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Feature Articles

Can budget gaming notebooks deliver the experience you need?

By Team GameAxis - 15 Jul 2018

Gaming experience: Hearthstone, Gwent & Rise of the Tomb Raider

Hearthstone & Gwent

Hearthstone and Gwent are both digital card games and, as such, do not tax your GPU quite as much. That said, being able to enjoy the animation of the premium cards and the cool particle effects definitely add to the experience. This is especially true with Hearthstone. Is your opponent taking forever to decide if they have enough for lethal? Mess around with the environment to check out some funny interactions whilst you wait.

In Gwent: A quick Nilfgaard on Nilfgaard battle in this limited time Nilfgaard faction only arena mode.

In Hearthstone: An unranked battle with broken pots on the side and firebolts to hapless minions.

Our in-game settings recommendation

What we tested with for Gwent.

What we tested with for Hearthstone.

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Moving away from multiplayer games, the last title to put the FX504 through its paces is the gorgeous Rise of the Tomb Raider, a common benchmark title. The default setting for Tomb Raider was set at High and we left it as-is. That provided beautifully rendered cinematics with no dropped frames, however getting into the game proper, we discovered quite a bit of stuttering. Restarting the game and tunning the settings to Medium helped but we still experienced choppy gameplay with frames dropped. With all the particles and debris effects in the game, the frame droops were quite common and we had to muck around with the settings to improve gameplay.

Our in-game settings recommendation

Here's our smoothest graphical option when playing Tomb Raider (medium preset works fine too if you don't mind the occasional stutter):-

This difference is most obvious during the first 30 minutes of the game, where Lara and her buddy, Jonah, scale a snow-swept mountain in Siberia. On the bright side, switching to Low did get rid of most of these issues, at least in the two hours spent playing in this setting and we were quite satisfied:-

Lara still looking good despite being bumped down to Low quality setting. Screenshot taken from the Benchmarking test on the game menu.

Performance and graphics is always a balancing act as Lara is showing us here.

 

Summing it up

In terms of processing power and its capabilities, the ASUS TUF FX504 is a solid budget gaming machine, and an excellent platform to run most of today’s popular multiplayer games. Taking the FX504 as a reference for ‘affordable gaming’ class, we can safely answer that: Yes, budget gaming notebooks can deliver the performance you need to tackle popular games at Full HD resolution.

The caveat is that one should expect some sacrifices on graphics quality levels to achieve a smoother gameplay experience, but on the whole, when this is better managed with some of the recommendations we've fielded from game testing, your overall gaming experience is still a positive one.

Here's a summary of all of our games tested, including rough performance expectations across all game settings:-

*Performance Summary of a typical budget gaming notebook in 2018
Game / in-game setting Low Medium  High
PUBG 30+ FPS 25+ FPS 20+ FPS
Fortnite 60+ FPS 60+ FPS 25+ FPS
Overwatch 60+ FPS 60+ FPS 60+ FPS
Heros of the Storm 60+ FPS 60+ FPS 40+ FPS
Hearthstone 60+ FPS 60+ FPS 60+ FPS
Gwent 60+ FPS 60+ FPS 60+ FPS
Rise of the Tomb Raider 55+ FPS 40+ FPS 25+ FPS

*These results are with vSync enabled on a 60Hz screen.

Table Legend: Red < 30 FPS || 30 FPS < Orange < 60 FPS || Green > 60 FPS