PC Build Guide–The things they don’t tell you about RAM

There are lots of PC build guides out on the web. There are lots of things they do not tell you, too.

So what are these things?

Let’s break it down to the main one.

How to choose fast RAM.

Your CPU is the foundation of everything else. If it is slow the rest is slow. Get the fastest CPU you can afford. Less cores is okay unless you are using well optimised programs with extensible mult-threading.
What does that mean?
Can you software use all available threads? If yes, then lots of cores and threads will be fine. If no, then it won’t help much having a 16 core 32 thread CPU.

The first bottle-neck!

Between your CPU and RAM is the first bottleneck. This is overcome with "True Latency".

True latency is measure in nanoseconds for RAM. We want to get this under 10ns.

"But nanoseconds don’t matter. You won’t notice them!"

"We will when the difference is multiplied by a billion – which is the number of CPU cycles per second!"

The rule-of-thumb with RAM Is getting the best true latency for your dollar. Ideally this is under 10, or under 9.

How to figure out true latency.

The back-of-napkin calculation will be given but first we have to define some terms.

RAM speed is often referred to in MHz.

RAM CAS latency, or CL, is given in number of cycles. This is usually a value between 14 and 20.

So if we pick some ram it might have these attributes.

RAM_maker_X

3200Mhz
CAS (or CL) 16.

…and a bunch of other things we will ignore.

The steps

3200Mhz is the speed.

16 is the latency.

To figure true latency:

1) Divide speed by 2.

1600

2) Divide that by 100.

16

3) Divide CL by the figure at number 2.

4) If it’s equal to 1 then you get 10 nanoseconds.

Otherwise use this formula.

frequency/200 = a
cas = c
1/(a/c) = true latency

So here’s some examples:

3200 C14.

16/14 = ~1.14

1 / ~1/14

8.75 nanoseconds.

 

3600 C16

18/16 = 1.125

1/1.125

8.8888* nanoseconds

 

4200 C20

21/20 =  1.05

9.5 nanoseconds

PC Build Guide–The things they don’t tell you about RAM

Getting rid of NVidia entries in Manage 3D Settings

NVidia control panel can help solve issues and improve performance with 3D applications. However, it has some lazy bugs in it like graying out the “remove” application button in “Manage 3D settings”.

nvidia_remove

You do not need to download anything like random driver cleanup programs to get rid of this. You can do it with “regedit”.

Start up regedit.

Either click start and type “regedit” or go to the run box and put it in there.

Once you are in the Registry Editor be careful and do not delete anything unless you are sure. It will not prompt you to make sure an the wrong thing can ruins your Windows install.

Search (CTRL + F, or Edit… Search) for “NvCplAppNamesStored”.

It ought to be the only entry (see below):

nvidia_cleanup

The HKEY is below for power-users.

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\VirtualStore\MACHINE\SOFTWARE\NVIDIA Corporation\Global\NVTweak\NvCplAppNamesStore\

In the panel on the right, find what you do not want, select it (check it is the correct one) and press the delete key.

It’s gone.

Exit Registry Editor and exit NVidia Control Panel.

NVidia have kindly made the Control Panel restart automatically so you will not have to do it.

Check your Manage 3D Settings and the entry will be gone.

Getting rid of NVidia entries in Manage 3D Settings

Game design and player agency

Player agency, the ability to execute will, is key to game experiences. When a game forces something upon you, particularly something you can reasonably expect to be easily rid of, then it lessens the experience.

Some examples:
If you are forced to keep a bag of bait that you never want to use then it constantly gets in the way via your user-interface (UI). So a good game would allow the player to drop all pieces of the inventory. Removing gear ought not be done via standard play mode, eg. first-person shooting view. It is better done through an inventory screen so it’s not accidentally done in combat.

Control is agency

Automatic use of cover. I understand that this is a console gaming issue mostly but considering how console-ports retain this feature on PC it seems pertinent. Just put in the lean keys and let the player use cover.

Backpacks that you cannot drop. This is an old one. Sure you might lose your entire inventory yet it’s what soldiers do if they’re ambushed. Backpack can get you killed if it slows you down.

Unavailable items that show up all over fallen foes yet are not lootable. You’d just take it off the fallen and fix it, or cobble it together from the other fallen that have the same gear.

Over riding animations, uninterruptable effects, can sometimes be in games specifically to prevent player agency. A stun effect doesn’t need to lock out control when it could make your vision monochromatic and randomly skew your control sensitivity for a time.

There are methods to put in effects without removing player agency. Designers take heed.

Game design and player agency

Sound upgrade for PC

My audio commentary has a lot of background hiss. I suspect it is the onboard sound card gain method adding noise. So considering an upgrade to this sound card:

And, if required, this microphone.

The Zx has an excellent SNR of 116db. The microphone is a cardioid condenser so should highlight all the warm notes in my voice (or anyone else).  I like the brushed aluminium one; ideally in a shock mount with a pop filter/screen.

Sound upgrade for PC

Far Cry 3 – A Critique

Touted as an open-world shooter Far Cry 3 is a pretty long way from that. It is a sprawling environment that has little change. Mountainous tropical Pacific island with ruined Japanese fortifications from World War 2 and thoroughly despicable antagonists (slavers and drug dealers who are exterminating the natives) has little variety. It is really an updated Far Cry 2 with many of the same play elements but beefed up for the latest console players’ expectations.

Your character, Jason Brody, is a fantastically tough and mobile “natural with a gun” who is seeking to rescue his enslave friends before they can be ransomed, but sold off into slavery after the money is collected.

The writing of plot attempts edginess with quotes about sanity and the lack thereof from Alice in Wonderland: a favourite of shallow-writers attempting to be deep. Nietzsche would be a better source than the opiate riddled classic by an English diletante. All the writing really conveys is the shallow understanding that psychopaths/sociopaths cannot be reasoned with and attempting to is the definition of insanity; attempting the same thing expecting different results.

Some tribal magic loosely inspired by the Maori as Rakyat has a classic Serious Sam like monster encounter complete with closed arena and sprawling mass area attacks being put out whilst the monster must be struck in only one area. This kind of tired arcade trope should have died last century. For a game that claims originality it only manages to do a tried formula in fiction of having thoroughly hate-able antagonists, with a protagonist that has the abyss he stares into, look deeply back into him.

Still, the killing and jingoistic patriotism not so subtly veneered behind laconic humor is apropos for the USA audience and the thinly veiled un-PC snappy lines attempt an edginess that would be successful on all the minors who ought not be playing this game.

Game-play is polished to simplicity. There is a lack of leaning, replaced by context based “peek-a-boo” shooting conveyed to the played by the gun being lifted when close to an object – no slicing the pie and using lean in this game. Far Cry 3 successfully captures the kinetic fear of combat with an AI that will flank you well but it fails to suspend disbelief with spawn-behinds and impossible reinforcements, just like its predecessor.

Open-world is often only while you are not on a mission. It’s for this reason I have to say the game promoters are lying when they say it is open-world. It simply is not. If you are mid-mission you cannot leave the mission area without the mission auto-failing. Also if you stray to far from the islands you are locked into you will die auto-magically. This is like playing D&D with a 12 year old who can’t ad-lib, or a philosophy lecturer who gets upset with you not buying into her false dichotomies presented as moral paradox.

Morality is loosely touched on but there is no ramifications for actions in this game apart from auto-magical results. Ultimately it is a hint of a flavour but never really brought to the forefront. Many sequences intended to shock the player are better off left as a scripted cut-scene, in particular the torture of the younger brother, and the vanishing antagonists whom you are forced to work with become tiresome very quickly.

Far Cry 3 has many failings mostly with what the promoters claim it is meant to be. If presented as a frenetic shooter with visceral elements to build tension and a plot that has despicable enemies you will really want to take-out, then that would be accurate. Its open-world elements are limited to in-between missions and ought to be taken with a grain of salt.

Ultimately, though, it is an addictive experience because the AI is smart enough to be a challenge, the exploration rewarding enough to pursue, and the combat frenetic enough to be engaging. The main missions are a let down and if Far Cry 3 had a “non-story mode” it’d be a far better offering.

7/10

Far Cry 3 – A Critique

STALKER Call of Pripyat (Epilogue)

The evacuees sprinted towards the helicopters. Blades were spinning and the engines were spooling up ready to take off. Automatic fire streamed from west, east and south. Cutting the party like whips on already thrashed dogs. They leapt for cover and tried to advance.

One fell, cut down from a flanking burst, and the others killed his assailant. Obscuring scrub seemed not to hamper the attackers and they fired with accuracy as if guided by a higher power. Another evacuee tumbled to the concrete and his companions abandoned him.

Into the square the fought. The final two. A veteran stalker and an agent of the OSS fighting back to back in the centre of the square. They were within a short sprint of the helicopters when another force of Monolith advanced on them. Concrete planters that were intended to hold the vegetation that grew around them were the pair’s only cover. One fell and the OSS agent was left alone. Bullets hissing past his head and kicking up sharp clouds of fragmented concrete as the Monolith kept firing.

He seemed to prepare himself then leapt up firing and sprinting towards the helicopters. Tracers streaked into his armour, punching through, hitting the man within. He staggered and reached for the helicopter door to be pulled in by the crew. The helicopter door slammed shut and the machine took to the air in a whine of turbofans and chop of rotor-blades.

The crewmen swore angrily at their commanders. They were to rescue five and because of the lack of funding they went in with their guns empty. For the sake of a few hundred roubles they could have provided fire support and saved all the men instead of just lift off with the only one lucky, and armoured, enough to make it into the helicopter.

Cardyan’s missing friends: lost.

All of the men on the Pripyat tunnel mission: lost.

All of the crew of the Stingray mission: lost.

The mysterious client of the mercenaries identity: lost.

All of Strelok’s knowledge: lost.

Another chance to solve the mysteries of the Zone: lost.

And Collington Splatterov? Another man lost to the Zone.

Listrom - Stalker

STALKER Call of Pripyat (Epilogue)