Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
12 June 2006
Where does a serious gamer go for top of the line, mobile gaming?
LowEndMac.com's Andrew Fishkin doesn't really want to know if it's better to upgrade an "old" Powerbook or buy a new Macbook, in spite of his stated intentions. Here's his quick summation:

Especially for serious gamers, the older PowerBooks with their graphics processors and dedicated memory run circles around the low-end Intel GMA950 graphics of the MacBook.

This is an strange way to make a decision on how to throw away $1100 or so, but let's play along. For him, the question appears to boil down to getting to play Quake 4, Rome: Total War, and SW:Sith Lords...

That means that the fastest PowerBook ever released (discontinued only a month ago) is the absolute minimum specification to play Quake4.

... on the move...

You see, I play games when I travel. Rather than spend too much money drinking in some rural motel bar, I'd rather fire up a game on my Mac and crush the enemies of Rome, flex my budding Jedi powers, or reduce the chest of some unsuspecting zombie to pulp with a well-placed load of buckshot.

... and on a 12-13" laptop he can take on a plane...

I also like to play games during long flights. Games and movies make the time go by quickly on my twice-yearly trans-Pacific flight.

Now the MacBook Pro is the perfect 15" laptop for me, but the problem is that I don't travel with a 15" laptop.


... and have that laptop run OS X. The MacBook's integrated video is too low end (Wait, what's the name of this site again?) and the the 15" MacBook Pro is too big for the plane. Um, okay, for this horribly specialized need, yes, you're stuck with an underperforming, old, 12" G4 Powerbook. (UPDATE: Now barefeats.com makes it look like the 12" ain't coming close, either. The 15" and 17" Powerbooks are throwing down 10 & 12 fps on Q4 in 1280x800 (the 13" Macbook's native screen res) to the Macbook's 9. Now there's no reason to bother with that 12"er either.)

That's a boring issue. Here's why I find the article interesting. There is a niche, and it's one I found out quickly when reviewing the Virtual Game Station on MacOS years ago at xlr8yourmac.com, for no holds barred mobile gaming consoles. My awkward use of "no holds barred" here is meant to describe something more than a PSP or Game Boy; you'll notice this guy is talking about not only the latest, but also the most hardware intensive games ("... I'm tired of those [one-year] old games," he remarks). People want to game without apology wherever they find it most convenient, especially in planes. These people usually have a good chuck of expendable income as well, I've noticed.

Just where does a serious gamer go for top of the line, compact, mobile gaming? I was surprised to find that Alienware's 12"er has integrated video too!, so the two-laptop, sell-your-soul-to-the-MS-devil approach may still not be the answer. If you keep up with MS's Origami project, you'll have seen another promised solution to the problem in the Origami video showing a fellow using it to play Halo, and he's obviously not at a desk. I'm suspicious such a box will fill Fishkin's needs, however.

In any event, there's a [very small?] market for high-end, ultra-compact gaming laptops, and we're reaching the point where mobile gaming is ready to happen.

Let's face it, anybody whining about not being able to game on a new MacBook is obviously missing something. I mean, heck, grab a copy of Half-Life or Madden for your MacBook, for crying out loud. They're missing something, that is, unless the person doing the whining is one of these folk -- the type that wants to have the image of -- to want to be able to enter the conversation about -- playing the latest, greatest, and most hardware intensive games, and wants to have experienced doing it on the go.

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--ruffin at 18:02
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