Want to play games but have an older or less-capable laptop? Join the club. My work computer can handle 30 browser tabs at a time along with Photoshop and even Slack, but it groans under the burden of active afresh launched games.

We’re actually not alone in this, but I accept there’s hope. Unless you want to play specific graphics-intensive titles, there are several things you can do to have fun gaming on your modest laptop. All it takes is a bit of homework, some elbow grease to fiddle with settings, and an open mind.

What can you play?

Let’s get the worst out of the way first: if you don’t have a able laptop, you can forget about arena AAA games appear this year from most of the major studios. We’ll share some tips on how to try accepting them to run, but know that you’ll be ambience up yourself for a actually sub-par experience.

Instead, I acclaim attractive at older games that have aged well, and aren’t only known for their cutting-edge graphics. Look up best-of and advocacy lists for two-three years prior to the year your laptop model was released, and find ones that absorption you among those.

Rather than bother with brand new shooters to get my action-adventure fix, I went with , a sleeper hit from 2012. The deep storyline forces you to make difficult choices and tests your sense of morality, while the acute and varied gameplay draw you into an acquaintance that’s acute from start to finish.


I may have given you the consequence that all pretty games only work on beefy setups: that’s not true. Assertive titles are awfully well optimized for play on a wide range of hardware, and don’t crave you to tweak your cartoon settings very much to enjoy a smooth framerate.

The first couple of games developed by Rocksteady Studios, and the free-to-play  are all absurd titles that offer hours (hundreds of hours in the cases of the last two) of entertainment, and you won’t feel like you’re missing out on much active these on your approved ol’ work computer.


Next, look beyond AAA titles. There’s a vast cosmos of indie games that’s worth exploring, and many of them have decidedly lower accouterments requirements than the latest and greatest from big-name studios.

Whatever be your adopted genre – action, adventure, puzzle, or even racing, there’s article out there that will cost less and run better on your laptop than the most accepted titles right now.

The best place to look for games is to start where you buy them. Steam has a Curator system that lets publications and well known agreeable creators create lists of games they want to recommend.

  • Start with this one titled Low Spec Games that spans several genres and includes many bargain indie titles.
  • Want more curated selections? Check out these lists from Extra Credits and game studio Double Fine Productions – both accommodate some interesting, quirky and thankfully low-requirement gems.

Here are a few more places to look:

  • PCGamer afresh appear a handy list of games that should run on just about anything. Those accommodate a couple of my favorites: and .
  • Pining for older games from a decade or a few ago? Good Ol’ Games (aka GOG) has you covered with an all-encompassing library of retro titles that have been tuned to work appropriately on the latest OSes, and often come arranged with aliment like apprenticeship manuals, soundtracks and wallpapers. It’s where I rediscovered one of my old admired space shooters from 1996, Stargunner.
  • Find a wide range of low-requirement indie games, including many for free, over at itch.io.

Will this game work on my laptop?

If you’re apprehensive about whether a assertive game will run on your machine, there are two simple ways to find out:

  1. Look up accouterments requirements for your chosen game and analyze them with what you’ve got. To analyze your laptop’s hardware, aperture the Start Menu and search for ‘System Information’; alternatively, use a tool like Speccy to get a list of all your laptop’s components.
  2. Head to CanYouRunIt’s site, install the appropriate plugin (I find this works best on Microsoft Edge), and then look up any game you want to play; it’ll tell you whether the game will run on minimum and recommended settings, and also analyze apparatus that aren’t bringing as much to the table as your chosen title demands.

It’s worth noting that these requirements are often more like guidelines, and your adopted game may still run in spite of the numbers not advertence as such. Just be mentally able to turn down the cartoon quality.

Get to tweaking

So you’ve chosen to skip my advice and you’ve bought a graphics-intensive game anyway. Fine, if that’s how you want to play. There are a few things you can do with your in-game settings to eke out analytic decent cartoon and a playable framerate.

Resolution refers to the number of pixels that will be rendered and displayed on your screen; it’s also the better factor in free how fast and calmly your game will run, as well as how sharp cartoon will look. Naturally, you’ll want to turn it down to speed up performance.


I acclaim award out your display’s aspect ratio and switching to a lower resolution of the same ratio. For example, if you’ve got a 1920×1080 screen (16:9 ratio), turn it down to 1280×720, and you’ll abide to enjoy a full-screen view after any black bars at the top and bottom of your display, along with smoother rendering.

Sometimes, that may not be enough to get a decent framerate. At this point, you have a few options:

  1. Check if the game has recommended settings for high-, mid- and low-level machines in the options menu, and switch to the lower ones.
  2. Turn off (or at least, turn down) graphical furnishings that crave more horesepower than they’re worth: PCGamer lists a bunch, including motion blur, depth of field, activating reflections, supersampling anti-aliasing and shadows.
  3. Look for guides to optimizing settings for your game of choice: many agreeable creators, including YouTuber LowSpecGamer, post guides on which tweaks are most able for specific games. Here’s an all-embracing one for from the folks at nVidia.

Before accepting started with a game, you’ll want to ensure that your PC is in the best accessible action for high-performance entertainment.

Start by absolution up some memory. This is easily accomplished by simply closing all programs (like your browser and chat apps), as well as abandonment accomplishments apps that might be active in your system tray and arresting assets every once in a while.

Next, ensure that your PC can handle the heat. Games often run slower when laptops run hot, and you can combat this by aperture up and charwoman your machine’s centralized apparatus (be sure to get the fans) and acceptance for best airflow out and away from it.


I’ve found that using an bargain cooling pad with a mesh base and fans can help a great deal, decidedly after an hour or two of play.

Finally, if you’re arena a multiplayer title, you’ll want to make sure that your arrangement is in good shape so you abbreviate lag and avoid alone connections.

Games don’t crave large quantities of data to be transferred in order to allow for multiplayer action, but they do crave acceptable and committed bandwidth to ensure a ceaseless flow. As such, you’ll want to clear your arrangement of accidental connections, by shutting down torrent downloads, video streams and so on.

Next, try to get the best accessible internet affiliation for your PC under absolute conditions, by either arena in the same room as where your router is located, or by active your ethernet cable beeline into your laptop.

If you’re administration a affiliation and the above solutions aren’t feasible, you can look for better routers that abutment higher bandwidth and offer assorted bands.

Bonus tip: 

Join a gaming community

One of the best parts about gaming is being able to share your adventures and altercate them with others. And while most communities gather around new games or titles that have been around for a really long time (such as or ), you can still affix with people who enjoy hardly older games, decidedly if they have a notable story or memorable gameplay.

There are several communities you can affix with on Reddit, Steam, Discord and Twitch. Start with r/patientgamers, and hop on their alive approach and chat group, and then work your way through to these subreddits:

  • r/lowendgaming
  • r/retrogaming
  • r/lowspecgamer

I’m sold, how do I get started right away?

Alright, let’s do this. Here are my recommendations for games that are low on requirements or well optimized to run on just about any computer with chip cartoon from about three years ago.

  • First-person shooter: You can’t go wrong with abstract like the and series. For article a bit more bright (in every manner of the word), give Bulletstorm a go. And if you want to get some accompany in on the action, try zombie-infested  or the abominable for some aggressive play.
  • Third-person shooter: is basically ninja warriors in robot exoskeletons in space with guns, blades and parkour. Tell me you don’t want to try that. It’s free to play, has a great association with millions of players, and is accepting a major update that will add an open world to explore, above and beyond the vast range of missions you can play with others or on your own. For a more aboveboard story with just as much ass-kicking, pick up a copy of .
  • Point-and-click adventure: Telltale Games has done a agitating job of call belief from accepted franchises like , and – and they all work really well on older systems. Oh, and a couple of my admired LucasArts titles from the 90s have been afresh remastered in august detail: do yourself a favor and try , as well as .
  • Third-person adventure: Take off on a wild antic with 2013’s Tomb Raider, play a gritty clandestine cop in Hong Kong in , brave a perilous post-apocalyptic desert world in .
  • Indie: This isn’t a genre on its own, but I’d like to list a bunch of titles from abate studios that are worth blockage out. I’ve enjoyed exploring the adroit isometric worlds of and , and I actually adored the two-characters-at-once puzzles in . Try actual for as long as you can in acutely tame , and see if you can crack the adorable challenges in the blithely artistic .
  • Racing: Drive around Paradise City for days in admirable cars and on bikes, and take on other drivers whenever you want in . Or take on a whole squad of wacky SEGA characters in .
  • Strategy: Build cities, ready your armies and crush your opponents in (a 4K remaster of the aboriginal is in the works), and be a cruel or benevolent absolutist on your very own island in the series.

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