A Strawberry Singh meme: Computer Specs

Since I have a little bit between things that I need to get done this morning, I figured I’d peek at what Berry had up for the Monday Meme Of Challengy Questionnaireishness. And it was one which plays into the fact I’ve been working up specs for a new piece of hardware lately, as well as the fact that I like helping people make graphics go vroom.

So, without further adieu!

Share any of your computer specs (video card, memory, etc..) 

AMD A4-4300M APU with Radeon HD Graphics 2.50 GHz
4gb of RAM
64bit Win7

Which viewer do you use most often?
I use Firestorm 64bit, mostly: little point in not using a 64bit program when you have a 64bit OS.

What is your FPS (Frames Per Second) when you have your graphics on ultra?
The answer REALLY depends where I am. Mainland I’m around 15-20fps; on an island sim, I am usually around 30-35fps.

How often does Second Life crash for you? Is it usually just a viewer crash or your whole system crashes? What are you usually doing at the moment of the crash?
SL crashes about once a day- it does seem to be that the laptop starts to get overheated. Anymore, when SL crashes, I turn off the machine, leave the cooling pad connected to continue circulating air in, and let the machine cool down for about 15 minutes.
If you are on a laptop, kids, get a cooling pad. Spending just $30 on one can extend the life of your machine dramatically!

Do you know of any tips or tricks in the settings that would improve performance?
Regardless of which bit of OS/software’s meant, they all REALLY depend on what sort of hardware you’re running it on. Here’s a couple SL-viewer-specific tricks, though.

1) The big one for me lately has been learning that an AMD chip does NOT like how Firestorm hands it vertex buffer objects. At all. Disabling those adds a ton of stability to Firestorm, for me. You can do that by hitting ctrl-P, choosing the ‘graphics’ tab on the pop-up window, going into ‘hardware settings’ and unchecking anything about Vertex Buffer Objects / VBOs.

2) If you’re offline while you’re doing that, also put a checkmark next to Lossy texture compression. I’ve honestly never noticed a real loss of texture detail, but I have noticed a higher frame rate.

3) The biggest secret of good graphics performance with SL is stop telling your viewer to waste time on stuff that isn’t there to render. Your viewer prioritizes graphics rendering according to what you set it to do, not according to what there IS to render. Think about what you’ve got in your frame, and use the advanced settings in your basic graphics tab (ctrl-P -> Graphics -> Advanced settings) to adjust things accordingly.
Let’s pretend you’re taking a photo of yourself in the new chair that you picked up at the Greek Isle Gatcha Event (visit the Homestuff blog for more information on what’s over there: the GIGE is running through the end of August!). You went way up in a skybox, so you could have a less distracting background.  You want to take a picture like this:

greek isles homestuff 1

OK. So what I do is all of the below:

First, I crank all the water reflection stuff down to the lowest setting: there’s no water in frame that you need see reflections on, is there? Same for the water transparency. If the water’s 1000m down, you don’t need to be able to see through it.
Next, I take the number of avatars rendered way down: it’s just me in the skybox, so why tell my viewer to be ready to render any other avatar?
Is the sky in frame? If not, I take the sky rendering all the way down. Again, why waste the processing time on something that you aren’t even looking at?
Take down the Terrain sliders. If you can’t see the soil, why worry about how good its texture looks?
Take the trees slider way down. There’s a little secret on the trees slider: it only affects the rendering of Linden-created trees. No Linden-created trees (and who the heck has those things around on their carefully-landscaped sims anymore) in your picture? Then why tell your GPU to spend the energy?
Are there no particles in the shot (mist from a waterfall, smoke from a chimney, rain)? Take max particles down, too.
Then I crank object detail UP to the max, as I wanted the skybox to look nice. I crank the avatar detail up too, so I will look pretty.

You can common-sense these suggestions, too: you’re taking a photo of a landscape? Then you need the terrain to look good, obviously. And there’s a sky in there, so make the sky work. If there’s water, it needs to reflect… but your avatar may not be in the shot, so you can crank everything about av rendering way down.

And that’s how I get things like this photo of Arc en Ciel:

arc en ciel
Both of these photos are very minimally photoshopped- the one of me in the chair not at all- the landscape, I only touched up the ropes on the ship.

I learned most of these tricks when I was running a *cough* MUCH older machine. You may find them useful for your own photography efforts, or for just making SL look pretty when you’re not running around everywhere.

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9 thoughts on “A Strawberry Singh meme: Computer Specs

    • It’s pretty good, honestly! It’s also a year and a half old: I’ve been investigating whether my particular laptop’s up for a graphics upgrade, truth be told: that’d be way cheaper than a new machine.

  1. thank you for your suggestions to help maximize resoulution in picture taking. I probably never thought of that, because it was common sense, and I am always looking for the complicated answers. I take a lot of pictures in my skybox photo studio, because the lag is lower. So turning down levers that I don’t need will help. Thank you again.

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