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BillBrasky

experience with doom3 on mid-range system

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Like a lot of people, I wasn't sure if I would get the "full impact" of the doom 3 experience on my system. I finished the game on Wednesday, and all I can say is WOW -- I expected great graphics - what I got was JAW-DROPPING graphics and a GREAT single-player experience. Gameplay started off a bit slow, but got better and better as I progressed through the game.

I wanted to post here to share my experience with tweaking the game to run optimally on my system. First, here's my system specs:

CPU: barton 2500 @ 2.05 GHz, 205 MHz FSB
video: radeon 9800 non-pro OC (core:365, mem: 337)
(just shy of 9800 pro speed)
video drivers: cat 3.7
ram: 1024 PC3200 CAS2 (@ 410 MHz DDR)
mainboard: asus a7n8x/dlx (nforce2)
HD: WD Raptor SATA 36 gb

Not so long ago, this system was pretty shit hot. Nowadays it's about mid-range I would say. I am accustomed to having LOTS of frame rate, and I don't like when the fps drops a lot depending on where I am in the map. With the following settings I get 61 fps in timedemo 1, which I'm pretty happy with:

resolution: 800x600
vsync: ON
triple-buffering: ON (in ATI driver control panel under OpenGL settings)
FSAA: 2x (looks almost as good as 1024x768 w/o FSAA)
anisotropic: 4x
quality: medium
all advanced options turned on except shadows -- shadows cost a lot of fps

From my DoomConfig.cfg:

seta image_downSizeLimit "128"
seta image_downSizeBumpLimit "128"
seta image_useCache "1"
seta image_cacheMegs "128"
seta image_cacheMinK "131072"

You might think 800x600 is a lame res -- actually the game still looks STUNNING with those settings. FSAA really does help a lot to make 800x600 enjoyable -- without that turned on, the jaggies are in your face a lot more.

So what I think is great is this: right now with my current hardware I can enjoy the hell out of this game, PLUS when I upgrade I know the experience is going to be just that much better. I look forward to playing this thing at 1600x1280 with everything turned ON and frame-rate coming out the wazoo.

Also here are a couple things I learned while tweaking:

1) if you turn on vsync, you must turn on triple-buffering or else there is a big fps penalty.

If you know what vsync and triple-buffering are, then this makes perfect sense. If you can't find the triple-buffers setting in your drivers, just leave vsync turned off, screen tearing isn't very noticeable most of the time.

2) image_usecache and related settings do nothing for timedemo results.

The image cache has no impact on rendering speed, and the timedemo really measures rendering speed. When you run the timedemo, you should do it at least twice, and ignore the first number you get. The reason for that is that the game has to load a lot of stuff from disk during the timedemo - the second time you run it, it's already in the cache (game's memory, plus OS's disk cache). But normal gameplay does not consist of playing the exact same sequence over and over, so the game does need to load things from disk. By allocating some memory to keep more images in memory, the need for disk access is reduced, so you get a speed improvement, but it won't translate into a better timedemo result unless the timedemo involved moving around the map more - covering a large area that involves many different textures. At least that's what I think -- keep in mind that I am talking out of my ass.

3) the image_downSize settings bought me a few extra fps - I think it was 3 or so. I didn't notice the loss of quality, so I'm glad to have the speed boost.

Anyway that's all I have - this is already longer than I planned! I'm looking forward to the new cat's (haven't tried the betas). I will leave you with this thought: if you are playing a warez copy, well that's OK as long as you BUY IT SOON. Id are a great company and they deserve to get paid -- if you enjoy the game you OWE it to them. If you warez some game that you only play for 2 hours because it sucks, that's one thing, but id deserves to get paid here...

Enjoy the game !!!

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Well first off Id like to say I still wouldnt consider your rig midrange, alot of us arent fortunate enough to have a gig of ram, and Im one of the few at this point after having to sell my old rig, and youve got a more than decent vid card, maybe a processor motherboard upgrade would do you some good, but other than that fine. Second that framerate increase is pretty substantial and I hope to test these settings with my new rig

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With Doom 3 I didn't really see the difference in the resolutions. It was probably because I'm using my front-projection monitor at around 70 inches and adding a little manual AA (defocusing the image just a bit), and in a room with white walls like I was in it did seem to add a glow everything non-black on the screen, but other than the size of the splash screen and text I couldn't see a difference on my rig. So I just turned all the features up and dropped to the lowest resolution.

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Yeah I suppose defocusing your projector would give you a very similar effect to AA, at no cost in fps. You have a 5.1 sound setup too I hope -- man with a 70" display and good sound setup I think I'd just about shit my pants at some points in the game. It's scary enough on my 22" CRT :)

Anyway have fun man :)

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Yeah, it's awesome for gaming. But my fun is long gone. My 4 night love affair with Doom 3 (in a motel, appropriately enough) ended last night and I sadly now have no suitable place to play the game, and probably won't for several months.

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I tried the opengl driver that comes with the beta 4.9 cat's, and got a few more fps from that.

If you have an ATI card, and want to try the cat beta 4.9 opengl driver, but don't want to mess with your system a lot and put it at risk, it's actually pretty easy:

1) download the beta 4.9 package
2) start the installation process - allow it to unpack (put in \temp\ati\ or something), but then cancel the install
3) open up command prompt
4) cd \windows\system32
5) copy atioglxx.dll atioglxx.dll.backup
6) cd \temp\ati\Driver\2KXP_INF\B_17036
7) unpack atioglxx.dl_ atioglxx.dll
8) copy atioglxx.dll \windows\system32

If you have any problems - it's as simple as restoring the backed-up atiopenglxx.dll.

In my timedemo result I got about 2.5-3 more fps. I have actually switched up to 1024x768, but with bump mapping turned OFF, and FSAA turned OFF. At 1024x768 bump mapping costs quite a bit of fps and I didn't think it was worth it. Other settings are still the same as described in my first post. Anyway the game definitely looks better at 1024 - definitely a good trade for bump mapping.

Anyway I hope someone finds this useful.

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