After our discussion about "real world sane" settings in Halo, I experimented with the settings in an attempt to find the best combination of quality versus speed. I came up with the following combination:
Vertex Shaders Only
FSAA = 4X
Detail Objects = On
Lens Flare = Low
Model Detail = High
Specular = Off
Shadows = Off
Decals = On
Particles = High
Texture Quality = High
Sound = On, but Low Quality
G5/2.0GHz MP with 9800 Pro Special 256M Edition = 61 avg fps
G4/1.5GHz PowerBook with 9700 Mobility (128M) = 25 avg fps
Any comments? Suggestions?
Just a few quick thoughts. The Powerbook has a significantly slower system bus and as far as I know, 4xAGP. Halo is one of the few games at the moment to really eat up graphics subsystems since with Vertex Only and Pixel and Vertex Shaders, it does almost all graphic related tasks on the video card. So, if you keep the card fed, properly it'll play nicely, assuming the card can handle it. Halo doesn't have a lot of high quality textures (compared to Quake 3 and especially UT2K3 or 4) so textures probably aren't eating a lot of video memory when pixel shaders are disabled.
The 4xFSAA is probably eating up the Mobility 9700. It's not a true 9700 class chip (only has 4 rendering pipes), closer to the 9600 XT class chipset so that's understandable. Apple also has it running at the lower end of the rated speeds, 392 MHz GPU/202MHz memory (noted here
). Minimum clock range is 390/200 respectively (not really officially minimums, but Apple is using slower clock speeds than others). I don't recall which types of FSAA the Mobility 9700 can use, but since the user doesn't have direct control over which method is used, we can't tell if it's using Multi or Supersampling. I would hope in both cases it defaults to Multi for performance reasons. I think the slower system bus and possibly the 4 rendering pipes might be affecting the framerate. Running a similar test on a G5 with a 9600 could confirm or rule out the rendering pipes. I have a 1.2 dual G4 with a Radeon 9800 Pro so I could duplicate the test sometime to see what my system gets at 4xFSAA. At 1.2 GHz and above, the CPU doesn't really hurt performance too much since the Mac version of Halo is more GPU limited but my 133MHz system bus may come into play.