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#1 Whaleman

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Posted 06 March 2004 - 02:06 PM

The Hardware section in the IMG FAQ II grew so large that I think it deserves its own sticky in the correct forum.

General Hardware

Q: What mac should I buy?
A: The best Powermac you can afford.  If your primary intent is to play games DO NOT BUY AN iMAC! They do not have upgradable graphics cards which significantly harms the shelf life of th iMac.

Q: Can I install a Radeon 9600 from a G5 in my G4 tower?
A: Yes, but it is no easy task. You can do it, but on your own risk. There's no way to get your money back if you fail.

Q: How do I install a retail Radeon 9800 in my G5?
A: ATI provides a guide on how to do that. Click here to find it.

Q: Is there any way I can upgrade my iMac/eMac/portable?
A: The only upgrade possible for these machines are to add more memory. It is highly recommended to have at least 512MB if you plan to play games on the machine. People with lower amounts of memory will most probably notice an increase of speed when adding more memory. There is no way to change the graphics card on any of these machines.

Q: If I already have 512mb of RAM, How much of a speed increase would i get if i upgraded to 1gb or 1.5gb?
A:  It depends on your system specs, but all Macs will see a rather substantial boost in all applications (including games) due to the fact that Mac OS X no longer has to constantly hit your hard drive for virtual memory.  The faster the system, the more of a boost you'll see.  On my dual 2.0 GHz G5 (back when it came stock with a Radeon 9800XT graphics card) my Halo timedemo scores at 1024x768 [@ maximum quality] went from 36.83 fps to 41.15 fps when I upgraded from 512MB to 1GB of RAM. [Edit by tBC - answer by Quicksilver]

Q: I bought a new Logitech G7 mouse but the computer won't recognise any buttons on it.

A: Logitech Control Centre for Mac doesn't support the G7 mouse and somehow borks its functionality. By uninstalling the LCC, Mac OS X will take over control of the extra buttons and everything will work a lot better. [Edit by tBC - info by Whaleman]

Sound
By: Greg Gant

Q: Is there any way to get surround sound on the Mac for gaming?
A: Short Answer no.
However, the M-Audio Revolution 7.1 allows any stereo source to be "decoded" into 5.1/6.1/7.1 using a CSII, an advanced algorythm that applies a lot of sophicated guesswork. It can also decode Dobly Prologic encoded material. Dolby Prologic is an older surround sound algorythm that encodes stereo material in to 4 channel audio (center, front left, front right, back) and provides marginal results. The Miles Audio Sound System used in some games have a "Positional 3D Audio" check box that allows the in game audio to use the Prologic algorythm. A short of games that use the Miles Audio Sound System are:

Medal of Honor (and the Spearhead expansion pack)
WarCraft 3
Shadowbane
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3
Neverwinter Nights
Tropico: Mucho Macho Edition
Dungeon Siege
Stronghold
Survivor
Dragon's Lair 3D
American Idol
What's her Face
Curios George Downtown Adventure
Curios George Reading and Phonics
Tropico
Mavis Beacon Teaching Typing 15
and many other educational titles.

These titles may or may not all include the 3D positional audio option.

Q: What about the Soundblaster Live? I heard there was one released for the Mac. Didn't it have EAX?
A: Without pointing fingers, I'll just list the facts First off the SB Live was released for OS 9. Due to some circumstance or another, Creative never updated the drivers leaving the support flakey at best. Very very few games on the Mac made use of EAX but EAX was simply used as a DSP (Digital sound processor) to create reverbs and echos to give a few modified versions of games like Alice, Dues Ex and others a little extra flair. These days, even with the underpowered Macs, CPUs are powerful enough to create these audio effects without aid of a sound card.   The SB Live cannot be used for OS X.

Q: Now that I know there is no surround sound for games on the Mac, why buy a soundcard?
A: One can still enjoy DVDs in surround sound using the Revolution 7.1 or USB devices from M-Audio and Edirol with digital outputs, but the catch is cards/USB dongles only pass the audio bit stream hence they do not decode the surround sound. You must use a home theater receiver, speakers with a digital input and Dolby Digital decoder or likewise to obtain surround sound.
Also cards like the M-Audio Revolution provide superior audio quality and can playback high rez Audio, material above 48 KHz, 16 bit.  However, simply playing this audio back at 96 Khz, 24 bit WILL NOT improve your audio quality. For fear of going over most people's heads, you can catch me on AIM and I can explain the logistics of oversampling if you must know.

Q: Can Mac OSX offload sound processing to make games faster?
A: No, but it might in the future. TechReport found that (under Windows) better sound cards can make a 15% difference over slower ones. If those chips' drivers were ported to OSX, and OSX's CoreAudio sound library started offloading sound processing, Mac games might see a similar difference. [Edit - update 5/3/06 - tBC]

Update on 5.1 Sound in Games [Edit - FAQ updated 1/25/06 - tBC]
By: Syzygy

I will list below all the games I've played that I know to have 100% correctly implemented 5.1 surround sound on my Revolution card.

World of Warcraft
Unreal Tournament 2004*
Close Combat: First to Fight
World War II Online
Call of Duty (Dolby Surround, not full 5.1 Surround Sound)
Medal of Honor (Dolby Surround, not full 5.1 Surround Sound)

This is only a list of games I have played in surround sound.  There are likely other games.

*Very, very buggy sound libraries.  Generally it's "no crashes, surround sound, VoIP"
You shouldn't ask yourself such worthless questions. Aim higher. Try this: why am I here? Why do I exist, and what is my purpose in this universe?

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#2 a2daj

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Posted 18 July 2004 - 03:50 PM

Look here for FSAA in certain Unreal Engine 2 games
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#3 tiskippy

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Posted 26 July 2004 - 03:16 PM

Q. Can I put a PC video card into my G4/G5?
A. No.  The PC and Mac cards have different ROMs on them, making them incompatible.  It is possible to modify the PC Radeon 9800 Pro to work on the Mac, but it involves a lot of precise work.  See here for more details.
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#4 Guest_Ghaleon_*

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Posted 14 August 2004 - 05:59 PM

Quote

Q: But on a PC sound cards free up the CPU!
A: Think again. Common misconception and I don't feel like explaining it. Trust me.

It might be useful to explain it some time.  If it's a misconception, it's only being perpetuated with tests done by popular sites such as Tomshardware: http://www6.tomshard...0405/index.html

#5 wickedsteve

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 02:11 AM

Quote


Q: How do I install a retail Radeon 9800 in my G5?
A: ATI provides a guide on how to do that. Click here to find it.

This does not apply to the special edition 256 MB as it requires no auxilary power.

#6 star-affinity

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Posted 08 November 2004 - 07:04 PM

So, if I understand correctly I can buy a M-Audio Revolution 7.1 card and then get the same cool 3D audio effect as my PC owning friend has in Warcraft 3 for example?

#7 wickedsteve

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Posted 12 November 2004 - 04:49 PM

Quote

So, if I understand correctly I can buy a M-Audio Revolution 7.1 card and then get the same cool 3D audio effect as my PC owning friend has in Warcraft 3 for example?

I suspect the Mac version of Warcraft 3 is like many other Mac games, no support for 3D surround sound. You might want to check up on this, but the last I heard the only Mac software to support 3D surround sound is the DVD player. I could be wrong, hopefully.
I serve too many masters.

#8 Siriusfox

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Posted 12 November 2004 - 06:58 PM

Quote

Q: Is there any way I can upgrade my iMac/eMac/portable?
A: The only upgrade possible for these machines are to add more memory. It is highly recommended to have at least 512MB if you plan to play games on the machine. People with lower amounts of memory will most probably notice an increase of speed when adding more memory. There is no way to change the graphics card on any of these machines.

So You Mean upgrade memory right? Could you be more spesific?
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#9 a2daj

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 09:15 AM

Which games use OpenAL?  What games support 5.1?

Only have time for a quick list.  I may be missing a few.  I'll edit with more detail when I get a chance.  One quick note... just because a game supports OpenAL doesn't mean it will automatically support 5.1 sound.  A game needs to support Apple's OpenAL implementation.  Some of the games below do not.



OpenAL

America's Army (5.1)
Delta Force Black Hawk Down (2.1)
Doom3 (5.1) Requires the 1.3 patch or later
MTX MotoTrax (?)
Postal 2 (?)
Return of the King (2.1)
Stubbs the Zombie (5.1)
Wakeboarding Unleashed Shaun Murray (5.1)
Unreal Tournament 2003 (5.1) Requires new openal.dylib
Unreal Tournament 2004 (5.1) Requires new openal.dylib
X2 The Threat (5.1)


CoreAudio

World of Warcraft (5.1)
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#10 a2daj

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Posted 15 July 2005 - 11:13 AM

I have Game X with Audio Card X, both of which support 5.1 audio.  How come I can't get 5.1 audio?

For games, you have to use the analog outputs on the Revolution cards.  

There's a not so obvious tool (Audio MIDI Setup) which you must first use to configure Mac OS X to support the extra channels your audio card can handle.

1.  Open the Audio MIDI Setup application (located in /Applications/Utilities).

2.  Click the “Audio Devices" tab at the top of the window.

3.  Select your multichannel audio I/O device as the default output, and then select it under “Properties For”.  The name of the device will vary on the actual audio device and possibly the version of the drivers being used.

4.  Under the Audio Output, in the lower right, click “Configure Speakers”; click “Multichannel” and select "5.1" as the Type.

5.  Click "Apply" and then "Done".

Next, open the control panel or app necessary to properly configure your audio device.

For the M-Audio Revolution cards, open up M-Audio Revolution application and make sure you disable CSII if it’s enabled.  For users of the 1.4.x  Revo 7.1 drivers, this is equivalent to selecting "None/OpenAL." Make sure your speaker set up is 5.1.
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#11 Syzygy

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 01:33 AM

Hmmm, some objections here.

The number of games with full, accurate 5.1 surround sound is definitely underestimated.  I will list below all the games I've played that I know to have 100% correctly implemented 5.1 surround sound on my Revolution card.

World of Warcraft
Unreal Tournament 2004*
Close Combat: First to Fight
World War II Online
Call of Duty
Medal of Honor

This is only a list of games I have played in surround sound.  There are likely other games.

*Very, very buggy sound libraries.  Generally it's "no crashes, surround sound, VoIP" -- pick any two.
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#12 the Battle Cat

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 11:58 AM

View PostSyzygy, on January 24th 2006, 11:33 PM, said:

Hmmm, some objections here.

The number of games with full, accurate 5.1 surround sound is definitely underestimated.  I will list below all the games I've played that I know to have 100% correctly implemented 5.1 surround sound on my Revolution card.

World of Warcraft
Unreal Tournament 2004*
Close Combat: First to Fight
World War II Online
Call of Duty
Medal of Honor

This is only a list of games I have played in surround sound.  There are likely other games.

*Very, very buggy sound libraries.  Generally it's "no crashes, surround sound, VoIP" -- pick any two.
I edited the FAQ for you.  If that's not what you intended, then rewrite the FAQ to exactly how you want it then PM it to me and I'll edit the post again with a copy and paste.
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#13 a2daj

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 03:02 AM

View PostSyzygy, on January 24th 2006, 11:33 PM, said:

Hmmm, some objections here.

The number of games with full, accurate 5.1 surround sound is definitely underestimated.  I will list below all the games I've played that I know to have 100% correctly implemented 5.1 surround sound on my Revolution card.

World of Warcraft
Unreal Tournament 2004*
Close Combat: First to Fight
World War II Online
Call of Duty
Medal of Honor

This is only a list of games I have played in surround sound.  There are likely other games.

*Very, very buggy sound libraries.  Generally it's "no crashes, surround sound, VoIP" -- pick any two.

I think it depends on your definition of full, accurate 5.1.  Call of Duty and Medal of Honor rely on the Miles Sound library which on the Mac only supports "Dolby Surround" in the MoH and CoD games which is the equivalent of Dolby Prologic.  I don't consider Dolby Prologic on par with 5.1 surround.
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#14 the Battle Cat

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 10:38 AM

I edited the FAQ to accommodate a2daj, does that meet with your approval Syzygy?
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#15 Damien

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 06:45 AM

Q: If I already have 512mb of RAM, How much of a speed increase would i get if i upgraded to 1gb or 1.5gb
17" Powerbook G4 1.33GHZ
512MB Ram
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#16 Quicksilver

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 09:32 AM

View PostDamien, on April 18th 2006, 07:45 AM, said:

Q: If I already have 512mb of RAM, How much of a speed increase would i get if i upgraded to 1gb or 1.5gb

Answer:  It depends on your system specs, but all Macs will see a rather substantial boost in all applications (including games) due to the fact that Mac OS X no longer has to constantly hit your hard drive for virtual memory.  The faster the system, the more of a boost you'll see.  On my dual 2.0 GHz G5 (back when it came stock with a Radeon 9800XT graphics card) my Halo timedemo scores at 1024x768 [@ maximum quality] went from 36.83 fps to 41.15 fps when I upgraded from 512MB to 1GB of RAM.

On a final note, a lot of people want to know how much RAM they can add to their systems before the performance gains taper off [law of diminishing returns].  Based on my own personal experience, on a G5 running Mac OS X Tiger with no other applications running, anything beyond 2 GB is pretty much worthless for gaming from a price/performance perspective.  Obviously, that RAM would come in handy if you want to run a lot of applications in the background or if you're an avid Photoshop user, but like I said, you're probably wasting money from that point on.
Former Senior Hardware Editor
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#17 the Battle Cat

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 03:27 PM

Good one.  I added it to the FAQ.  Thanks guys.
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#18 FortranDragon

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 03:08 PM

View PostWhaleman, on March 6th 2004, 03:06 PM, said:

Q: Will a sound card free up a my CPU, hence speed up games?
A: No.

Q: But on a PC sound cards free up the CPU!
A: Think again. Common misconception and I don't feel like explaining it. Trust me.


Now, I understand that using sound adds to the overhead on a CPU [1], but doesn't a sound card have less CPU overhead for things such as 5.1 audio, EAX, etc. than trying to do all the sound processing on the CPU itself?




[1] Which is why graphics card benchmarks usually turn the sound off in order to get the highest possible frame rates.

#19 bobbob

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 05:37 PM

View PostFortranDragon, on April 27th 2006, 02:08 PM, said:

doesn't a sound card have less CPU overhead for things such as 5.1 audio, EAX, etc. than trying to do all the sound processing on the CPU itself?

Yes, and the non-bad ones do mixing and down/up-sampling in hardware, too. It's a few percent win to use cards like the X-fi, and it's always been the case that some cards are better than others. The faq really sucks in that respect.

#20 the Battle Cat

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 09:56 PM

The FAQ is not chiseled in stone.  Give a better answer that another can verify as accurate and I'll copy it and paste it into the existing spot.
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