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Best hardware for SL, and HW/SW tuning (a bit disappointed)


Creed Aldrin
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Hello.

I have quite not bad hardware: i5-2500K CPU (overclocked to 4,3 GHZ and stable), Nvidia 560Ti GPU (latest driver), 2560x1440 display, 16GB DRAM, SSD, 15Mbps Internet connection. I use Firestorm.

 

My SL FPS is very dependent on sim and crowd. Often on popular and crowded sims i get less than 30 fps even with shadows off, and actually, when i cam, or watch someone dancing - visible frames speed looks like let's say, 5-10, and it is acceptable but quite uncomfortable. CPU load always stays at near 50% (2 cores so-so fully loaded). But, attention, GPU load on crowded sim stays often like 50%, so it looks like GPU can't be loaded to it's full capabilities.

 

Of course i often use SL window not full screen, 3/4 or even 1/2 of screen, and this improves FPS... And i set rather modest SL client settings, like - up to 32 meter distance, 7 non-impostor avatars maximum, all LOD values set to medium, etc.

 

But with shadows on things are again even worse, rather freezed in most of complicated or crowded sims. So looks like shadows are useful in simple sim only.

 

Question is: can i find more powerful hardware, or my software needs tuning, or nowadays SL sims and avatars are really overloaded with features and current hardware is simply too slow to handle it?

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Creed Aldrin wrote:

 

Question is
: can i find more powerful hardware, or my software needs tuning, or nowadays SL sims and avatars are really overloaded with features and current hardware is simply too slow to handle it?

A better graphics card might help. Not more but faster memory might help.

What you cannot change is what you already suggest. SL sims and avs are overloaded, not just nowadays, they have always been that. Yesterday I was in a sim not even that full or crowded and there were 700 individual textures and about 2.5 million polygons to be rendered. That sounds more like a scene you render for a movie or for stills than one that has to be rendered 30-60 times a second. (The 10,000 scripts running in the sim didn't help either) The framerate was very acceptable, even with shadows on, I think in the region of 40-50 fps. (CPU 3770K@3.5, GTX670, 16GB@1600, SSD) My resolution is a lot lot lower than yours, my monitor won't go over 1680x1050, that makes a big difference of course.

If it is possibe, you could borrow a faster video card and see if it makes a difference. (The fact yours isn't at full load doesn't mean a better one can't be faster) Installing those is fairly simple. You do have to accept "poor performance from SL" though. No hardware (at either our end or LL's end) is going to make up for objects that take as many resources as an entire sim should.

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Thank you. My memory is already not so bad (DDR 1600), and probably i do not really need 10% improvement. I woulkd prefer to double it..

but what about GPU, well, i consider Nvidia 670, but can not take it home for tests.. If only someone has already got similar experience (560->670), i would very appreciate...

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Thank you! I tried this and it helps, of course... But scene in a club then looks not so good... And, ofc, i have to change all these settings back and forth, 32-512-32 meters... I really want some kind of automation from SL client, i imagine it like single slider "desired target FPS". Maybe programmers will do that in future

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And, second question, should i consider AMD 7970 against Nvidia 670 for SL? They are same price in local shop.

 

*edited*
 i have found this interesting thread: http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Second-Life-Viewer/Radeon-HD7970-or-Nvidia-GTX-680/td-p/1753559


Installed MSI Afterburner and decided to try if i maybe running out of GPU RAM. Turned on lossy texture compression and will look into it further. But right now things seem to improve.

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Creed Aldrin wrote:

 

 

Installed MSI Afterburner and decided to try if i maybe running out of GPU RAM. Turned on lossy texture compression and will look into it further. But right now things seem to improve.

I doubt you are running out of VRAM, although it's possible. Texture memory is limited to 512 for SL, I don't see the total use while playing SL over 750 really, a lot less than the 1024 your card has. I walked around a bit, seems it creeps up to amounts over 900 here, that indeed is dangerously close to your 1024. You could try to limit the memory use for SL in preferences.

Anyway, you can check as you play. In the develop menu, choose "show info" then "show render info". On the bottom you will see your available video memory. If you are already experiencing low framerates, it might cripple the rate completely though.

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Baloo Uriza wrote:

Keep in mind that framerate is simcapped at 45 (so it's kind of pointless to shoot for anything higher), and the human eye perceives 20 frames as fluid.  It seems like you're making a mountain out of a molehill.

The simframerate and screenframerate are not connected in any way. The simframerate simply means the rate at which the server updates its current state, for example avatar and object location. This is not the same as the rate at which information is received by the viewer, let alone the rate at which things happen on your screen. Everything that happens locally, such as playing animations, texture animation, camera movement and some script functions (for example llTargetOmega) is not affected by this 45 fps cap.

20-30 fps is about as smooth as any human eye will notice, under certain circumstances like watching motion pictures. On a "normal" film, we don't get a picture one moment then the next 1/25th second later, the frame holds information from one moment to 1/25th seconds later. The resulting blur makes a 25 fps film look smooth. On a screen where everything is very crisp, a human eye will be able to see a difference up to 60 fps, possibly even higher. Just rotate your avatar in SL when you get 30 fps and 60 fps to see the difference. We don't have 100/120 Hz screens just for the fun of it. With NVidia cards you can cap your screen fps at (half) your screen refreshrate, usually (30 or) 60.

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Well, in my everyday experience i consider 45 FPS as life-smooth, and less FPS is worse to my eyes. I see it. Maybe avatar movement doesn't bind to FPS and "avatar FPS" is worse than scene FPS. IDK. But i see it for sure.

 

Anyway, texture compression helps me a lot! Without shadows, any previously bad sim is now simply great. And with shadows many sims are good or normal (usually need to set SL window to 3/4 of the screen with shadows).

 

So i think my particular problem is now solved. Just would like to propose to anyone in doubt - better choice is a GPU with 2 GB RAM, or, in case of top end GPU for future proof - even 4 GB. Just year ear ago, based on reviews and SL experience, i didn't even expect that i need 2 GB.

 

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Creed Aldrin wrote:

Well, in my everyday experience i consider 45 FPS as life-smooth, and less FPS is worse to my eyes. I see it. Maybe avatar movement doesn't bind to FPS and "avatar FPS" is worse than scene FPS. IDK. But i see it for sure.

The fps you want to look at is the one that is on top of the ctrl shift 1 menu. The sim fps does not show on your screen in any way. There is no "avatar fps", there is screen fps and there's server fps. One is visual, one is completely server side. You can have a sim running at 1 fps and sill have a very smooth experience as far as visuals go, you can have a sim running at 45 fps and have a stu-stu-stutter on your screen. The two are depending on some shared things, for example if a "heavy" avatar enters the sim in your view, both fps might be affected, but that doesn't mean the sim fps will affect your screen.

More importantly, the end user can do all kinds of things to improve the screen fps, such as lowering the load on their computer or uprading their computer. One can't really do anything about the sim fps, unless they are either the main offender of server load or if they have full control over the region.

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