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Claire Soderstrom

Do you NEED a dedicated graphic card or will an integrated work to run SL?

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My Dell Inspiron with Nvidia graphic card is about to die, and I have to replace it.

Problem is that I can't afford one with another Nvidia.... budget being £300/£400.

I've asked for advice but got all sorts of conflicting comments.... get dell, get asus, get nvidia, don't worry about nvidia etc.

Main question is.... do you NEED a dedicated graphic card or will an integrated work? If so which one?

I'm getting sick of it actually... :matte-motes-sick:

 

Soooo, as a summary, if you can help me with choosing:

- laptop 15" or bigger

- OS windows 7 or 8

- graphic card that supports sl viewer/firestorm

- budget £300/£400

I'm in UK, I'd appreciate any concrete advice priced in £, in return, I will throw a few Lindens your way :)

Thanks everyone !

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Integrated Chips do not work at all in Second Life and I strongly urge you to get an dedicated card or you will have an horrible crashing experience. The Integrated chips can not handle more than 500mb of texture memory for AMD or Video Memory Nivida and you'll crash almost instantly anywhere you go.

 

Most sims require an minimum of 1GB of video memory as they have typically over 100 frames which require's an video card with an rate of 1GB per second or more; any less and you're going to crash.


I would suggest Nvidia's gaming cards with more than 1GB of video memory.

Hope this helps.

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I'm not sure exactly where "JustBecauseICanBeFriendly" is getting their information, but "frames" has nothing to do with anything.  Assuming they mean "frames per second", frames are not something that the sim "has"; that's strictly a function of how fast your video card can render the objects in the sim.  A slower CPU and video card will give you fewer frames per second than a faster one, but it's not something that the sim imposes on you.  (Except indirectly, in that a sim full of sculpts and mesh objects with a couple of dozen AVs running around will take more horsepower to maintain a given frame rate than a relatively empty one with primarily prim-based builds.)

 

Basically, it depends on what you're willing to settle for.  My just-over-two-years-old Lenovo Z575 Ideapad, with its AMD A6-3420M CPU/GPU chip, manages to run Second Life at a reasonably respectable level, as long as I keep the draw distance down to 64m (or 32m if the sim is heavily populated or has lots of sculpt- and mesh-heavy builds) and don't overtax it by cranking all of the graphics preferences to their maximum.  It's not the most ideal experience, no, but it works, and doesn't seem to crash any more often than my desktop machine does.

 

If you can live with some limitations on how far you can "see" in a sim and how detailed or smooth the rendering can be, you can probably get along with something like this:

Asus X54C-SX548V

which is within your desired budget.  On the other hand, if you really insist on having the full gaming experience with upwards of 60FPS at maximum resolution and all graphics sliders maxed out, you're either going to have to pay a lot more, or consider settling for a desktop PC instead of a laptop.  (Here in the States, at least, gaming PCs are at least half the price of an equivalent gaming laptop.)

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I recently looked at notebooks and really, these are dismal times for finding anything worth owning. Maybe it's that every manufacturer is spending all resources on tablets, but it's hard to believe anybody is buying these things at all, considering the prices they're still charging for antiquated technology.

I mean, seriously, who buys this junk? Displays below 1080p native? Three-hour battery life? Integrated graphics obsolete by two generations?

If there's any possible way to do it, I'd suggest either limping along with whatever you're using, or swtich to a desktop, until some notebooks worth having are available at a price you can afford. I realize some folks really do need a notebook, but I'm just astonished at how poorly that market is served these days.

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If you're in the UK have you looked at what Morgan Computers have to offer? They sell end-of-line models and reworked machines from a changing range of manufacturers at a significant discount. Availability chages from day to day, but I just had a quick look, and although I couldn't find the "Nvidia Quadro FX 880M 1GB Graphics Solution" on LL's list of supported cards (maybe someone else could comment?) this Dell laptop costs £360 and might do the business for you. It isn't a recommendation, just indicative, and if it doesn't suit keep an eye out as more machines become available.

I have been buying my stuff from them for most of the last decade and never been disappointed - except when Parcelforce decided to ignore the "Fragile" stickers, and Morgan replaced the stuff immediately.

© The Judge

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The Intel Integrated Graphics can run SL. Some of the newer ones do a decent job. The SL Requirements are for an Intel 945 chip set or newer.

You'll see the Intel Graphics listed as HD 4000 and etc. Bigger numbers are better. These systems are optimized for video, like Netflix. They are weak on gaming. But, turn down the settings in the game and they can be used.

Also see: 4 Ways to Improve Intel HD Graphics Performance. Also, turn your screen resolution down before starting SL.

To put things in perspective, a US$100 video card can usually out perform the best HD Graphics based system running SL.

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SL should run on HD3000, too, although as Nalates said, the larger numbers are generally better. Consult PassMark's GPU benchmarks to put some numbers on how much better for 3D operations. Those numbers are only very generally predictive of SL performance, and can vary quite a bit from one processor model to another. (See the Haswell architecture, for example: the Core i5 processor's higher-end Iris Pro 5200 GPU may have a turbo clock rate of 1.15 or 1.3 GHz depending on model.)

I don't think you'll want to be running with shadows full time with any embedded GPU, but you should be able to enable them for snapshots, and I would expect that Advanced Lighting Model can be a viable option, especially if you minimize or disable anti-aliasing, and keep the draw distance lower than you'd choose if you had a decent dedicated graphics card.

I mention Advanced Lighting Model because it's kind of important, so you can see the Materials features of newer content.

Note that I haven't actually used SL with embedded graphics myself, so it would be nice to hear from somebody with that experience.

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I run SL on a laptop  i7 (haswell 4th gen) with HD4600 (integrated) running suse 13x  kernel 3.11.6.  I have draw distance at 64, shadows enabled, and I get FPS of ~40-60 on most sims while in ultra.   I don't know what else to benchmark besides FPS - so all is fine for me.  My core temps get up to 62c, fans blow lots of air, no problems at all. 

I have two other laptops with the same configuration as above except one runs CentOS with an older 2.x kernel and I get 1-3 FPS (again the only benchmark I use) and the other runs ubuntu garbage so I have not tested SL.

 

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jujmental wrote:

... I couldn't find the "Nvidia Quadro FX 880M 1GB Graphics Solution" on LL's list of supported cards (maybe someone else could comment?)
costs £360 and might do the business for you.

The reason being that NVidia's Quadro series graphics cards are meant for professional 2D and 3D applications (like CAD, etc.) where rendering every single minute detail is important. They are not made for running games.

Sure even Quadro cards can run games, but GeForce cards perform better in games as they are made towards that goal.

 

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Am referring to the texture memory; every sim has an object size; am not referring to the FPS in the actual simulator but the object and texture size.

2014-02-05 19_33_18-Singularity Viewer - JustBecauseICanBeFriendly.png

Every sim holds an Allocated memory which is the sim's object data size or RAM for advanced terminology; the more objects you have the bigger the size. The video card has an texture memory in the chip; having more texture or video memory can improve your SL experience.

Networking plays an Role in SL as well; but when you're crashing a lot it's mainly due to video card not your actual network unless it's down or SL is down; but their simulator rarely goes down just sims.

So, if an chip holds let's say 20 MB of texture / video memory it will take an approx 19.5 seconds 20v + 20t = 390mb.

The Frames per Second you are referring to is indeed referring to networking on the server and how fast the scripts load; but the allocated memory is what am referring to.

 

I applogize for not being clear on that. :-)

 

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JustBecauseICanBeFriendly wrote:

Am referring to the texture memory; every sim has an object size; am not referring to the FPS in the actual simulator but the object and texture size.

2014-02-05 19_33_18-Singularity Viewer - JustBecauseICanBeFriendly.png

Every sim holds an Allocated memory which is the sim's object data size or RAM for advanced terminology; the more objects you have the bigger the size. The video card has an texture memory in the chip; having more texture or video memory can improve your SL experience.

Networking plays an Role in SL as well; but when you're crashing a lot it's mainly due to video card not your actual network unless it's down or SL is down; but their simulator rarely goes down just sims.

So, if an chip holds let's say 20 MB of texture / video memory it will take an approx 19.5 seconds 20v + 20t = 390mb.

The Frames per Second you are referring to is indeed referring to networking on the server and how fast the scripts load; but the allocated memory is what am referring to.

 

I applogize for not being clear on that. :-)

 

I'm sorry, but unless you can come up with some sort of source for what you're saying I'm going to assume you're just making things up:

1) The "allocated memory" you're referring to is the memory that the server physics simulation itself uses, not your viewer. Actually your viewer uses far MORE than the "allocated memory." (That region is using an abnormally amount of memory, by the way.) It doesn't have anything to do with textures, which is what video memory is used for.

 

2) Viewers are actually set up so they'll only use a limited amount of video memory - if they're about to use more than that amount they'll swap out textures or load them at reduced resolution. That's why they sometimes seem blurry. The "Texture Console" in the Develop menu will show you how much video memory is actually being used.

3) You WILL crash by running out of memory, but it's usually SYSTEM memory and not video memory, and generally only if you still have a 32-bit operating system. With a 32 bit operating system you'll get a crash if the viewer uses more than 1.6 gigabytes of memory, which it can if you use alot of camera movement in a crowded sim.  With a 64-bit OS the viewer can use over 3 gigabytes of system memory.

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The viewer renders objects it's not all server side; the client connects to the server and renders the data; Allocated memory is like i said before object size and I don't appreciate you accusing me of making things up when am trying to explain.

Every object in Second Life is an bit of data and that data requires RAM to render all of the data in the sim.

I understand it can be confusing but when you look at the viewer's source C++ header files and scripts you'll understand how the data actually processes.

 

When you load into an Sim wth an low video memory or video RAM it connects to the server and downloads the bits of data into the client's viewer for rendering; that requires the client to have an proper high texture memory video card.

If you have again an low texture memory count it causes the viewer to crash when visiting an high object or allocated memory sim.

That's how the data processes on the client/server side. The server keeps the data stored while the client downloads it.

- Source http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/A/allocated_memory.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_memory

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JustBecauseICanBeFriendly wrote:

The viewer renders objects it's not all server side; the client connects to the server and renders the data; Allocated memory is like i said before object size and I don't appreciate you accusing me of making things up when am trying to explain.

I did some visiting. Gerhardt, a completely empty water sim, without a single object: Memory allocated: 22.5 MB

Tableau, a full region with 12,457 prims making up beautifully rendered sculpts, buildings, stores full of merchandise and several avatars: Memory allocated: 43.4 MB.

This would suggest that "allocated memory" is not what you think it is, wouldn't it?

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Claire Soderstrom wrote:

Hm this is getting a bit confusing, I was only asking about integrated cards....

Yeah, don't worry about it. There's some unnecessary confusion about how graphics subsystems use memory. It's true that having a chunk of very fast memory used strictly for graphics processing is one of the reasons that dedicated graphics will outperform integrated graphics. That's a less important contributing factor than it was, say five years ago, and it was never the whole story.

For your purposes, the broader question is what matters: yes, you can run SL on integrated graphics, but yes, the performance will be substantially worse than with a current-generation mid-range graphics card.

Because you're stuck with a notebook, however, it's either going to cost too much or suck, whatever you choose.

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Well, I think you've seen those examples of "worse" in the posts above. Integrated graphics will be slower. Or you'll have to scale back and/or turn off features. And whether that's acceptable to you depends completely on how you use SL. If you use it as a "gamer" -- that is, if you spend time in mouselook, shooting at stuff -- integrated graphics is not for you. Same if you're shooting machinima. If, on the other hand, SL is a mostly social entertainment with casual creating and/or commerce, then you don't need deep draw distance and high framerates and full-featured rendering all at the same time, so then you'd likely be fine with integrated graphics.

Other than trying it for yourself, I don't know how you can get much more specific information.

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