Over the last three years I've switched from being primarily a console gamer to a PC gamer. This wasn't due to snobbery, a change of taste or anything like that, but mostly because my kids are now at an age where I can't play many games in front of them. I don't want to monopolize the TV either, and I prefer to play my games during solitary time.
So I do what any rational person with more money than brains does: I use my laptop as my primary game machine. I know this means my performance isn't going to be stellar, but I've been happy with it so far and for most of the last two years it's been used primarily for MMOs and older PC games I missed out on. This got me thinking about game performance and the drastically different outcomes that come from different games. My laptop runs an Nvidea GForce GT 330M with 512MB of VRAM. My display runs at a native resolution of 1680x1050. I have 4 GB of system memory installed.
Where am I going with all of this? At the moment I'm not sure, but please bear with me.
In the last year I've played the following games at native resolution and have found their performance to be acceptable or better:
- Assassin's Creed 2
- Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
- Dragon Age: Origins
- Mass Effect 2
- Far Cry 2
- Starcraft 2
- LOTRO (High Res pack)
- Burnout Paradise
To that end, I've been incredibly happy with my game machine. But recently I hit a roadblock. Dragon Age 2. It stutters, the camera moves slowly, and I feel like the mouse is a bit more sluggish than it should be. This worried me since my next buy was going to be The Witcher 2, and I recall that the original was based on the NWN2 engine, which had notorious performance issues and had to be brute forced to be playable. So last night I installed The Witcher 2, and it ran like crap. So I'm tossing it into the pile of games that have not run well:
What concerns me is that two of these games are old(er) and yet they run horribly. It also has made me think I'm screwed for Skyrim and Rage later this year and Mass Effect 3 next year. So let's talk about PC game performance. Any ideas for me? Increase to 8GB of RAM? Chalk these bad experiences up to poor engines? Should I stop running these off an external USB drive (oh, did I forget to mention that?).