A 4 Year Old Netbook… The Best Portable Gaming System?

I have an Acer netbook from a couple of years back. I use to get a fair amount of use, for times when I wanted to read pdfs, browse the web, etc. It was great to have at the hospital to upload pictures and post updates to facebook when my daughters were born. All that aside, I don’t use it much these days, given I have an iPhone and regularly borrow my wife’s iPad.

But I’ve found a really good use for it. I’ve loaded up all the PC games I’ve saved over the years, and a few new ones that have low requirements. The netbook serves as a great portable gaming system. Sure, it’s not a pocket system, but many of the newer portable systems aren’t. The iPad and Playstation Vita aren’t pocket systems, and the 3DS and PSP are a bit of a stretch. And you can find large numbers of great games still available new on Amazon, or used on EBay and Amazon.

Netbook and Games

The notebook has:

  • 1.6ghz Intel Atom Processor
  • 1.5GB Ram (Upgraded)
  • 802.11g Wifi
  • 150GB 7200RPM Sata Drive (Upgraded)
  • Third Party Hi Capacity Battery (Upgraded)

The games I have installed:

The system has great battery life, and is very versatile. You can use just the trackpad for more keyboard centric games, or use a usb mouse for games like Diablo or Torchlight. You have support for an external monitor if you want it, but it’s certainly not needed. For extended gaming sessions, the power-brick is very portable.

One limitation was games that required the cd to play (mostly the Blizzard games). This required taking an external dvd drive with me, and cut battery life considerably shorter. I lived with the limitation for a while. I own all of these games (see the photo above), so I wouldn’t feel bad legally about a no-cd hack, but just don’t trust that such programs aren’t viruses or trojans.

Finally, I realized all I needed was a virtual iso mounter. I ripped all the discs I needed and put them on the netbook. With the larger drive installed, there was plenty of space. And I use the free Virtual CloneDrive to mount the iso files as needed. Load times are drastically improved from when the cd drive is used. I may or may not be in a gray area of the EULA for these games, but I sleep at night. I’m certainly not violating the spirit of them, as I own licensed copies of each game. And given these aren’t games that have been patched to deal with modern systems that may not have disc drives (as many games have for distribution on platforms like Steam), I don’t have a problem circumventing the drive requirement.

I’ve been playing a lot of Diablo and Starcraft in particular on the system. It reminds me that gameplay is king. These games have very dated graphics, music, etc. But at the end of the day, they are unforgettable games with addicting campaigns. If you can find a buddy who likes the idea as well, imagine how easy it is to setup a LAN party with these systems. Anyone who enjoyed pc games over the last 15 years or so should consider such a setup. It’s a relatively cheap setup that can provide hundreds of hours of gaming time.