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Why Console to PC Ports Require Better Hardware to Run Smoothly

Last response: in Video Games
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November 18, 2009 7:02:09 AM

My computer specs are as follows:
My Specs:
OS: Windows 7 64-bit Professional
Memory: 4GB DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) - 4 x 1GB
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ (Overclocked to 2.889GHz from 2.5GHz)
GPU: NVIDIA XFX Geforce 7950GT 256MB (Overclocked to Core/Memory of 670MHz/800MHz from 570MHz/730MHz)
HDD: Seagate 250GB HDD @ 7200RPMs
Monitor: LG 22" Widescreen running at 1600x1050

Correct me if I am wrong but these specs are a lot better than what is inside an Xbox 360 or PS3. Therefore, I should be able to run video games of the same graphic quality as Xbox or PS3 at the same smooth framerate you experience with consoles game right?

The reason I ask is because I recently bought Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for the PC and was surprised to see how outdated it's graphics are (you can tell it's a direct console port). I was happy because this meant my aging computer could run it fine. However, at the highest settings I could not run it with as smooth a framerate as that which you experience when playing it on a console.

This confuses me! I have to turn shadows, specular mapping, and AA off in order to run it decently enough to play it smoothly. Is it that game developers fine tune games to make sure they run more efficiently on a console but when it comes to PC they don't and so you need better hardware?

So in summary, here are the questions I would like answered:
  • I should be able to run video games of the same graphic quality as Xbox or PS3 at the same smooth framerate you experience with consoles game right?
  • Is it that game developers fine tune games to make sure they run more efficiently on a console but when it comes to PC they don't and so you need better hardware?

    It really bothers me that as a PC gamer I have to constantly put money into upgrading my rig just to barely keep up with games yet console gamers enjoy good graphics for years with just one small investment (usually at the price of what a graphics card would cost).
    November 18, 2009 8:42:44 AM

    PC games tend to have higher resolution graphics than the console equivalent. Also console hardware is the same on every PS3 or Xbox - so the software company only has to worry about one hardware spec per console.

    That and PC's are not superb at memory management / efficiency
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    November 18, 2009 9:37:07 AM

    Graphics on consoles are often tuned down in areas where many casual gaming people won't notice the loss in image quality, for example:

    Draw Distance on consoles is often ridiculously close/short on consoles making elements "pop-up" all of a sudden in the distance.

    Motion blur is often used to hide jagged edges, whereas the pc-player prefers AntiAliasing and a sharp clear image, consoles (be it xbox360 or PS3) have poor AA.

    Environmental changes such as; bulletholes, corpses, debris etc. dissapear quickly on consoles to free up memory - not really a problem on a PC with 2Gb memory or more.

    Many PS3/X-box games don't even run in Full HD but in HD - 720p is REALLY outdated as resolution on a pc, but again casual console-gamers tend not to notice.


    A quality port is Ubisoft's/Rocksteady's Batman Arkham Asylum, it's console->PC but the PC-version is 200% better looking when all the eyecandy and physX effects are turned on.

    Your machine shouldn't have a problem running COD MW2 though? - the engine has hardly been optimized since COD World@War.
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    November 18, 2009 2:28:30 PM

    Since consoles have unified hardware across a given platform games can be better optimized for a given console. PCs have to take into account a greater range of variables and thus can not be as optimized.

    Also when it comes to ports some developers get lazy and make ports that are overly CPU dependent. Many PC gamers build their systems and put CPU on the back burner so when a game is overly CPU dependent it really shows on their systems. A perfect example of this was Red Faction Guerrilla. A lot of PC gamers got an unpleasant surprise when they found that lower end dual core CPUs couldn't cut it for that port.

    Your system should be able to get you console quality graphics. What you might miss out on are the "better than consoles" graphics that most PC games - even the lesser ports - will offer. Also keep in mind that your current hardware is basically pre-360/PS3 (well maybe in between the 360 and PS3). So I'm not sure how you've been putting money into your PC to keep up with console graphics.
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    April 20, 2010 6:17:36 AM

    also consoles operate on 256 bit architecture, their bandwidths/transfer rates of data between RAM, CPU and GPU are extremely fast.

    With PCs most are either 32 bit or increasingly 64 bit, which still doesn't compare to 256 bit. Although PCs do have much more RAM, better CPUs, GPUs and powerful hardware they cannot send data around their system as fast as consoles can. That's why PCs are more capable of doing more things at once, but not as quickly, where as consoles are only good for doing one thing really fast, which in this case is running fair game graphics.

    A good example is halo 2 PC port, that game looked *** on PC (like xbox 1 graphics), yet it still required like dual core, 1 gb ram, vista and like 256 mb gpu...that was just a failed PC port. PC are much more demanding as they have to run an entire OS in the background while running the game at the same time.

    Consoles just basically only have the task of running a game, nothing else, maybe like a small background OS but thats it.
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    April 21, 2010 12:11:36 PM

    People need to understand, more RAM only helps in the case where you can't fit all your data in at one point in time. And since consoles have one unified architecture, most games tend to be optimized as assembly [EG: higher level code is assembeled to assembly code, which is then optimized after the fact]. Nevermind you can specifiy where data is loaded/saved into RAM, without having to deal with the overhead of a memory management system, or having to compete with hundreds of low level kernal processes...And don't even get me started on low level locking due to DLL's.

    Windows slows down everything, as its an OS meant to do multiple things at the same time, where console OS' tend to be lightweight, and allow all the hardware to be put forward for one purpose. The lack of a major OS itself is a tremendous optimization.
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