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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:47 pm 
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I have spent hours searching this forum for the answer to this and didn't come up with a good answer, so I am posting my question.

My husband and I are going to be looking into getting a lap top soon. We may be stuck with Vista, unless we can get a downgrade to XP. With new and improved systems coming out all the time, it seems the little information that I found from years ago will not answer my question now. So, what would be the best features for getting the most out of Uru (either the stand alone, or the future Open Source). Bear in mind, we cannot afford a high end system and I am more interested in good graphics, good sound would be nice, but the strength of the game to me is the graphics. And I have an external hard drive that I would use for the files.

Thank you for any input you can provide. Sorry if this is a worn out question, but I couldn't find much in the way of answers.

FloCat


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:07 am 
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I'm not as savvy with computers as a lot of folks are around here, but I would make sure to get one with a dedicated video card. Lots of memory helps as well. 4GB is common on laptops now, and I think that would be plenty. Both would help reduce lag when you are in a crowded age.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 5:05 am 
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It's impossible to say yet whether OSMO will push the hardware much more than the original URU did because its new content doesn't exist yet - popping up the poly count dramatically would make new content look strange next to old content, and we also don't know how many people are going to be in Ages.

That said, if things stay the way they are I *think* that a GeForce 8600M GT should do OK, maybe with some of the settings down (I need to install Uru sometime on my laptop to check it out). It's not a real workhorse though, and only a fraction as powerful as its desktop counterparts (i.e. even the original GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB is much more powerful). It should be able to push a lot of pixels, if you don't tax it with high levels of anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering.

I haven't got access to any AMD / ATi hardware but I've seen some 3D games chugging along on a newly store-bought laptop (not my choice but it was ~$500).

I don't know what your price range is, which is certainly the most important question. Even so, you certainly can get a *very nice* laptop for $500 or less. Actually, I've seen some great-looking gaming laptops (Dell XPS M1XXX series) that kick the puddin' outta my (suddenly) old (2007, heh) ASUS G2S-B2 model going very cheaply on that certain internet auction site - $700 and less.

My thoughts:

- Go with a 64-bit OS with 4GB of RAM at least. Wait for Windows 7 if you can! Much improved for usability over Vista. At this point XP is more of a liability than an asset; Vista takes a lot of the guesswork and finesse out of securing your computing. Which isn't to say XP is horrible - I'm using it right now.
- Get a dual core processor, at minimum. You can scrimp on the OS and the RAM if you must save money, but going to a single-core CPU is not actually saving you much (if any) money over the low-end dual-cores yet severely impairs general functionality and system speed. Single biggest upgrade you can make today. It won't necessarily make Uru run faster - but it will let you run other things in the background concurrently without any trouble, and the game's threads will appreciate having a core to themselves.
- For wireless internet, look up 802.11n, not b or g, for your connection. MUCH faster and the range is improved. You'll need a faster wireless router to take advantage of it, but this should be catching on.
- Intel setups can benefit from Intel Turbo Memory, though you want the 2 or 4GB module, not the 512MB or 1GB (like I have, heh).
- GRAPHICS: Building on the post above, I agree totally that you need a dedicated separate card, not "integrated" chipset graphics. For serious FPS gaming, I would go with a dual 9800M type cards at least - but you don't really need that kind of power yet, and even these are hopefully soon to become obsolescent. Horrible heat issues with the range of G92 / G96 chips from nVidia too. HOWEVER, for your purposes, a 8X00M series chip should be enough, with any luck. Incidentally, if OSMO keeps PhysX for the physics, an nVidia graphics card will handle the physics for you (just keep the driver current).
- Underclocking software: Some good ones mentioned here, should still be reasonably current. Helps keep the laptop quiet and saves the fans when you don't need the extra juice to underclock (undervolt) the CPU. You may also invest in an active cooling pad for the laptop if it seems to be noisy (with the fans on) all the time.
- Screen is another important part here. I'm not sure if I like my 1920x1200 screen, at 17" diagonal, or not. It seems to give me headaches occasionally. It may be better to go with a smaller resolution (1920x1080 seems like a common resolution), depending on whether you want to watch high-definition videos on it (hah) or just want to have a lower DPI (i.e. things appear bigger onscreen, saving your eyes).

I'm sure there's more but that should be enough to get you started.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 7:08 am 
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My thoughts?

At the rate OSMO is coming out, you might not want to be worrying about that right now. Hardware prices could drop, maybe a lot, in addition to getting smaller by the time you need them. At it LOOKS like Windows 7 is able to run most old games without hiccups- we know for sure URU: ABM works.

In other words: Allow 6-8 months, really.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 4:11 pm 
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The only definite thing you must be careful of when getting a laptop for Uru, is the graphics provider. Uru:CC does not run correctly on the most common Intel graphics options. Myst V does, so MOUL might, but the other side of that is that they all, at best, run badly. Mainly because Intel graphics are a joke, performance-wise.

So whatever else you get in your laptop, make sure it has either nVidia or AMD/ATi graphics. This will be listed prominently in the laptop's features, you will not have to investigate the deep secrets of the machine. Either will do just fine for what you need; the arguments about whether nVidia or ATi is better is an argument for the cutting edge.

Other than that, you want 2+ GB of RAM (might as well get 4GB right away), and you'll probably want a dual-core or better processor--MOUL won't care, but Windows will: you'll be able to run stuff in the background MUCH better. 1 GB will run the program, but you'll get flattened in multiplayer; the need for RAM spikes rapidly as you get more and more people in sight.

The rest is just typical cost vs. value: the newer and better you can afford, the happier you'll be, but nothing else will have a huge impact on MOUL. Windows XP and Windows Vista both work fine... I haven't tested on Windows 7 yet but I'd be shocked if it has a problem.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 6:00 pm 
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Ed Oscuro wrote:
Incidentally, if OSMO keeps PhysX for the physics, an nVidia graphics card will handle the physics for you (just keep the driver current).


This is incorrect. An nVidia video card behaves exactly as an Ageia PhysX PPU would. Nodovex (the PhysX SDK) requires that the physicals to be processed on hardware must be sent to the hardware, it is not automated. The knowledge base referenced something on latency on the subject. I don't quite recall since I've not used Nodovex in quite awhile. I do remember that MOUL does not use PPUs however.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 7:56 pm 
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All that's holding that functionality back from being implemented in OSMO is the current code and design, right? It could be very hard to implement, but I don't think it's flat-out impossible.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:21 pm 
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Good tips here FloCat, but for me the 'tech' gets too technical real fast.
I got a laptop for MOUL specifically and games in general.
It's a Toshiba Satellite X205 with Vista Home Premium,duo core Intel CPU, 2GB of ram, nVidia graphics and 200gig hard drive.
It ran MOUL quite well without any Vista Headaches some have seemed to have had. I have logged a couple of stack errors during play and recovered very easily.

Since then I've spent time improving my pc protection suite and have found a great free piece of software called Advanced SystemCare, Info located HERE along with a lot of other excellent recommendations.
As a part of ACS there is a piece called Game Booster, on the utility panel of ACS, that let's you select and turn off many of the 70 odd running background services while you are playing games, does NOT compromise your PC security AND frees up cpu and memory resources for a better game experience.
Note however, if you selct to turn off something that keeps you up and running, you won't be. Just do a restart.

Anyway, this and more can be found at Gizmo's Best Free Security Software for PC

Good luck with it all FloCat.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:19 pm 
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Through most of MOUL I ran a desktop with integrated Nvidia graphics. It usually ran fine, but when I approached a crowd, such as at the top of the Great Stairs, the lag would be incredible until I turned away from the crowd and headed the other way, and the crowd at the release of Ahnonay caused me to freeze in place.

Before the last episode I installed a dedicated Nvidia graphics card. After that, I was able to attend the Under the Roots / Cavern Choir event, join the crowd at the Ferry Terminal watching the Bahro swarming the Great Arch, and wander the city on the last night with little to no lag at all.

I would spend the extra money and get one with a dedicated card, since with a laptop you can't replace the card like you can with a desktop. The hard part is finding out what each laptop has and if it is integrated or dedicated. One site that I used when I was researching qualities of graphics cards is notebookcheck.com. Do a lot of research before you buy.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 10:03 am 
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Quote:
Through most of MOUL I ran a desktop with integrated Nvidia graphics. It usually ran fine, but when I approached a crowd, such as at the top of the Great Stairs, the lag would be incredible until I turned away from the crowd and headed the other way, and the crowd at the release of Ahnonay caused me to freeze in place.

Yes, that's why I did set my graphics at minimum during episode time.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 12:31 pm 
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Thanks for all the great help, here's a couple of technical questions related to laptops:

1. If we get a laptop with integrated video memory, can we purchase a separate dedicated video card separately?
2. Same question with wireless network card. If we get a wireless b/g card, can we upgrade to n later?

Thank you so much.

FloCat


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 1:52 pm 
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We located a laptop with: ATI Radeon HD3200 and Vid Mem 1919mbs Total Available w/ hypermemory. Does this look good? We will NOT be able to upgrade to a dedicated video card, but we can get a free Window 7 upgrade, when it comes out.

Thanks a heap again,
Flo


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 10:56 pm 
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I found some laptops, all with more or less the same vitals, with that graphics chip:

Acer Aspire AS5536-5883 ($499.99) - looks like best deal, tied for largest screen
Gateway NV5215u ($599.99)
HP Pavilion dv3-1075us ($749.99)
HP Pavilion dv4-1220us ($749.99)

And one with essentially identical specs AND what I've read is a better card (and have used, and am certain would be more than sufficient for running Uru):
Acer Aspire AS6920-6898 ($649.99)

For comparison, the GeForce 9800M GTS-equipped Gateway P-7807u is $1199.99. Good performance but you have to pay for it.

I'd just go on eBay and see what the Dell XPS m1330 and 1350s etc. are selling for - a while back I knew a guy who was trying to sell his and nobody took it at the price he was asking, so you don't quite have to abide by the store prices. Stores are really trying not to drop prices on laptops with "luxury" 3D graphics, I guess.

That's about as far as I can go - many GeForce 8x00- and 9X00-level cards were rebranded by GeForce with names like GeForce GT 120M, and I don't have a clue what they correspond to, but it's a safe bet the 120M is a cheap-o card (though that one seems to be still better than the part you mentioned.

I would likely say no to that laptop - if you can find a laptop with a GeForce 8600M GT (now known as the 9500M GS) cheaper, then the lower-performance (if what I read here is correct) HD3200 is a bit of a scam. It's worth it for being $100 cheaper though. That said, for my money the graphics card is the most important part of any gaming laptop since the other components won't be a problem nearly as quickly - when the graphics are outdated, and they get that way fairly quickly, you can't do anything to fix it. More on that in a bit.

The talk about a "dedicated" graphics card is sometimes misleading when talking about laptops, and in this case it is ("hypermemory") and isn't (this "card" is indeed integrated if what I've read is true).

On a desktop computer, you have two paths for graphics: One, you can use the graphics supplied on the motherboard's chipset (usually Intel integrated graphics), or you can plug in a "dedicated" graphics card.

On laptops, space means you're stuck with what comes in the laptop, integrated or dedicated doesn't really matter. There are a very few laptops and cards built using the MXM format (which governs size and thermal characteristics) out there, but it's not very well standardized and you can't rely upon it. That said, from what I read this HD3200 is indeed an "integrated" solution not built internally in its own card format - bolted right onto the mainboard with a minimum of extras. It has no RAM of its own, though otherwise it should be functionally just like any other non-MXM laptop solution.

That "hypermemory" is deceiving; it's just shared memory, which means that the design is rather cheap and doesn't have its own dedicated video memory. Dedicated video memory is somewhat important, in a laptop or otherwise. The card won't ever be all 2GB of RAM, probably not even 512MB (which is what I've seen it being listed as); more to the point, if you're already using a lot of RAM in the operating system it won't be available to the card (although I doubt Uru will ever use 2GB, even if you're keeping some internet browser windows open in the background).

Ultimately though, it doesn't sound like a bad card, and has dedicated HD video decoding (very helpful on lower-end PCs and just in general) but you want it to be in a system that's much cheaper than something with the GeForce 8600M GT, for just one example.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:02 am 
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Al'Kaera wrote:
Good tips here FloCat, but for me the 'tech' gets too technical real fast.
I got a laptop for MOUL specifically and games in general.
It's a Toshiba Satellite X205 with Vista Home Premium,duo core Intel CPU, 2GB of ram, nVidia graphics and 200gig hard drive.


FloCat... sorry I didn't give the graphics data for the nVidia on my laptop, here 'tis;
GeForce 8700M GT - Integrated RAMDAC, 256MB dedicated Ram, 767MB Shared Ram
AND my Toshiba model X205, is/was one step less than high end X305. Mine cost $1300 US, 18 months ago (spring '08)

Again, good luck

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:59 pm 
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Using the information that you guys provided, my husband chose the HP G60-445DX. Here's the specs:
Processor 2.2 GHz AMD Turion X2 Dual-Core RM-75
Memory 3GB, DDR2 800 MHz
Hard drive 320GB 5,400rpm
Chipset MCP78S
Graphics Nvidia GeForce 8200M G
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium SP1
Dimensions (WD) 14.9x9.9 inches
Height 1.7 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 16 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 6.34 / 7.18 pounds

The drive speed is exactly the same as my external drive, so I put URU-POTS on the external and gave it a whirl last night. Worked without a hitch, got through the cleft section with no problems, the graphics are beautiful. It looks better than MOUL did on my old desk top ... I even have a shadow in the desert :-) So, thanks everyone for your input, I know it helped my husband a lot with collecting information.

I hope it works well when we all start hanging out together again. I wandered around the neighborhood for a while, kicked eddy the beach ball around a bit. Saw that the Heek table was smashed up, and sadness ensued.

FloCat


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