T:ANE in 2018 (Optimization Demo)


New member
Hello Trainz Community,
I just wanted to make a quick demo for anyone who still hasn't moved there simulation over to T:ANE yet. My goal here is not to be able to answer what the absolute minimum specs are needed to play this game. (I can help but no guarantees), but to simply show what type of PC you would need to play comfortably. After running 3 weeks worth of testing and swapping components for optimum look + optimum performance + price balancing (How fun I know) I have created a template for anyone looking to build a T:ANE PC to follow as well as created a demo video to show what you can expect performance wise while using this rig.

So here is my budget friendly T:ANE PC:
Intel I5-3550 3.3GHZ
8GB (16GB optional) DDR3 1333MHZ Ram
PNY XLR8 Nvidia 1050TI 4GB
Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB (1TB Optional) HDD
Insignia 500 Watt Power Supply

My recommendation to cut your price down farther is to start with a Dell Optiplex 7010 Media Tower (Media Tower is important, DO NOT BUY OTHER VERSIONS) which can be picked up with an I5-3550 or higher for around 120USD. Then add a new PSU (I recommend Insignia, they are cheap and high quality) which will set you back about 50USD. Finally drop in the 1050TI (It doesn't have to be the PNY XLR8 model, but a 4GB model, the XLR8 one offers the best performance for the price), the GPU will set you back 150USD. So with a computer that will likely cost you ~320USD, you may be wondering what you performance is like? Well here are my bench marks!

Pre-Launch Settings

Shadow Quality: Medium
Main Shadow Resolution: 2048
Texture Detail: Normal
Post Processing: High
Water Quality: High
Anti-aliasing: 2x
Detail Update Rate: Low
[Y] Use multiple render threads
[Y] Use texture streaming
[Y] Use PhysX simulation
[Y] Process objects behind camera

In-Game Settings: High Preset


On Mainline (Full High Detail Train): 56FPS
On Mainline (Loco only): 68FPS
In Yards (Empty): 58FPS
In Yards (Partial Fill): 52FPS
In Yards (Full): 45FPS

Sorry, but the music ruins the video!

Why for heaven's sake use music in a video to show trains?

Pulling the horn? Where is the sound of it?

Missing the engine sounds.
Missing the noise of the rolling stock.

Sorry, but the music ruins the video!

Hehehe, I am aware I wanted to have sound but for whatever reason Nvidia Shadowplay woke pick up Trainz sounds for who know why, I was fiddling with the settings and I don't know what I did. Im gonna reset it and post another with sound.
You might want to change the video title too to something more like running T:ANE in 2018 on a low end budget computer. That 8GB of RAM in particular is really, really on the lower end of the spectrum overall these days.
I beg to differ, first off th demo rig has 32gb of ram regular, I can tell you for a fact, there is little to no difference in trainz between 32 and 8, also 8gb of Ram would be considered mid-range in a modern gaming setup, maybe not for a simulator build due to Trainz abhorrent optimization, (Im not ripping on Trainz but lets look at it at face value). I have a hard time seeing how this would be considered a low end computer. Im not being a smartalec, but based on what peopl try to run trainz on and what this computer offers, I only say and will continue to say mid range. I, unless given valid proof other wise, (and if you think me wrong, please do, Im very open minded) I cant see this rig being in the bottom 33% of computers. ☺
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I beg to differ, first off th demo rig has 32gb of ram regular, I can tell you for a fact, there is little to no difference in trainz between 32 and 8, also 8gb of Ram would be considered mid-range in a modern gaming setup, maybe not for a simulator build due to Trainz abhorrent optimization, (Im not ripping on Trainz but lets look at it at face value). I have a hard time seeing how this would be considered a low end computer. Im not being a smartalec, but based on what peopl try to run trainz on and what this computer offers, I only say and will continue to say mid range. I, unless given valid proof other wise, (and if you think me wrong, please do, Im very open minded) I cant see this rig being in the bottom 33% of computers. ☺

No difference between 8GB and 32 GB? That would be TS12 you mean because TS12 wouldn't use anymore than 4GB to begin with being a 32-bit application. T:ANE is a 64-bit application and even the developer says the more RAM the better. By the very nature of being a 64-bit application, the program will as much RAM that's allocated to it. RAM also plays an important part in computer performance overall. The more RAM, especially with today's 64-bit operating systems means that there is far less disk access due to data being swapped out to the page file as the operating system makes room for other stuff in more immediate use. As fast as SSDs are, compared to the platter hard drives, they are still far slower than RAM.

Short changing a system to begin with is also not a good return on investment. By adding in the additional RAM, far and above the minimum, also future proofs the hardware investment. Sure RAM can be added later on, and sometimes this is necessary, however, it's always best to match the RAM to whatever is installed, meaning right down to the buss speed, brand, and in nearly all cases RAM that's on the recommended, qualified vendor list (QVL) as specified by the motherboard manufacturer. The purchase of the right components to begin with also means far less trouble later on. Having mismatched components in a system can lead to very bad performance, and sometimes instability.

Specking out a system that's far and above the minimal requirements also means it can be used for other things as well. You play high-end games, but also edit video and audio. Do you want to struggle while video editing, which requires multiple multi-threaded operations chewing away at the video. The same with 3d modeling and other higher-level operations.

Future proofing the hardware also means not needing to upgrade as often and a bigger ROI can be made from the purchase. Why would it then be necessary to purchase hardware every 3-years, outside of a video card, or additional storage, when the rest of the components are fine? If the system is shortchanged to begin with, such as those from those big-box stores, it becomes an additional expense far sooner down the road when there's an operating system update, or the programs you are using are running much slower because they're actually running at their minimum spec now, but were not later on.

Your video card, whether it's the lower end GTX1050 or even a GTX1080Ti, will also use that system RAM. Your video card will come with some extra fast video RAM, but that's very expensive so in order to allow more textures and data to be processed, the video card will use your system RAM in addition to what you've got on your video card. This is especially true if you want to run with a 4K display.

but based on what peopl try to run trainz on and what this computer offers, I only say and will continue to say mid range.

I don't quite understand this, but I think I know what you are saying. What you think people run here, is a lot more than what you think. Knowing the community, and how people push their hardware to the limit, the 8GB makes no difference at the lower end, but when it comes to the higher-end settings this is where it falls over, and this is in addition to a higher-end video card. I for example run routes which are upwards of 200 miles in length with up to 20-30 AI driven trains all operating on various schedules. With an 8 GB system, this would cause a slideshow due to the amount of data being thrashed around between disk and memory. Remember the page-file I mentioned above? My route running is not unusual and is quite the norm. Even some of the payware routes available, such as Roy's Canadian Rockies, routes will cause a slide show unless the draw distance is set way back to the defaults and texture streaming is turned down. What's going on is not just a simple graphics program, a game, but a much more code going on on the hood with much, much more data being moved around.

You might want to look at these articles here. They show both sides of the equation quite well:




As an FYI, I was involved in the computer hardware industry from 1980 to 2012 when I retired. I worked as a hardware technician, IT support, network administrator, and engineering technician. During my time, I built and tested computer boards and systems right down to the component level then much later supported the users and companies where I specified computers based on users needs. Over the years, I designed servers, workstations, and end-user PCs, and over the years working out the best ROI based on user needs is by far the biggest part of the equation. Building a minimally spec'd system will only cause more trouble down the road as end-user needs change, and as programs and operating systems change.
You know I like you, you don't know how many people throw back uneducated responses, I really appreciate the fact that you took the time to write out such a well thought out and logical response, we need more of that around here :). Any who I would first like to start out by apologizing for my atrocious spelling in my last post, I typed it on mobile, we all know how that can be. Now on to the meat and potatoes. . .

I'm not going to lie your experience is greater that mine, currently I'm a manufacturing engineer for a local firm for a grand total of 2 years. I do design systems on the regular and am more than familiarized with 64 bit vs 32 bit architecture and whatnot. I also understand how these architectures apply to the different Trainz versions.

Now, speaking of the build, this is not the only build I designed, I made many different variants, ranging from a Core 2 Quad + 750ti to an I7-7700K with a 1080ti. How I came up with this build is simply by finding the best performing processor with a common GPU, and repeating with the best few processors with GPUs. I then took these results and divided there FPS with there respective average selling price (Cant use MSRPs as they dont account for the mining crisis). I can tell you this, jumping to a 1060 which is the "entry level" high end card, does not offer a performance boost/price difference that would make it a valuable upgrade for current performance OR for future proofing, the actual value of this upgrade is not there. Now of course the 1070 does beat the 1050ti in value, but at this point were straying away from the purpose of this thread. Now I did run some tests with lower end hardware, I'm talking Core 2 quads and GT 730s, and was able to make it run actually quite comfortably, but that would be a great example of starting the system off at a disadvantage. I honestly have a hard time believing the I5 and 1050ti will become outdated within 3 years, when cards like the venerable 750ti are still going strong.

Now I will concede in this point, I did not take into account large amounts of AI activity into my RAM testing. I only used one basic scenario with 5 AIs making moderately complicated orders. Here is what I can tell you.

Avery-Drexel (BN Rush)
(Custom Session)
Total AI : 5
Length of Test : 1 Hour
Total Number of Rail Equipment on Map : 247
In Yard: With all 5 AI within 1 mile
Ram Amounts

2GB : 32FPS Spikes down to Single Digits (Unplayable)
4GB : 44FPS
8GB : 48FPS
16GB : 50FPS
32GB: 51FPS

Now if you do my previous value calculation (Performance/Price) You can see the distinct curve at 8GB. Now I will admit the fact I did not take into account higher level RAM intensive activities such as lots of AI, I feel that warrents more investigation.

Feel free to respond this is interesting stuff :)
Interesting background. I worked for a about 8 months as an engineering technician, or until the company laid me off. I got a trip to Taiwan out of it and worked with a great group of people. We still keep in touch today after all those years. Much later I was at Polaroid, yes, that famous company. The division I worked at made digital laser proofing equipment for the printing industry, and we split off in 1999 only to last 10 years longer. These huge laser printers could print down to 1/144 of an inch at 2540 x 2540 dpi. I was the IT guy there, but got called in more than once to help out in the engineering lab whether it was for some IT type consulting, or to assist with some troubleshooting. I loved those jobs. Then finally I was at Oracle for about 3 years when I left due to health reasons and now in forced retirement.

Yeah, don't worry about the spelling, especially on those mobile devices. Touch screens and tiny button surfaces are awful to type on. I no longer have a smart phone, and don't plan on getting one for many reasons, but mostly due to the size of the text being close to that of fleas!

Anyway back to the good stuff. I like your engineer's methodical approach to your testing here, but there are other factors to take into consideration such as draw distance, shadow quality, tree quality (Speed Trees), post processing, data update rates, etc. The default settings work well for lower end systems, but as the user tweaks the draw distance and tree quality settings, things can start going a bit south as they say. It's the nature of the beast because more and more data is being squeezed through the buss and out on to the screen.

I'm surprised you got something running with 2GB of RAM. I would say that's at the barest bottom level and not unsurprisingly poor performing. As you noticed the better CPUs and additional memory do make a difference, but as I've said there's a whole lot of other factors.

247 consists is not a whole lot. Many users setup static consists in yards, sidings, and at industries in order to provide some kind of life to the routes. Each of these consists is tracked by the underlying game engine, and this is yet another factor to take into consideration. One content creator created a "kill" script which can be included in consists to turn static consists into an inactive state, which only activates them after they have been coupled to. But... The extra consists are also many, many extra assets on the route, and all this adds up. Trains are also, by far, the most resource intensive due to the largest number of polygons especially if the user has placed steam locomotives.

Speed Trees as you know make substantial use of the video card and GPU while the older billboard type trees and plants will hammer the CPU. When there's lots of Speed Trees, the lower end systems will start to falter badly with graphics, and the details and distance will have to be turned down at the detriment of eye candy for performance reasons. Throw in the older billboard trees, many of which don't have LOD, and we end up with a slide show. The billboard trees are multiple double-sided polygons, which need to be processed by the CPU first before going out to the video card. This extra time, though as you know is in milliseconds or nanoseconds, adds up and causes stuttering.

Splines are terrible resource hogs due to how they are drawn and constructed. Many users, especially those who build rural routes, place lots and lots of grass and fences. These will drag down the performance substantially.

Go lots of hills and mountains? That extra mesh, especially when it's not at the default 10 meter grid and has been built at 5 meters instead.

Then there's 400K plus assets on the DLS which are both built-in in T:ANE or available for download. These are mostly end-user created content, and all in various levels of quality. LOD? What's that? Some users never put LOD into their models in the early days. LOD, or rather the lack of, will knock the performance down. Sketch-up models? Heck we have models with a gazillion surface-slices all covered with individual textures, and no LOD to boot. There's a lot of variations here too not only in the kind of assets, but also the quality as well.

Got scripts, rules, interactive industries, commodities, animations, and a whole lot of AI tracking, signals, etc. and things will start to run out pretty quickly. These are par of the course for any Trainz route.

My suggestion is to try your tests again with higher settings and see what happens. I would of course put the 2GB system sit on the side. That one would surely melt! You'll notice a big falloff in frame rates. Once you've tested this route, I recommend testing some of the others such as the Hinton Division route. This one in particular is a big frame rate killer due to many factors including the steam locomotives.

As a caveat here's my system here:

Intel Haswell-E 5930K
6 TB disk space total with one drive fully dedicated to the 1 GB of Trainz data.

Out of the 64GB, I actually have 32GB free due to using Virtual Box with 16 GB allocated to an Ubuntu virtual machine, which I use for my internet access, and a Solaris VM with 16 GB running for some testing at the moment for another project. These are running concurrently when I use T:ANE and my frame rates are in the 20-40 range with V-sync set to 60 fps, depending upon the amount of content within a scene.
I'm running 12 gigs with a GTX 980 and that seems to run fairly well.

As comment you're running US diesel locos and US box cars which is fine but the overall size means if you're running UK stock with shorter wagon lengths you need a few more which has a greater machine impact and in general the curves and animation on a steam loco will also have a greater load on the machine.

The GTX 1050 TI is to my mind slightly light for TANE but the cost difference to a GTX 1060 is fairly steep. $209 for the 1050 ti compared to $270 for a 3 gig GTX 1060. 8 gigs of memory $90 16 gigs $180. I might go the GTX 1060 rather than 16 gigs of memory.

The basic system I think is fine. I'd agree going Dell refurbished if money is an issue. The nice thing about memory is you can add a bit later on. With the video card you can't add a bit more video card.

Cheerio John