I began our gaming tests with low expectations. I've tested loads of Atom-based systems over the years, and even the ones paired with discrete GPUs have struggled to run games smoothly. With that in mind, I started with something easy: Race the Sun, an addictive indie flying game with relatively basic graphics.
Race the Sun ran pretty well at the native resolution with the graphics quality turned all the way up. Fraps reported frame rates around 25 FPS, and the gameplay was reasonably fluid. Dialing down the graphics detail improved the frame rate noticeably without diminishing the retro visuals. So far, so good.
Next, I careened through a couple of levels in Dyad, a considerably more colorful title loaded with seizure-inducing eye candy. The T100 handled the game with aplomb, cranking out 30-40 FPS at 1366x768 with all the graphical options enabled. The frame rate occasionally dipped into the high 20s with lots of action on the screen, but the game was perfectly playable.
Fez was next on my indie list, and it also ran very well at the T100's native resolution. I don't think the frame rate ever dropped below 30 FPS during my brief test session.
Mark of the Ninja is a stealth-focused side scroller that's full of awesome. Despite playing out in only two dimensions, it proved to be a little more challenging than the previous titles. The game was playable at the native resolution, but only with the eye candy turned down. Even then, the frame rate hovered around 20 FPS—acceptable given the slow pace of the gameplay, but definitely not ideal.
Trials Evolution apparently doesn't support 1366x768 display resolutions. Even with the all the detail turned down at 1280x720, the frame rate spent far too much time in the teens. Lowering the resolution smoothed things out a little, but not enough for me to enjoy the experience. There was some graphical glitching, too. Frustrated, I suspected the honeymoon was over.
To confirm the Transformer Book's inability to handle more demanding games, I selected DiRT Showdown for what I thought would be my final test. The T100 would choke on the big-budget blockbuster, I figured, and I'd then be free to prod other aspects of the machine. Except that's not what happened.
DiRT Showdown ran surprisingly well at the native resolution with all the details turned down to their lowest settings. The FPS counter rarely climbed out of the low 20s, but the frame rate was consistent enough to make the game playable.
Further testing was required.
Portal 2 was my next subject—and the next surprise. The game felt a little choppy with all the details cranked (except for antialiasing and anisotropic filtering), but lowering the shader detail smoothed things out nicely. After that little tweak, the frame rate jumped to around 30 FPS, and the game felt great.
Suddenly emboldened, I started to get cocky.
Yeah, I played Mirror's Edge on the T100. The frame rate dipped into the high teens too often with the in-game details dialed back at the native resolution, but dropping down to 1024x768 helped a lot. At that resolution, the FPS counter oscillated between the mid-20s and low-30s—playable but not great. The keyboard controls were a little problematic, too. For some reason, hitting Left Shift to slide didn't work reliably when I was moving forward with the W key depressed.
Serious Sam 3: BFE has loads of graphical detail settings, and I had to disable pretty much all of them to get the game running on the T100. But I didn't have to lower the resolution from the native 1366x768. This shooter ran at 30-40 FPS, and it only dipped into the 20s with loads of enemies on the screen. Swarming hordes are pretty common in Serious Sam, but the game remained playable even when I was overwhelmed with baddies.
At this point, I seriously considered installing Crysis. The only thing that stopped me was not having the installation discs on hand. Instead, I tried something a little more recent: Dishonored.
This game proved to be more demanding than the others. I had to disable all the eye candy and lower the resolution to 800x600 just to get a playable frame rate. Dishonored looks pretty crappy with those settings, but I'm impressed that it ran at all. Most of these games won't even load on a last-gen Atom system. Intel's integrated graphics solutions have improved immensely in recent years, and Bay Trail has credible gaming chops as a result.
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