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I played Team Fortress 2 on a Bay Trail tablet and it didn't suck

Yes, yes, I know the Win 8 Surface Pro already showed off the fact you can run Team Fortress 2 on a tablet without wanting to scratch your own eyes out, but they're hot, heavy, expensive bits of kit. But here I am playing with a standard Windows 8 tablet, with a smaller form factor and a much, much higher res screen – who would have thought it could do the job just as well? And with around an eight hour battery life?

I've ventured far from the leafy, West Country home of PC Gamer in England to the foggy, Pacific shores of San Francisco for the annual Intel Developer Forum. It started properly on Tuesday, but before that I left the bay and headed over to Intel's offices in Santa Clara just down the road to get a load of the new Atom processor they launched today, code-named Bay Trail.

The new Bay Trail processors are a very different breed to their poor relations in the CPU family. For a start it's a proper processor, and by that I mean it's built on an out-of-order design. That in turn means it can execute commands in the most efficient order instead of just when they were sent into the CPU to process. It's also the first of the Atom family to get the proper Core CPU's HD Graphics. Sadly not of the Iris Pro variety, but we're still talking about a processor designed for tablets which is unlikely to ever draw more than 4W.

I sat down with a reference design tablet, with its 2560x1440 screen, and a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and fired up Steam and TF2. Somehow, it worked. Source may not be the most demanding of game engines these days, but it's still impressive to see a proper 3D title running on a thin tablet, and it didn't wheeze or melt the desktop it was sat on.

Now, I'm not saying it's going to replace your desktop or gaming laptop, but it shows just how far tablets have come. And with Bay Trail also likely to appear in budget laptops not far down the line you'll still be able to get your TF2 fix there too. First step on the road to proper PC gaming on a tablet? Maybe.

It'll do some Android stuff sometime down the line too, but hey you still can't get Steam on Google's tablet OS so why bother, eh?

Dave James

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.