Yeah, We Know These Aren’t Gaming Platforms
Yes, we know that low-power nettops and notebooks with integrated graphics aren’t made for gaming.
We’re certainly not suggesting you go out and buy a nettop for LAN parties or hardcore first-person shooters. That's simply not the right tool for the job. If you’re a mad-crazy gaming fanatic, you want a powerful desktop system or a dedicated laptop with a "high-end" mobile graphics processor.
Now that you know where we're coming from, let’s get our minds back on nettops and notebooks. They are getting cheaper, and they’re proliferating. Intel’s Atom has become a popular low-power platform for folks who simply need a machine that can surf the Internet and watch video, especially when paired to Nvidia’s Ion 2 chipset. AMD recently entered this realm with the Brazos platform, and the Zacate E-350 APU with integrated Radeon HD 6310 can be found in notebooks and nettops alike. In fact, we recently took a look at three Brazos-based configurations in Three Sub-$500 AMD Brazos-Based Notebooks Rounded Up.
But for argument’s sake, let’s say you purchased a nettop for home-theater PC use, and it’s attached to your HDTV. You might not be a hardcore gamer, but could still be interested in electronic entertainment. Maybe you’re curious about experiencing World of Warcraft: Cataclysm on the big screen. Or perhaps you bought a budget notebook for university, and you can’t help but wonder if it could handle some other MMORPG during your downtime.
One of the primary strengths of the PC is its adaptability. Even low-budget platforms like the Intel Atom/Nvidia Ion 2 combo and AMD E-350 APU have some graphics potential. The question is, can this potential be exploited in games, or are these platforms too weak to apply to the entertainment space? Which games work well, and which ones don't? We put together this article to answer some of those questions. We test the Intel Atom D525 and Ion 2 chipset against AMD’s new E-350 APU and integrated Radeon HD 6310 in newer titles (and some older ones, too).