Can You Play World of Warcraft On A Netbook?

Short answer: Yes, you bloody well can.

Longer answer:
First of all, in case you didn’t know, a netbook is a tiny little laptop, usually with screens of between 9 and 11 inches in size. They’re meant for web browsing, viewing videos and writing… And maybe playing an old game or two. On saturday, I bought a Samsung NC10 so I can work away from my Mac when I’m stuck on something and need to move about. Of course, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so some gaming must also happen.

And World of Warcraft is… well, you should know by now. Released by Blizzard in late 2005, it’s the world’s most popular MMO, bar none, and it looks quite nice, too. Blizzard pride themselves on their games being playable on most computers, so I figured I’d take this puppy for a ride and try it out.

Now, this is the first hurdle, and the only really big one: Installing takes fucking forever! Netbooks don’t have optical drives, so I had to download it from the WOW website to install. That’s 4.5 gigs of download. YAWN! And then after that? Patch-time… A 1.7 gig whopper of a content patch, too!

Buuut in the end, I managed to get it all in there, and I booted up the client. At this point, I should tell you that I had no expectations. I didn’t even remotely expect the game to be playable in any way, and I was frankly a bit worried because when I last logged out, I was standing on a bridge over a large drop, which would kill me if I dropped into… So if it ran shoddily enough, it would mess up my steering and I would die. And dying is such a hassle.

I needn’t have worried.

In case you don't believe me: WoW doing 15 FPS on my Samsung NC10 (Click for bigger)
In case you don't believe me: WoW doing 15 FPS on my Samsung NC10 (Click for bigger)

Before I went into it, I obviously turned all the settings down to bottom, so it didn’t look nearly as good as it would on my Mac, but I did get between 10-30 fps through testing it, every now and then dipping below or spiking above in some cases. Even taking flight-paths (very fast travel. Taxes the machine quite a bit) I was normally between 10 and 20 frames per second. Now, I haven’t gone in and done any heavy fighting, and I would NOT recommend going into a group instance with this thing, but the fact that this dinky little 300-quid thing can play WoW several times better than the desktop I had when it was released less than four years ago is amazing to me.

If you’re wondering if your netbook can play it, I will say “probably”. Most of these netbooks are pretty much identical in specs, be it Dell, HP, Lenovo or Asus. Check for the Intel Atom 1.6(or 1.66) processor, and make sure it has about a gig of RAM and plenty of harddrive space, though.

I might do another post about the Netbook itself, but that’s for later.

EDIT SINCE CATACLYSM: I don’t play WOW these days so I don’t have Cataclysm, but from what I gather, the system reqs have been upped with the expansion. It seems more netbook players are having trouble with their netbooks now. Shame, really.