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Does a fast PC really matter for FPS games

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December 5, 2008 3:16:08 PM

I play CODWaW and COD4, both first-person-shooters. I've been playing them on my laptop, Gateway NX680XL, which had decent specs for a laptop last year:

Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 (2.00 Ghz)
2GB RAM
nVidia GeForce 7900GS

I have to play both games on the minimum graphic settings (except at 1280x720) in order to get FPS in the tolerable range. Specifically, in CODWaW using FRAPS, I'm getting about 45 FPS when nothing is going on, about 32 FPS in an average round, and occasional short duration (0-2 secs) drops down into the mid-20s. According to the server info, I typically have one of the lowest pings of all the players in the servers I play in (40-60 ms, typically). But I think there is more going on here.

I've had many instances where I will be dead on a target's chest (not firing from the hip) with a high accuracy bolt-action rifle and my shot will completely miss. Or, sometimes I'll turn the corner to shoot someone, or someone else comes around the corner to shoot me, and my system will stutter for about 1/4 second. It's just long enough that I notice, and long enough to lose the duel. The low graphics settings are not too much of a concern for me, nor does frames around 30 bother me. But it's those missed dead-on shots and stutters, and my character's subsequent deaths, that are making this game less enjoyable.

I know I'll be due to get a new system in the next year or two to keep up with the games. But I need to decide whether it is worth my money to get a higher performance system now. Do those missed dead-on shots and stutters relate to my relatively low computer performance, and do you know why? Would these issues improve with a faster computer? With a higher performance system will my gaming experience improve with respect to gameplay, not graphics?

Here's the rig I'm looking at (I would be purchasing a Mobo that will allow for upgrades to 1600 Mhz bus 32-bit processors, more ram, and dual video cards (SLI), when my budget allows):

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 (2.83 Ghz)
4GB DDR3 2000
nVidia GeForce GTX 280

Thanks in advance,

Eric

More about : fast matter fps games

December 5, 2008 4:23:27 PM

I would say if you low frame rates to the point that the game itself is laggy (not your connection), I could see that as a part of your problem. If you are getting an average of 30fps, that means you have frame rate drops in the 20's which equals lag which increases your chance in getting shot up.
December 5, 2008 4:45:18 PM

it depends on the game.

if you can hold over 60FPS then faster wont help much for many games but if you play games like battlefield 2 then you will want a good videocard, a moderately fast CPU and a really fast hard drive as the faster you load the maps the better chance you have at getting the best jets an tanks

PS SLI is a waste of money it only offers a 20-30% boost at most for games, which is a really bad value as you are paying twice the price for a 20-30% boost (much of the time, less)

PS if you play games with very large maps then having 4+ GB memory will help in reducing lag spikes that come from moving quickly across a large map

for a FPS game, you want a minimum of 60FPS if possible
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Anonymous
December 6, 2008 2:40:18 AM

SLI, was a waste a year to two years ago. But now developers are actually programming for multi-gpu setups and the drivers for multi-card setups are much more mature so its not a complete waste of money. However, it is still only viable for enthusiasts.
December 6, 2008 8:32:11 PM

Quote:
SLI, was a waste a year to two years ago. But now developers are actually programming for multi-gpu setups and the drivers for multi-card setups are much more mature so its not a complete waste of money. However, it is still only viable for enthusiasts.


it still has a huge performance overhead, benchmarks designed to take advantage of it and games designed to use it, and even nvidia's own crap (professional render engines for maya) designed to use SLI still only manage a small performance boost over a single card

the only way to get rid of the performance overhead is to put both cores on the same chip

if you take a server motherboard that allows dual cpu sockets and put a dual core cpu in each of them, if you have everest benchmark using just 1 core on the first cpu, then you have it use both cores on the same cpu, you see 99.999-100% speed boost

but then if you have it use both cores on the second cpu, you wind up with like a 80% speed boost

while it does help with some games, it wont make a laggy game run smooth, it will just be like 30% less laggy


look at some single gpu vs SLI benchmarks, when you see a single card having extremely poor frame rates, when a second card is added, the game is still at a unplayable frame rate.

if 1 card cant handle the game, 2 cards wont handle it either, sli is mainly for people who run the games smoothly but want to add a few extra FPS to increase their minimum frame rate
December 8, 2008 2:26:23 PM

As the OP, I want to point out that the SLI part of my post was not high on the priority list. I had already read up on how SLI provides at most a 30% increase in FPS generally, so I realize that, for now, it may not be worth the expense.

However, I do welcome your comments on my original questions:

Quote:
Do those missed dead-on shots and stutters relate to my relatively low computer performance, and do you know why? Would these issues improve with a faster computer? With a higher performance system will my gaming experience improve with respect to gameplay, not graphics?


Thanks,

Eric
December 8, 2008 2:54:20 PM

Its an odd question because the answer is obvious, at least to me.
A better system with better fps means better fraggage, providing you have the skills to take advantage.
If your shots are always a few pixels off anyway due to reaction times or whatnot then no amount of money thrown at a rig will help.

However, if you miss by a few pixels because the guy who was there has simply moved a bit then a better system will communicate that to you, allowing you to respond.

In my opinion the best VALUE way of improving the experience is to buy a proper gaming mouse. I use a Logitech G5 - cost me £30 and makes shooters so much better.
Of course if you are running at low res then you dont need the 2000dpi but as its variable then it doesnt really matter...that mouse is all you need.
December 8, 2008 3:12:12 PM

pr2thej said:
A better system with better fps means better fraggage, providing you have the skills to take advantage.
If your shots are always a few pixels off anyway due to reaction times or whatnot then no amount of money thrown at a rig will help.


I'm certainly no professional gamer :)  But I have had much more success in COD4 and, incidentally, my frames were typically better in COD4. So perhaps that supports what you're saying.

Quote:
In my opinion the best VALUE way of improving the experience is to buy a proper gaming mouse. I use a Logitech G5 - cost me £30 and makes shooters so much better.
Of course if you are running at low res then you dont need the 2000dpi but as its variable then it doesnt really matter...that mouse is all you need.


Unfortunately my office is cluttered with a few different mice in my efforts to find one that allows for maximum pwnage in CODWaW. At first I was using just a standard uninteresting office mouse. Then I upgraded to the Logitech MX-518. That worked well for me in COD4. After I started sucking in COD5 I got desperate and decided to give a ball-mouse a try (my arm cannot attain the level of precision as my fingers can), so I now also have a Logitech T-BC21. If I go out and get another mouse, my wife will start to think I'm going crazy. :pt1cable: 

Thanks for the help,

Eric
December 8, 2008 8:40:29 PM

razor512 said:

PS SLI is a waste of money it only offers a 20-30% boost at most for games, which is a really bad value as you are paying twice the price for a 20-30% boost (much of the time, less)

Have you used SLI? You should see far higher scaling than that with SLI if you tweak your settings to be GPU limited. Often 80% or more. I've seen near 100% in some outdoor areas of Oblivion.

Just as a quick example. Have a look at a single 8800GT vs SLI 8800GT in this review:
COD4 - 95% - http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=14
Crysis - 78% - http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=13
Oblivion - 84% - http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=19
Bioshock - 88% - http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=18


December 8, 2008 9:07:40 PM

OP, the Geforce 7's are pretty weak in many of the newer games like UT3, COD4, Crysis, etc. , so you will need to reduce your settings.

Look how bad a desktop 7900GT falls behind in COD4 (without fsaa even):
http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/call_of_duty_4_demo...

Now keep in mind, 7900GT > 7900GS > Go 7900GS. At best you'd be looking at 7600GT performance.

edit: For starters on the lag issue, make sure you HDD is defragged. What are your minimum fps while playing?
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