First of all, your netbook is not a gaming rig. Yes, it’s a normal computer and runs a fully-functioning Windows OS, so theoretically it can run popular Windows games. However there are a few things going against netbooks when it comes to running games. These limitations mostly apply to 3D, graphics-intensive multiplayer online or commercial games. A netbook will easily handle light games like Solitaire, Tetris, and other well-known time wasters.
- Screen resolution: A 10-inch (or less) display just doesn’t cut it with many games – either in terms of game requirements or usability; for instance, many games require at least 1024 x 768 resolution. Your only option is to hook up an external CRT/LCD monitor.
- Processor: The Intel Atom processors aren’t what you would call a rocket ship, and you will experience significant lag on newer games compared when using desktops or laptops equipped with faster processors. The more your little processor has to work, the hotter your netbook gets.
- Graphics card: This is the most obvious stumbling block when playing modern graphics-intensive games. Many best selling Windows games require a cutting-edge VGA card that performs complex 3D computations to give you realistic animation. Currently, most netbooks have integrated graphics chipsets, more suitable for basic home or business computers, not for heavy-duty gaming – even so, a few netbook models are starting to feature dedicated graphic cards, like GeForce 9300M.
- RAM: The more RAM you have, the better, and although netbooks with 1 or 2 GB of RAM are still usable, more is always preferred – but we are stuck with Microsoft’s licensing stipulation that limits netbooks running Windows XP with maximum of 2 GB of RAM. That limitation will likely also apply with Windows 7.
- Optical drive: If there is no external DVD drive for game installation, you need to get around the obstacle with a small amount of trickery. On a computer with a DVD drive, use a DVD backup program to make an ISO image of your entire game DVD. Transfer the ISO image to your netbook’s hard disk and then install Daemon Tools version 3.47 to emulate a DVD drive, and mount the ISO. Windows will think you have a physical optical drive and the game’s installation menu is run.
This might seem like bleak situation for netbook gaming. But, you really have to accept netbook’s feature limitations and you shouldn’t try to turn it into something that it’s not. Even so there are many exciting games that can run well on a netbook. For instance, if you have old games lying around the attic gathering dust like Red Alert 2, Starcraft, and Diablo 2, just give them a try. On typical netbooks (Atom processors and Intel GMA 950 graphic chipset), your oldie-but-goodie games will run just fine.