Last Updated on August 20, 2020
This is a weekly blog chronicling my experiences of running the AWOW AK41 Mini Desktop PC on Linux.
I’ve already touched on the graphics capabilities of the AWOW AK41. To recap, this Mini PC uses the Intel UHD Graphics 605, an integrated processor graphics unit from the Gemini Lake generation. Performance of the graphics unit is widely reported as in the low-end segment and rarely sufficient for modern games.
It’s often touted that integrated graphics are not meant for gaming. But what does that really mean? There are tons of free games available for Linux. Many of them aren’t that graphically demanding.
To test the extent of gaming on the AWOW AK41, I picked a sample of games I’ve been playing over the last week. Most of the games are available to download on Steam for free. And a few are even released under an open source license. Here’s my findings.
Let’s kick off with a venerable classic that’s continuing to get better and better. It’s called SuperTuxKart.
SuperTuxKart is a free and open source cross-platform kart racing game offering a variety characters, tracks, and modes to play.
The developers of the game recommend using a dedicated graphics card such as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950. But there’s no chance of fitting a dedicated graphics card in the AWOW AK41. The minimum graphics for this game is an Intel HD Graphics 4000. The AK41’s UHD Graphics 605 exceeds that minimum.
How does the game fare on the AK41? In a nutshell, it all depends on the graphics effects level selected in game. With the lowest settings (1 or 2) you get silky 110 frames per second gameplay. And with graphics effects level set at 3 the game is very playable particularly at 1280×720 resolution.
Here’s a chart summarizing the Frames Per Second (FPS) at various screen resolutions and graphics effects levels.
The higher graphics effects level enable shadows, bloom, and increase the rendered image quality. As the chart indicates, don’t try playing the game with these higher graphics effects levels. Even at low resolutions, gameplay is far too jerky.
But the game is still very enjoyable at lower graphics settings. Enjoy the game with friends as the game supports online multiplayer.
AwesomeNauts is a 2D multiplayer online battle arena incorporating elements from 2D platform and fighting games. The gameplay is fast, frenetic, fun, light and works incredibly well with the 2D visual style. There’s real charm in this game not least because the cartoony graphics are charm personified.
On the AK41, I played this game mostly at 1920 x 1080 resolution using high texture quality, medium background quality, and higher framework multithreading mode. The game was pretty smooth at these settings achieving 40-45 FPS. Maybe that FPS is a little on the low side for your liking. But there’s plenty of ways of boosting the FPS without losing the beauty of this retro arcade play-style game.
AwesomeNauts is probably my favourite game of the bunch. And it’s great fun to play on this Mini PC.
In Retrocycles (also known as Armagetron Advanced), you ride a bizarre vehicle that can never stop and leaves a deadly trail behind. In the most basic game mode, you can only make sudden right angle turns and are trapped with others in an inescapable arena. The last survivor wins. It’s essentially a remake of Tron, a coin-operated arcade video game manufactured and distributed by Bally Midway in the early 1980s. Retrocycles started development way back in 2004 but it’s still under active development.
Retrocycles has souped up graphics and gameplay. There’s offline single player mode, splitscreen multiplayer for up to 34 players, and online multiplayer for 16+ players per server. With four builtin game modes, there’s plenty of variety. And like SuperTuxKart, it’s open source too!
System requirements for Retrocycles are low. Any OpenGL 1.2 capable card should be sufficient. The AK41 made light work of Retrocycles achieving 59 FPS even in intense moments of the game.
Another success for the AWOW AK41.
Robocraft is a free-to-play build, drive, and fight game. You construct fully customizable robot battle vehicle to create a futuristic machine armed with dozens of different types of weapons. There’s seven games modes including a single player mode to help you practice your gameplay.
The developers recommend a Shader Model 3.0 compatible GPU, but aren’t specific about any particularly graphic card.
On the AK41, I found it best to lower the screen resolution to 1152×864, otherwise I was at a disadvantage to other players. But at this resolution, the game was great fun on the AK41.
DOTA 2 is one of the most popular free games available for Linux. This action/strategy game is touted as the most-played game on Steam. This game is extremely graphical intensive and really needs a dedicated graphics card.
Unsurprisingly, DOTA runs slowly at 1920×1080 resolution on the AK41 with basic rendering. Even with the lowest settings, the game isn’t really playable on this Mini PC. You’ll get about 25-30 FPS which isn’t quite enough. Even lowering the screen resolution helped little.
I tried various performance optimizations within the game (from accessing the game’s console), but they made little or no appreciable difference. But there’s so many great Linux games that aren’t anywhere near as graphically demanding as DOTA 2.
Zombie Defense is a modern hybrid of the classic RTS and modern Tower Defense. In this game, you recruit solders, place them on slots, and let them fire at waves of zombies.
Zombie Defense is definitely not the most exciting game available to play but it’s fine in small doses.
This is one of the least demanding games in this roundup. The AK41 doesn’t have any difficulties in coping with the demands of this game. There’s smooth playback at 1920 x 1080 resolution.
I had great fun this week playing games on the AWOW AK41. For graphically demanding games, I did have to make some sacrifices. But from testing other games besides the ones listed above, many Linux games play just fine on the AK41.
Of course, I got very little work done this week! Such is life.
Complete list of articles in this series:
|AWOW AK41 Mini PC
|Video consoles: SNES emulation
|Running TeamViewer with AWOW AK41 as the host
|Astronomy on the AK41 including Celestia, Stellarium, Skychart, and more
|Recording video with OBS Studio
|Home computer emulators: FS-UAE, ZEsaurUX, Hatari, Clock Signal
|Web browsing with Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Vivaldi
|Gaming: SuperTuxKart, AwesomeNauts, Retrocycles, Robocraft, DOTA 2, and more
|Run multiple operating systems on the AK41
|Video and audio playback looking at hardware acceleration
|Benchmarking the AK41 with 3 other low power machines
|Introduction to the series including wiping Windows and installing Manjaro
This blog is written on the AWOW AK41 Mini PC.