In contrast to the best PC games like Death Stranding or Doom Eternal, we refer to the best laptop games that also run on less powerful devices. Thus, by laptop games we rather mean classics like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Half Life 2 or indie games like Stardew Valley and Cuphead, which are perfect for owners of older or cheaper notebooks. But even for those who own a current gaming laptop with a powerful processor and a new graphics card, the games listed here should be of interest.
We had to curb our passion a bit now and then so that we could limit this post to 20 titles. So don’t be too disappointed if our list of the best laptop games of 2021 doesn’t include your favorite. However, we are convinced that this list covers all genres, so everyone will get their money’s worth.
Best Computer Games for Low-performance Devices
1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Minimum requirements: 2 GHz dual-core processor, 2 GB RAM, DirectX 9 capable graphics card
Even though Skyrim is now old news, it is still played in the gaming scene and modders are still working on new content for the game. However, the title, which was released in 2011, has the enormous advantage that its old age means low system requirements. Dual core processors of the last 3-4 years should have no problems with Skyrim and even a Pentium or Atom CPU should be able to run the game. If your laptop doesn’t even meet these requirements, a few people have already created a mod that lowers the settings even further. You can find the mod called ULG (Ultra Low Graphics) here. By the way, Skyrim is one of the best open world games that has already won many awards and is now even available for the Nintendo Switch.
2. Sid Meier’s Civilization V
Minimum requirements: Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2 GB RAM, Intel HD graphics card
Is Civilization the perfect PC game? Many of us have spent countless hours with the series, whether back in the 90s or just yesterday. Civilization V is a lot more accessible than the previous installments, but that makes it all the more palatable if you’re looking for something to put in a 30 minute session rather than wasting 3 hours straight away. It will work on almost any Intel Core series laptop from the last five years. But if you find that your computer isn’t up to the game yet, you might want to pick up Civilization IV. Although it’s ancient, it still works well on Windows 10 via Steam.
Minimum requirements: Intel Core2 Duo E8400, 3 GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+, 3 GHz processor or higher, 2 GB RAM, GeForce 9600 GT or AMD HD 3870 with 512 MB
The enormous amount of challenges can be slightly intimidating but we assure you that Cuphead will pay off. If you still don’t find its colorful, whimsical art style compelling enough, you may be drawn in by the game’s origin story. Cuphead comes from indie developer studio MDHR (short for Moldenhauer). Named after the two brothers, Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, who started the project. In fact, the entire team is made up of family members and friends who wanted to make their dream project a reality. Marija Moldenhauer, Chad’s wife, designed everything in this hand-drawn ode to 2D platform classics like Mega Man and Fleischer cartoons like Betty Boop. And if the 19 bosses aren’t enough for you, you’ll get new bosses, areas and a new playable character with the DLC expansion.
4. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Minimum requirements: Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, AMD R7 370 or Nvidia GTX 950 graphics card
This jump-‘n’-run game takes the vibrant world as well as the great game music from the first part, Ori and the Blind Forest, and takes it to a new level. However, it’s not just the beautiful graphics that have been amped up once again, but the overall gameplay that creates an even deeper gaming experience. If your laptop doesn’t meet the requirements, then we recommend you go for the predecessor instead. But at least this title doesn’t require a current graphics card with ray tracing to play smoothly.
5. Broken Age
Minimum requirements: 1.7 GHz Dual Core Processor, 2 GB RAM, Intel HD 3000 graphics card or newer
Remember the game that made millions via Kickstarter back when it was all the rage? That’s Broken Age, the point-and-click platformer developed by one of the people who made a name for themselves in the 90s with Monkey Island. While the laptop game doesn’t reinvent the genre now, it does offer a fun story that’s nowhere near as frustrating as most early 90s adventure games, many of which are best viewed through rose-tinted nostalgia glasses. You play both female and male characters, and jump back and forth between chapters in their respective stories to make sure the storyline doesn’t get boring. We’d rather avoid spoilers at this point and leave it at that.
6. FTL: Faster Than Light
Minimum requirements: 2 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM and a graphics card with at least 128 MB memory.
FTL may sound like a game for hardcore nerds in its short description, but the strategy game is one of the most relaxing laptop games we can think of, despite RPG and Rogue-like moments, and is now even available for the iPad. You assemble your crew, equip your spaceship, and do your best to stay alive while trying to deliver a message to the other end of the Galaxy. Image cutouts probably make the title seem rather boring, since the graphics admittedly don’t offer much, but it’s wonderful to gamble on the go and doesn’t awaken an uncomfortable feeling when you do have a few spectators.
7. Stardew Valley
Minimum requirements: 2 GHz processor, 2 GB memory, 256 MB graphics card
If you love farming simulators, and considering how well Harvest Moon and Farming Simulator sell there are quite a few of you, then you won’t be able to get enough of Stardew Valley. The top down view and cute characters of Stardew Valley combine perfectly with the Harvest Moon series. The main tasks of the game sound pretty simple – farming fields, growing produce, raising livestock, etc. – but that’s also the beauty of it. The peaceful environment combined with expanding your farm, going fishing by the river and interacting with other NPCs make SV one of the best laptop games of 2021 for us. Farming has never been so much fun.