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robertschiele9

Getting the most bang for the buck?

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Although I own both FS9 and FSX, I fly FS9 exclusively, nearly always IFR flights in commercial jetliners. I've found that my system performs well with all default MS scenery, except when large numbers of clouds are involved, but my rig can slow down considerably in particularly cloudy or overcast conditions. I have also installed a significant amount of third-party add-on scenery, including most of those designed and released by BluePrint Simulations. I am happy with their designs, and in general I get acceptable frame rates (I have FS9 set up to lock frames at 20 FPS) when flying into and out of those sceneries unless significant clouds are present. But some other third-party sceneries do make my rig tend to choke up, with frames dropping even down into single digits at times, even with scenery complexity set to "normal", and even under reasonably clear weather conditions.

 

My rig consists of:

AMD Phenom 9600B Quad Core CPU at 2.30 Ghz

4 Gigs DDR RAM

Nvidia GeForce GT520 with latest non-beta Nvidia 301.42 driver

 

I have applied some tweaks to my FS9.cfg, some of which I suspect are designed to improve FS9's default "look" rather than to boost performance. I also use the latest NvidiaInspector software and have tweaked my video driver according to suggestions made by links found elsewhere on this site.

 

It seems clear to me that I need a hardware upgrade, but I am on an extremely limited budget, and so am looking for that upgrade which is likely to provide me with the most increased performance in FS9 specifically. From various postings I have read here at Avsim, it seems to me that either a CPU upgrade or a video card upgrade might be indicated, but I really cannot afford to do both. I could install a higher-clocked CPU in my existing motherboard, which would cost me roughly the same as, say, swapping out my GT 520 video card for a GTX 550 Ti, but can't decide which way to proceed.

 

Any advice anyone might care to offer would be greatly appreciated.

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FS9 (and FSX) can by themselves not take advantage of multiple cores or hyper threading. Most of the FS graphics rendering is done by the main CPU and clock speed is of main concern.

 

If you are running Win 7 there is some improvement that has been measured in published benchmarks. Win 7 will catch complex math routines and pass them on to the graphics card CPU which can handle those better.

 

Overclocking (carefully) your main CPU should help. I am not familiar with your card or processor but under Win 7 an FSX benchmark showed an Intel i5 processor offered almost as much performance as an Intel i7 processor because of this math process trapping passing it to the graphics card CPU.The main improvement you can do remains clock speed.

 

You probably will find out more in the hardware forum here.

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I've found that my system performs well with all default MS scenery, except when large numbers of clouds are involved, but my rig can slow down considerably in particularly cloudy or overcast conditions...

 

...unless significant clouds are present...

 

While no doubt a hardware upgrade would be beneficial to you, you can gain a dramatic FPS increase in clouds by resizing your "cumulus01.bmp", particularly if you're using one of the "HD" cloud textures straight out of the box. These generally are something like 1024x1024px square and in heavy clouds the sim will need to render a lot of pixels. I've run a 256x256px resized variation of cumulus01.bmp on my old machine for years, to be honest you barely notice any reduction in quality but depending on cloud cover you most definitely will notice a gain in performance (like 10fps in some cases). Can't hurt to try resizing, make a backup first, it'll take you about 30 seconds and won't cost you a dime.

 

Jim

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I've run a 256x256px resized variation of cumulus01.bmp on my old machine for years, to be honest you barely notice any reduction in quality but depending on cloud cover you most definitely will notice a gain in performance (like 10fps in some cases).

 

Thanks so much for that suggestion! It's one I'd never heard before. I'll try it out this evening.

 

Overclocking (carefully) your main CPU should help. I am not familiar with your card or processor but under Win 7 an FSX benchmark showed an Intel i5 processor offered almost as much performance as an Intel i7 processor because of this math process trapping passing it to the graphics card CPU.The main improvement you can do remains clock speed.

 

You probably will find out more in the hardware forum here.

 

I am running Win7 64-bit, which I should have but neglected to mention in my original post. I am hesitant to go the overclocking route, but haven't ruled it out completely.

 

Frankly, I only posted my question in this forum because I do not see the "hardware forum" so many posters seem to refer to. What I do see is one forum dedicated to discussions about motherboards/CPUs, another dedicated to video cards and drivers, and so on, and since my question is which upgrade would provide me the most benefit, I decided to take the risk of posting here than double-posting in those two hardware-specific forums.

 

I do appreciate your response.

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