The 'help me choose hardware to run PA' megathread

Discussion in 'Support!' started by cwarner7264, August 7, 2014.

  1. cwarner7264

    cwarner7264 Planetary Moderator

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    Given the increasing number of similar threads where people are building / buying systems with the primary intention of playing PA and seeking advice, I thought it would be a good idea to put everything into a single thread to (a) avoid clutter and duplication and (b) pool knowledge and advice on hardware into a single easy-to-find place.

    I have been given permission to mercilessly merge new threads into this one :D - if you are buying hardware and want PA-related advice, this is your thread!

    Recommended Specs:
    - OS: 64-Bit: Windows 7, Windows 8 / 8.1, Mac OS/X 10.8+, current mainstream Linux 64-bit distributions
    - CPU: Quad Core processor
    - Memory: 8GB
    - Graphics: 1 to 2GB video memory card; ATI 5700+, Nvidia 660+

    Mind you, those are not the requirements, but we highly urge NOT playing on 32-bit, or with less than 4GB of addressable RAM (hence the 8GB suggestion).
    Last edited by a moderator: August 8, 2014
  2. zweistein000

    zweistein000 Post Master General

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    This will come in handy. One day. In the distant future :(
  3. nixtempestas

    nixtempestas Post Master General

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    General advice:

    LOTS OF RAM. MORE RAM.

    I SAID MORE!!

    and more video memory too, if you got the choice between a 1 GB and a 2 GB, definitely go for the upgrade, even if its a bit more costly. And go with nvidia, PA runs better on nvidia ( :( )

    Other than that, a decent quad core will do nicely. Or if you really like AMD, go with one of their hex cores, I got an older one (Phenom II X6 1055T) and it runs the new multithreaded PA beautifully.
  4. Shwyx

    Shwyx Well-Known Member

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    Don't run Radeon legacy cards (HD 3xxx, HD 4xxx etc.). The rest of your hardware can be golden or decent, doesn't matter, the legacy drivers will screw you up.
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  5. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Ok my experience of running PA on very dated hardware is:

    Minimum requirements: Dual core cpu (with HT if possible) should be ok.

    4gb of ram (limited to small maps) preferably 8gb (speed not that important).

    Any modern graphics card: Nvidia 400 series or newer, ATI / AMD HD5000 series or newer. 1gb video memory minimum (and for this you have to use lowest settings for 'virtual texture' in options menu). Preferably 2gb+

    Intel Integrated graphics HD3000 or better also work reasonably well, as I imagine would any of AMD's APUs (as they start with HD5000 era graphics hardware).

    64 bit OS (Windows Vista kinda works but is iffy, preferably Windows 7 or 8.1), Linux (64 bit flavour of your choice) or latest version of Mac OS X. If you are on an older version of windows (or 32 bit) then I'd recommend installing a free Linux ditsro such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint.

    Note: From what I've read, AMD graphics hardware is OK for windows but may be a pain under Linux. Nvidia is potentially an 'easier to live with' solution in regards to PA but that doesn't mean AMD graphics don't work or perform really badly.

    Recommended Specs:
    If you are looking at NEW hardware:
    Modern quad core CPU. PA appears to use 3 cores pretty well, for client performance (which is all you need when playing online) you won't get benefit from more threads e.g. An AMD FX 8 core, or Intel i7 with HT. However once the server is released for offline play, LAN or hosting your own private servers more cores will likely be a big benefit. This is because based on dev comments the PA server uses 1 thread per player. Given you have up to 10 players connected in a game, that is a potential for using 13(!) cores total in 1 game- this will increase as the player counts go up over time.

    RAM: 8gb is the minimum I would consider, 12 or 16gb is preferable- the amount of memory limits the size of your system you can play on. Garat has a machine with 32gb of ram and has commented he has seen PA using as much as 22gb on a very large map. If your more interested in smaller games and 1 v 1 type play 8gb should be fine.

    Graphics card: PA isn't hugely graphics intensive, so a decent mid range card should be fine (Nvidia GTX 750ti, Radeon R7 265 etc). The main thing to make sure is that the graphics card has 2gb of ram. More isn't a bad idea- always ensure you get a card with modern GDDR5 type memory rather than DDR3 memory that is put on many cheaper cards as that will hurt performance.

    Disk Drive: Personally I think these days your best off with a SSD as PA does take a while loading up on a mechanical drive.
    Shwyx, zweistein000 and cwarner7264 like this.
  6. zweistein000

    zweistein000 Post Master General

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    Good post. Will keep it in mind when buying a computer. If my luck holds out (and my calculations) this should be happening some time after Christmas.
    cwarner7264 and cdrkf like this.
  7. Twinstar

    Twinstar Active Member

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    Hey volks,

    i want to build a little Gaming Rig.
    No.1 priority is: small
    No.2 priority is: energy saving
    No.3 priority is: It have to run PA :)

    My setup:

    GABYTE-GA-F2A88XN-WIFI
    APU A10-7850K
    Ram: 4GB 2400Mhz
    PSU: 300W
    SSD: 128GB



    I think this setup should run PA, but i never used a APU before, so have anyone expierence with it?

    PS: I know "energy saving" and "small" dosen't suit perfectly well with "gaming" =P

    Source:
    http://www.amazon.com/GIGABYTE-GA-F...4511&sr=8-1&keywords=GIGABYTE GA-F2A88XN-WIFI
    http://www.amazon.com/AMD-A10-Serie...85877&sr=1-1&keywords=10-Series APU A10-7850K
  8. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Based on feedback from someone running PA on a dual core A4, yes it will work. One minor change you really should make though- 8gb of ram (ideally 2 x 4gb matched pair for dual channel- will improve graphics performance). Remember memory is even MORE important with an APU as it's sharing the memory for Video. PA ideally wants 2gb video ram + as much main memory it can get. Running on just 4gb will be a stretch.

    Otherwise you should be ok (you might also want a larger SSD- 240gb models are pretty cheap these days, especially some of the older ones like Crucial M500, which is still plenty fast enough imo).

    Edit: Also if your building this yourself, the A10 7800 is probably a better option for 'energy saving' as it can go as low as 45w without loosing much performance according to reviews.
  9. jeffwadsworth

    jeffwadsworth Member

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    That 4GB is really going to hurt your performance. RAM is super cheap now. Go for at least 8GB.
  10. SXX

    SXX Post Master General

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    PA itself does use about 2.5GB RAM for UI and at least 1.5GB for planets (actually a lot more).
    When you using integrated graphics (APU) it's will also use 1.5-2GB RAM as video memory.

    So as said above 8GB RAM is minimum you need for this game.
  11. sebsthlm

    sebsthlm New Member

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    I'm about to reenter the gaming community solely to play this magnificent game. But! I don't have the power on my current laptop to play it, so I'm thinking about building a dedicated rig. I would like to hear what you guys are running the game on and how you experience performance subjectively as well as more objectively. I would really like the game to run smoothly on my system but at the same time I don't have to much to spend. I will use a Linux 64-bit OS, so that's where I'm starting from. As for the hardware I've come up with a set of priorities for evaluating what I should get. I would very much like to hear what you would go with, what troubles you are experiencing, what would you buy or do different with regard to your current setup, etc.

    Here are the priorities for hardware;
    1. Budget
    2. Upgradeable

    I'm especially concerned with bottlenecks. I'd hate to get a graphicscard that overloads the CPU, rather, I'd like to get a motherboard that will allow me to upgrade the graphics easily, and possibly the CPU. It was stated above that AMD graphics cards may hurt under Linux, so, should I take a note on that? Of course RAM is important, but I've learned on this forum that you can download it, so it won't be problem :)
  12. Shwyx

    Shwyx Well-Known Member

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    cdrkf took some time to write a great post about hardware, please refer to that for starters :).
    cdrkf likes this.
  13. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    If your building a linux rig you really want an nvidia graphics board. Sxx can probably advise more on that.

    For good upgrade path on low budget, go Intel socket 1150 (latest I believe) and get a core i3 (cheap), as you will have upgrade path to i5 or i7 and Intel are sticking with this platform for another year or so.

    I'd need to know what budget you want to give you more advice (if its very low there are some good entry amd options, but you'll be more limited in terms of upgrades).
  14. cwarner7264

    cwarner7264 Planetary Moderator

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    Regarding upgrades, if that's the route you'd like to go down, in terms of cost savings I'll always advise investing as much as you can in parts that must be straight out replaced, and leaving yourself lighter on parts that can simply be added later.

    Examples of parts that must be replaced: Graphics card, Processor, PSU
    Examples of parts that can be added to: Hard drives/SSDs, RAM
  15. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Actually that depends- Intels latest HD integrated graphics on the current Core range is sufficient to run PA fluently at lower resolutions, so graphics card could be a future upgrade.
    cwarner7264 likes this.
  16. robintick

    robintick Well-Known Member

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    I used this case to build a smaller desktop http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=291&area=en and I love it.
    It's half the size of my previous tower, space is tight so you will need a Micro ATX or Mini ITX motherboard, both of which can offer you the same top notch performance as the bigger boards these days.
    It has 4 graphics card slots, I'm using a GTX 580 with a 3slot thick cooler, which is big but still fits.
    It will also fit a big fat cpu cooler, I'm using a Thermalright Venomous X which is about as tall as they get.
    Last edited: August 14, 2014
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  17. thetrophysystem

    thetrophysystem Post Master General

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    I have never seen anyone have problem with too little cpu yet. Althought it is probably a smooth performance and a running standalone after release sort of issue. I still doubt you would need quad core with sufficient ram and gpu, or a dual core will definitely work with 8g ram and 1g gpu.
  18. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Quad is a very good idea if you intend to play offline single player or host a server. Client uses about 3 threads quite well, so good dual or more is sufficient for client only (i.e. if your main goal is multi-player) however the server will be able to use lots of cores, dependent on game size anyway (server uses 1 thread per connected client according to Uber).
  19. thetrophysystem

    thetrophysystem Post Master General

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    So large singleplayers or hosting a multiplayer is where more cores would shine. A good dual core would probably get you into singleplayer probably on a galactic war scale at least, or host small games. Still limits less than ram does. Lack of ram prevents game launch. Lack of core runs game fine with a limit on how big you can host or single-play.
    cdrkf likes this.
  20. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Well you basically need a good enough CPU to keep up with your graphics card (so no point getting a 780ti then pairing it with a dual core Pentium for example) but yeah for most people ram > cpu. I think a quad core (or dual with HT i.e. i3) is a sensible minimum given the limited cost saving by going lower.

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