Help Me, Laptop: Can Kaby Lake G Play Overwatch in 4K?

Some people buy big, powerful gaming laptops to play all kinds of games. Not reader alphatoronado, though. They just want to play Overwatch, and they want to play it at 4K.

Our dear reader doesn't like the bulk or the black-and-red color scheme of many gaming notebooks, so they were looking at the HP Spectre x360 15t with Kaby Lake G. But, alphatoronado asked, has anyone tested it with Overwatch?

"I've spent hours researching but can't seem to get a clear answer on whether the HP can play Overwatch nicely," alphatoronado wrote. Specifically, they want it to play at 60 frames per second and 100-percent render scale. They'd prefer high settings but will drop to low if it means they can get those other measurements.

So I decided to answer with some testing. We still had our Spectre x360 15t review unit in-house, so I dug it out of the closet and installed Overwatch. The unit has a 512GB SSD (alphatoronado wanted this), a 4K display (which is good, because we needed that to test the game at 4K), 16GB of RAM and a Kaby Lake G Core i7-8705G CPU with AMD's Radeon Vega graphics. As of this writing, that will run you $1,569.99.

Good news: This machine will play Overwatch. Bad news: It won't do it at the exact settings alphatoronado wants.

Here's what happened when I tried it:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Render ScaleResolutionFrame Rate
High100 percent4K20-30 fps
Medium100 percent4K24-30 fps
Low100 percent4K26-31 fps

Even on low settings, it didn't stay consistently above 30 fps. But Overwatch can run better on this chip. Overwatch should run better on this chip. So I modified just one variable: I changed the render scale from 100 percent to automatic. Now look:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Render ScaleResolutionFrame Rate
HighAutomatic4K47-52 fps
MediumAutomatic4K49-63 fps
LowAutomatic4K58-60 fps

It is possible to play Overwatch in 4K with Kaby Lake G. It can run extremely well! Part of the fun of PC gaming is to see what you can get to do with your specs. I'd argue that for Overwatch, you don't need to worry about the render scaling option. It's a game that focuses more on being optimized and playable on lots of systems rather than looking amazing just on the high end. And since Overwatch is a competitive shooter, your main concern should be achieving a smooth 60 fps rather than trying to boost the detail as high as possible.

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The alternative, of course, is to drop the resolution. While alphatoronado didn't want to turn down the scaling, they really only wanted to play in 4K. But just for fun, I played on Ultra settings at 1080p with an automatic render scale setting; I was always over 60 fps and sometimes running over 70 fps. The game still looked and played great.

But if alphatoronado needs the settings exactly as they described them and is unwilling to compromise, they'll probably need to pay for a much more expensive laptop with a high-end, gaming-focused graphics card. Check out our favorites here.

Credit: Blizzard