It's never been a better time to be a PC gamer. Tons of great games. Amazing graphics hardware. Virtual reality. Thinner and fancier gaming laptop designs. But if you're stuck using a standard laptop (or desktop) with only Intel's built-in integrated graphics instead of a dedicated GPU from Nvidia or AMD, finding games that will work well is a bit tougher.
We tested dozens of PC games to kickstart this list, using a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop. The hardware includes an eighth-gen Intel Core i5 CPU, Intel HD 620 graphics, a 1,920x1,080-pixel display and a 512GB SSD. That's not an especially high-end configuration, nor is it the bottom of the barrel, but it does benefit from having a new, current-gen processor. Your mileage will vary, depending on your PC setup, so use this list as a general guide.
The standard here is that the game installs without errors, and runs smoothly enough for a satisfactory casual gaming experience. My strong preference is for that to happen at full 1080p resolution, but in a couple of cases, I dropped it to 1,600x900 for better performance. Either low, medium or high in-game graphics settings are acceptable.
We'll update this feature with more games as we discover new candidates, or as readers suggest their favorites.
This creepy 2010 game still holds up in the scare department and is more about walking slowly through a spooky castle than fast-paced action. As this is one of the older games on our list, it ran great, even with all the graphics options set to high. Fortunately, it's been updated many times over the years to include features like Xbox controller support.
A true modern classic, and still one of our favorite games. The PC version is just old enough to run, and look really good on basic hardware like this, as long as you turn the detail settings down to low (medium still felt a bit choppy).
A 2014 adventure game that takes its cues from the classic adventures of earlier decades. That makes sense since this Kickstarter sensation comes from the mind of designer Tim Schafer (Psychonauts, Grim Fandango). Aside from the screen resolution, there are no graphics settings to mess with, and no problems running the game.
It's hard to believe this open-world RPG was released in 2011. It still feels fresh and exciting, and fans are still building new add-on levels and mods for it. It also runs great at medium settings and 1080p resolution on our test laptop.
This post-apocalyptic adventure works on a wide range of PCs and also has a near-endless supply of fan-made mods you can download. At 1080p and Low graphics settings, it's a little choppier than Skyrim, but the slowed-down combat system means you should be able to get away with it. I'd say this one is on the borderline, but playable. Trade up to a gaming PC and VR headset for the very cool (and sold-separately) VR version.
A moody mystery-adventure-exploration game that takes place in the Wyoming wilderness. To say more would be too spoiler-ish, but I get a bit of a Twin Peaks vibe from it. For such a simple-looking indie game, it's not especially well optimized for low-end PCs, and I found it choppy but playable with graphics options set to Low. Dropping the resolution to 1,600x900 helped a lot.
It took 17 years for this 1998 LucasArts classic to get a (slightly) modernized rerelease in a special remastered version. It recounts a film-noir-style mystery involving a skeletal detective solving a case in an underworld universe inspired by the Día de Muertos.
The go-to game when you've got a bunch of PC gamers looking for some co-op action, this zombie classic is still a fast-paced fun time. It's often on sale, so pick up four copies and share with your friends. L4D2 (as it's sometimes called) runs great at full resolution and high settings.
An inventive episodic adventure game telling a high-school-set story that incorporates influences from superhero movies. Great voice acting and writing, and it plays well at low or medium settings and full HD resolution.
A quirky, love-it-or-hate-it puzzle game in which a demonic child causes the death of several snooping adults. It's a low-budget game, and not terribly optimized, so I had to drop it to medium settings at full HD to run smoothly.
This indie sci-fi game gets its Blade Runner feel not only from its dystopian urban futurism, but also from lead voice actor Rutger Hauer. Its performance on our casual laptop is just on the borderline of acceptable, but it ran mostly fine at low detail settings and FHD resolution. Fortunately, it's a slow-paced exploration game, so a little lag creeping in isn't a big deal.
One of my favorite game experiences from the past several years, this talky 2D adventure takes a boatload of teens to a deserted island. Think less horror film, more David Lynch. With almost no visual settings to mess with, just run the game at full HD resolution and you'll be fine.
This co-op crime caper is essentially the same as Left 4 Dead, with bank robbers and cops replacing zombies and survivors. Even though it's a few years old, there's a nearly nonstop flood of content updates and the game plays great on medium-to-high settings.
Even though this mind-bending puzzle game has been out since 2012, it still feels fresh and inventive. Fans keep making amazing new levels and posting them online, so the game literally never ends. Runs like a dream, even at high detail settings.
This game's highly unusual presentation is both deeply weird and refreshing. Using only a sonar gun, paint the walls of a deep, dark cave with tiny points of light, while exploring ancient mysteries. Because the visuals are so limited, it runs great at FHD and high detail settings. It also works in VR (but you'll need a real gaming PC for that).