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Old 2018-06-19, 22:50   #1
WeeGeez
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Thumbs up [Guide] Minimal Budget PR Build

Although this guide does not cover laptops specifically it may still help identify a suitable one by means of the comparison chart provided.

*

Preamble, prologue, preface
Players who don't already have a PC and want to buy / build one (or already have a basic entry system), may not know minimum hardware for PR to run well on max visual settings. To buy parts, wait for them to arrive, test, be disappointed by results and return said purchase, wastes time & money. The most critical part that can make or break PR experience is the video processor. This guide establishes a 'baseline' low cost PR capable PC and compares a selection of low power, entry-level video cards.

The guide is not too scientific but certainly better than nothing for those who want to put together cheap systems for themselves and/or for friends, essentially boosting player base numbers.

The rated power limit of the PCI-E slot on all motherboards into which cards are inserted, is 75Watts. Some entry-level cards do not require external power, this can be a bonus for players on a shoe string budget because money saved not buying power supply can be spent on graphics and/or other parts like a 3Ghz+ CPU (recommended). Another scenario where this is ideal is; pre-built OEM machines that lack bigger supplies (e.g. HP Compaq 4300, Fujitsu Esprimo E500, Dell Optiplex d04s, HP Pro Slimline 3300, Thinkcentre M83 etc) - here, the addition of one <75w card alone is satisfactory to run PR at 'best' visual settings at a medium resolution.


As long as its under 75w, the system can potentally be powered by a 250w PSU and not a 750w monster.
Spoiler for :

*cough* small form factor pr machine *cough*


After extensive tests with lots of of entry level, low power <75w gpus, a general pattern was seen and a rule of thumb established that chosen GPU should:
  • be newer than 2012
  • have minimum of 8 Render output units (ROPs) and
  • have 40GB/s memory bandwidth
There is alot of 'mid-range' rubbish, even today, out there that will struggle to push consistant rates in PR.
While its true that there are models made before 2012 that match said criteria, these are not low power.
8 Rops is sensible for 19" monitor on full settings. 16 affords headroom margin.
Second hand prices between 8 and 16 can be negligible.

For those that don't already know; a greater monitor size has greater coresponding demand on any given card.
An adequate 19" monitor serves as a datum from which cards on this page are based. Don't expect a miracle on a 24" or higher. Its possible to downscale game resolution settng to a lower one when playing on a larger screen. i.e. play at 19" native resolution on a 24" screen if push comes to shove.

Skip to "Recommendations" section for TL/DR if uninterested in testing details.

Tests
Although many more cards were tested, 3 were shortlisted and shown as examples here on the basis that they were more accessible to the tester (lowest cost) at the time of tests. They were carefully chosen.

Keep in mind the motherboard used was rather old and was again seleted because of its availability to the tester. A newer motherboard may improve rates and/or compensate for lower performing CPU. (+/- 10fps at most).
CPU < 2ghz not recommended for PR whatsoever.

Test Method
Test system and nvidia driver kept constant as cards were changed.
Same driver meant cards were automatically detected after swap/restart.
Driver 340.43 was ideal as it covered all the cards or DUT (devices under test).
3 project reality maps were tested per card, two were 4km, and one 1km for a varied test.
Routes taken on each map kept similar.
Helicopter trans was chosen: the speed of flying better exposes frame rates as the scenery passes by. Higher elevation also exposes more objects to draw and at further distances; essentially, helicopter = worse case scenario
* insert Kenny Loggins - Danger Zone song *.

Game play, filmed with camera external to PC to better represent real-world performance.
Frame rates are shown onscreen during filming.

The results should give an idea of each card based on the following settings:
Resolution: 1024 x 1028 (1.3MP) equivalent (4:3 19" monitor)
In-game Anti Aliasing at 4x. (app-controlled in nvidia control panel).
Larger Resolutions will cripple these cards, unless settings are turned down to compensate.
In-game MSAA setting changes had negligible impact on results - because multi-sampling anti aliasing costs little performance.

Test system specs & cost All prices are item+delivery.
32-Bit OS - 64bit OS will bring marginal improvement as far as 32bit PR is concerned. Proof
2.9Ghz AMD Athlon II X2 CPU (45watt TDP) £18
4Gb 800Mhz DDR2 Ram £15 / $20
Dedicated sound card (optional) £30 / $38
250watts small form factor power supply £8 / $10
2009 AM2+/AM3 Socket Motherboard* + Heatsink £11 / $15

Total cost: £52.50.

(excluding optional soundcard, monitor†, keyboard, laser mouse; 1600 dpi recommended for balls-on accuracy)
† Monitor isn't essential, most TVs can accept PC display via HDMI / VGA.

*Some chipsets with intel socket can be seen to consume upto 512MB for Southbridge/ low level devices, if paired with 1024MB+ video cards on a 32bit OS this may cause problems. 64bit OS are exempt from this. nForce chipsets are among the worst designed.


The cards Tested / DUT
9800GT Green Edition, G92 chip, released March 2009
factory under-clocked so TDP = 75w (normal 9800GT = 106w)
£17

GT 430, fermi, released October 2010
TDP = 49w
£14

GT 730, kepler, released June, 2014
TDP = 23w
£12.19 (lucky bid)

As we can see, a broad selection (G92, Fermi, Kepler resp.):



Update
There are now two sets of results. Original results, followed by updated results from v1.5. The reason for this is PR v1.5 added a PREF BETA option. Where enabled it affected performance enough to warrant a re test. A third set of results (not shown) based on alternative motherboard showed differences of 10fps, therefore all results shown are likely worst case scenario.
PERF BETA is on by default as of latest patch.


Results (PR v1.4 with PERF BETA OFF):

(lowest observed frame rate)

Video reference (PR v1.4 with PERF BETA OFF):
Spoiler for video:
Merging 3 videos into one YT video per map was considered, however there is no free software I could find that does that.
Bamyan:


Vadso:


Asad Kahl:


Results (PR v1.5 with PERF BETA ON):


Video reference (PR v1.5 with PERF BETA ON):
Spoiler for video:

Bamyan:


Vadso:


Asad Kahl:

Conclusion:
The tests as demonstrated on this system, suggest that entry-level cards haven't changed much since 2009 (re: frame rate), but instead have progressed to be more economical (and smaller), with each successor drawing less power. Out of the three cards, the GT430 is the more worthwhile (though not ideal). 16fps was the lowest observed rate, on Vadso while flying over dense urban town with 9800GT. On all cards, playing as INF sees frame rates top out at 45fps (higher with PERF BETA). Its known that smoke grenades can lock up low-end systems majorly, but that was not the case here. Although it was possible to fly helicopters on these occasions, it was on an offline server; once many players are rendered on the field, this will likely cost some fps and flying probably would become impossible with PERF BETA off, for ground combat however: no problem on or off. Surprisingly maps with dense vegetation, maps such as fools road and Wanda Shan (Chinese 4km w/ wind turbines), even with PERF BETA off, frame rates remained around 40-45 during flight. Vegetation is well optimized. There was no pattern regarding Video Memory Type, its said that GDDR is typically better than DDR but in this instance nothing is correlate-able.

Recommendations
In closing, here are some suggested honest, low cost, mid range, low power cards adequate for PR at 60fps constant at 1024x1280:

nvidia GT 640/740 (GDDR5), GT 650 (non Ti version) & GT 750 (any version)

Any corresponding card by ATI i.e. R7 250 or Radeon 7750. See chart below for more.

Average price ranges from £15 to 50 (Second hand) as of January 2019. ($19 - 60)
All other sub 73 watt cards (i.e. GT 240, GTS 450 Eco, GT 440, GT 620, 710) will not maintain 60fps at resolution of 1024 x 1280 or higher (subject to scene / specific map areas).

Chart to compare other cards (ascend by performance):
nvidia | ATI | Intel

| AMD A10 5700K = GT 730 (the one tested)

Finally, max power draw of test system with 73w video card, paired with 45watt CPU.
Note: CPU higher than 73w not advisable on 250w supply


ASUS GT 640 GDRR5, pictured - Click image for specification.
Attached Files
File Type: zip bkp_imgs.zip (760.6 KB, 0 views)


PC FPS SINCE 1998 - PR Til I Die
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Old 2018-06-20, 03:07   #2
WeeGeez
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Default Re: [Guide] Budget PR Build - ECO graphics cards compared

Reserved


PC FPS SINCE 1998 - PR Til I Die
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Old 2018-06-20, 22:58   #3
agus92
Default Re: [Guide] Budget PR Build - ECO graphics cards compared

Very cool, now do one with Post Scriptum :P

Now seriously,if you ever repeat the experiment, remember to disable the camera's autofocus.

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Old 2018-06-21, 12:26   #4
WeeGeez
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Default Re: [Guide] Budget PR Build - ECO graphics cards compared

Quote:
Originally Posted by agus92 View Post
do one with Post Scriptum :P
Didn't go too well
Spoiler for :


PC FPS SINCE 1998 - PR Til I Die
Cheap / fast track upgrade for slow PR computer > Guide
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Old 2018-06-26, 08:45   #5
PLODDITHANLEY
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Default Re: [Guide] Budget PR Build - ECO graphics cards compared

Nice guide.

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Old 2018-06-26, 15:58   #6
WeeGeez
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Default Re: [Guide] Budget PR Build - ECO graphics cards compared

I doubt it would be feesible to have second hand stuff shipped out to remote islands, in your case Caledonia. lol

Your PC may have arrived either by plane or canoe.


PC FPS SINCE 1998 - PR Til I Die
Cheap / fast track upgrade for slow PR computer > Guide
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Old 2018-06-28, 10:15   #7
PLODDITHANLEY
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Default Re: [Guide] Budget PR Build - ECO graphics cards compared

Not there anymore. Gtx970 by plane.

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Old 2018-07-04, 21:38   #8
WeeGeez
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Default Re: [Guide] Budget PR Build - ECO graphics cards compared

Quote:
Originally Posted by PLODDITHANLEY View Post
Gtx970 by plane.


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Old 2018-07-06, 22:42   #9
WeeGeez
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Default Re: [Guide] Budget PR Build - ECO graphics cards compared

UPDATE:
Got a used GT 640 v2 OEM for £17, low power variant with GDDR5. Visible results / Frame rates are identical to those seen with GT 730. CPU is possibly a bottleneck.


GT 640 has 80GB/s Memory bandwidth contrast to the 730 which has only 14GB/s, GDDR5 and DDR3 respectively.
It appears memory type has nothing to offer on this sytem, something also observed on previous cards.


PC FPS SINCE 1998 - PR Til I Die
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Old 2018-07-07, 06:06   #10
PLODDITHANLEY
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Default Re: [Guide] Budget PR Build - ECO graphics cards compared

Something must be screwed if you're showing the same FPS from all below 75w cards. I think it is generally accepted that a gtx750 will out perform lower models. You must have a bottleneck.

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