Is Your Windows 8 Tablet Fast Enough For PC Gaming?

Strategy Games: Dota 2 and Battle for Middle Earth 2

Dota 2

The multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre is one of the most popular PC game types of all time. Frankly, League of Legends would be too easy to play, even on this HD Graphics-powered tablet. So, I went with Dota 2 instead.

Naturally, I was most interested in the Venue 8 Pro's native 1280x800 resolution for testing. All of the detail settings were turned down as low as they'd go, except for texture quality, which I nudged up to Medium.

As far as controls go, this type of title requires a keyboard and mouse. So, I didn't bother with the SteelSeries Free gamepad or GestureWorks Gameplay software. You can see the result in the video below:

Dell Venue 8 Pro - Dota 2 Test

Performance isn't great, but I'd still say that Dota 2 is playable on Dell's tablet at these settings. Of course, there's a big difference between frame rate and network-imposed lag when you're playing an online game. While 30 FPS should be playable for a MOBA, too much latency makes gameplay unpleasant (and that applies to every gaming platform).

Battle for Middle Earth II

I have a fondness for EA's Battle for Middle Earth series, set in J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy realm. This title really pushed the visual boundaries of what I expected from an RTS back when it came out. So, I'm dusting it off for today's experiment.

Right off the bat, I ran into an issue: the game doesn't run on Windows 8. Thankfully, a resourceful fan who goes by the alias of Turin Turumbar created the BfME_Startup_Fixxer.exe patch to get around the problem. 

The display's native 1280x800 resolution caused some performance problems, so I dialed that back to 1024x768 and cranked the detail preset up to Ultra-High. On Dell's small 8" screen, the lower resolution makes very little difference. Once again, I went with the Bluetooth-attached keyboard and mouse for control.

Dell Venue 8 Pro - Battle for Middle Earth II Test

As you can see in our video, the game looks great considering its age. It runs surprisingly smoothly on Dell's small Windows-based tablet.

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48 comments
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    Top Comments
  • AMD Radeon
    Great Review :)

    Finally i see one noticeable advantage of Windows Tablet over Android
    14
  • ScrewySqrl
    What I want to know is why has no one pushed an AMD APU into one of these windows tablets for gaming?
    10
  • Other Comments
  • batman2142
    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?
    9
  • AMD Radeon
    Great Review :)

    Finally i see one noticeable advantage of Windows Tablet over Android
    14
  • blackmagnum
    Burn your hands on the tablet while gaming, why don't you?
    -7
  • iPeekYou
    "...turning it into a portable PC gaming console..."

    Does not compute
    4
  • K-beam
    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?
    3
  • CaptainTom
    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.
    0
  • back_by_demand
    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
    1
  • ScrewySqrl
    What I want to know is why has no one pushed an AMD APU into one of these windows tablets for gaming?
    10
  • K-beam
    I am also thinking SteamOS as dual boot...
    1
  • K-beam
    What's up with these multiple posts!!! Sorry for the splamming, it seems every time the page gets refreshed, the post is re-submitted!
    2
  • gallovfc
    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).
    5
  • larsoncc
    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.
    2
  • larsoncc
    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).
    0
  • JOSHSKORN
    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.
    1
  • ninjustin
    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.
    0
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    ...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)
    0
  • cleeve
    665346 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.
    0
  • falchard
    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.
    0
  • cleeve
    749236 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.
    3