq on Amazon for € 387 - €50 cahsback (i.e. € 337 - Tal, in case I'll buy I think of SP):

    Compaq 615 39,6 cm (15,6 inch) notebook (AMD Athlon QL66 2.2GHz, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD, ATI HD3200, DVD, FreeDOS) - 2.5kg, runs up to 4 hours on battery (just as an aside, I probably wouldn't use it mobile). 1 year warranty. I have an XP license, so I don't mind FreeDOS. I might also consider a dual boot system with Windows 7.

    As far as power is concerned the notebook appears to offer a good price/performance ratio. Power consumption is probably rather high with that CPU (in that light, the low battery mileage is no surprise), I also presume it'll get hot-ish. Most important question: Does anyone here know whether the ATI 3200 will be sufficient for older games (BG, BG2, IWD, IWD2, PS:T etc. pp.) on 15,5" resolutions?
     
  12. Drugar

    Drugar And now... we wait! Veteran

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    I think it's safe to say that any new generation grafics chip is more than capable of running these games, even low end ones.
     
  13. Topken

    Topken Elven-dragon wizard

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    well if you really dont mind playing them on your current desktop you can eaisly install and run them through virtual box with xp installed. ive seen some of the older games work well and then there are some that wont work that well eaither. but those tend to be more newer take oblivion it wotn run but morrowwind does. but you would be playing oblivion from within windows 7 without an issue wouldnt you?
     
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