Gather Ye 580GTXs Where Ye May: #SecondLife #Specs

My poor vidcard is probably toast. Le sigh.


Hail, good and faithful friend that served so well and unexpectedly long. Sorry we never got around to drilling vent holes in the top of the case or ye might have lived longer to render virtual rosebuds (as ye may).

I’m grabbing suggestions for good or ultimate system requirements for my next computer. The following places have helped me clarify what I’m looking for in a new computer – or at least what’s essential, and what would be nice to have.

My partner Rock may be helping me to build a computer if I can’t get something off the shelf that’s close to these specs. He said the other night we might get something without a video card, and install the best option (probably 560 or 580 GTX, quad core, i5, PCI-e 2 or 3) we can find.

Will avoid inboard Intel chips this time, fortunately my upgraded 9600 lasted for more than two years. If you don’t want a peek at my dull RL blog, don’t go here.

This seems like a good starting point, at least thinking about various levels of “bang for the buck.”

I WILL miss the Gateway – loved the great design of the front USB panel and the handy ports for every graphic card or cable interface known to woman. It will run fine for normal non-SL use once my geek helps me get it to use the inboard GPU, and I’ll be able to do essential things.

But I won’t miss the noise it made.

First off, read this forum post:

Link: Best system specs – Second Life

Upgrading the CPU from 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo to 3.0 GHz Core 2 Quad, RAM from 4 GB to 8 GB, and connection from 6 Mbps to 18 Mbps had no appreciable effect. Upgrading the graphics card from an 8800 GTX to a GTX 470 resulted in modest improvement.
Over the years I have read that SLI doesn’t help SL, and I have read first-person accounts from from people who said it helped them, so I don’t know. I wish someone would post an account of their own experience with trying it with current viewers.

If I were getting a new machine for SL and my budget was unlimited, I would go for top-of-the-line: Core i7 990X, at least 12 GB RAM (so I could put a large cache on a RAMdisc), three or four 580 GTXs, appropriate motherboard, case, and power supplies, and one SSD for OS and program files, and another for SL data files. Undoubtedly, this would be massive overkill and there would be very little bang for several thousands of bucks, but if the budget is unlimited, why not go for it?

If the budget were limited but fairly large, I would want a GTX 580 and case and motherboard that would allow me to add more in the future. I’d get a Core i7 970, 6 GB RAM, and an SSD large enough for the OS and SL program files. If I could afford to do more, I would get two 580 GTXs so I could see if two were better than one; if not, I would sell the second one on ebay. If the budget were too limited for this, I would get a GTX 580, a Core i7 960, 6 GB RAM, no SSD, and smaller case and power supply. My reason for holding out for a GTX 580 is that upgrading the graphics card is the one change that made a difference for me.

Nalates Urriah did this Community Forum survey, and then a really exhaustive blog post on the topic:

Link: How Fast is Your Viewer? – Second Life

This blog post is probably essential reading. From this pay attention to things like model numbers: probably nVidia 560 or 580 with high OpenGL, PCI-e at least 2 or 3, serious cooling and ventilation. Read the whole thing as it’s really thorough.


The Brand Winner

Amidst all the confusion the unclear winner seems to be nVidia. That is not gospel from on high, so take it with some salt. I think it is a general consensus among SL users.

The conclusion, from page 6, sums it up for me:

What is an Adequate SL Computer
A new desktop computer with a Quad Core i5 with 4 gigabytes of ram and an nVidia GTX 470 or 560 video card with a gigabyte of video ram makes for a decent unit. You can get by with way less.

A new computer with a 6 Core i7 with 8+ gigabytes of ram and an nVidia GTX 570 or 580 is about as good as it can get.

It is possible to run Second Life with much less than either of these. Several people are happy with older computers and others with i3’s. Using Firestorm I get up to 45 FPS with my Duel Core2 and 560.


Okay then. I’ve also read in various places that the 580 series GPUs should be coming down in price soon, so will have to keep that in mind.


Gather Ye 580GTXs Where Ye May: #SecondLife #Specs — 3 Comments

  1. SSD for OS and storing SL cache is a must. I went from a 50 second load time for Windows 7 to under 20 seconds, and anything in cache is total ZOOM!


  2. Wow, Mr Zippy! Your response time is impressive. I’m thinking about SSD too.

  3. Putting the cache on a RAMDisk backed by that SSD would probably be even faster 🙂

    My current computer is an old 32-bit model – I plan on purchasing a new 64-bit machine sometime this year, and I can’t wait to try the “cache on RAMDisk” trick.

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