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Author Topic: But my computer is brand new! | Intel HD graphics notice  (Read 3745 times)

Mr Robville

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But my computer is brand new! | Intel HD graphics notice
« on: February 18, 2014, 16:10:31 »

I noticed that both on the forum as within customer support that many people are unaware or confused about their hardware specifications, which often results in the game being unable to run. While many people understand that if the system does not meet the minimum requirements the game cannot run, others still seem to put the blame on ShipSim for not being able to run since their computer is brand new and only a week old. This post is intended to explain the difference between a new computer and one that meets the minimum requirements.


First important notice: Brand new is not always state of the art.

When you find yourself in a computer store, the salesman will always convince you that their product is the best of the best. Because that is their job. So if you are searching for a good laptop but not too expensive, you are likely to buy a laptop with an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 graphics card inserted. Even Intel claims this is the ultimate visual experience 1.

However, if you are looking for a powerful gaming laptop, Intel is not gonna cut it so you will at least need a dedicated GPU card installed such as an AMD or Nvidia card.
So even if your laptop is brand new and less than a week old, if your GPU card is below 256MB dedicated memory, your processor only 1.2GHz, and your RAM memory only 3GB, then it simply does not meet the minimum requirements to run Ship Simulator Extremes. There is a reason that more expensive computers or laptops exist because these have more powerful hardware.

Gaming laptops are more expensive.


Check the dedicated memory
More than often I receive a DxDiag that looks like this:


Marked in red shows the dedicated memory. ShipSim Extremes requires at least 256MB of dedicated memory. If the GPU card does not have this amount of memory, then the game is likely to crash or having graphical artifacts.

Before purchasing a laptop, always do research on the amount of dedicated memory that is inserted. Many electronic stores confuse the customer by writing on the label "2GB HD GRAPHICS CARD". This is partially true, but this is mostly shared memory (as in the example above), which is memory that cannot be accessed directly from the GPU card itself, but must be taken from your RAM memory.

How does that work?

Think of your GPU card as a desk, and you are the graphical processor. The dedicated memory is the amount of space inside your drawers in your desk. Shared memory is the cabinet inside the hallway for extra storage.
Imagine ShipSim as a project you are working on. ShipSim requires storage space of 256MB for you to work on. If you have this amount of space inside your desk, you can easily access all files. However, if you only have enough space inside your drawers for only 32MB, you will constantly need to stand up, walk to the cabinet inside the hallway, and get it from there, which takes time which causes you to work sloppy. A GPU card does the same. So if it does not meet the minimum requirements, it will be too busy trying to keep up with the data ShipSim demands, which usually results in a crash.


If one game works, that doesn't mean another will as well.
On rare occasions I've received rather bold responses from customers when I explained their system was not sufficient enough to run the game. They often claim that other games run fine on their system and that it's ShipSim's fault for not being able to run. This however, is a useless argument. Every game is different compared to another. The programming differs, the amount of graphical data, the physics, everything. It is like expecting a Fiat 500 to pull a boeing 747 up a hill and when it is unable to do so, you blame the car because the truck you were driving before had no trouble with it. Both are vehicles, but make use of different specifications.
That's why each game has their own minimum system requirements. It exists for this very reason. You cannot expect to install Crysis 3 using the same minimum requirements as Duke Nukem 3D, and neither can you expect to install ShipSim with the same requirements in mind from Virtual sailor.


All-in-one PC's
It's great to have a compact desktop computer. But compact means small, and small means less room for hardware.
All-in-one PC's are definitely NOT recommended to use as a gaming computer. Most of these PC's also use touch screen, which has never been tested for ShipSim.
There is a reason powerful GPU cards are such huge devices:


Exceptions or switchable graphics
Sometimes people do manage to get the game working on an Intel GPU. I wouldn't say it is impossible to run the game on an Intel HD card, but the problem is that the behaviour of these GPU's is unpredictable. For one it can work, and for another it can't.
Lastly, most laptops with AMD or Nvidia GPU's still have the Intel GPU installed. This is for energy saving reasons.
Intel GPU's are lighter on energy consumption and are therefore used for lighter tasks such as browsing, flash, word etc. Whenever a heavier application is started, the AMD or Nvidia GPU will take over since these are more heavy, but take more energy in order to work. If you find the game refusing to work and you are certain you have a dedicated chip installed, take a look within the switchable graphics settings to see if the GPU detects ShipSim as a heavier application.


Final advice
Always do enough research before purchasing a laptop or computer. Don't blindly trust the advertisement. Google it's specifications, seek for reviews, or ask other people's opinions. Stores and manufacturers are always subjective about how great a product is. Get objective information about any product to avoid trouble or dissapointment in the future.


References:
1 http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/hd-graphics/hd-graphics-developer.html



Added to the previous article, I sometimes read: "All I see on the internet is people reporting crashes with the game, this game is broken!", or something along those lines. If anyone finds this statement, you may forward the following information:

The internet is sometimes like a cloud. You only see what you want to see. It is only logical that the technical support board is filled with technical support issues. Because that's what it's meant to be for. Would you create a topic for every game that works to let the world know you are able to play it? If any user with a working game would create such a topic, this forum would be cluttered with topics from people who have the game run fine.
Added to that, practically all game crash related issues are solved due to either a known problem that got fixed or we found out that the system did not meet the minimum requirements. Each problem also differs per computer. If a fix worked for one, it doesn't necessarily mean it will work for you too.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2014, 19:39:09 by Mr Robville »
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