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sl for slower computers.


solstyse
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Here's some advice for those who either can't afford a new computer, or find themselves thinking, "Just one more year! I can't justify it yet!" I have done some experimenting on a 3 year old HP g42-230 running Windows 7. I admit, it's not as barebones as you can get, since some people here are still using xp, but I hope that everyone who seems laggy can get some help from this. Here's how to improve performance while keeping eye candy sacrifices to a minimum.

1. Tweak windows, if that is your OS. Most onboard graphics will be either ATI or Nvidia. For Ati cards, search "CCC" without the quotations. Slide all adjustments from quality to the extreme end of performance. the visual difference is barely noticable.

Now click start and type "power options"  and click "show additional plans." select "high performance." You can dig deep into the advanced settings of this feature, but you don't need to.

Again from start, type "Advanced system settings." click on that, then click on "performance." Here you can disable most aero features. Leave at least the last four turned on, though, or it'll look like Windows 2000, which isn't worth it.

2. Be picky about your viewer. They do not all perform the same. I tested a lot.

Firestorm, I found to be resource hungry.

Neirans was unstable on my computer (graphically)

Kirstens worked fine, but the UI wasn't my style

Coolviewer and Singularity looked too "old" for me, but performed well right as installed.

Exodus and Catznip both looked alright, and after changing a few preferences worked very well for me.

LL's own CHUI (which is an alternate viewer that I really hope becomes their main) had a very modern look, and all preferences were already set for performance. The only thing I didn't like is that the chat window, and any other open window stay opaque when you're walking, while they go transparent in the viewers I like to use. That is the one and only thing that prevented CHUI from being my top pick.

In the end, I chose Catznip. It just barely squeaked ahead of Exodus and Neirans.But I used the preference settings in Chui to optimize it. Which brings us to our next part.

3. Optimize your viewer. You can find a balance between performance and quality.

Turn off anything you don't use. A lot of people specifically mention voice.

Set graphics to "mid" That will still look good. Maybe not photo-quality, but you'll still have transparent water, basic shaders, etc. You can do more here, but I chose to still have some visual appeal, so I left it at the "mid" default. There was an immediate difference. Now from graphics click hardware, and disable "anisotropic filtering." The only difference I saw from doing so is that sl seemed to speed up.

Set bandwidth to about 1500.

Strangely, Firestorm seemed to respond a bit less to these preference changes than the others did. but the counterpoint is that Firestorm has my favorite UI.

Now, for the not so free stuff.  Because if you find youself resorting to this, the next time you slow down, you're going to have to sacrifice either some money, or some eyecandy. So if you follow this guide, then start saving up.

1. Run resource monitor to see where your hardware weakness is before you buy anything. Whichever graph shows highest on average is where your weakness is. This is much more important on a desktop than on the test laptop I used.

I found that memory usage was spending longer than I would have liked above 80%, so I upgraded from 4gb to 6gb. It made a big difference in performance for $20.

Network usage for me was low, with an occasional spike. If yours is high, then you would benefit most from a new router.

CPU usage is the one that you can do little with, on a laptop. On a desktop, you can replace your cpu or gpu. But on the lappy, usually you're stuck with what the factory gave you. Unfortunately for me, the test computer comes with an AMD Turion dual core APU with Graphics Chipset    AMD M880G with ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250       . 

But, by optimizing my viewer using the preference settings I'm posting,  I managed to lower CPU usage by 10%, which makes a noticable difference.

Finally, as your old laptop chugs along, and you start looking to newer machines, keep in mind that a desktop will typically have a longer lifespan before it reaches the point of being unsavably obsolete. As bottlenecks in performance on a desktop become apparent, parts may be changed one at a time to overcome them. With a laptop, your only option is often to replace the whole computer.

Hope this helps someone.

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solstyse wrote:

 

1. Run resource monitor to see where your hardware weakness is before you buy anything. Whichever graph shows highest on average is where your weakness is. This is much more important on a desktop than on the test laptop I used.

I found that memory usage was spending longer than I would have liked above 80%, so I upgraded from 4gb to 6gb. It made a big difference in performance for $20.


Thank you so much for this info. :)  This may be a dumb question - how do I run the resource monitor...or where is it? lol

I just received 3 quotes from a private PC shop owned by a woman who builds and repairs PCs based on my providing the specs needed to run SL (also had her bring up the SL website with specs listed), my preferences, budget, etc.  The highest quote I can't afford so that is a moot subject.

The other two with primary specs listed are:

1. Intel i3 version 3.1 CPU

   4 GB RAM

   nVidia Graphics Card 9800 series

   Win 7 (my preference) - 64-bit

   $575 USD

 

2.  The tech said this was her favorite of the three because the MB has the ability to swap out the CPU chip, which she said was not found on many MBs:

ASUS MB with Intel i3 ship (if I opt for an i5 chip it will be $100 extra)

4 GB RAM - expandable to 16 GB

Same graphics card as above

$725 USD with the i3 chip

The third choice is $950 USD - out of my price range but I was surprised to see it was the only one with an i5 chip and quad-core.  The other two are dual-core.

In researching the differences in the Intel chips, I got the impression that i7 is the "gamer" chip, and i3 would be for average computer use, thus was surprised to see this as the chip that was part of the quote since we had discussed the graphics intensity of SL at length; however, it appears, if I'm understanding chip technology correctly a "version 3.1" is a third generation chip so would a third gen. i3 chip perform better than earlier ones?

Also, I would like to add more RAM and asked if it would be expensive to add more.  I was told it depended on what configuration I purchased but that RAM is on the expensive side now; however I see on this thread another poster indicates RAM is inexpensive now. 

I am soooo confused.  I don't want to spend all the funds that were kindly gifted to me so I can hold some back for upgrades as needed.  Have been trying to find the post some months back where someone broke down various "ranges" of computer types and how much the expenditure per year would be,  (If anyone can find it I would be most grateful as I've been looking on and off the last couple of days.)

I keep going back and forth between these thoughts:

*ANYTHING I get will run SL better than my non-SEE2 10-year-old PC - so opt for #1 and upgrade if I see I need to.

*I don't want to spend $575 and STILL not have a great SL experience ie. meaning I would need to upgrade very soon

*With technology changing so rapidly, maybe I shouldn't sink all the money I have into #2

I've also been comparing prebuilt PCs but I got burned years ago when I purchased an HP and when it needed an upgrade and I took it to a PC repair shop was told that the way the case (or something) was built that it would not hold generic parts.  That is when I had the PC I currently have built for me.  The techs used as many of the parts of the HP they could with a new case and added the rest.  Also, even what was considered a "gaming PC" by the tech at Office Max has integrated graphics - shown here.

When I researched "gaming PCs" I kept getting hits on this rig sold by Walmart.  Normally I wouldn't have thought of looking for PCs at Walmart but I know they are excellent on return policies.

When I first began researching PCs earlier this year, I went to a shop that builds/repairs PCs that is right on our town's "mainstreet" in a snazzy building.  The techs looked to be 20 years old, but then kids can build PCS...lol.  The two things that I didn't like there were that they required the entire purchase amount to be paid up front before they ordered the parts.  I good deposit I understand, but I wasn't comfortable with the full amount up front.  Also, when I checked to make sure an authentic Win 7 disc/authorization would come with that they said they do not include that and if I wanted the disc it would be an additional $100.  Ok I did some research on that and it is either a law or some other strict requirement from MicroSoft that all vendors are to provide an authentic copy of the OS.  I don't plan to purchase there but, for comparison, the specs quoted were:

AMD quad-core processor

4 GB RAM

Gtz 280 graphics (not sure what this is, but I specified I wanted a nVidia card)

500w Power Supply -  (I asked vendor #1 about the power supply and she said "what comes with the bare bones system so I have no idea if it's 300w or higher)

500 GB HD -  (Vendor #1 said 1 Terrabyte was standard)

All of the vendor quotes include multiple USB ports, DVD, and I'm "assuming" network cards come standard.  This vendor spelled out a 10/100 Network Card.  I got a hard copy quote from this vendor that spells everything out.  Vendor #1 gave the basic specs over the phone.  When I asked about a DVD she said "That was a given."

This last rig was quoted at $850.94 inc. taxes (the other quotes were plus tax) BUT and additional $100 for the Win 7 disc.  I asked Vendor #1 about the authorized disc and she confirmed what I had read that this is required to be included to customers by a vendor.  She also showed me what MS now provides which is not a disc anymore but an authorized number.  In thinking back, I received a disc for Win 98 but when I upgraded to XP I received the authorized number only and was able to use it to reinstall XP on a new HD.

Sooooooo...arrrgggggggghhh...too many decisions.  I want to use my money wisely, but not spend too little and still have to upgrade a lot.

Questions:  I'm assuming if I went with one of the PCs from the first vendor that I could add my own RAM, meaning is it difficult to do so?  And the same with adding a graphics card if I went with an off-the-shelf PC.  Besides physically adding a graphics card, how does one "tell" the PC to use that card and not the integrated one?

Any input is most welcome as I am almost at the point of saying, "Heck with this...I'll just keep my old PC" lol.  And where are these $300 PCs I keep hearing one can get to run SL?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THIS is the one i have, i swapped out the graphics for a nvidia 9800 which i had from my old deceased PC.

I added some memory to it from a box of cards i got off a guy on craigslist for 5 bucks... dude had no clue what he had in there. i had enough to upgrade my wife to 8 GB and my kids pc to 6, which is all they can handle. It runs SL at ultra just fine.

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Kenbro Utu wrote:


Czari Zenovka wrote:

  And where are these $300 PCs I keep hearing one can get to run SL?
 

 

Buy the parts yourself, build it yourself, and save the cost of labor the PC shop is adding?

I've considered that but, having never built a PC before, I don't want to risk frying a part because I wasn't grounded correctly...lol.

But if that was in answer to a $300 PC, maybe, although I saw some posts on the forums awhile back that said building a PC these days is not really much of a savings as it was in the past.

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Drake1 Nightfire wrote:

is the one i have, i swapped out the graphics for a nvidia 9800 which i had from my old deceased PC.

I added some memory to it from a box of cards i got off a guy on craigslist for 5 bucks... dude had no clue what he had in there. i had enough to upgrade my wife to 8 GB and my kids pc to 6, which is all they can handle. It runs SL at ultra just fine.

Thanks Drake.  I know *just* enough about PC hardware to understand specs and I have installed a HD before, but no idea how to install a new graphics card and set it up.  I'm assuming installing RAM is relatively simple...but is RAM "standard" for new PCs or are there different types?

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It is really not that hard to build a PC.  I have never bought a PC off the shelf aside from a laptop.  My first tower PC I had help building -- computer guy/friend ordered the parts per my spec,and he supervised while I built it.  From then on I have built every PC I have ever owned.  I have never seen a component damaged by a static charge, and although is possible, is not that probable.  You are more likely to get a motherboard DOA, which only happened to me once.  The only issue with bulding your own, and part of what you pay a shop for, is there is no warranty, and you become the repairman.  

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Czari, I see something disturbing in those quotes. Both of your suppliers are quoting video cards from 2008. They were very good cards in 2008, mind you, but that strikes me as quite peculiar, particularly from the ones who said they were going to "order all the parts." There's a real limit to how many new tricks you can teach an old videodog, as I'm sure you're well aware.

Paying someone to build a computer for you is basically paying for the parts plus that person's expertise. In the computer field I've seen this be a case of paying someone for their ability to half-understand magazine articles from a few years ago, make things up or just tell barefaced lies. What you're describing your vendors saying doesn't fill me with trust for them.

One way to drop the price of a SL computer by a nice percentage is going with Linux instead of Windows, but you'll have to do some research to make sure everything plays nicely together.

I've added memory and video cards to off-the-shelf Dell desktops without problems, and my current SL machine is a 2008 vintage Dell from Best Buy that I got for around $600 but it came with a quad-core processor and 6 gigabytes of memory. I've thrown a few sub-$100 Nvidia cards at it over the years and have been very happy with it.

 

 

 

 

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Theresa Tennyson wrote:

Czari, I see something disturbing in those quotes. Both of your suppliers are quoting video cards from 2008. They were very good cards in 2008, mind you, but that strikes me as quite peculiar, particularly from the ones who said they were going to "order all the parts." There's a real limit to how many new tricks you can teach an old videodog, as I'm sure you're well aware.

Paying someone to build a computer for you is basically paying for the parts plus that person's expertise. In the computer field I've seen this be a case of paying someone for their ability to half-understand magazine articles from a few years ago, make things up or just tell barefaced lies. What you're describing your vendors saying doesn't fill me with trust for them.

One way to drop the price of a SL computer by a nice percentage is going with Linux instead of Windows, but you'll have to do some research to make sure everything plays nicely together.

I've added memory and video cards to off-the-shelf Dell desktops without problems, and my current SL machine is a 2008 vintage Dell from Best Buy that I got for around $600 but it came with a quad-core processor and 6 gigabytes of memory. I've thrown a few sub-$100 Nvidia cards at it over the years and have been very happy with it.

 

 

Hi Theresa and thank you for responding. :)  Are you referring to the nVidia 9800 series graphics card?  If so then I'm really confused because I've been told by several friends that is a great card and the one they have.  The second vendor I'm not really sure what grahics card that included other than it was an nVidia.

I guess I lean toward having a tech build a PC for me because I had such great luck with that when I had my current PC built and then had it upgraded, etc. at that shop for the next 15 years. (I refer to my PC as 10 years old as that is when the current MB and maxed out RAM was installed).  Unfortunately that shop no longer exists or I'd be down there in a minute.  At least years ago when I taught PC application software at a Jr. College, the general "mindset" of my colleagues who were techies was that PCs purchased from stores used the cheapest parts they could find.  I'm seeing many responses of people purchasing that type of PC now so....maybe things have changed.

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Czari Zenovka wrote:


Thanks Drake.  I know *just* enough about PC hardware to understand specs and I have installed a HD before, but no idea how to install a new graphics card and set it up.


Installing a new graphic card is easier then baking an egg. I did so two weeks ago. Look how the old one is connected, take it out, put the new one in, connected it the same way as the old one. (Though the card came with new connection wires, it was more easy to use the ones that were already in my pc.) Run cd with the driver, look at vidia site if there is a newer update available of the driver, and it's done.

I spend much more time on choosing the videocard. I knew I wanted a nvidia, but which one? I browsed some shops, tried to find buyers reviews, but didn't get much wiser there. Then I found a hardware info site with an excellent article about graphic cards. It was as a site from guys who test all kind of hardware that is currently or just new in the market.  It was very informative, I had no idea there is so much you can test in graphic card. There was explained how the cards are build up, what techniques they use and how they perform. Some general tests where done, things like how is the speed, how is the temperature after running the card for two hours, how much noise do they make. And then they tested for about 30 very populair games (SL was not one of them), how each card performed (at several points).

Besides it was very educative it helped me very well to make my choice. Unfortunately the site was not in English, so I think that is not going to help you much, but you might find something like that in English as well.

 

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if look at Inara Pey blog http://modemworld.wordpress.com/

on the right can see the specs she use to run SL and the settings she use: High.

she have a 9800GT 1 MB card

also only 3GB RAM and win7 (32-bit) but she got a quad 660 processor (i5). am pretty sure her computer actual got 4GB RAM. is just WIndows says is/uses 3MB

can see from her photos that she can get pretty looking SL on it 

+

the 9800GT 1 MB is a good video card. for an oldey. can go slow on Ultra / Shadows. altho do actual need a 560 or better for Ultra + Shadows to go really good anyways. like always on no problems

+

is very possible that you can get buy a 9800GT secondhand. lots of people are upgrading all the time. if you got a slot in your current computer for one then maybe just do that

if not then go for the Asus motherboard like the lady said. later on can upgrade the i3 chip to i5 and the video card even one day

Asus motherboards are good. in my super duper rig i get. i made sure i got a Asus board

also. SL is a Win 32 bit program. so if using mainly/only for SL and some browser then 4GB is plenty. Win64 and more than 4GB only any use if you running other heavy duty 3D programs at the same time. say like Blender and SL as same time

 

can say that for SL is all about the video card

need be careful to make sure that what you are buying is a actual 9800GT 1 MB dedicated. or better

 

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Don't forget that when you change a core operating system component such as the motherboard or processor to a different one than what you originally installed the operating system on, you will need to reinstall Windows. This does not apply to power supplies, DVD/BR drives, RAM, memory card readers, sound cards, ethernet cards.

Video cards...I would stick with newer technology. I just upgraded to the Nvidia GTX 650ti 2GB back in November. It is a great card, runs smoothly, is relatively short(not one of those 9 inch long cards), and runs SL perfectly. Matter of fact, this video card took my Windows Aero score from 5.2 up to 7.6!

This card back when I got it was $200 though the price has probably come down some. Check at Newegg.com or Tigerdirect.com. Most of your computer guru's are going to buy parts from one of those two sites.

 

ETA: Fixed typos and grammar.

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Czari,

You said you installed a hard drive before, right? Well, ram and video cards are actually easier, since you don't have to screw them down.

See, when you buy ram, it might cost $40 to buy it in a box, but then cost $150 to buy the same memory installed. so i guess it's both expensive and cheap.

Grounding yorself is as easy as touching something metal to discharge. You know how sometimes when you reach for a metal doorknob you get a static electric shock? Well, that's all that you're trying to prevent.

4gb of ram is what Microsoft recommends for just the OS. (2 is the official minimum, but 4+ is the official recommended.)

Windows 8 has the same requirements listed as Win7, but it runs more efficiently. If you can't stand the UI, then you can push win d to get a more familiar look. Unfortunately, you'll keep ending back in that ugly tile screen, but until you get used to it, you can minimize your time there.

Someone suggested a linux machine. Now, I prefer to run linux on a computer that's about 2 years old. It makes researching for compatible drivers/hardware much easier, and since it is a lighter OS, building for windows then switching later, or better yet, dual-booting givess you the best of both worlds.

Network cards are usually on the motherboard, so they're not really cards.

Official discs are only required for custom built machines. "factory" computers have a recovery partition that takes the place of physical media. But each copy comes iwth it's own licence, and can be installed for only one user. when a custom computer is built, a "system builder" licence is used. It is more expensive than other licences, and requiring it to be given with the new custom PC is Microsoft's way of discouraging piracy.

Since you're confused about hardware, I have a quote for you. http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=7545249&CatId=4910 Add $100 for Windows 7 and you have a fully working PC. I know you can assemble it, even if you're not so sure. It's much more equipment for your money than having one built for you. And you don't have to research anything, other than what chip you want. Honestly, I just picked the first complete package I found for between $500 and $700. If you look online for "barebones kits" you'll probably find a better deal than even that.

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Forgot to add. Resource monitor...

You can hit ctrl+shift+escape to bring up task manager. then click performance.

You can press ctrl+alt+del then click resource monitor, then click performance.

you can press the win key, then type resource monitor. this version is more detailed. It's the one I prefer to use.

 

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Czari Zenovka wrote:

 

1. Intel i3 version 3.1 CPU

   4 GB RAM

   nVidia Graphics Card 9800 series

   Win 7 (my preference) - 64-bit

As you are planning for 64 bit operating system, I would recommend to up the RAM to 8 GB.  Your computer will be a lot happier and smoother with 8 GB that with 4 GB.

You can run many applications easily at the same time.  Less disk swapping, smoother and faster operation.

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Czari Zenovka wrote:

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions - they are all truly appreciated.
:)

 

I am going to echo what a few others have said.  The price for that custom built is a little high....the Lady is making a profit.  Nothing wrong with that.

Your best bang for your buck can come fro a refurb.  That is how I got my lap top a few years ago.  I purchased mine from Sony direct.  I checked a lot of reviews and the model had got high ratings from everyone.  It had retailed for $1600.  I added a three year extended warranty and paid about $1,000.

Two pieces of advise. 

Adding your own ram and graphics card is very simple.  Just watch a few videos on You Tube and you will see this.  Also, I probably live dangerously and one day I may get bit, but I have never used a grounding strap when I have worked on my computer.  But you can use just about any piece of wire and some scotch tape to do this.

Second, when buying a refurb, do a search for what the model sold for brand new.  Not all refurb deals are the greatest savings.

Hope this helps you.

 

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Czari Zenovka wrote:

 I'm assuming installing RAM is relatively simple...but is RAM "standard" for new PCs or are there different types?


 

it depends on the motherboard. if is not the right type for the board then it wont go very well. usually not at all. the manufacturer will have a specification for the type of RAM that it uses

+

about the lady who makes rigs. you have to weigh it up as to the value it adds

when I got mine. I decide to get it made by the shop. I could maybe have made myself. but I decide to not. bc was a whole complete new box. like they made sure it had all the proper BIOs and OS and drivers installed proper. so when I get then just turn on and go

was peace of mind really. if I ever have any problems with it. like some of the stuff breaks or is not working like the drivers then I can just take back to them. and they will fix. like get the new parts or softwares whatever. and will sort out any warranty replacements for me

 

in some other computers I had I just done the changes myself. like more RAM and video cards and hard drive 2 times. like just add/change stuff. not make whole new. before I take anything out then I take heaps photos. so if what I do don't work then I can put back in the old stuff exactly how is supposed to be

 

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Drake1 Nightfire wrote:

Windows 8 has issues with SL. it has been reported in many many threads.

I'll be testing that theory next. I just got a copy. I hate the UI, but I really, really want it's efficient task manager.

Should I put the results on this thread, or start a new one? Cause I promise, it will work on my machine.

 

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