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  mhoc > • tweakspot

Doom 3: The Importance of RAM
Well, I wasn't planning on my first public article to be on Doom3, much less on the hardware specs of systems. However, once I got Doom3 and tried playing it and started getting severe stutters when entering new areas, I became a man on a mission. Now, that my mission is over, I figured I might as well share what I have learned with the rest of the gaming community… Doom3 needs Ram.

One thing I have noticed with all the other gaming sites I read regularly is their focus on CPUs and Video Cards when it comes to peak Doom3 performance. They take their CPUs and try them with various video card combinations of which they do a great job. Yet, if the system specs they use in their tests don't match yours, you’re forced to make an educated (or uneducated) guess when trying to duplicate the process. This is exactly what I did. After reading many benchmarks and hardware guides I came to the conclusion that my system should be able to run 800x600 in High Quality mode. If I overclock, maybe I might squeeze out 1024x768. What are my system specs?

  • Asus A7V333
  • Athlon 2000+ (266)
  • 512 PC2100 CAS 2.5 Crucial (2.5,2,2,6)
  • Asus Radeon 9600XT
  • WD 80Gb 7200RPM (8 meg buffer)

    I’ve looked at different sites and some say the 9600XT can handle 800x600 High Quality mode, some sites say medium. If I had a 3.6Ghz processor I could even get 1024x768. It seems to be a user preference of minimum FPS when it all boils down really. Being modest, I figure I can live with a little bit of jitter from time to time but my system is tweaked well, it shouldn't be a problem. I load it up, FPS seems to be fine but the opening graphic jerked a bit. Well that’s odd. Hmm…I opened that door and got a stutter once more. It jumps to a cut scene... another stutter. Well crap!

    Wonder what’s wrong? I’m not using those beta drivers... maybe that will help. Nope, the darn things didn't even want to install. I drop down to medium quality and it plays just fine. Well, online I go searching away, finding several tweaks of which I will link to at the end of this article. While several of them did help somewhat, none of them fixed my stutter issue totally. Maybe my system isn't as tweaked as I thought it was?

    Although one fix of allocating ram to the system (set image_cacheMegs "128") seemed to help the most. Interesting. That’s what made me think of the ram possibility. If the bumps in quality is directly related to texture sizes and compressions, any video card and/or CPU that can produce good frame rates isn't the problem. The lack of room in the system memory is the cause of my stuttering! So, if that is the case, increasing my RAM should solve my problem. Unfortunately, no one throws PC parts at me for reviews so I had to beg a friend to stop playing doom long enough for me to test my theory. After some bribery, I borrowed 512 of ram and stuck it in my system. I removed all my config tweaks and started up the game. It was a thing of beauty, the intro nice and smooth. Walked into some rooms, nice! Went into a room of NPC’s and encountered an ever so slight hiccup but the performance so far had been so much improved, it wasn't even funny. Just for fun, I jumped into 1024x768 and not so much as a stutter when entering rooms, although the FPS does drop a bit low when a lot is going on, but I’m still working on that.

    So, the thing that should be noted in the long-winded explanation of mine?

    If your getting stutters when entering new areas, but your FPS are consistently over 30FPS, you need more ram! I’m still testing some different stick sizes, but my educated guess at this point would say to use this for a guide on the minimum amount of ram you need to run at with your system. If you want to run at the shown setting, first thing you need is the right amount of ram.

    RAM = Resolution
    =================
    368 = Low Detail
    512 = Medium Detail
    768 = High Detail
    1024= Ultra Quality??? (I can not test this, but really neither can anyone else with a midrange system)

    So, it looks like my friend is going to have to find himself another 512 stick because I plan on keeping it!

    For a list of good benchmarks to help you figure out what’s going on, check out these sites reviews/guides. They do a great job of benchmarking, and I only wish I had the resources available to me that they do to run the multitude of tests they run.

    http://www2.hardocp.com/article.html?art=NjQ0
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2146
    http://graphics.tomshardware.com/graphic/20040809/index.html

    For a list of good Doom3 tweaks, check out these great sites.

    http://www.viperlair.com/articles/howto/software/tweakd3/index.shtml
    http://ucguides.savagehelp.com/Doom3/Doom3Guide.htm
    http://www.tweakguides.com/Doom3_1.html

    ¤ Milkman


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