The Acer Iconia W4 barely breaks a sweat when running apps from Microsoft's Windows 8.1 Store, but what if you're after a bit of desktop gaming on the go? You won't be privy to anything like the performance offered by Intel Core i-series processors, but its Atom-based variant puts up an admirable fight if you curb expectations.

After installing FRAPS to monitor frame rates, we were able to get an average frames per second (FPS) reading over a 60-second gameplay period. To see how fast games could potentially run, we ran two tests - one with the resolution set to the Iconia W4's native 1280x800 resolution, and one with it set to the lowest resolution supported by the game.

We chose Skyrim, Left4Dead and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 to test a range of graphics engines, and all tests were run with all quality and detail settings tuned to the lowest available.

First up, Skyrim was almost completely unplayable at the W4's native resolution, resulting in a slideshow that made its in-game chickens look as deadly as Frost Trolls.

The two games driven by Valve's ageing Source engine, on the other hand, served up an adequate gameplay experience that was even quite enjoyable. Left4Dead occasionally lagged with multiple zombies on the screen, occasionally dipping to as low as 22FPS, but hovered merrily around the 40FPS mark for most of the time.

Similarly, Counter Strike: Source fared well apart from when multiple flash-bangs and grenades filled the screen with particle effects.

Acer Iconia W4 benchmark

Lowering the resolution to 800 x 600 resulted in a much smoother gameplay experience across all three games, but it meant having to put up with a 4:3 aspect ratio and lower image quality.

Skyrim still struggled, hovering around the 25FPS mark. Though on the borderline of playability, attempting any tactical nous in the head of battle was still incredibly difficult. It's not the way that the game was intended to be played, but if Acer's next tablet can provide a healthy 10FPS to 15FPS boost, that could completely change.

Left4Dead and CS:Source, on the other hand, fared very well, and will satisfy even the most ardent performance purists looking for some portable Source engine gaming on the go. However, it's worth sacrificing the FPS in those two games to run at the W4's native resolution.

Acer Iconia W4

To really put the Iconia W4 through its paces, we attempted to run the heavily CPU-dependent Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (out of morbid curiosity, more than anything). As you'll be able to tell by the graph below, two words sum up the game's performance on the tablet: don't bother.

Acer Iconia W4 benchmark

Independent promise?

Arguably, one of the most exciting aspects of eight-inch tablets for gamers is the promise of playing Steam's growing library of indie titles on the go. Be warned, however, that coming with the 'indie' tag doesn't mean that games will automatically run as smooth as butter.

Popular platformer Limbo, for example, despite coming in at a mere 98MB, only managed a measly 14FPS running at the device's native resolution, meaning you won't be able to traverse its tricky time-based jumping sections (all of the game, then) without tearing your hair out.