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View Full Version : CALLING ALL COMPUTER TECHS : Lets Clear things up !



edion2
March 11th, 2008, 12:06 AM
OK. To start with, like most of us, I am a COMPUTER USER, NOT a technician. Like most of us, I understand that a "gaming computer" (a platform that can handle 3D game graphics better than average), needs at least a decent processor, a decent video card, a decent size HD, a decent amount of RAM (2GB) and a decent monitor (1024x768 minimum)

Like many of us, I don't have a clue as to what the TRAINZ software does when we click on LOAD in Driver or Surveyer.

Given : Route is rather large with thousands of trees everywhere, about a dozen in VARIETY in any one given "area" but high in numbers, and ground texture is similar, modest in variety but every inch is covered. Tracks are 2 meter tracks everywhere.

Guess/Assumption :
#1 A statrting point of view is the "first loco driver" in DRIVER MODE or the last saved point of view in SURVEYER MODE. When you click LOAD, it seems to take the longest time . . . of course, its loading everything from HD . . . OR IS IT?? From observing the "disk access light" it seems to be loading a specified area AROUND the initial "pont of view" BUT NOT the entire route. . . BECAUSE when you switch to another "driver's point of view" far away from the current location, there is heavy disk access. It seems to be loading that new point of view. As the view changes with the movement of the "point of view" (by the train moving or right clicking the mouse), new information is loaded into RAM. THEREFORE we have "draw distance". The computer waits to render distant objects or texture until we move closer. Therefore "data" is being "put into " cache as new data is read. (Any data residing in a cache can be retrieved faster than from HD) I'm sure that what the software ACTUALLY does is far more complicated than this.
IS THIS GENERALLY CORRECT ?

#2 IF #1 is pretty accurate . . . Everything starts with reading "data" from the HD. That data (math & graphics) is FIRST processed by the CPU according to preset "laws of physics". At the same time, "graphics data" is sent to the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). If the GPU is powerful enough, it won't need much help from the main CPU to process graphical data. How much the main CPU has to "aid" graphical processing depends on the "video card". It seems to me, that if you have a good GPU that can generate 3D graphics faster than "real time", how does the importance of "Graphics Memory" come into play with regards to its amount?

#2b It is the general consensus that "MORE THE BETTER" with regards to Video Memory . . . but there should be "balance" of performance of all the major computer parts, right ??? Example : No amount of money spent on a HOT video card isn't gonna do any good if you have an old Pentium computer, data bottleneck in the CPU. OR A new computer with an expensive video card is no good if you only have 1GB of RAM, bottleneck in the RAM . . . etc. etc. If our computer has a DATA BOTTLENECK somewhere, how do we identify WHERE the bottleneck is?

#3 There are many threads and discussion on FRAME RATE. Like most of us, I understand that there are many factors that may interfere with frame rate other than the CPU speed, HD access amount, RAM amount and Video card. Type of objects used, object poly count, number of variety of objects and the number of objects in any scene/frame all affects FRAME RATE. Where and how we "use up" frame rate in a computer system is our preference. Example: Some will use nothing but "low-poly" objects and use a very small variety of textures just t keep frame rate up. Others will sacrifice some frame rate to achieve a "more realistic world". What is the IDEAL FRAME RATE, is it 30FPS like a TV source or 24FPS like a movie film? How do we find out what the "frame rate" in the game is? There must be a point of diminishing return . . . Can human eyes perceive anything more than 30FPS?

Particulars :
Here, I can only speak in terms of my system. But I do understand that system performance can vary greatly from one system to another.

My current computer is "middle of the road" computer that I would ike to upgrade . . . but frankly I don't know where to start . . . or rather "HOW MUCH UPGRADE" to start with.

My system:
Dell XPS410 1.8 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
800Mhz Front Side Bus speed
160 Gig 7200RPM HD
3Gig RAM - 677Mhz PC6300 DDR2
Nvidia 7300 - 512MB (came with computer) set at average between "quality" & "performance"
37" HDTV monitor.
TRAINZ: running at 1360x768 resolution
Draw distance (both) 1 notch less than max.
Train poly at max

Why upgrade:
In some areas of my route where there are MANY varieties and number of objects, the drop in frame rate is becoming noticeable and annoying. This IS probably the single largest reason why people want to upgrade. I can only speak for myself, but many of us are not sure what to upgrade and to what extent to upgrade. Of course, there is always the option to BUY a new Gaming computer for a few thousand dollars . . . but lets be real.

For my system, I was thinking of getting the Nvidia 8800GTX SC (super clocked) with 768MB RAM. . . a good chunk of investment. But, I have no way of knowing if I'm buying an "Indy Car engine" for my "Toyota" of a computer. AM I BUYING TOO MUCH VIDEO CARD??? In other words, I'm afraid that the CPU or the amount of RAM (3GB, limited by 32bit Win XP) might become the NEW DATA BOTTLENECK, resulting in an OVERALL IMPROVEMENT of "not that much". In such case I would want to Upgrade to "Win XP 64bit" to access an extra 1GB of RAM . . . and maybe a new CPU with 2.8 or 3Ghz Core 2 Duo . . . then maybe my motherboard spec isn't up to snuff. OH SUCH DELEMA !!

If I opt to buy a new computer and the video card . . .

How important is "Front Side Bus speed" ?
Are there any motherboard that can access more than 4GB of RAM ?
Is there a RAM access limitation in Vista OS ?
Cooling wise, is Trainz the kind of software that will make the CPU or the video card run HOT? Are additional cooling system important?

Is there an article or a table that shows "balanced combination" of CPU to Ram to video card for 3D gaming?

Any info from any "computer tech" types of members will be greatly appreciated by myself, and hopefully by many.

Thanks

CasyJ
March 11th, 2008, 12:35 AM
My system:

System Manufacturer: Compaq Presario 061
System Model: DW269A-ABA SR1012N NA510
BIOS: BIOS Date: 03/19/04 17:30:05 Ver: 08.00.08
Processor: AMD Athlon(tm) XP 3000+, MMX, 3DNow, ~2.1GHz
Memory: 768MB RAM
Page File: 468MB used, 1311MB available
Windows Dir: C:\WINDOWS
DirectX Version: DirectX 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
DX Setup Parameters: Not found
DxDiag Version: 5.03.2600.2180 32bit Unicode

Video System:
-------------
Card name: NVIDIA GeForce 6200
Manufacturer: NVIDIA
Chip type: GeForce 6200
DAC type: Integrated RAMDAC
Device Key: Enum\PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0221&SUBSYS_02F1196E&REV_A1
Display Memory: 256.0 MB
Current Mode: 1024 x 768 (32 bit) (60Hz)

Trainz Options:
Default DirectX with 0 cache.

Runs smooth with any map.

seeseeme
March 11th, 2008, 12:38 AM
This thread may be interesting to follow.

You mention;


How do we find out what the "frame rate" in the game is?

There is a program called FRAPS that can help with this but I am not sure where I found it.

Hopefully some will point you (and me) in the right direction ... as I do not have it anymore :o .

Craig
:):):)

AJ_Fox
March 11th, 2008, 12:39 AM
I agree here with Casy. The AMD Athlon in my humble opinion is the best board for graphics. Everything else is derivative. I have the 64 bit version which does the job. BTW I'm not trying to start a seemingly endless debate here about which processor is the best for gaming. :)

Cheers

AJ

john259
March 11th, 2008, 02:39 AM
I was thinking of getting the Nvidia 8800GTX SC (super clocked) with 768MB RAM
That sounds good, it should improve things a lot over the 7300. You need to check:
Has the system board got an AGP or a PCI-E interface socket?
Is the power supply wattage adequate?
Will the case fans provide enough ventilation?
You should find the answers to first two in the computer's manual. For the third, try Dell's forum.
The other question is whether Trainz would actually make use of all that video ram - perhaps someone else could comment on that?

There will always be a bottleneck but with Trainz a powerful video processor is definitely one of the most critical factors.


Cooling wise, is Trainz the kind of software that will make the CPU or the video card run HOT?
Yes.

John

robin-nisbet
March 11th, 2008, 02:46 AM
here is a link to the fraps website http://www.fraps.com/ ... hope this helps

seeseeme
March 11th, 2008, 09:30 PM
here is a link to the fraps website http://www.fraps.com/ ... hope this helps
Thanks for the link, I actually thought I first got it somewhere else and it was not as easily found using the common search features.

Craig
:):):)

robin-nisbet
March 11th, 2008, 11:02 PM
i found it doing a google search ....

actually google found nearly 30 pages for fraps downloads ... lol

Ferngren
March 12th, 2008, 04:17 AM
The 7300 video card looks to be your bottleneck atm. Some users have problems with that card and some games simply doesn't support it. I agree with John - check what kind of video card slots you have on the mobo and that the PSU can handle an upgrade.

Mobo's for more than 4GB? Yes, my humble and inexpensive Asus M2N-SLI can handle up to 8GB of RAM at 800Mhz.

RAM limitations;

-Windows Vista 32bit = 4GB
-Vista 64bit Home Basic = 8GB
-Vista 64bit Home Premium = 16GB
-Vista 64bit Ultimate and above = 128+GB

backyard
March 12th, 2008, 07:17 AM
8) Your making it too hard....

What is your question?

Trainz, allocates memory, as is capable for your machine...

I have 2048, as usual, Vista, takes less than half...so...

A completed map, leaves a ton of mem.

The Trainz Cache memory, is relative to the particular route you are so involved into...

When you exit the route, your mem, is cleared.

In fact, when you leave the Cab view, your cache is cleared....

And...

so...

Do you need a graphics card?...GeForce 8800GT.

Thea's guys, know what their doing...

A heavy map, is hard on the norm, I'm sorry, Trainz has developed into a program, that takes a serious upgrade, and developing your software solutions, is up to the user...and well worth it, in my opinion.

johnwhelan
March 12th, 2008, 08:27 AM
Quite a list of questions some of which are relevant and some not. Lets start by explaining what we know about how the program works. Each model we see on the screen is actually two parts, the first is the mesh and the second is the texture applied to the mesh. The work of drawing is split up by the operating system according to the video card driver for windows. In simple terms to draw a 3D box on the screen is done by the cpu with a video card that doesn't understand 3D shapes and off loaded to the GPU if it does. This split is done according to the video card driver.

The video card itself applies the texture which it holds in it's memory if it has enough. How much is enough? Well one of our graphics experts added up all the textures by hand in one scene and came up with a figure of 700 mbs. So for that scene a video card with less memory would be requesting the cpu transfer extra copies of textures.

Then we come to the operating system and what else is going on. The ideal operating system should be running Trainz and nothing else. Unfortunately most run antivirus software, Sykpe in the background and many other things. Vista is a good solid secure operating system that sacrifices game performance for other objectives so expect 10-20% worst performance compared to XP especially with 2 gigs of memory under 32 bit.

Trainz itself can cache things in memory, but the current version is limited to 2 gigs so the optimum amount of memory is 2 gigs for Trainz plus 512 mb for XP and I'm not certain what the figure is for 32 bit Vista. Not all the 4 gig memory address space is available since the hardware address for video cards, hard drives keyboards etc take up some of the address space.

Some motherboards can have more than 4 gigs of memory but Trainz has a max of 2 gigs it understands, if you use a 64 bit operating system then the operating system can make use of extra memory.

The models, low poly what does it mean? If you create a cylinder in GMAX the defaults are 5 segments and 18 sides. 5 segments just means 5 cylinders stuck together end to end so if we change this to a single segment we have reduced the poly count to one fifth of the original without any visible change. If the cylinder is small then in Trainz three sides looks the same as 18 sides. So we now have a cylinder that looks exactly the same but one has 30 times more polys than the other. This will have an impact on performance.

Trainz has to cope with textures and it takes roughly the same amount of work to handle a texture as 200 polys so a model with six texture files has a rough performance penalty of 1,000 polys. Putting all the textures in a single file is more work but does pay off.

Also having a texture file that doesn't need to be processed first loads the load on the cpu. Trainz can use .jpgs but there is a performance penalty compared to .tga files.

Lod or level of detail if you can't see the detail why draw it, smaller simpler models that are used in the distance help enormously and if used correctly can help performance with no visible difference. Which brings up another point, models in the distance take just as much processing power as models close up if lod isn't used, this is why drawing distance matters. If the item is small then the visible impact of it not being there is smaller than if an object close up wasn't there. The drawing distance affects the total number of items that Trainz has to draw and the fact that a video card can draw one scene with few items in at 30 frames per second doesn't mean it can draw a different scene with lots of complex shapes in at the same rate.

Trainz appears to have two modes, scenery which stays still and rolling stock that moves. Scenery items do not have to be recalculated every frame in the way that rolling stock does. TC is supposed to convert uncoupled rolling stock into scenery which lowers the load. Generally speaking the latest version of software runs faster and this is certainly the case for Trainz.

Also TRS2006 and earlier versions spend processing time working their way around errors in the config.txt file. TC expects there to be no errors so doesn't have the overhead. Error free content helps performance.

Display size will impact performance. 800 by 600 screen size has 480,000 pixels, yours at 1360 by 768 has 1,044,480 pixels so your system will have to work twice as hard to see the same frames per second.

Identifying bottlenecks is difficult. One maybe running dual core, for some tasks in some computer systems running a task on single cpu lets things run faster than running on two cpus. The reason is the time taken to decide which cpu or core should be used and how many times you have to make the decision.

When you measure frames per second you have to be careful not to impact what you are measuring. Jetlog is better than fraps there is a thread here that has some information

http://forums.auran.com/trainz/showthread.php?t=14993&highlight=benchmarking

including how different systems compare. How do you identify the bottleneck, you don't but you can use experience to identify the probable bottleneck. In your case upping the video card should clear the problem but you may have to up the power supply as well. nVidia have the name for performance this week but ATI's 3870 is quite respectable compared to last years cards but is built on 45 nm fabrication which means it runs cooler and needs less power to achieve the same performance. Check the benchmarks at tomshardware.com.

Cheerio John

trainmetal
March 12th, 2008, 11:11 AM
I was going to post a more detailed response but John admirably beat me to it :)

I have been putting together some specs for my "dream Trainz PC", and have the following in mind:-

Gainwood Bliss NVIDIA 8800 GT, 1024MB TV, DVI-DVI Golden Sample
http://www.gainward.net/product/product_detail.php?products_id=149

There are other 1Gb 8800GT on the market now, but at the time I was investigating this spec, only Gainwood were selling this much memory on 8800GT. Also the 9600GT 1Gb cards are available and look pretty good for power versus cost.

Western Digital Raptor Hard Drive 74Gb 10K rpm as a separate drive containing only Trainz. http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=244
I would actually like 3 of these in raid 5 configuration, but that is quite expensive.

I believe having Trainz installed on a separate drive and such a fast one would result in quicker load times, smaller pauses when new data is requested mid game etc.

Finally, I would like one of these drives to use a swap file (page file) drive for windows - HyperDrive4 (Revision 3) loaded with 4Gb ram http://www.hyperossystems.co.uk/

I think a system incorporating some or all of these components would really fly.
(http://www.hyperossystems.co.uk/)

john259
March 12th, 2008, 11:23 AM
FWIW Tom's Hardware Guide ranks the 9600GT two performance tiers above a 256MB 8800GT.

But how much effect would all that extra video ram in your 8800GT spec make? Does anyone really know for sure whether Trainz would actually make use of any of it?

John

johnwhelan
March 12th, 2008, 12:58 PM
I was going to post a more detailed response but John admirably beat me to it :)

I have been putting together some specs for my "dream Trainz PC", and have the following in mind:-

Gainwood Bliss NVIDIA 8800 GT, 1024MB TV, DVI-DVI Golden Sample
http://www.gainward.net/product/product_detail.php?products_id=149

There are other 1Gb 8800GT on the market now, but at the time I was investigating this spec, only Gainwood were selling this much memory on 8800GT. Also the 9600GT 1Gb cards are available and look pretty good for power versus cost.

Western Digital Raptor Hard Drive 74Gb 10K rpm as a separate drive containing only Trainz. http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=244
I would actually like 3 of these in raid 5 configuration, but that is quite expensive.

I believe having Trainz installed on a separate drive and such a fast one would result in quicker load times, smaller pauses when new data is requested mid game etc.

Finally, I would like one of these drives to use a swap file (page file) drive for windows - HyperDrive4 (Revision 3) loaded with 4Gb ram http://www.hyperossystems.co.uk/

I think a system incorporating some or all of these components would really fly.


Check the hard drive specs but some of the Sata drives are close to the Raptor performance, when we dug into perfmon Trainz didn't seem to be bottlenecked on the hard drive so three Raptors might not give you much performance gain.

Cheerio John

johnwhelan
March 12th, 2008, 01:00 PM
FWIW Tom's Hardware Guide ranks the 9600GT two performance tiers above a 256MB 8800GT.

But how much effect would all that extra video ram in your 8800GT spec make? Does anyone really know for sure whether Trainz would actually make use of any of it?

John

Mandy25? did the sums and there were 700 mbs of textures used on a specific scene so if the graphics card has to have the textures available then it saves swapping them in and out.

Cheerio John

john259
March 12th, 2008, 01:48 PM
Mandy25? did the sums and there were 700 mbs of textures used on a specific scene so if the graphics card has to have the textures available then it saves swapping them in and out.

Cheerio John
John,

I'm not disputing the obvious desirability, just curious as to whether Trainz is programmed to really do it. Sorry to appear sceptical.

John

trainmetal
March 12th, 2008, 02:55 PM
John,

I'm not disputing the obvious desirability, just curious as to whether Trainz is programmed to really do it. Sorry to appear sceptical.

John

Hi John,

Trainz does not have to support per se, as it is DirectX / OpenGL and the graphic card drivers job to produce the results. What Trainz does, is to send information to DirectX which in turn sends it to the Card via the Driver.

Put it another way, when Trainz 2004 came out, 512Mb Graphic cards where still in design stage. Graphical chipsets in the latest cards where only being thought about being developed, yet they all work quite happily - most of the time.

Another example of the flexibility of this system would be widescreen support - there is no built in support for widescreen in 2004/2006 (have not seen TC so cannot comment on that), but by amending the trainzoptions.txt it can support wide screen resolutions quite happily.

Hope this has helped your scepticism on this.

Regards,

Tony

AHSAN
March 12th, 2008, 03:52 PM
This thread may be interesting to follow.

You mention;

There is a program called FRAPS that can help with this but I am not sure where I found it.

Craig
:):):)

Hello

link here: http://www.fraps.com/

Regards

Ahsan:)
NAT Team

edion2
March 12th, 2008, 04:34 PM
johnwhelan,

Thank you for your VERY informative post. It sure clears things up a lot for me . . . and I'm sure I speak for many users like myself.

OK . . . I got FRAPS and ran it. Overall my average FPS "out in the country" away from yards seems to hover around 13 to 15 FPS. When I'm passing an on coming train (30 to 40 cars) it drops to 11 to 13 FPS. When I'm in the main yard it drops to 9 to 11 FPS (jittery movements).

In comparison, the built-in "Marias Pass" route runs at 15 to 20 FPS in yards, pretty solidly locked at 20 FPS "out in the country" and from time to time it jumps up to 30 FPS. The built-in "City & Country" runs at 24 to 30 FPS.

All of the above running at 1360x768.

While the built-ins are just fine for most users, they are bit too "model-like" for my taste. If you are interested, some screen shots of my route-in-progress can be seen in the last couple of pages in the "US Screen Shots" and "Kitbashed industry show & tell" Threads in the Screen shots Category.

With regards to UPGRADE :

It seems to me that for now, I'll be getting a new video card. I'm hoping that the upgrade will improve my average FPS to 15 to 16 FPS range in the main yard, and 16 to 20 "out in the country". For my eyes, 15 to 16 FPS is where I start to "notice" degradation of "smooth" movement. I think I'm in the range of realistic gains from the upgrade.

I also found out that I have 3 PCI-E slots. One 1X, One 4X and One 16X . . . so I do have a slot for the nVidia 8800 GTS card. I'll be ordering one from Circuit City or Comp USA or any other retailer that offers "30 day return, no questions asked policy". Just in case the "gains v.s. $ spent" ratio isn't satisfactory . . . although I doubt I'd be returning it. So this is one time I'm going to bypass the "e-Bay suer bargains".

With the power supply . . . the computer has a 375 watt power supply. This specification, even to me, seems minimal. I would assume that 8800 series of video cards are power hungry . . . right? So if I have to upgrade the PSU, what wattage should I get? Please keep in mind that probably in a year or two, I will be getting a new computer system . . . So a "stop gap" type upgrade of PSU would be fine for now (less than $100?).


ferngren,
Thanks for the OS v.s. RAM access list . . . clears up another nagging question.

With regards to RAM :
According to johnwhalen, Trainz can only utilize 2G of RAM. Since I have 3G total, and less than 1G of it is used up by the OS leaving more than 2G for Trainz, any more added RAM over the current 3G won't be used. Is this really the case with TRS2006? How much memory does TC "see" . . . anyone know??

With regards to "Working resolution" :
I realize that FPS will certainly improve if I ran trains at 1024x768 . . . but I'm spoiled. I can't imagine anything smaller than my 37" HDTV screen for Trainz ! But I can run at slightly lower resolution while retaining the "wide screen" aspect ratio . . . maybe 1280x800 or even 1024x680 or something that doesn't distort the x-y ratio to a noticeable point. But right now, 1360x768 is the native resolution in or out of Trainz.

By the way, 1360x768 is one of the selection in the "Options" area of Trainz. I assume that Trainz will include "current Windows resolution" in the list automatically.

This is great guys . . . I found more solid answers to some of my nagging questions in the last few days than all peeking in various threads.

KEEP THE INFORMATION COMING !!

Thanks

johnwhelan
March 12th, 2008, 06:06 PM
johnwhelan,

Thank you for your VERY informative post. It sure clears things up a lot for me . . . and I'm sure I speak for many users like myself.

OK . . . I got FRAPS and ran it. Overall my average FPS "out in the country" away from yards seems to hover around 13 to 15 FPS. When I'm passing an on coming train (30 to 40 cars) it drops to 11 to 13 FPS. When I'm in the main yard it drops to 9 to 11 FPS (jittery movements).

In comparison, the built-in "Marias Pass" route runs at 15 to 20 FPS in yards, pretty solidly locked at 20 FPS "out in the country" and from time to time it jumps up to 30 FPS. The built-in "City & Country" runs at 24 to 30 FPS.

All of the above running at 1360x768.

While the built-ins are just fine for most users, they are bit too "model-like" for my taste. If you are interested, some screen shots of my route-in-progress can be seen in the last couple of pages in the "US Screen Shots" and "Kitbashed industry show & tell" Threads in the Screen shots Category.

With regards to UPGRADE :

It seems to me that for now, I'll be getting a new video card. I'm hoping that the upgrade will improve my average FPS to 15 to 16 FPS range in the main yard, and 16 to 20 "out in the country". For my eyes, 15 to 16 FPS is where I start to "notice" degradation of "smooth" movement. I think I'm in the range of realistic gains from the upgrade.

I also found out that I have 3 PCI-E slots. One 1X, One 4X and One 16X . . . so I do have a slot for the nVidia 8800 GTS card. I'll be ordering one from Circuit City or Comp USA or any other retailer that offers "30 day return, no questions asked policy". Just in case the "gains v.s. $ spent" ratio isn't satisfactory . . . although I doubt I'd be returning it. So this is one time I'm going to bypass the "e-Bay suer bargains".

With the power supply . . . the computer has a 375 watt power supply. This specification, even to me, seems minimal. I would assume that 8800 series of video cards are power hungry . . . right? So if I have to upgrade the PSU, what wattage should I get? Please keep in mind that probably in a year or two, I will be getting a new computer system . . . So a "stop gap" type upgrade of PSU would be fine for now (less than $100?).


ferngren,
Thanks for the OS v.s. RAM access list . . . clears up another nagging question.

With regards to RAM :
According to johnwhalen, Trainz can only utilize 2G of RAM. Since I have 3G total, and less than 1G of it is used up by the OS leaving more than 2G for Trainz, any more added RAM over the current 3G won't be used. Is this really the case with TRS2006? How much memory does TC "see" . . . anyone know??

With regards to "Working resolution" :
I realize that FPS will certainly improve if I ran trains at 1024x768 . . . but I'm spoiled. I can't imagine anything smaller than my 37" HDTV screen for Trainz ! But I can run at slightly lower resolution while retaining the "wide screen" aspect ratio . . . maybe 1280x800 or even 1024x680 or something that doesn't distort the x-y ratio to a noticeable point. But right now, 1360x768 is the native resolution in or out of Trainz.

By the way, 1360x768 is one of the selection in the "Options" area of Trainz. I assume that Trainz will include "current Windows resolution" in the list automatically.

This is great guys . . . I found more solid answers to some of my nagging questions in the last few days than all peeking in various threads.

KEEP THE INFORMATION COMING !!

Thanks

Depending on your hardware and operating system although you have 3 gigs of memory less than this maybe usable. Don't assume that your operating system only uses less than a gig of memory, 64 bit Vista on an 8 gig machine will use 6 gigs quite happily to cache files if Trainz takes 2 gigs.

Marias Pass almost certainly was built by one of the users or a team, what you are really saying is they are better at selecting and placing items than you are especially in yards.

TC, TRS2006, and TRS2004 all have the same memory 2 gig limitation.

Cheerio John

Ferngren
March 13th, 2008, 09:18 AM
With Antec.com under Power Supplies there is a Watt Calculator you can try. Don't forget the aging of capacitators option.

backyard
March 13th, 2008, 07:09 PM
8) My HP w1907(19") monitor, I found TRS'06 offered the native resolution of 1441x900, in the Display Settings menu.

To use TRS'04, I had to manually configure TrainzOptions for:

-width=1440
-height=900

The Display Settings drop-down menu in '04, stayed at 1024x768, but the game renders correctly know.

edion2
March 19th, 2008, 01:19 AM
I've been continuing the research and coming close to plunking my money down. It will be an upgrade just in video card OR all the way up to a new system.

So far . . .

Trainz can utilize or "see" 2GB max of RAM.
therefore : A system that with enough RAM with at least 2MB of RAM left for other software use would be best. Example : A Windows Vista OS computer with 4GB RAM should have 2GB available for Trainz after OS is installed.

Trainz as a software does not take advantage of "Multi-Core" CPU.
therefore : A system with a 3Ghz Pentium D (single core) v.s. 3Ghz Quad core should process Trainz math data at about the same speed with regards to processing power. (other CPU features varies which may affect OVERALL performance)

It was stated that "Trainz likes L2 cache . . ."
therefore : A CPU with larger L2 cache would increase Trainz performance.
Core 2 Duo up to E6500, I think, has 2MB L2 Cache
Core 2 Duo E6650 and up has 4MB cache
Core 2 Duo E8400 and up has 6MB cache
ALL AMD including Athelon 64 X2 only has 1MB cache

Question :
#1 If L2 cache is important, Why has AMD kept their cache size at 1MB ??

#2 How important is L2 cache for Trainz and what does it do for Trainz ??

#3 Which is better for Trainz : E8400 (2.4Ghz) OR AMD Athelon 64 X2 5000 (2.6 Ghz) considering a difference of 5MB in cache size ??

Now ... here are 2 descriptions of computer systems, I may purchase since Uncle Sam is being generous this year . . . but not sure which one. The Intel system is $100 more than the AMD ssytem.

Intel : $1799
CybertronPC X-Qpack 2 Q6600 Blue, Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600, 4GB DDR2, 500GB HDD, 20X DVD±RW, GeForce 640MB 8800GTS, 600 Watt Power Supply, MS Windows Vista Business 64-bit, 1 Year Parts & Labor Warranty

AMD : $1699
CybertronPC F430 6000 Black, AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+, 4GB DDR2, 500GB HDD, 20X DVD±RW, GeForce 768MB 8800GTX, 600 Watt Power Supply, MS Windows Vista Home Basic 64-bit, 1 Year Parts & Labor Warranty

Please note: the DIFFERENCE in the video card and the Intel CPU is quad-core 2.4Ghz while AMD is dual core 3Ghz

Which system would you pick and why?

Thanks

AJ_Fox
March 19th, 2008, 01:26 AM
If I can toss my hat in this ring, there are many variables that go into a computer's graphic performance. This is just my personal opinion and in no way attempts to start a back and forth thing here, but I believe for graphic performance the Athlon 64 bit processor works the best. And yes I do have one. :) However graphic cards and the power supply's to support them are also of great importance.

Cheers

AJ

edion2
March 19th, 2008, 01:46 AM
AJ_Fox,

Well, these are system available through Amazon.com and they are configured and tested systems . . . so I would assume that they will come with the correct capacity power supply.

Do you think L2 cache size is more or less a moot point as far as Trainz software is concerned ?

AMD is certainly less expensive, and if its just as capable as Intel . . . why not. I just never owned an AMD before. Its transparent to the user.

I just want something thats not going to poop out on me in a few months as my route grows. I'd be very happy if I can get 2 years before I have to upgrade again. I don't need to upgrade if only ran built-in routes, they run fine with what I have.

AJ_Fox
March 19th, 2008, 02:14 AM
The backside cache isn't important as it used to be, but get what you want. :) I was only saying what works for me as I do a lot of graphics. It was more of an experience sharing thing than advice.

Cheers

AJ

collinsl
March 19th, 2008, 04:00 AM
AMD is certainly less expensive, and if its just as capable as Intel . . . why not. I just never owned an AMD before. Its transparent to the user.

Absolutely right! Go for AMD every time! (No, I don't work for them, I just theink that Intel are worse!)

AussieNightcrawler
March 19th, 2008, 06:34 AM
My rother has an AMD based system, 4200+ AM2 2.2GHz duel core while I have an Intel based system, core 2 duo E6600 2.4GHz. The both of us run Gigabyte motherboards, his uses nVidia chipset while I have an Intel chipset and I know how many problems my brother has with his system.

After about 2 months of use, my brother has stated that never again will he buy AMD based system.

johnwhelan
March 19th, 2008, 08:28 AM
I've been continuing the research and coming close to plunking my money down. It will be an upgrade just in video card OR all the way up to a new system.

So far . . .

Trainz can utilize or "see" 2GB max of RAM.
therefore : A system that with enough RAM with at least 2MB of RAM left for other software use would be best. Example : A Windows Vista OS computer with 4GB RAM should have 2GB available for Trainz after OS is installed.

Trainz as a software does not take advantage of "Multi-Core" CPU.
therefore : A system with a 3Ghz Pentium D (single core) v.s. 3Ghz Quad core should process Trainz math data at about the same speed with regards to processing power. (other CPU features varies which may affect OVERALL performance)

It was stated that "Trainz likes L2 cache . . ."
therefore : A CPU with larger L2 cache would increase Trainz performance.
Core 2 Duo up to E6500, I think, has 2MB L2 Cache
Core 2 Duo E6650 and up has 4MB cache
Core 2 Duo E8400 and up has 6MB cache
ALL AMD including Athelon 64 X2 only has 1MB cache

Question :
#1 If L2 cache is important, Why has AMD kept their cache size at 1MB ??

#2 How important is L2 cache for Trainz and what does it do for Trainz ??

#3 Which is better for Trainz : E8400 (2.4Ghz) OR AMD Athelon 64 X2 5000 (2.6 Ghz) considering a difference of 5MB in cache size ??

Now ... here are 2 descriptions of computer systems, I may purchase since Uncle Sam is being generous this year . . . but not sure which one. The Intel system is $100 more than the AMD ssytem.

Intel : $1799
CybertronPC X-Qpack 2 Q6600 Blue, Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600, 4GB DDR2, 500GB HDD, 20X DVD±RW, GeForce 640MB 8800GTS, 600 Watt Power Supply, MS Windows Vista Business 64-bit, 1 Year Parts & Labor Warranty

AMD : $1699
CybertronPC F430 6000 Black, AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+, 4GB DDR2, 500GB HDD, 20X DVD±RW, GeForce 768MB 8800GTX, 600 Watt Power Supply, MS Windows Vista Home Basic 64-bit, 1 Year Parts & Labor Warranty

Please note: the DIFFERENCE in the video card and the Intel CPU is quad-core 2.4Ghz while AMD is dual core 3Ghz

Which system would you pick and why?

Thanks

There are other factors around. Take caching for example, a 1k cache can have about a 60% hit ratio depending on the program and the caching algorithm. An L2 cache of 6 mb is not six times better than one of 1 mb and the software caching algorithm does make a difference.

The basic problem is feeding the cpu and getting information into and away from the cpu. The Celeron cpu core is the same as other cpus but because it has a very small L2 cache the performance isn't good. Because of the way that cpus are made it makes sense to use the same design and cripple the lower end ones.

AMD use a different approach to Intel's Front Side bus which meant that their cpus although not quite as powerful as the Intel ones performed better because they could get the data in and out faster. The newer Intel cpus have more than caught up even for graphical applications.

The other thing to consider is the instruction set, you have to design the silicon to do different instructions in different ways. Some instructions will be faster than others, so by knowing which instructions are used more frequently you can optimise performance in the silicon. There is another twist to this and that is the compilers. Microsoft make fairly good compilers but actually translate their languages into an intermediate one before compiling. Intel make better optimised compilers that give better performance. If you are writing general office software where the cpu is running at 2% utilisation then the Microsoft approach works fine. If its a game or simulator running at 100% cpu then using an optimising compiler makes more sense and the best ones are written by Intel. Guess which cpus the Intel compilers are optimised for?

Dual core well although Trainz doesn't use both a single core of an Intel dual core is still faster than anything else, so what if it has an extra lump of silicon on the side do you care?

Cooling is important, most systems are built to a price and normally if you aren't running Trainz the cpu runs about 2-5% so a cheaper solution works fine unless you run something like Trainz in which case you get overheating which shortens the life of the cpu etc. Strangely enough Dell made their reputation for reliability based on their thermal engineering or making sure the cards were placed in the coolest spots. Smaller companies find the work involved in working this out to be too expensive to calculate and will either over cool which is fine but more expensive than needed, or under cool which for them is fine as well as the system will probably just stagger past its warranty period and then you'll be back for a new system.

Power supplies, same thing as cooling really. How many people have a power supply 50% larger than they need?

Memory any 32 bit system can only see 3 gigs of memory, so yes 4 gigs is great but you've just added more heat into the system for no real benefit. A better solution is XP and 3 gigs. If you're going Vista go 64 bit and 8 gigs.

Idiots like me prefer to roll our own machines, selecting the motherboard, memory etc and quite often upgrading an existing system. You can get practically the same performance by buying an Dell XPS.

Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor E6850 (4MB L2 Cache,3.0GHz,1333 FSB)edit (javascript:to_page_mod(1, 1, _Action);)OPERATING SYSTEMGenuine Windows® XP Media Center 2005 Edition with re-installation CDedit (javascript:to_page_mod(1, 11, _Action);)MEMORY3GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz - 4 DIMMsedit (javascript:to_page_mod(1, 3, _Action);)HARD DRIVE500GB - Seagate 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cacheedit (javascript:to_page_mod(1, 8, _Action);)OPTICAL DRIVESingle Drive: 16X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write capabilityedit (javascript:to_page_mod(1, 16, _Action);)MONITORNo Monitoredit (javascript:to_page_mod(1, 5, _Action);)VIDEO CARDnVidia GeForce 8800 GT 512MBedit (javascript:to_page_mod(1, 6, _Action);)SOUND CARDSound Blaster® X-Fi™ XtremeMusic (D) Sound Cardedit (javascript:to_page_mod(1, 17, _Action);)KEYBOARDDell USB Keyboardedit (javascript:to_page_mod(1, 4, _Action);)MOUSEDell Optical USB Mouseedit (javascript:to_page_mod(1, 12, _Action);)FLOPPY & MEDIA READERNo Floppy Drive or Media Reader Includededit (javascript:to_page_mod(1, 10, _Action);)MODEMNo Modem Requestededit (javascript:to_page_mod(1, 14, _Action);)http://i.dell.com/images/global/configurator/icons/software_on.gif $1709

Don't buy the optional extras the base system is actually quite good for Trainz but choose the components with care. Personally I'd add a second hard drive of 500 gigs but $200 to Dell or $120 from newegg take your choice,the Doll price is installed and warrantied though.

Cheerio John

john259
March 19th, 2008, 09:25 AM
IMHO exploring the multitide of customisation options for each basic model on Dell's web site is a very good way learn about what hardware options are currently available on the market. You can then take that knowledge and purchase wherever you wish.

HTH, John

collinsl
March 19th, 2008, 09:47 AM
My rother has an AMD based system, 4200+ AM2 2.2GHz duel core while I have an Intel based system, core 2 duo E6600 2.4GHz. The both of us run Gigabyte motherboards, his uses nVidia chipset while I have an Intel chipset and I know how many problems my brother has with his system.

After about 2 months of use, my brother has stated that never again will he buy AMD based system.

I'm on a Gigabyte nVIDIA right now, I've had it for ages with no problems!

But, each to their own!

AussieNightcrawler
March 19th, 2008, 10:50 AM
Yeah, each to their own...

I know of a few people also that run AMD based systems without problems, its also strange that we are having problems with the Gigabyte motherboard as they are usually very good quality.

But that said, his motherboard is the Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4, uses the nVidia 570i chipset and I have heard of problems with these, especially the problems he has been having.

trainmetal
March 19th, 2008, 12:45 PM
I would say go for the AMD system purely for the graphics card. The 8800 GTX is faster than the 8800 gts, and has more graphics memory which would give a high FPS, and easier support for large resolutions. See http://www23.tomshardware.com/graphics_2007.html?modelx=33&model1=706&model2=707&chart=318 for more details.

edion2
March 19th, 2008, 01:38 PM
Thanks guys for your inputs.

Intel or AMD :
It seems how a particular system performs for daily use whether Intel or AMD is kinda "crap-shoot". You never know until you get it and put it in use. People have success as well as problem with both CPU based system. There is no definitive answer as to which is better. Some systems are better "put together" than others.
therefore : Whether AMD or Intel, if purchasing a "turn-key system", as opposed to "customizing it yourself", it makes sense to buy a name brand like Dell, HP, Gateway etc. because they will spend the time pick "more compatible" components to build and offer a system.

While these "turn-key" systems are excellent for general use, they usually come loaded with "useless software" for a Trainz platform. Specially for someone like me who owns multiple computers.

AMD fans, don't crucify me . . . I tend to agree with jphnwahlen, there is generally better "industry support" for Intel because Intel makes it easier to support their CPU. A while back, I read that "majority" of software is written with "Intel in mind" and "tweaked" work with "AMD" . . . obviously an unsubstantiated statement . . . but with a ring of truth.

Video Card :
After some hours of surfing . . . I'm sold on nVidia 8800 series. I've settled on the GTX over clocked version with 768MB memory ($400 to $500). Putting this card in my current computer seems like putting a "V-12 Ferrari engine" in my Toyota of a computer. . . cars or computer . . . it just doesn't make sense :hehe:

Upgrade or New computer :
Since a friend of mine is willing to buy my current computer for $400 (pays for my video card and saves him $200), I'll be getting a new computer.

I know which video card I want . . . the problem is finding a "turn-key" system" without a video card, just the on-board video, that I can install the 8800GTX into. My ext step is to visit Dell's site and see if I can configure a system with a good motherboard, enough power supply, extra cooling options options on a 3Ghz Core 2 Duo based computer . . . within a total budget of $1800 including the GTX OC from Comp USA for $400.

If I'm not successful, I'll have to build my own . . . something I've never tried before. That would be another thread :eek:


I'll chime in with progress.

johnwhelan
March 19th, 2008, 03:20 PM
Thanks guys for your inputs.

Intel or AMD :
It seems how a particular system performs for daily use whether Intel or AMD is kinda "crap-shoot". You never know until you get it and put it in use. People have success as well as problem with both CPU based system. There is no definitive answer as to which is better. Some systems are better "put together" than others.
therefore : Whether AMD or Intel, if purchasing a "turn-key system", as opposed to "customizing it yourself", it makes sense to buy a name brand like Dell, HP, Gateway etc. because they will spend the time pick "more compatible" components to build and offer a system.

While these "turn-key" systems are excellent for general use, they usually come loaded with "useless software" for a Trainz platform. Specially for someone like me who owns multiple computers.

AMD fans, don't crucify me . . . I tend to agree with jphnwahlen, there is generally better "industry support" for Intel because Intel makes it easier to support their CPU. A while back, I read that "majority" of software is written with "Intel in mind" and "tweaked" work with "AMD" . . . obviously an unsubstantiated statement . . . but with a ring of truth.

Video Card :
After some hours of surfing . . . I'm sold on nVidia 8800 series. I've settled on the GTX over clocked version with 768MB memory ($400 to $500). Putting this card in my current computer seems like putting a "V-12 Ferrari engine" in my Toyota of a computer. . . cars or computer . . . it just doesn't make sense :hehe:

Upgrade or New computer :
Since a friend of mine is willing to buy my current computer for $400 (pays for my video card and saves him $200), I'll be getting a new computer.

I know which video card I want . . . the problem is finding a "turn-key" system" without a video card, just the on-board video, that I can install the 8800GTX into. My ext step is to visit Dell's site and see if I can configure a system with a good motherboard, enough power supply, extra cooling options options on a 3Ghz Core 2 Duo based computer . . . within a total budget of $1800 including the GTX OC from Comp USA for $400.

If I'm not successful, I'll have to build my own . . . something I've never tried before. That would be another thread :eek:


I'll chime in with progress.

Ok the video card you've selected is wonderful but is it overkill? An ATI 3870 built in 45 nm whatever maybe sufficient and until yesterday the two cards in one version of this card was the fastest on the planet. It also has lower power consumption etc.

Cheerio John

edion2
March 19th, 2008, 04:24 PM
johnwhelan,

Oh no . . . 2 cards in one . . . FASTEST ON THE PLANET . . .

Hmmmmm . . . I'm gonna have to look into this.

Regarding "Overkill" . . . are you inferring that I'll be running at 1360x768 max., and thats medium resolution, so a video card that is 1 notch less, like the 8800GT or GTS might give me the same performance for Trainz ?

Perhaps you're right. But my route is really full of FPS robbing objects everywhere. All that object rendering information of the "current view" resides in the video memory, and frames get "pulled out of memory" as new ones are rendered to video memory. So each frame, in my case, has substantially more data than average. So . . . my thinking is that this is where I should spend as much as I can reasonably afford.

This is my latest section I added and the FPS is hovering around 8 FPS when a train runs through here during a driver session.
http://img85.imageshack.us/img85/9535/upgt01hn0.th.jpg (http://img85.imageshack.us/my.php?image=upgt01hn0.jpg) http://img85.imageshack.us/img85/9343/upgt02dm2.th.jpg (http://img85.imageshack.us/my.php?image=upgt02dm2.jpg)

And in areas like this I'm getting 13 to 15 FPS.
http://img444.imageshack.us/img444/4107/scwshoe5pm3.th.jpg (http://img444.imageshack.us/my.php?image=scwshoe5pm3.jpg) http://img81.imageshack.us/img81/6585/shoe3tf8.th.jpg (http://img81.imageshack.us/my.php?image=shoe3tf8.jpg) http://img399.imageshack.us/img399/6243/lpr10va9.th.jpg (http://img399.imageshack.us/my.php?image=lpr10va9.jpg) http://img227.imageshack.us/img227/5067/lpr09xc6.th.jpg (http://img227.imageshack.us/my.php?image=lpr09xc6.jpg)

If can ed up with aver all improvements of around 14 FPS and above in my worst areas, I'd be happy.

But I'll look into the ATI.

Thanks, you've been very helpful.

johnwhelan
March 19th, 2008, 06:20 PM
Yesterday nVidia put two cards together so they have the title today although the reviews were not so good yes it is the fastest but its limited by the memory on it. I think what I'm trying to say is you can get 96% of the result for 50% of the money.

The ATI 3870 with XP should give you very close to the performance of the top of the line nVidia with Vista. Top of the line nVidia with XP will give you about the max performance at the moment.

Trouble with Dell is if they have a configuration that matches what you want they are very good, if they don't it can be a problem hence some of us prefer to roll our own but then you're into the world of making sure this thing runs cool enough and the power supply is OK. Tomshardware.com and start digging.

If you have lots of scenery in Trainz then the more memory you have on the video card the less swapping you'll get which is good. Trouble is both companies top of the line cards only have 512 mb of memory on them.

To be honest what you have at the moment isn't bad other than the video card, dropping in a $200 ATI 3870 or an nVidia 9600 should give you a substantial improvement without breaking the bank.

If you look at the VGA charts on tomshardware on the light sim benchmark 1600 by 1200 with game aa and af the 7300 scores 4.9 the ATI 19.2. Yes there are nVidia cards that score 25% higher but the price is also much higher. It might be worthwhile checking with Microsoft if you can downgrade to XP if you are running Vista that should give you further gains and free up some memory. Besides the XP drivers are better developed than the Vista ones are.

For comparison my system scores about 11 on the same benchmark and I know my 2.4 P4 cpu is the bottleneck your cpu and memory are both much faster than mine.

Cheerio John

john259
March 20th, 2008, 01:59 AM
Provided the power supply, the ventilation and your wallet are all up to it, I don't think you can have overkill with a video board for Trainz can you?

John

johnwhelan
March 20th, 2008, 07:10 AM
Provided the power supply, the ventilation and your wallet are all up to it, I don't think you can have overkill with a video board for Trainz can you?

John

Perhaps not but if $200 will run 97.5% of layouts at 24 fps and $2,000 runs 98.2% at 24 fps I'm at the point that I'd go with the first solution. Don't forget the $200 solution we are talking about is better performance than the top of the line video cards of 18 months ago and people were running Trainz quite happily 18 months ago.

Cheerio John

collinsl
March 20th, 2008, 09:20 AM
But that said, his motherboard is the Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4, uses the nVidia 570i chipset and I have heard of problems with these, especially the problems he has been having.

Now you're worrying me! This is the type of motherboard that I have!:eek:

edion2
March 20th, 2008, 11:22 AM
johnwhelan,

Once again you are making a LOT of sense . . . and I can't ignore what you said.

As with any "electronic" gears . . . the closer you get to the top . . . you pay loads of money for very little real world gains in performance. I do understand that. Paying $200~$300 more to get that last few more FPS is a lot of money to spend for gains that are questionable if it will REALLY BUY that few extra FPS.

I had to re-evaluate the wisdom of a NEW computer at this time.
1. OK . . . this is a hobby after all.
2. There are other "wants" that I've been waiting to take care of like a Blue Ray player, better camera etc. on a long list . . . we all have this list :hehe:
3. After much poking around, the conclusion is that I will have to build my own to get a system I'd really like and thats over $2500 in cost.
4. My work environment is moving in the direction of "Rivet", the next generation of AutoCad thats heavily 3D based that requires a VERY fast computer. This would be a good excuse for me to spend a good sum of money for my home workstation with a 1080p monitor . . . which should run Trainz very nicely AND it will be an income producing computer.

So . . . I'm back to UPGRADING my current computer. After checking at tomshardware.com . . . I've come to realize what feeble performance my card is showing. A $75 card was at least twice as better than what I have.

I was really sold on the 8800 GTX SC but by the time I upgrade the power supply, its still an investment around $500 or so. I paid $575 for my computer. Perhaps THIS is a picture of an OVERKILL :hehe:

I read the review by C-net on the nVidia 9600 GT. First of all, its impossible to ignore the price/performance ratio. At a street price of $180 to $200 you are getting, basically an over clocked 8800 GT. It is still a card based on the same processor found in the 8800 series. The new 9xxx name is more a marketing move than anything else. The specs are impressive but how that translates to real world, specially Trainz . . . your guess is as good as mine.

THE PRICE is perfect for an UPGRADE. While I considered the ATI 3870, the 8800gt (nearest kin to 9600) seems to edge out the 3870 . . . plus I like nVidia.

I found a super-clocked version of the 9600 for $219. I think this is what I'm going to get. I'll probably order it today. While I do not give too much credence to specs, the Core Clock is stepped up to 740Mhz, Memory clock to 1950Mhz, Shader clock to 1835Mhz and has 64 stream processors, 512MB RAM and Memory Bandwidth is at 62.4GB/sec. Quite respectable on paper for a $220 card. Minimum power requirement is at 400 watts.

I will also up the power supply to 600 watt ($60) and keep the existing on a shelf as back-up . . . ya never know.

In a year or so, when I build my new computer it will have an SLI motherboard so I can still use this card and possibly add another one . . . or two. So it won't be a wasted investment when the new computer is built.

To benefit others in similar upgrade mood, I'll run a before and after comparison using FRAPS on my route and the Marias Pass built-in route in a couple of weeks.

Thanks again johnwhelan . . . I owe you one.

Now... I wonder if that highly raved Panasonic Blue Ray player has come down in price . . . :udrool: :hehe:

DaveW
March 20th, 2008, 04:50 PM
Hi edion2,
Home built or turn key? Third option is a custom built system, where you specify the components, and specs. get good advice, and it is built for you by a reputable firm of your choice. My experience is that these are no dearer than a turn key system and you get a guarantee.
Just my two penny worth :) .

DaveW

big_b
March 20th, 2008, 05:25 PM
johnwhelan,

Once again you are making a LOT of sense . . . and I can't ignore what you said.

As with any "electronic" gears . . . the closer you get to the top . . . you pay loads of money for very little real world gains in performance. I do understand that. Paying $200~$300 more to get that last few more FPS is a lot of money to spend for gains that are questionable if it will REALLY BUY that few extra FPS.

I had to re-evaluate the wisdom of a NEW computer at this time.
1. OK . . . this is a hobby after all.
2. There are other "wants" that I've been waiting to take care of like a Blue Ray player, better camera etc. on a long list . . . we all have this list :hehe:
3. After much poking around, the conclusion is that I will have to build my own to get a system I'd really like and thats over $2500 in cost.
4. My work environment is moving in the direction of "Rivet", the next generation of AutoCad thats heavily 3D based that requires a VERY fast computer. This would be a good excuse for me to spend a good sum of money for my home workstation with a 1080p monitor . . . which should run Trainz very nicely AND it will be an income producing computer.

So . . . I'm back to UPGRADING my current computer. After checking at tomshardware.com . . . I've come to realize what feeble performance my card is showing. A $75 card was at least twice as better than what I have.

I was really sold on the 8800 GTX SC but by the time I upgrade the power supply, its still an investment around $500 or so. I paid $575 for my computer. Perhaps THIS is a picture of an OVERKILL :hehe:

I read the review by C-net on the nVidia 9600 GT. First of all, its impossible to ignore the price/performance ratio. At a street price of $180 to $200 you are getting, basically an over clocked 8800 GT. It is still a card based on the same processor found in the 8800 series. The new 9xxx name is more a marketing move than anything else. The specs are impressive but how that translates to real world, specially Trainz . . . your guess is as good as mine.

THE PRICE is perfect for an UPGRADE. While I considered the ATI 3870, the 8800gt (nearest kin to 9600) seems to edge out the 3870 . . . plus I like nVidia.

I found a super-clocked version of the 9600 for $219. I think this is what I'm going to get. I'll probably order it today. While I do not give too much credence to specs, the Core Clock is stepped up to 740Mhz, Memory clock to 1950Mhz, Shader clock to 1835Mhz and has 64 stream processors, 512MB RAM and Memory Bandwidth is at 62.4GB/sec. Quite respectable on paper for a $220 card. Minimum power requirement is at 400 watts.

I will also up the power supply to 600 watt ($60) and keep the existing on a shelf as back-up . . . ya never know.

In a year or so, when I build my new computer it will have an SLI motherboard so I can still use this card and possibly add another one . . . or two. So it won't be a wasted investment when the new computer is built.

To benefit others in similar upgrade mood, I'll run a before and after comparison using FRAPS on my route and the Marias Pass built-in route in a couple of weeks.

Thanks again johnwhelan . . . I owe you one.

Now... I wonder if that highly raved Panasonic Blue Ray player has come down in price . . . :udrool: :hehe:


i've just upgraded to a pair of 9600's my " Fraps in Trains " & 3dmark scores before & after here

Dave

http://forums.auran.com/trainz/showthread.php?t=23637

johnwhelan
March 20th, 2008, 06:27 PM
i've just upgraded to a pair of 9600's my " Fraps in Trains " & 3dmark scores before & after here

Dave

http://forums.auran.com/trainz/showthread.php?t=23637

Could you be very nice and run either the TC or TRS2006 benchmark.

http://forums.auran.com/trainz/showthread.php?t=17294&highlight=benchmark

That way we get a result that can be compared to other systems.

I'll ask the same to edion2 as well. The before one is just as important as the after as it allows people with a similar configuration to see what the effect of a particular upgrade will be.

Thanks John

edion2
March 20th, 2008, 08:48 PM
johnwhelan,

Sure, I can do that . . . I hope I don't muck it all up . . . it sounds simple enough.

In another thread Dermmy reported in response to my statement that "I'm expecting a decent improvement in FPS"

"Don't count on it! I recently went from a 7600GT 256mb to a 8800GTS OC 640mb for no fps gain. Nil - zip - nuffink.

reason - my Intel 6300 dual core was already throwing everything the graphics engine could produce at the old card, the faster card was redundant on a ten year-old graphics engine....."

Could this be an isolated incident ? I'm thinking somehow a setting or a switch got changed. Although the E6300 is a middle-of-the-road processor, its a bit hard for me to swallow that its that slow.

Is there a test that can be done so anyone can get an idea about their computer whether its the CPU is waiting for the GPU or visa versa ??

I'm a little worried . . . . . :confused:

big_b
March 21st, 2008, 07:46 AM
Could you be very nice and run either the TC or TRS2006 benchmark.

http://forums.auran.com/trainz/showthread.php?t=17294&highlight=benchmark

That way we get a result that can be compared to other systems.

I'll ask the same to edion2 as well. The before one is just as important as the after as it allows people with a similar configuration to see what the effect of a particular upgrade will be.

Thanks John

Heres the results

\Auran\TRS2006
bin\Trainz.exe -driver=41078:1001300 -intro=disable -1024 -Render=DirectX

Single gpu
Averaged 48.783898fps over 298.787109sec sliders to max
Averaged 74.925792fps over 313.777130sec sliders default

Duel gpu
Averaged 46.313611fps over 302.546051sec sliders to max
Averaged 72.332365fps over 312.764557sec sliders default

Theres not much difference between single & duel gpu's
But the biggest noticeable difference was the way the game ran with sliders to default it seemed to be very jumpy with scenery popping up especially track about 200mtrs in front of the consist.
However with the sliders maxed out the scenery was more stable as it was appearing up to 3-4 times that distance ahead & less noticable when being added.Even with the lower frame rates the overall appearance & performance appeared more acceptable & flowing as it progressed.


Dave

johnwhelan
March 21st, 2008, 07:56 AM
johnwhelan,

Sure, I can do that . . . I hope I don't muck it all up . . . it sounds simple enough.

In another thread Dermmy reported in response to my statement that "I'm expecting a decent improvement in FPS"

"Don't count on it! I recently went from a 7600GT 256mb to a 8800GTS OC 640mb for no fps gain. Nil - zip - nuffink.

reason - my Intel 6300 dual core was already throwing everything the graphics engine could produce at the old card, the faster card was redundant on a ten year-old graphics engine....."

Could this be an isolated incident ? I'm thinking somehow a setting or a switch got changed. Although the E6300 is a middle-of-the-road processor, its a bit hard for me to swallow that its that slow.

Is there a test that can be done so anyone can get an idea about their computer whether its the CPU is waiting for the GPU or visa versa ??

I'm a little worried . . . . . :confused:

That's the idea behind the benchmark thread. The more variation we get the better the predictability of the results. Run the benchmark and compare your scores to mine, if any cpu is underpowered its probably mine, P4 2.4 are not the top of the line anymore.

Also aa and af settings can have a major impact.

Cheerio John

edion2
March 21st, 2008, 01:58 PM
OK . . . I ran the Benchmark ! I surprised myself by doing it right the first try . . . not bad for a "computer dummy" like myself.

1.8Ghz Core 2 Duo E6300, 3GB RAM, XP-Home SP2, GeForce 7300LE 512MB
Result : Averaged 28.270691fps over 297.941071sec
So . . . What does this mean ? other than "My video card is crap !"

johnwhelan's result :
"My machine's results:
TrainzLogEnd> Averaged 38.230028fps over 298.011810sec
P4 2.4, 2gigs ecc dual channel, 256MB ATI X850 XT PE video card running at 4 aa 8 af 1440 by 900 at 60 hz."

johnwhelan, please expand on "aa" and "af" setting. I would assume this is something done within the "video card set up program" that comes bundled with the card ?

------------------------
Correct me if I'm wrong . . .
Looking at Big_b's result . . . it seems to indicate that Trainz is not capable or not very good at taking advantage of dual-card configuration. Perhaps, like in the CPU situation, Trainz only "sees" one GPU. I read somewhere in one of the threads, a user with a quad-core reported "CPU load never exceeded 25%".

Sure wish we had more results from multiple card users. There is a decent price difference between SLI or Crossfire motherboard v.s. regular motherboards. Why go to a dual board set up if Trainz can't take advantage of it . . . unless you run other "latest-n-greatest" 3D games.

I'm placing an order for an NV 9600 and a new power supply this afternoon . . . . . . GULP ! I'm ordering from Tiger Direct with "satisfaction guaranteed - 90 day return". . . seems Comp USA is going out f business.

johnwhelan
March 21st, 2008, 03:22 PM
OK . . . I ran the Benchmark ! I surprised myself by doing it right the first try . . . not bad for a "computer dummy" like myself.

1.8Ghz Core 2 Duo E6300, 3GB RAM, XP-Home SP2, GeForce 7300LE 512MB
Result : Averaged 28.270691fps over 297.941071sec
So . . . What does this mean ? other than "My video card is crap !"

johnwhelan's result :
"My machine's results:
TrainzLogEnd> Averaged 38.230028fps over 298.011810sec
P4 2.4, 2gigs ecc dual channel, 256MB ATI X850 XT PE video card running at 4 aa 8 af 1440 by 900 at 60 hz."

johnwhelan, please expand on "aa" and "af" setting. I would assume this is something done within the "video card set up program" that comes bundled with the card ?

------------------------
Correct me if I'm wrong . . .
Looking at Big_b's result . . . it seems to indicate that Trainz is not capable or not very good at taking advantage of dual-card configuration. Perhaps, like in the CPU situation, Trainz only "sees" one GPU. I read somewhere in one of the threads, a user with a quad-core reported "CPU load never exceeded 25%".

Sure wish we had more results from multiple card users. There is a decent price difference between SLI or Crossfire motherboard v.s. regular motherboards. Why go to a dual board set up if Trainz can't take advantage of it . . . unless you run other "latest-n-greatest" 3D games.

I'm placing an order for an NV 9600 and a new power supply this afternoon . . . . . . GULP ! I'm ordering from Tiger Direct with "satisfaction guaranteed - 90 day return". . . seems Comp USA is going out f business.

Well if my cpu is a lot slower than yours and I get 10 fps faster than yours on the benchmark but my graphics card is faster you can assume putting in a faster graphics card will get you at least 10 fps more or 30% faster and since the new graphics card is much faster than mine it should be a lot more.

Or in simpler terms "Your video card is crap !"

aa and af settings are normally set with the utility that comes with your graphics card. Basically the bigger the numbers the less jaggies you get it sort of says how much power do you want to allocate to the game and how much to getting rid of the jaggies.

Which benchmark did you run the TC one? I'll add your results to the benchmark thread so others can compare.

Thanks John

john259
March 21st, 2008, 04:02 PM
aa = antialising http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antialiasing
af = anisotropic filtering http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anisotropic_filtering

HTH, John

edion2
March 21st, 2008, 04:20 PM
johnwhelan,

The one I ran was th Toronto Railands one with the RDC coming out of the Union Station then through the yard to the next station.

OK . . . the doctor says . . . "my computer is constipated . . . full of crap !":hehe:

I'm ordering the 9600 right now.:udrool:

Thanks

edion2
March 28th, 2008, 04:10 AM
ITS HERE !! AND I INSTALLED IT !!

ETA was supposed to be tomorrow . . . but UPS came at 6pm !!

OK here is the new result :

Toronto Rail lands - RDC ride

NEW : nVidia 9600GT (SSC - super clocked edition) 512MB
in a Core 2 Duo E6300 - 3GB RAM system - TRS2006 build 3337

TRS2006 Benchmark test with all settings at "default":
Averaged 69.018187 fps over 306.165680 sec. !!
Old card : nVidia 7300LE 512MB : Averaged 28.270691fps over 297.941071sec

WHAT A DIFFERENCE !!

OTHER RESULTS USING "FRAPS".
settings: display at 1360X768 (I think I'll drop to 1280X720)
detail : max
both draw distance : max
train poly count ; max

Maria's Pass route - the Amtrak ride session.
"Out in the country" : new card - 57 to 60 fps / old card 25 to 30 fps
"cut Bank station" : new card 26 to 30 fps / old card 15 to 20 fps
"passing on coming train" new card 28 to 32 fps / old card 15 to 18 fps

City and Country route - Commodity tutorial session.
No matter where I went, 45fps was the lowest read out. Old card - 30 fps

The most important . . . My route, SC Western.
My route is extremely complex . . . realism takes priority over FPS. It taxes BOTH the CPU and the Video Card.

The new card yielded MXED RESULTS :
My worst area : No difference 7 to 9 FPS.
http://img85.imageshack.us/img85/9535/upgt01hn0.th.jpg (http://img85.imageshack.us/my.php?image=upgt01hn0.jpg) http://img220.imageshack.us/img220/4228/mnln04in8.th.jpg (http://img220.imageshack.us/my.php?image=mnln04in8.jpg) http://img149.imageshack.us/img149/5814/mnln02vh4.th.jpg (http://img149.imageshack.us/my.php?image=mnln02vh4.jpg)
oh well . . .

Main yard : my second worst area
Without other trains : new card 16 to 20 fps / old card 10 to 12 fps
about 60% better . . . I like it
With another 30+ car train: new card 12 to 14 fps
Its liveable . . .

Out in the country :
As predicted, the result varied depending on location but hovered around 18 to 22 fps but on occasion it will start to go into mid and upper 20s.
With the old card I rarely saw 19 fps and NEVER went into the 20's but averaged 15 to 18 fps. Thats about a 25% improvement.
http://img227.imageshack.us/img227/5067/lpr09xc6.th.jpg (http://img227.imageshack.us/my.php?image=lpr09xc6.jpg) http://img81.imageshack.us/img81/3223/scwshoe4dp7.th.jpg (http://img81.imageshack.us/my.php?image=scwshoe4dp7.jpg) http://img81.imageshack.us/img81/6585/shoe3tf8.th.jpg (http://img81.imageshack.us/my.php?image=shoe3tf8.jpg) http://img231.imageshack.us/img231/870/scwshoe2rt0.th.jpg (http://img231.imageshack.us/my.php?image=scwshoe2rt0.jpg) http://img444.imageshack.us/img444/9062/scwshoe8li9.th.jpg (http://img444.imageshack.us/my.php?image=scwshoe8li9.jpg)

I really over do the scenery. Most of you are more economical with scenery objects and textures. Please remember that my route is more an exception than what an average route's complexity is. So you are somewhere between what my route looks like and what Maria's Pass route looks like.

MY CONCLUSION :
Do I like the card ? YES
Was it worth $220? I'M PRETTY SURE IT IS.

The very likely reason that I am seeing very little to no improvement in my really bad FPS robbing area is that the CPU is at its limit. Intel's E6300 is a middle-of-the-road CPU. There are some unfinished sections in my mainline where there are no trees planted or any accent textures are applied . . . when running through these areas the FPS goes up to 30 to 35 fps . . . Smoooooth, but boreing. The CPU is capable of processing data at a speed to produce the improved FPS.

Locomotives, then rolling stocks are the most high-poly objects we use. When I pass an on-coming train, the FPS drops to 11 or 12. My CPU is nearly at its limit.

So the new card is revealing my new bottleneck . . . the CPU. The FPS result from the built-in routes are excellent. Which means if you have a Core 2 Duo of 1.8Ghz or higher with at least 2GB Ram, the nVidia 9600GT should prove to be a good investment.

But, if your route is as complicated as mine, you'll need something in the 3Ghz Core 2 Duo or better. My next upgrade would be a Q6600 CPU or higher and a new motherboard.

Installation
The video card installation was a snap. I had plenty of room in my mid-tower case but . . . this is a big card. You might want to check if it will fit your computer case before you buy it.

You will most likely need a new power supply . . . like I did.Replacing the power supply was a bit of a challenge. I got the 600W Ultra X Pro. The problem was the 4-pin 12 volt cable going to the motherboard . . . IT DIDN'T HAVE ONE !! Even though it shows this connector on the box AND in the install instruction . . . it was missing. Yes, I looked a dozen times. It only came with the 8-pin 12 volt cable for the server type board. So I had to splice in the old connector to 4 of the wires. All 12 volt wires are yellow and black. So I connected the yellow to yellow and black to black. I plugged it in and crossed my finger when I turned it on . . . it worked.

Well . . . I sure hope this helps someone decide on a card. You can make a better informed guess as to how much improvement you might expect from a new 9600GT by comparing my system to yours. Then run the FRAPS on the two 2006 built-in route and compare your old card's FPS to my old card . . . then guess.

I think I'm good till Christmas . . .

john259
March 28th, 2008, 04:43 AM
Thanks for all the info, glad the new card is giving you such a great improvement.

Does anyone know if there's AGP version of the 9600GT?

John

AussieNightcrawler
March 28th, 2008, 05:02 AM
Does anyone know if there's AGP version of the 9600GT?

John

Not that I have seen or heard, could be wrong though.

ColPrice2002
March 28th, 2008, 05:42 AM
Best nVidia I could find in ACP is the 7900 GT 512 Mb card (Overclockers in the UK).

I'm running a 6600 GT (AGP) and that seesm to handle all the cpu can throw at it (i.e.nTune didn't find any improvement by overclocking the GPU compared with the CPU).

I'd guess that as AGP is "old technology" that's the fastest we'll find...

HTH
Colin

john259
March 28th, 2008, 07:11 AM
Thanks Colin, that was kind of you. - John

backyard
March 28th, 2008, 08:10 AM
8)...Great!

Now that wasn't hard...was it.

I paid US$260.00, and slide the settings, if I wish.

I watch TV.

Capt_Scarlet
March 28th, 2008, 08:57 AM
Best nVidia I could find in ACP is the 7900 GT 512 Mb card (Overclockers in the UK).

I'm running a 6600 GT (AGP) and that seesm to handle all the cpu can throw at it (i.e.nTune didn't find any improvement by overclocking the GPU compared with the CPU).

I'd guess that as AGP is "old technology" that's the fastest we'll find...

HTH
Colin

I believe that ATI has the faster and the most cards still made for AGP. eg x1950pro or HD3850pro, approx 100 and 150 pounds ( inc VAT ) respectively. http://www.overclockers.co.uk/productlist.php?groupid=701&catid=56&sortby=nameAsc&subid=403&mfrid=

John

john259
March 28th, 2008, 09:31 AM
Thanks John, I'll investigate those. - John

ejukes
March 30th, 2008, 04:49 AM
I've just got at 9600GT (arrived this weekend). The increase in FPS over my ancient ATI 9600 is fantastic BUT I can't get the anti-aliasing to work. I have set it up in the NVIDIA control panel but no matter what value I use it makes no difference. This makes the image quality worse than the old ATI card which is rather annoying given the >£100 spent on the card. Anyone else have this problem with NVIDIA?

johnwhelan
March 30th, 2008, 10:25 AM
I've just got at 9600GT (arrived this weekend). The increase in FPS over my ancient ATI 9600 is fantastic BUT I can't get the anti-aliasing to work. I have set it up in the NVIDIA control panel but no matter what value I use it makes no difference. This makes the image quality worse than the old ATI card which is rather annoying given the >£100 spent on the card. Anyone else have this problem with NVIDIA?

Step one did you remove all traces of the old ATI driver?

Cheerio Jodn

ejukes
March 30th, 2008, 01:04 PM
Yep - it is a new build so it is a fresh XP home install with only TRS2004 and IL2 Pacific Fighters. Seems the guys on the flight sim forums have been having problems with AA and Forceware 17x.xx onwards. Trouble is, only these driver versions support the 9600GT.

Capt_Scarlet
March 31st, 2008, 03:12 AM
I've just got at 9600GT (arrived this weekend). The increase in FPS over my ancient ATI 9600 is fantastic BUT I can't get the anti-aliasing to work. I have set it up in the NVIDIA control panel but no matter what value I use it makes no difference. This makes the image quality worse than the old ATI card which is rather annoying given the >£100 spent on the card. Anyone else have this problem with NVIDIA?

It is a known problem with some of the recent versions of the drivers though I thought I have read that the latest beta driver 174.74 has fixed it.

John

ejukes
March 31st, 2008, 02:50 PM
Thanks for the heads up on the new 174.74 beta, John This solves the problem if you add trainz.exe to the profile list.