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Kobuk Farshore

a PC laptop that runs SL with incredible graphics?

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I currently have a 17" Macbook Pro that's getting ridiculously frustrating to run SL on, as I'd love to get more into photography and machinima inworld but things like shadows and depth-of-field won't work. So, I'm looking at getting a PC laptop just for gaming-- but having always steered clear of PCs I'm not sure what would work with SL.

 

I was considering an Alienware M17x but I've read a couple of things on this forum which worry me about whether SL will run with ultra graphics. Does anyone know if this machine with 2GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M graphics card would work with SL? Or if I'd be better going for Radeon HD 6990M? Or some other PC entirely? :smileyembarrassed:

 

Thanks!


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Avoid ATI video and stick with NVidia.  The current V3 viewers have their video card definitions up to date and so there shoudl be no issues with SL... Third Party viewers vary a bit but most TPV's which are using V2/3 are good, and those with V1 interface that are fully Mesh Capable should also have the updated video card info.

Hope it helps

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Is there some reason you're committed to getting a laptop? If you don't need the portability you'll always get better performance for less money with a desktop.

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Thanks Setekh and WhiteStar-- good info. I guess I'll just have to buy the thing and hope, although really I can't imagine it could be worse than my Mac, so there's that at least. :smileywink:

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Unfortunately I live half the year in one part of the world and spend the other half travelling, so it has to be a laptop. I don't expect desktop performance-- I just want something SL actually runs adequately on, which my $3,500 Macbook Pro currently fails to do. :smileysad:

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I see that your in a situation where a laptop is your only option.   I'm not 100% on which particular models do what... I use Desktop's only but my GF is a laptop'aholic ;) 

The one KEY FEATURE that you should look for in any laptop is the ability to upgrade Video.  They all have built in video, typically mounted on the motherboard.  A few will allow an upgrade video card to be installed, which over rides the one on the motherboard.  If you cannot locate one that allows the Video Card upgrade then just make sure that it has the NVidia Video card in it....   To that end, you should consider looking at "Gaming Class" machines and recently, troubles have been brewing in Dell Land yet again, so look at reviews on a particular model and see if there are any issues.

I would recommend for longer life cycle, that you try ot get the fastest CPU, NVidia Video  (prefferably upgradable) and at least 8GB of RAM.  Unfortunately that makes it a bit more expensive to purchase but will give you the longest life span.  Laptops are inherently expensive as heck to upgrade after the fact, compared to Desktops.

Hope it Helps

 

 

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Thanks so much, WhiteStar. I meant to ask before-- is there a reason why you'd stay away from ATI cards?

 

I've done a little hunting around trying to read up on gaming laptops and Alienware comes up near the top of most lists; though at 12lbs their best machine is twice as heavy as my Macbook Pro so I may be looking into a chiropractor. ;) The specs I'm looking at are an i7 2860QM 2.5GHz (3.6GHz w/ turbo boost), 16GB RAM, 750GB HDD and 2GB NVidia 580M. I guess all I'm really anxious about is buying an expensive gaming laptop that plays every other game immaculately but displays SL no better than my Mac.

 

Hopefully someone will stumble into this thread in the next few weeks and share their perfect-running SL laptop specs, though. :)

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with alienware u should run SL ok, but not Perfect, because no matter what super dupper PC u will get... SL is not an optimized game like all other games are, with this laptop u say u wanna get u will be able to run any other game flawless with no mistakes at HIGH Graphics and so on because thoes are ''normal optimized games''.

But yeah dont worry u should run Ultra with Shadows and stuff very ok.

Comparing to you i have a Quad 2.5 ghz, only 3 gb ram and a GTX 460 at 1 GB, and i run SL very good, i have no complaints, at least not with Viewer 3 wich is most stable from all viewers i checked

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That gives me some hope, thanks for this, Emil.

 

Ideally I'd like to be able to use Exodus Viewer or some other sort of Kirstens-esque viewer that's good for photography, but I'd resign myself to the regular V3 if it showed me shadows.

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I am running an i7-2670m with 8gb RAM and a GT550m graphics card.  I tried it out on default ultra settings at an empty NCI sim and was getting about 25fps.  I went to a busier nci sim (kuula) and got around 15-20fps.  Nvidia's website shows a benchmark score for the 550m of about 5000, with the 560m @ about 10,000 and the 580m @ about 16,000.  (http://www.geforce.com/Hardware/NotebookGPUs/geforce-gt-550m/performance)

No idea how the benchmarks translate into actual SL performance, but hopefully this helps you out.

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Quick note, just my two cents, I have a laptop with an i7 but only a 535m. I can run SL at max res (1920x1080) no matter the settings BUT Shadows & Lighting. That setting in particular kills my performance. So you will want something stronger, a 560m at the very least. Plenty of memory too, not just system memory but dedicated video memory. Try to get 1.5GB or 2GB video ram if you can get away with it.

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Jo and VRprofessor: This is absolutely the info I was looking for, thank you so much! A good friend of mine in SL told me this morning that she has an Asus G73SW with a 1.5GB 460M NVidia that works brilliantly on ultra settings and rarely gets hot. As you both pointed out though, I'd rather go for a 580M 2GB.

 

And Alienware, for as overpriced as they may be, have some perks to their machines. :smileywink:

 

 

peon.JPG

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I can second that Asus and SL are a well combination. My G50VT is a bit older now (2 years), and even that one runs SL brilliant and super fast. I always hear and read excellent references concnering Asus and SL.

But i also have met several users of the 580 card and a very troubled SL.Sometimes cards are just too new for SL. I had that experience when my notebook was new; it had the latest Nvidia card which was already out 9 monthes earlier in the US, but it took a month for SL to actually support it, so i was a bit lucky. So be careful with state of the art equipment with SL.

Since V2.8 it seems more luck than wisdom which system works best with SL, but i have my trust in Asus indeed.

 

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Grr.  I suppose that's what I'm anxious of, Linda. Do you know if there's a list anywhere of supported graphics cards for certain viewers (or even just the generic viewer)?

Thanks for the Asus recommendation though. I feel like I have no clue at all when it comes to laptop PCs, so it's really helpful to hear what systems people are using that work.

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There is an official SL page that is dated and gives minimum graphics hardware requirements.  I found it rather useless as the graphics cards seem to change often and the numbering convention for NVIDIA changed a few years ago.  What I think I know is that the first digit or two is the generation/model year and the last two digits are the model number.  So a 460 is one generation older than a 560 but they fill the same niche in the product line. 

Anyway...I ended up browsing mutliple threads here and a few elsewhere to come up with the following:

SL is based on OpenGL and NVIDIA generally handles OpenGL better than Radeon, but both will work.   A friend recently got a high end Radeon card and had to do a fair amount of stuff to get it working right with SL.  I did update the drivers for my NVIDIA card when I bought this computer, but otherwise did nothing and have not had any trouble.

There are more requests for help on these forums with Radeon based graphics cards than there are for NVIDIA, but neither is problem free.

The bulk of problems seem to be related to drivers.  Apparently neither NVIDIA or ATI get their drivers right for SL users without some tweaking.  There also seems to be some issues on SL's side, but I don't understand why that would be. 

Notebook computers like to turn off the graphics card for power saving.  I did have to tell the operating system to always use the graphics card with SL.  (Not sure if it is just my computer or a common feature on notebooks, but I have an indicator light that tells me whether I am using the graphics card or intel graphics.)

What I do not know about is how much SL performance improvement you get going from say a 560m to a 580m.  I notice that the price jump is several hundred dollars and the selection of computers is much smaller.  Whether you get a good bang for the buck I have no idea.  I'm still hoping for someone who is crazy enougth to purchase multiple GPUs and try them out in the same box so that folks can start to get a sense of how traditional graphics benchmarks translate into SL performance. 

I am also uncertain as to the benefits of super-high fps rates when a monitor is running at 60hz.

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Kobuk

I can at least in part answer your question.  An Alienware Laptop with an nVidia GTX 580M will run SL pretty well, but I am a little perplexed, since the UK market version has an AMD (ATi) GPU, and no nVidia option.

For other posters I can tell you that the GTX 580 card is without peer in rendering speed, but a GTX 560 is only slightly less good...bang per buck, I'd go for the 560, but the 580s are bomb-proof once you've de-bugged the driver (if you are unlucky enough to have to do that..thankfully I haven't).

Quite why ATI still doesn't render SL as well as nVidia I really don't know, this has been true these last 5 years now. 

The latest version of OpenGL has made a lot of difference to the speed and accuracy of the nVidia render pipeline, but everyone should be aware that use of Shadows and Light will come at an FPS cost, even on a 580!

So long as you keep the lappy well-ventilated you ought to be fine on a good wired modem.  My advice would be to avoid Wireless due to its packet-transmission issues, but it does vary.

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Hi Again,  sorry for the delay in response.   In regards as to why to stay away from AMD/ATI video cards... I could get into the long technical details but that would be too much to write and most likely no one really needs all the chatter on that.   In a "Reader's Digest" version:  When AMD bought ATI their engineers decided to make certain changes in favour of some specific optimizations for games.  These optimizations are specifically targeted at those games and other optimizations are related to their hardware program.   Their drivers after 11.5 are no longer fully complaint / compatible with the openGL standard & specifications.  Linden Labs & TPV viewers resulting from LL code all use openGL.    In simple terms, OpenGL is the "language & command system" that software uses to talk to the video card and manipulate it's functions & capabilities...   AMD/ATI apparently have a plan to resolve that but it's not a standard that other vendors / manufacturers are willing to adopt as opposed to an accepted standard such as openGL.

NVidia has always stayed true to open standards adoption and implementation and their drivers are always fully compliant with openGL and other specific standards.  This means better & compatible support for applications across the board and a longer "product life span" which results in keeping more $$ in your pocket.  10 Years ago ATI was the cat's meow, now it's turning into the furrball we all love to hate.  :D   sorry, could not resist.  

A couple of others have also answered similarly and I hope that things are more clear now and I don't mean "clear as mud".  LOL

WS

OH... PS:  Asus is a fine quality kit with good support & solid history.  I use Asus components in desktops and with the exception of 1 device (damaged during shipping) over 15 years that was made by ASUS, I have never once had any issues that could not be solved quickly & efficiently.

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Ayesha and VRprofessor: thanks for explaining some of this for me. I suppose at this point I've pretty-much made up my mind to get either an Alienware M17x or M18x, and if it doesn't run SL spectacularly for making machinima then I should at least be able to enjoy it for inworld photography. And barring that, I could forget SL and play Skyrim. :}

Ayesha, I've been on both the US and UK Alienware sites (I'm from the US but in England for the holidays) and though I think different models do/don't offer certain chips, I see both sites showing the M17x and M18x with a choice of either ATI 6990M, NVidia 560M or 580M, though the M17x only has the option for single cards. Money's not so much the issue (within reason) as trying to find a fairly decent gaming laptop, so I'd rather try for the best graphics I can.

With that in mind, would either of you recommend getting dual cards? Assuming I was on a good wired connection, would NVidia SLI work for boosting SL graphics performance/FPS?

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Okay, I'm feeling a bit more educated via this thread, thanks WhiteStar! 

I would certainly be open to getting an Asus except for the fact that I live in Alaska so will be buying this laptop online, and as far as I can tell it's not possible to purchase an Asus directly from their site. They have a nice long list of who to buy their machines from, but clicking on a couple of those sites at random hasn't brought up anything I can customize yet. I guess I can look into it a bit more though-- I don't intend to buy this lappy for another monthish. :}

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I suggest you have a look at Tigerdirect.com , Newegg.com and similar.  They will ship to Alaska.  With regards to using SLI with dual graphics cards.  The Viewer software is not designed to make use of that capability at all (and yes I am a coder & patch viewers as well as OpenSimulator & other products...  Been at it for far too many yrs proffessionally).   That of course does not say that in the future the viewer software "may" have that ability but it's unlikely during the life-cycle of your new machine.  

See here for example:  http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=32&name=Laptops-Notebooks

One thing, regadless of the laptop you choose...  get a really good quality cooler pad to sit it on and having a larger excxternal LCD/LED screen makes a world of difference.  (I use an I-inc 27" LCD monitor & it is worth every cent !)  this one:  http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4938558&CatId=3774  now discontinued but there are many others avail now, look in newegg to see for yourself.  Under $300 and ohhh so sweet !

 

 

WS

 

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considering the fact that they updated SL with the newest code of Open GL that last brand new cards have, it will run on a GTX 580 also, when i 1st bought GTX460 the Open GL of SL was not updated, so, yeah i was not able to play SL, my SL was crashing in LOG IN unless i was logging in without Basic Shaders on.

Recently they updated the OpenGL code, now it runs without any problem... anyway be sure it is a GTX and not a GT or GTS, its a big difference, GTX brand is the Top of Nividia cards

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Wow, Asus are certainly cheaper than Alienware. But having just scoured Newegg and about eight other reseller sites listed on Asus's website, I don't see any of their 17" laptops with higher specs than a 2.2Ghz or 560 NVidia. I realize having a 2.5 i7 with 580 graphics card may not show a massive boost in performance, but... dammit, I like being able to choose what goes into my machine. ;)

We do already have two 27" Apple cinema displays at my house, so I'm sure I can find a home for a PC monitor-- though it may get the odd glare of disapproval. :} Cooling pad, check. Dual graphics cards... possibly not worth the price-jump for what I'll be using the laptop for then.

You're a wealth of  knowledge, WS, thanks!

 

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Emil Praga wrote:

anyway be sure it is a GTX and not a GT or GTS, its a big difference, GTX brand is the Top of Nividia cards


Something else I didn't know, thanks Emil. My Macbook Pro has a GT 330M, so maybe it's a wonder I can run SL on it at all. :}

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I'd avoid "gamer oriented" laptops, as you're usually paying a premium for a namebadge and a fugly case (alienware/dell are particularly notorious for selling expensive underperformers).  I'd go with a Lenovo Thinkpad being geared towards the CAD drafting crowd with a high-spec nVidia or ATI GPU, get it with no operating system, and install Debian Linux on it if you really want to do performance in SL right.

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