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Is Your Windows 8 Tablet Fast Enough For PC Gaming?

Why should Nintendo's 3DS XL, Sony's PlayStation Vita, and Nvidia's Shield have all the fun? We take Dell's Windows 8.1-based Venue 8 Pro, powered by an Atom processor, and try turning it into a portable PC gaming console with a handful of upgrades.

Is Your Windows 8 Tablet Fast Enough For PC Gaming? : Read more
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  1. Same article with SP3 would be a worthy read since it gives a chance to see how their HD4400 vs HD5000 on the variants match up, and if possible a projection on what the newer chipset that wont be making into the current SP3 but might make into the refresh by holiday season?
  2. Great Review :)

    Finally i see one noticeable advantage of Windows Tablet over Android
  3. Burn your hands on the tablet while gaming, why don't you?
  4. "...turning it into a portable PC gaming console..."

    Does not compute
  5. Awesome article, Don, I have had the same thoughts recently. I think we would have appreciated some more info especially on:
    - Battery (maybe most important when you speak of portablility) - how long does it last with this model. I was eyeing the Asus Transformer Book T100TA, which they say has a quite respectable battery (but is also more expensive)
    - Does a PS3 controller (free, if you have a PS3) work with it?
    I would ideally have liked to see a mention of the Prince of Persia / Max Payne (1+2) / (Older) Tomb Raider / Splinter cell (1-4) and similar older third-person adventure games. In my opinion those work marvellously with a PS3 gamepad. Ah, I forgot - I wonder whether the touch would work directly with games from the Monkey Island series. Ah, another great genre for playing on a tablet, that was totally missed here - turn-based strategy games like the Heroes of Might and Magic series and Civilization (4). And also the grand-daddy of "modern" open-world FPSs - FarCry 1 :)
    The biggest risk with those games is still compatibility with touch/Win 8.
    An expanded re-visit maybe when the new generation of chips come out from either from Intel or AMD?
  6. I mean isn't the controller choice obvious: PS4. It connects via bluetooth and has a touchpad so you can control the menus with a mouse.
  7. If you bought a Surface Pro 3 it probably wasn't to play games, but nice to know it is one of the best performers out there in the tablet range
  8. What I want to know is why has no one pushed an AMD APU into one of these windows tablets for gaming?
  9. I am also thinking SteamOS as dual boot...
  10. What's up with these multiple posts!!! Sorry for the splamming, it seems every time the page gets refreshed, the post is re-submitted!
  11. Nice tests Don !! We are looking forward for more tests !! Maybe with a MS Surface Pro, or any AMD based tablet (with more GPU punch).
  12. I enjoyed this article. I just spent some time configuring my own new tablet to run some games - a Dell Venue Pro 11 (with an "i5" dual core). It's about as powerful as you'd expect, which is to say it's not spectacular.

    Some games run very well on the tablet - Left4Dead 2 and Unreal Tournament 2004 run fantastically, as you might expect because they're a bit older, or based on older engines. Likewise, some other games that have lower system requirements run perfectly well (indie stuff, smaller games, games that were ported from PC to tablet). Examples include Castle Crashers, Geometry Wars, Plants Vs Zombies, Puzzle Quest, Pac Man DX, etc

    Some newer games that I've tried have framerate issues, but still at least play at lowest settings and resolutions. The games below, despite their framerate issues remain playable for the most part.

    Battlefield 4 (looks horrific because resolution scaling must be used, 20-35fps)

    Diablo 3 (35fps out of combat, 20-25 in combat, 17-19 in Torment II/III combat).

    Borderlands 2 (30+ out of combat, some dips in combat)

    Saints Row IV (45+ in places, 17-20 in others, it's odd, more geometry = bad)

    Tomb Raider (27-45fps or so, perfectly playable for the most part).

    In most cases, I am nerfing settings to a ridiculous degree.
  13. I'd also add that cell phones have some Bluetooth controllers worth considering, like the MOGA series of controllers. Likewise, I hear that PS3/4 controllers are an option, but the concern with all of these is whether or not they have XInput (rather than using a program to bring compatibility with each game).
  14. For some reason, I'm estimating that by time the Surface Pro 6 is released, that one will be great for gaming. Integrated GPU will have caught up, sufficiently. You know how PC gaming is, it only gets so good to a certain point, because they have to make console ports, as well. Granted, the XBOX One/PS4's GPU is already outdated by the PC having discreet GPUs.
  15. No matter the frame rate playing Dota on an 8 inch screen makes it unplayable. I have a 10 inch laptop and it's practically impossible on that.
  16. ...Nintendo's DSi XL? Did you happen to miss where it's been succeeded by the 3DS XL and the 2DS?

    (3DS XL and 2DS aren't really directly comparable due to the different form-factor - clam-shell vs tablet)
  17. Nintendo Maniac 64 said:
    ...Nintendo's DSi XL? Did you happen to miss where it's been succeeded by the 3DS XL and the 2DS?

    (3DS XL and 2DS aren't really directly comparable due to the different form-factor - clam-shell vs tablet)


    That was a bit of a brainfart in the intro, the actual article mentions the 3DS XL.

    Anyway, thanks for catching it. Fixed. :)

    As far as being comparable, in the broad sense any portable gaming device is comparable. Portable console, phone, phablet, tablet... so I believe it's a relevant comparison in this context.
  18. Quote:
    What I want to know is why has no one pushed an AMD APU into one of these windows tablets for gaming?

    MSI has. MSI W20. I think the issue has more to do with the clock speeds on the APUs in this power envelope, around 1 ghz. With this low a clock it may not have the necessary oomf. The recent APU has the power envelope and oomf, but we are only now starting to see it used in Tablets.
  19. blackmagnum said:
    Burn your hands on the tablet while gaming, why don't you?


    The Venue 8 Pro got warm during our play time, but I never found it uncomfortable.
  20. Personally, I'd like to see a 13 to 15 inch Windows 8 tablet with a native 1080p resolution based on AMD's Beema or Mullins APU. That would allow me to do some mid-range pc gaming while mobile. Or I can stream a high end game over my network using Steam In Home Streaming while I kick back on my couch. I did find an HP tablet that was close but the resolution was wrong. A resolution less than 1920x1080 will force in-home streaming to scale the rendered image from it's source and damage the clarity. I don't want that. Too high a resolution will hamper the tablet's ability to render graphics quickly at it's screen's native resolution. It's a shame Microsoft didn't based one of it's Surface Pro 3 lines on an AMD APU. I'd have bought one then.
  21. I actually have a Venue 8 and I've been really itching to try Steam on it, with a few older games, but really - my first love when it comes to gaming is strategy games, and I can't wait to see how this one pairs with my favorite - Civilization V. Especially now that Brave New World has touch screen support.
  22. K-beam said:
    Awesome article, Don, I have had the same thoughts recently. I think we would have appreciated some more info especially on:
    - Battery (maybe most important when you speak of portablility) - how long does it last with this model. I was eyeing the Asus Transformer Book T100TA, which they say has a quite respectable battery (but is also more expensive)


    I played about two and a half hours of Left4Dead with some friends before I noticed the tablet wasn't plugged into power, and it still had some juice left. Your mileage will depend upon the game and screen brightness, obviously, but I was impressed.

    K-beam said:
    - Does a PS3 controller (free, if you have a PS3) work with it?


    I believe a PS3 controller can be used with some hacks, but I was trying to find peripherals that were plug and play.

    K-beam said:
    I would ideally have liked to see a mention of the Prince of Persia / Max Payne (1+2) / (Older) Tomb Raider / Splinter cell (1-4) and similar older third-person adventure games. In my opinion those work marvellously with a PS3 gamepad. Ah, I forgot - I wonder whether the touch would work directly with games from the Monkey Island series. Ah, another great genre for playing on a tablet, that was totally missed here - turn-based strategy games like the Heroes of Might and Magic series and Civilization (4). And also the grand-daddy of "modern" open-world FPSs - FarCry 1 :)


    There's an infinite possible list of titles to try, too many to realistically tackle for little old me. I encourage you to grab a tablet and give your favorites a shot. :)

    K-beam said:
    An expanded re-visit maybe when the new generation of chips come out from either from Intel or AMD?


    I'm hoping so. I don't know if the new mullins/beema APUs have any design wins in a tablet yet, but I'm going to keep bugging AMD periodically because I hope it'll happen and I'd love to test this.
  23. Intel Graphics is a joke. I hope AMD starts promoting the APUs and even their onboard graphic capabilities for mobile and tablet. This is going to be great for gamer who are constantly on the move and would like to play some recent highend games.
  24. Why not dell venue 11 pro i3 or i5?
  25. utomo said:
    Why not dell venue 11 pro i3 or i5?


    Well, like the article says, we were looking for ultra-portability, like portable game consoles. That means sticking to a small and low-priced tablet.

    That doesn't mean we're not interested in gaming on larger tablets, but that isn't the focus of this particular article.
  26. Quote:
    I actually have a Venue 8 and I've been really itching to try Steam on it, with a few older games, but really - my first love when it comes to gaming is strategy games, and I can't wait to see how this one pairs with my favorite - Civilization V. Especially now that Brave New World has touch screen support.
    I've played about 12-14 hours on my venue 8 pro and what I've discovered is you have to run civ5 in windowed mode at 1024x768 in DX9 mode. In windows 8 touch mode or DX11 the game will crash at any resolution and full-screen will crash as well and both are due to either running out of memory (more often the cause) or a driver issue. You can't play with more than 4 civs total including your own and you will be stuck with small maps because the tablet comes to a crawl in mid to late game otherwise due to The tablet throttling down the CPU to lower the temperature. You can try the copper sheet mod applied to the heat-sinks on the motherboard to help with that issue, but I haven't done that myself yet so I don't know if it fixes the throttling issue enough.
  27. Interesting. The question in the title "Is Your Windows 8 Tablet Fast Enough For PC Gaming?" can be answered "Yes". However, then comes another question: "Is Your Windows 8 Tablet Convenient Enough For PC Gaming?". I'd certainly answer "No". Not yet, at least. The great advantage of 3DS, Vita, and Shield, is that you can play perfectly anywhere. Both lying in a comfortable armchair or sitting on an uncomfortable chair while waiting to take a plane. Using a tablet as described here, you either need an appropriate surface on which to rest it to be able to use the gamepad, or you have to play using on-screen virtual pads and sticks, which isn't acceptable for serious gaming. Until a better solution comes out, there's just no point in using a tablet for PC gaming. PC gaming requires a notebook at least. If you want portable console-like gaming, use a portable console. The Vita is powerful enough, and has input methods good enough for complex games. Of course, if you only play stragegy and MMO games, the Vita is useless to you. But if you play other genres, you can find very good shooters (Killzone), adventures (Uncharted, Gravity Rush), racing games (Wipeout, Need for Speed), etc. Sadly, there are few games like these that fully leverage the Vita, and no signs of a change in this tendency, but the Vita can also play lots of PS1 and PSP games, and there are very good PS2 ports (Jak, Ratchet, Metal Gear, God of War), so there's no shortage of hours of quality gaming in a convenient portable system.
  28. "The game's well-known camera spin issue occurred when I tried to use the SteelSeries Free, but I switched to GestureWorks' Gameplay on-screen controller and was fine."

    Its not a game, or even engine issue. The issue is how DirectInput based gamepads interact with the XInput API. Essentially, the mappings are handled differently by the two API's, resulting in camera spin in any Xinput title that uses a DirectInput gamepad with RS camera control. More or less every UE3 title suffers this problem for this reason.

    I typically get around this by using a wrapper, generally x360CE, to wrap the DirectInput binds to match the 360 controller's XInput binds.
  29. Why not just go with a wired Xbox 360 controller or Xbox One controller? No need for third-party drivers or funky third-party configuration programs. If the long cord is a deterrent you can just use a shorter USB cable with the Xbox One controller. You'll be carrying a USB cable to recharge that Bluetooth controller anyway.
  30. I have been using my DV8Pro for Gaming for a few months now, and I would like to add a few things: The Moga Power Pro sells for about 50 bucks as well and with very limited modification it can handle the 8 inch tablet making the whole thing very easy to hold in your hands. (I can post some pics if you like) plus it has a built in battery that can keep the tablet charging even while you are gaming.
    Second the addition of Steam Home Streaming means that you can play any games you want from your couch or armchair. (set up the Moga in Big screen mode to get this working)
    Lastly the modification of an old Moterola lapdock and a 30 Display link usb to HDMI adapter makes a KVM dock for the Dell that works very well. I have only tried playing Awesomenuats on it, but it worked great. This to me is where Windows devices could really shine right now: If I could buy an Atom based Windows Phone that when docked to a lapdock or desktop dock turned it into a full blown desktop environment. I would not need a phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop (except for high level gaming)
    I don't know if Microsoft is thinking about it, but They could really make an amazing product. (If anyone knows someone at MS who want to give me a job, I would be more than happy to show them the way ;)
  31. Quote:
    "The game's well-known camera spin issue occurred when I tried to use the SteelSeries Free, but I switched to GestureWorks' Gameplay on-screen controller and was fine."

    Its not a game, or even engine issue. The issue is how DirectInput based gamepads interact with the XInput API. Essentially, the mappings are handled differently by the two API's, resulting in camera spin in any Xinput title that uses a DirectInput gamepad with RS camera control. More or less every UE3 title suffers this problem for this reason.

    I typically get around this by using a wrapper, generally x360CE, to wrap the DirectInput binds to match the 360 controller's XInput binds.


    I always thought RawInput was the primary input API to use now. When I asked on MSDN, they advised me to do away with DirectInput for RawInput.
  32. Safe to say it runs hearthstone well enough?
  33. Also, I can't find anything about the 3470D. Did you typo and mean 3740?
  34. WithoutWeakness said:
    Why not just go with a wired Xbox 360 controller or Xbox One controller? No need for third-party drivers or funky third-party configuration programs. If the long cord is a deterrent you can just use a shorter USB cable with the Xbox One controller. You'll be carrying a USB cable to recharge that Bluetooth controller anyway.


    I cover that in the article. It has only a single micro-USB port, some tablets have none... Bluetooth is the way to go for these devices.

    You don't really have to worry about charging the Steelseries Free, it runs for 11 hours off a charge. Can charge it at home before you go out and use the tablet.
  35. Hopefully that will change soon. The AMD Discovery tablet they showed off earlier this year was a nice bit of kit. And I'd love to see an OEM put it up for sale. Did you see the gaming dock they made for it?
  36. Of course, if you want to play from the couch or somewhere else in the house, there's always Steam Home Streaming. I've played Mortal Kombat 9 from my Dell Venue 8 Pro using home streaming and a PS4 controller with XInput drivers.
  37. cd000 said:

    Hopefully that will change soon. The AMD Discovery tablet they showed off earlier this year was a nice bit of kit. And I'd love to see an OEM put it up for sale. Did you see the gaming dock they made for it?


    Cool, that's the solution I'm waiting for.

    AMD Discovery picture
  38. K-beam said:
    I am also thinking SteamOS as dual boot...



    This tablet has non-existent Linux support due to its 32-bit EFI implementation. You won't be able to dual boot Linux.

    The Surface Pro line has poor Linux support, but at least it is generally possible to get it installed. If you want to run Linux you should find a different tablet.
  39. I was really hoping to see the higher end windows 8 devices put through their paces here - Especially the Surface Pros (1 vs 2 vs 3) and maybe even stacked up against the Razer Edge with it's discrete GPU. I just don't care about the low end of the market here. What I want to know is if I get a Surface Pro for work, can I dock it with a traditional display, a proper keyboard and mouse and play games after work.
  40. And steam in home streaming? thats something i'll like to see, streaming from a high end pc to a tablet while taking a doomp.
  41. You guys didn't mention you can stream games from Steam to the tablet. I was running Thief on ultra playing on my Lenovo Miix 8 Tablet with an Xbox One controller hooked up! It was pretty sweet laying in bed playing games on ultra.
  42. anyone know of a controller that will grip a tablet of this size? something like the razr dock etc
  43. That's how I use my ASUS T100 (it has the same SoC) when I am away from a PC. Also use it for light work (it easily runs smaller Visual Studio projects). Pretty handy in current hot weather.
    The bonus is, it has a pretty good keyboard as well.
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