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GPU Disappointment


VRprofessor
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I finally broke down and spent the $$ to upgrade from a GTX550ti to a GTX660ti.  According to the benchmarks provided by nvidia the 660 should give a sizable improvement in performance relative to the 550. 

But I walked around at NCI Kuula both before and after installing the new card and saw no noticable improvement in the fps rates at the same graphics settings.  (I was using SL viewer default "High" settings.)

Installed the latest driver from nvidia's website and rebooted my computer. 

Tweaked a few graphics settings.

Any other suggestions I should consider before I find out if I can get my money back?

I have an i5-2500k cpu with 8GB RAM.  The card is sitting in a PCI 2 slot.

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From what I understand, the 6xx series might not always be the best or fastest solution. I thought it should be pretty good for SL, but I have no idea.

For more details and some technical details, have a look in this thread, starting at around post #11: http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Mesh/Normal-Maps-Specularity-Maps-amp-Diffuse-coming-soon/td-p/1638165/page/2

- Luc -

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You can have the best graphics card in the world, but if your internet service provider lies about the speed, or you find yourself sharing your broadband with a ton of other users, it's not going to make a deal of difference to your framerate.

Before giving up on that new piece of kit, contact your ISP and force them to be honest about what service you're getting. Here in the UK we are waiting for Virgin to fulfil their promises of twice the speed services. Makes me laugh, I am supposed to already be on unlimited and fast - but as more and more people are buying computers and hopping on board the internet highway, we're not getting the benefit of these increased speeds.

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Luc Starsider wrote:

From what I understand, the 6xx series might not always be the best or fastest solution. I thought it should be pretty good for SL, but I have no idea.

For more details and some technical details, have a look in this thread, starting at around post #11: 

- Luc -

Thanks for the link.  Not the most encouraging discussion from my point of view, at least what I thought I understood of it. 

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Echo Hermit wrote:

You can have the best graphics card in the world, but if your internet service provider lies about the speed, or you find yourself sharing your broadband with a ton of other users, it's not going to make a deal of difference to your framerate.

Good point.  The last time I did a speed test for my internet the results were very encouraging, I was getting something like 14mbps down, but I have no idea what internet speeds are necessary for good SL performance.  And I was trying this at time when folks in my neighborhood are likely to be online.  I'll try again in a bit when most in my neighborhood are at work and see if it helps.

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550 to 660 is just 1 jump in relative power and 1 generation newer. Typically, unless there is some major technological revolution happening it is not going to give a big noticable jump in performance. Most likely you would have to look into the higher end cards, ie 580, 680 but they are also a different price class.

Even then, it is possible you won't see a huge increase if you aren't running lighting and shadows. My card (580) is pretty much twiddling it's thumbs with the standard SL renderer and using only about 40% of it's power because the CPU is slowing it down. The only way to max out the card is to turn on lighting and shadows which utlizes the graphics card much more than the old renderer does.

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Aveline Stein wrote:

550 to 660 is just 1 jump in relative power and 1 generation newer. Typically, unless there is some major technological revolution happening it is not going to give a big noticable jump in performance. Most likely you would have to look into the higher end cards, ie 580, 680 but they are also a different price class.

 

According to nvidia's performance chart performance of  the 660 should be on par with the 580.  That is why I am so disappointed.  Moving from a 550 to a 560 I would have expected about what I got...but moving to something comparable to the 580 I was expecting a much more noticable jump in performance.

 

On a slightly happier note I have switched from "high" settings to default  "Ultra" settings and dropped fps rates at Kuula from ~33fps to ~26fps which I think is better than would have been the case with the 550. 

At my skybox fps rates have jumped from low 80s to low 100s, so the card is doing something...just not what I was hoping for.

In watching the fps meter I have also noticed something called "Sim fps"  assuming that is what it sounds like, @ kuula it is running in the low 40fps range so my mid-30fps rendering may be as good as it gets under those circumstances and I'll need to think about whether running on Ultra is worth the extra $$ to me or whether there are other benefits.

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Aveline Stein wrote:

Even then, it is possible you won't see a huge increase if you aren't running lighting and shadows. My card (580) is pretty much twiddling it's thumbs with the standard SL renderer and using only about 40% of it's power because the CPU is slowing it down. The only way to max out the card is to turn on lighting and shadows which utlizes the graphics card much more than the old renderer does.

I will look into that and see what I am doing, exaclty.  Perhaps I had things arranged so I wasn't using much of the GPU capacity in the first place.  That would explain a lot.

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Alicia Sautereau wrote:

Don`t forget that leaps are made in directx performance so any game you will see fps and quality improvement

SL uses opengl...

So the benchmarking improvements could be tied primarily to directx and not opengl.  That makes sense.  It makes me sad, but it makes sense. 

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Echo Hermit wrote:

Take heart, VRprofessor, I never get higher than 7FPS at Kuula (nvidia 9500, Virgin connection, in the UK). Running on High, but not Ultra.

It doesn't sound so bad for you after all.

No, I don't have it so bad.  I really have no complaints about the performance I was getting from my 550 card--I just wanted the amazing graphics I kept hearing about from folks recommending higher end cards. 

I saw a nice jump in quality and fps when I went from onboard graphics (intel 3000) to the gtx550 (which has modest benchmarks @ nvidia's site).  I thought going from a modest benchmark card to a card with ~3x better benchmarks I would see the same sort of jump in quality/fps.

The more I learn the more unrealistic my expectations appear to have been. 

Both here and in my physical office I am getting more information.  Some that may improve performance, some that may explain why performance is stuck where it is. 

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Luc Starsider wrote:

The Sim fps and physics fps is server side and shouldn't affect the viewer fps. There are *some* explanation of this - 
- but not much. I think low sim fps would more rubber banding and snapping back to a different position type of lag, although I'm not sure of it. 

- Luc -

TY.  Only a quick peek so far, but it appears that there is a lot of stuff that will help me understand a bit better what is going on...and more importantly, what is going on with the card versus what is going on every where else.

 

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I have a grumpy face on your behalf, VRprofessor.

Some of my SL friends make such amazing photographs, using shadows, shading, windlight settings, and no photoshop post-production, and I can only gaze in awe.

Do you think you will ask for a refund on your new card? Your other one could have worn out at any moment, so you would have needed a new one at some point.

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Lots of useful info at that link, for sure.

And if you like that, then you'll love some of the consoles and info in the develop menu in the viewer. :D Have a look... I can't say I understand what it all is, but I'm sure it can tell you a lot about the performance on your computer.

- Luc -

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Echo Hermit wrote:

I have a grumpy face on your behalf, VRprofessor.

 

Thank you.


Echo Hermit wrote:

Some of my SL friends make such amazing photographs, using shadows, shading, windlight settings, and no photoshop post-production, and I can only gaze in awe.

I think if I were doing photos I might be a lot happier.  I am pretty sure that the quality of the image has improved. But I am only marginally concerned about that.  


Echo Hermit wrote:

Do you think you will ask for a refund on your new card? Your other one could have worn out at any moment, so you would have needed a new one at some point.

I will be checking into newegg's return/refund policy to see if it makes sense.  For the same amount of money I can buy two GTX 550 cards, take my wife out to dinner (twice at her favorite cafe, which has modest prices), and still have enough money for a nice cup of coffee.  That seems like a better use of the money.

If I can get a full refund I am pretty sure the card is going back.  If a refund is not an option, I will keep telling myself I really like the better texturing and lighting until I believe it. 

 

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VRprofessor wrote:

I will be checking into newegg's return/refund policy to see if it makes sense.  For the same amount of money I can buy two GTX 550 cards, take my wife out to dinner (twice at her favorite cafe, which has modest prices), and still have enough money for a nice cup of coffee.  That seems like a better use of the money.

If I can get a full refund I am pretty sure the card is going back.  If a refund is not an option, I will keep telling myself I really like the better texturing and lighting until I believe it. 

 

Recommend you don't go the dual card route with two 550s unless it's for other games. There are a number of threads about SL barely making use of the second card in SLI so a waste of money too if it's just SL you want them for.

 

 

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I do like this page here for relatively useful comparisons between GPUs: http://www.gpureview.com/show_cards.php

Edit: With your card I'd think you should easily be able to run lighting&shadows. I've got a weaker card and can run it at (for me) acceptable frame rates. With my GT440 at work I get a minimum of 17FPS with light&shadows on in that Kuula place.

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Alicia Sautereau wrote:

Don`t forget that leaps are made in directx performance so any game you will see fps and quality improvement

SL uses opengl...

correct, and that's the difference, and the reason you see no real improvement.

I just upgraded from a GT240 to a GT610 with double the vidram and get no real improvement either.

There's 2 reasons for that: my videocard wasn't the bottleneck in the first place (the upgrade was because of hardware failure in the old card), rather my harddisk is, and the improvements in OpenGL just aren't dramatic between the cards.

 

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Nyll Bergbahn wrote:


Recommend you don't go the dual card route with two 550s unless it's for other games. There are a number of threads about SL barely making use of the second card in SLI so a waste of money too if it's just SL you want them for.

 

 

No plans to SLI cards.  I have a dual monitor system so I would try running one card for each monitor.  If that didn't work my son will get a video card upgrade for xmas.

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