How to Turn Your iPhone or iPad Into the Ultimate Gaming Machine

Gaming PCs are great, but sitting at a desk after an entire day of work isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world. You could game on your TV, but what if your spouse or kids are hogging it? No worries: With the right stuff, you can turn your iPhone or iPad into the ultimate portable gaming machine.

Find Good Games (and Get Them On Sale)

First and foremost, let’s talk games. If you only think of phones and tablets as capable for silly, five-minute Angry Birds, you’re missing out. There is a whole App Store full of quality, console-like games that can take up hours of your time, tug at your emotions, and wow you with high-end graphics. Check out our list of the best high-quality mobile games to take your collection to the next level—and don’t forget to track the sales if you want to save a few bucks.

Get an MFi Gamepad for Better Control

Some games are perfect for touch, while others…really work better with a controller. Thankfully, there are a few solid gamepads made for iPhone and iPad that work with a ton of games in the App Store. You can see our full list of recommendations here, but in short, we like the Gamevice (shown at the top of this post) for the iPhone and iPad, as well as the SteelSeries Nimbus and PXN Speedy (shown above) for iPhones. To see which games are gamepad-compatible, check out this list at AfterPad.com.

Use a Good Pair of Headphones

You probably use a gaming headset at your PC, and a nice set of speakers on your TV. So why game with the tinny speakers on the edge of your iPhone or iPad? Using a good pair of headphones not only makes your games sound better, but can actually help you figure out where sounds are coming from (which is especially useful in first-person shooters or stealth games). I personally use the Superlux HD 681 for mobile gaming on my couch, but which headphones you use are up to you—open headphones are better for spatial reasoning, but closed headphones will make sure people sitting next to you don’t hear your game’s sound.

Stream Your PC Games to iOS with Moonlight

Not satisfied with the crop of mobile games available to you? If you have a gaming PC with an NVIDIA graphics card, you can play just about any modern PC title right on your iPhone or iPad. Yeah, seriously. Thanks to NVIDIA Gamestream and a free app called Moonlight, you can stream games from your PC to iOS, so your computer is doing all the heavy lifting. Moonlight even works with MFi gamepads, so it’s like having your own little NVIDIA SHIELD that runs iOS. The only problem is: now that you can play Skyrim on your iPad, you might never get off the couch.

Whitson Gordon is is the editor-in-chief of How-To Geek. He is also a Windows user, PC builder, metalhead, chopstick-using potato chip eater, and Midwest-to-Southern California transplant. You can follow his nerdy exploits on Twitter and Facebook.