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If you could run an AAA PC game on your phone, would you?

Only if you like geeky DIY projects.

Jon Peddie

With significant performance improvements in Apple’s M-series and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors, running PC and Mac apps natively on these devices has become feasible, including some Windows games. Fallout 4 was shown on a Samsung Galaxy S24 with playable frame rates, proving the concept. However, setting up such a system costs around $984, compared to better-performing traditional PCs available for $709.

Mobile Gaming

With amazing performance improvements in Apple’s M-series and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon series processors, it is now possible to run enough sims and translation middleware that make PC and Mac apps run as if native. Naturally, that claim by the respective companies provokes the question, Can you run Windows games? And if that produces a yes answer, the next question is, AAA FPS Windows games? And today, even that answer is yes… sort of.

Abid Ahsan Shanto at Notebookcheck.net figured out how to get Fallout 4, DirectX 11, running on a Samsung Galaxy S24 (Qualcomm Snapdragon 8, Gen 3) Android smartphone.  He set the phone up as the main processor, hung a monitor off it along with a Bluetooth keyboard, controller, and mouse.

The experiment was a proof of concept, and Shanto, who knows his way around the software of a phone and PC, was able to get FO4 running in 720p at a playable frame rate (as high as 60 FPS sometimes) with all features turned off or down. He also got BioShock and Far Cry running, but couldn’t (hasn’t yet) gotten Steam to play nice.

A Samsung Galaxy S24 can be found for as low as $800. A 27-inch HD Dell monitor can be found for as low as $120, a Dell BT keyboard and mouse for $25, and a Logitech game controller for $20. If you wanted a docking station for the Galaxy, that would add another $19. So, the total bill of materials for a PC replacement to play a low-resolution version of an eight-year-old game is $984.

An HP 23-inch All-in-One that runs Windows 11 and DirectX 12 games at full HD is only $709.

So, why would you spend almost $1,000 on a system that can’t give you as good an experience as a $700 PC? Mobility might be an answer. I already have a smartphone, but it could be an extra one. Another answer might be, because I can.

You can also play some AAA Windows games on an iPhone 15 Pro ($1,000).

However, some early reviews of the Snapdragon had issues with graphics performance, as the Adreno GPU does not seem to deliver as expected.

AMD and Intel aren’t just sitting around with their hands folded in a bingo parlor. The forthcoming AMD Strix Point and Intel Lunar Lake notebook SoCs will offer startling performance at reasonable to low prices.

So, other than the advantages of mobility that a convertible notebook can’t satisfy, there’s not much reason, as far as we can see, to get too excited about being able to play an FPS AAA game on the phone. And if you want to make the investment in time and money to make it a look-alike PC at home, then it’s a hobby project and not a gaming experience pursuit. Which leads us to a great big, so what?

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