Benjamin J

What will benefit P3D more? A good GPU, or CPU?

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Hey all,

With the release of P3Dv4, I'm considering up[grading my system a little. However, that system is a laptop - one that is already 3 years old. The laptop is a Apple MacBook Pro from Mid-2014.

Of course: the best thing to do would be to buy a new desktop with high specs. The problem is that I'm only a graduate student, and so (1) I have no money for such a specced-out desktop (it looks like I'd be shelling out at least 2000$), (2) transporting the machine would be cumbersome once I hit graduation in another 3 years or so, (3) I'm not even sure I have space to put it anywhere, and (4) I have no money.

The basic specs of my laptop (full specs here):

  • 2.5GHz Core i7 (I7-4870HQ)
  • 16GB DDR3L SDRAM
  • GeForce GT 750M with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM
  • Running both macOS and Windows 10
  • P3D installed on an external Samsung 512GB SSD, connected through USB 3.0 with the laptop.

The machine works absolutely fine and so I have no reason (or money) to replace it. Also P3Dv3 works okay on lower settings, but the fact is I would like it to do a little more than it's doing right now. I surely won't be able to pull off all the wonderful things I see posted on the forums here, but I'm not really looking for that anyway, necessarily. However, I was thinking of trying to squeeze a little more simming performance out of my laptop, to see if I can drag it on just a few years longer.

Which is why I come here now. My question is simple: given the fact that upgrading the CPU is impossible, will I see substantial benefit of upgrading the GPU? I have read online people using an external GPU ("eGPU") with some success, and would consider doing that if it would result in substantially better frame rates. It would also be much cheaper than getting an all-new desktop, and I'd probably be able to repurpose the eGPU for future laptops or desktops I buy.

Your opinions are very much appreciated!

Benjamin

 

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Your options are fairly limited since you plan to use an eGPU on a Mac, no less.  Have you read this yet? https://9to5mac.com/2017/04/11/hands-on-powering-the-macbook-pro-with-an-egpu-using-nvidias-new-pascal-drivers/

You'll need to perform the steps outlined there, and of course shell out $500 for the eGPU enclosure and however much you want to spend on a graphics card.  I don't think you'll pull it off for less than $700, and to be honest a $200 GPU isn't exactly going to set the world on fire so you really *should* spend more than that.  Bottom line, you're better off putting the money into a desktop.  You don't need to spend $2000 to build a capable flight sim box.  $1000 will get you a decent machine that's better than just about any laptop, $1500 gets you close to atop of the line machine (for flight sim).  

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Thanks for your speedy reply!

Because I plan to use the card within Windows rather than Mac OS, do you think it will still be a headache? I assumed that I won't be needing to deal with modifying Mac system files if I don't plan to use the card within Mac OS.

Thanks for the link, I had indeed briefly read through it, but then I found this site: https://egpu.io/setup-guide-external-graphics-card-mac/ which seemed more user-friendly and described the process in a relatively straight-forward fashion.

As for the cost, if that is indeed the case then it would be fairly insane to go the route of an eGPU, though I saw somebody who did it for about 500$. Would you be able to briefly recommend some 'guideline specs' that I could think about? Not to feed a stereotype, but being a Mac person I have very little idea of components.

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My advice would be to stay put until you can afford a new system.  And possibly stay on P3DV3..

:cool:

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If you use the card in say a Bootcamp Win 10 install it will probably be easier to setup, and you can skip the aforementioned steps.  

Take a look at some builds people have done with an i5 7600k and GTX 1070 on pcpartpicker here: https://pcpartpicker.com/builds/by_part/dQM323#g=169&sort=a3&page=1

If you want specific part advice like which CPU cooler, or power supply, or case to buy just ask.  Also, if you have a budget in mind let everyone know and you'll get more specific advice.

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Haha Bert, I appreciate your honesty! If it's better to just not buy anything for now, then that is what I will do. There's no sense in going a route that's not worth the investment.

Techguy (Max?), thanks for your reply. Reading over other people's posts, I have become 'used to' thinking that the only thing that will do is an i7 @ over 4GHz paired with a GTX 1080, but in your opinion should be fine as well? I guess it all comes down to what you expect.The pcpartpicker seems very useful; a good introduction to start to think about this kind of stuff. What kind of performance in the sim would I be looking at with these kind of specs? Realistically, what would be the level of the visuals I can expect? To give an idea of what I usually do, I have resorted to low and slow VFR flying over OrbX territory, since that's really all that my computer can handle at somewhat acceptable performance levels. Ideally I'd also fly in and out of medium to major hubs as well using, e.g. the Aerosoft Airbus, though. I admit my standards are very low, though, so I guess it's easy to make me happy...

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1 hour ago, Benjamin J said:

.. I admit my standards are very low, though, so I guess it's easy to make me happy...

If you are like the rest of us, your standards will go up, as soon as you have a new system that is capable of more..

To paraphrase an old saying:  "If every day you do a little bit more than what is expected of you,  pretty soon people will start to expect more of you.."   :happy:

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3 hours ago, Benjamin J said:

Haha Bert, I appreciate your honesty! If it's better to just not buy anything for now, then that is what I will do. There's no sense in going a route that's not worth the investment.

Techguy (Max?), thanks for your reply. Reading over other people's posts, I have become 'used to' thinking that the only thing that will do is an i7 @ over 4GHz paired with a GTX 1080, but in your opinion should be fine as well? I guess it all comes down to what you expect.The pcpartpicker seems very useful; a good introduction to start to think about this kind of stuff. What kind of performance in the sim would I be looking at with these kind of specs? Realistically, what would be the level of the visuals I can expect? To give an idea of what I usually do, I have resorted to low and slow VFR flying over OrbX territory, since that's really all that my computer can handle at somewhat acceptable performance levels. Ideally I'd also fly in and out of medium to major hubs as well using, e.g. the Aerosoft Airbus, though. I admit my standards are very low, though, so I guess it's easy to make me happy...

An i7 is not specifically necessary, per se, as it is essentially an i5 which has been cherry-picked to achieve the highest clock speeds, and it has a feature enabled which i5 chips do not; that is, Hyper-threading, itself a feature which is not strictly necessary for performance in flght sim as it primarily benefits the loading of scenery textures.  With the advent of P3D v4 and its ability to pre-load scenery textures as far as the eye can see (assuming you have the sim configured to do this and enough RAM to support it), you would be perfectly fine with an i5 rather than an i7.  If you prefer the i7 expect to spend approximately $100 more.  I recommended the i5 assuming you would prefer to save the $100 in order to make a system purchase more palatable.  

Performance in terms of FPS will vary depending on settings, add-ons, and the hardware which you choose, but generally speaking the early reports from P3D v4 users is that FPS is significantly increased compared to v3 on the same hardware and with same or higher image quality settings.  I can't say "well, if you buy x hardware/spend y dollars you'll get z FPS", but I can say that the proposed system (or similar) will deliver a result which is much improved over your current system, without question.  

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