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Test Subject
Original Poster
#1 Old 25th May 2009 at 3:28 AM
Default Sims 3-compatible laptops & PCs
Hi. New here, and I hope this is an OK kind of thread to post. I didn't see anything preventing it, so here goes. (I tried to title this thread generally enough that maybe all similar inquiries can be rounded up here instead of separate threads -- because others are bound to have related questions as the release date nearss).

I am desperately in the market for a new laptop, and since the Sims 3 is coming out, I want to at least make sure I'm getting one that will play the game well. I will admit -- I'm not that knowledgable when it comes to spec-talk. I've looked at the specs on EA's site, but a lot of the laptops I'm seeing on the market don't "match" exactly; I'm assuming that what I'm seeing on most of the laptops exceeds what's needed for the game, but given my own ignorance on the subject, I wanted some second opinions.

Here are the two main conflicts I'm running into between game specs and laptop specs:

* Processor: The game requires a 2.4Ghz P4 processor or equivalent. Most of the laptops I'm seening use a different (non-Pentium line) processor with lower GHz. For instance, Dell quoted me a "Intel Core 2 Duo T8100(2.1GHz, 800Mhz, 3M L2 Cache)." The research I've already done indicates that the Core 2 Duo superceeds the Pentium 4, so I think I'm okay in that regard, but the fact that the game says it needs 2.4 GHz and the laptop is only 2.1 GHz worries me. Should it?

* Graphics card: There's a long list of compatible graphics cards on EA's site. Most of the laptops I'm seeing on the market have similarly named graphic cards -- but not exactly the same, as there are usually some additional letters thrown in at the end. For instance, back to the Dell model, it has a "128MB NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS," while the game just lists "NVIDIA GeForce 8400" (no "M GS"). Is that a concern?

Any help/advice you can offer would be much appreciated. In fact, the Dell is just one model I've looked at, so if you have any suggestions on specific laptops that are available on the market that will work, I'd love to hear. (I realize that may be a little premature to ask since the game isn't out yet and you wouldn't have been able to "test" it).

Thank you!
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Field Researcher
#2 Old 25th May 2009 at 3:32 AM
Hi hi, I had the same problem when I thought I was going to be running TS3 on my laptop.

For a laptop I think you need (for a miminum) a duo processor of at least 1.8GHz, so 2.1 is completely fine.

Also, it might help if you look at the MB of the Graphics card rather than the title of the card itself. TS3 needs a minimum of 128mb graphics memory, so the card on the dell model meets the minimum. Pretty much any graphics card will play The sims (I used to play the sims 2 on some old crappy no-name graphics card fine) but yeah, it's the graphics memory that's a bit more important than the actual title of the card
Test Subject
Original Poster
#3 Old 25th May 2009 at 3:38 AM
Wow, thanks for the quick response. Yeah, my old laptop used to play the Sims 2 (fine for the base game, then got a bit laggy the more expansions I added).
Field Researcher
#4 Old 25th May 2009 at 3:39 AM
No worries. Hope I was able to help
Coffee, anyone?
staff: retired moderator
#5 Old 25th May 2009 at 4:26 AM
You probably want to mosey over to the computer/hardware forum. The sticky for requirements etc. is found there.

Luckily my unit meets/beats the minimums. Phew.

I'm worried that my latest Salvation Army donation will result in homeless people looking like sluts from the 90s.
Test Subject
Original Poster
#6 Old 25th May 2009 at 5:31 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canoodle
You probably want to mosey over to the computer/hardware forum. The sticky for requirements etc. is found there.

Luckily my unit meets/beats the minimums. Phew.


Ah, I did not look far enough. Thanks!
Test Subject
#7 Old 25th May 2009 at 11:54 AM
P4 2.4 is pretty low spec these days. You have been quoted on Core 2 processors - rule of thumb is double the speed quoted for Core 2 processors to get some comparison with a 'vanilla' pentium 4.

The models such as T8100 etc refer to the characteristics of the chip. Important things to look for are the amount of on-chip RAM - the more the merrier. The first number is the die size, 7= 65nm, 8= 45nm, 9= 45nm but more on-chip RAM. Any of the 8*** series should wipe the floor with a P4 2.4 chip.

The video chips are similar - for NVidia based chips the first number is the series of the chip - so you have 8, 9 and X (for ten). The M means a mobile chipset so it has some optimisation to reduce power consumption. GS is entry level card, the next up is GT, then GTX then GT Ultra (I think). Each jump gives you faster graphics clock speeds and probably more on-board RAM.

Absolute best thing you can do when getting a new laptop for gaming is to get a high speed hard drive. Normally manufacturers will ship 5400 rpm drives but you should be able to get a 7200 rpm drive. It makes a huge difference, up to 40% faster loading. And that's not just loading the game, that's loading in objects, booting the computer up, streaming video etc.

As far as brands go Dell are pretty good (XPS are excellent), so are Asus. Toshiba used to be ok but they're a bit pricey. Acer are pretty poor, I can remember having to repair heaps of them. Some of the new IBMs are pretty good.

Remember if you're getting Vista then get as much RAM as you can afford, like 4 GB. Unless you are getting 64-bit Vista anything over 4GB is a waste because the computer can't use it.

Sorry, this was originally meant to be short...
world renowned whogivesafuckologist
staff: retired moderator
#8 Old 25th May 2009 at 11:56 AM
Moved to Computer & Software Tech Support - check out this fantastic guide by Callistra (stickied here): http://www.modthesims2.com/showthread.php?t=330413

my simblr (sometimes nsfw)

“Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.”
Panquecas, panquecas e mais panquecas.
shiny!
staff: retired moderator
#9 Old 25th May 2009 at 1:06 PM Last edited by callistra : 25th May 2009 at 1:36 PM.
I gotta fix some of this.. but yes check out the guide

Actually onboard memory on a graphics card has very little to do with performance anymore, unless you plan on playing on very high resolution then it starts becoming performance. Sims games CANNOT be played on any graphics card. That was prob the worst advice you'll ever get.

T8100 is old tech from the previous series and 8400 is two series old. Dell is really behind with getting rid of old stock. I highly recommend not getting a Dell at this time until they catch up with the rest of the world. However, just on specs alone, the T8100 should run the game fine. The 8400 is not recommended as it is entry level tech that is multiple generations outdated.

Dual core processors don't actually "double" the performance over a single core. That's a common misconception. There's other factors limiting that but I'll leave people to google if they really want to know. If they're looking at laptops they're not looking at P4s anyway. Laptops stopped being made with P4s YEARS ago and none of that outdated tech is going to be able to play TS3. I'm assuming by "RAM" you mean the L2 cache. This does have an effect on speed but it's not usually as important as the clock speed. The newest Penryns have lower L2 cache than the previous generation but they still perform better. There's other factors.. like you said, die size and also FSB. We have recommendations in the sticky but if you have to just look at just one thing, look at clock speed.

Nvidia doesn’t have an X series. The current series is the 200 Series that came after the 9000 Series. Ultra went out a while ago and they won’t be finding any current laptops with that. GS, GT, GTX do have some play but Nvidia actually uses the second number in the series to determine low, mid and high end. For example, a 9600 GS is going to wipe the floor with a 9400 GT. Anyway, once you get into different series (for example, 8400 VS. 9400) you start getting way too many inconsistencies to generalize what to look for, but I’ve done tons of graphics card recommendations and comparisons in the stickies.

Fast hard drives really aren't the more cost effective way to boost performance. In fact it's one of the worst price/performance ratios you can find in a laptop and there are some 5400rpm hard drives that outperform 7200rpm. 7200rpm is standard in a desktop and prices are significantly less. With laptops, most are still shipping with 5400rpm and that should not necessarily deter you. GPU, CPU and RAM (in that order) are the three you want to put most of your money into. If you have money for a faster hard drive, then power to you.

64-bit is not recommended if you also plan on playing TS2 because there are some compatibility issues and the likelihood you will have a problem goes up a lot. Even though 32-bit will limit the amount of RAM you see to 3-3.5GB, still get 4GB so you can install in matched pairs. Guide outlines all of this in some greater detail.
Test Subject
Original Poster
#10 Old 25th May 2009 at 4:57 PM
Thanks for the great advice. I didn't even realize this forum was here when I posted in the other one. Definitely am re-thinking going with Dell now, but will do some shopping around. Thanks again -- and I've read through the stickies... very helpful!!!
Test Subject
Original Poster
#11 Old 25th May 2009 at 6:16 PM Last edited by SimsFanJohn : 25th May 2009 at 8:24 PM.
Thanks again for the help. Thanks to what I read in this thread and the stickies, I found the Asus N51Vf-X1 on Newegg. I think this looks like it might work:
* Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 2.4G (listed in one of the sticky threads as a one of the processors that should work well)
* Memory: 4GB
* Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GT 130M (not listed in the official game specifications, but listed in one of the sticky threads here as one that should work well)
* Video memory: 1024MB
* HDD RPM: 7200rpm

Edit after some more research: OK, Callistra mentioned that the P8400 from the other laptop I was looking at probably wasn't the best, but that I should be good with a T8100. The model I'm looking at here is a P8600, which is from the older P-line. Maybe that's not going to work so well after all...
shiny!
staff: retired moderator
#12 Old 25th May 2009 at 8:57 PM
I never said the P8400 was bad.. I said the Nvidia 8400 card wasn't recommended.. the P8400 is a better CPU than the T8100. P is not an older line.. It's part of the newest. 130M is a rebadged 9650M GT. That Asus should run things well. Too new to know about how well it deals with heat but Asus is usually ok in that area.. not top, but not really problematic.
Test Subject
Original Poster
#13 Old 25th May 2009 at 10:04 PM
Thanks... obviously, I confuse easily, LOL. And I think you answered my one last (hopefully) question! You are very helpful!
Test Subject
#14 Old 27th May 2009 at 8:44 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by callistra
Fast hard drives really aren't the more cost effective way to boost performance. In fact it's one of the worst price/performance ratios you can find in a laptop and there are some 5400rpm hard drives that outperform 7200rpm. 7200rpm is standard in a desktop and prices are significantly less. With laptops, most are still shipping with 5400rpm and that should not necessarily deter you. GPU, CPU and RAM (in that order) are the three you want to put most of your money into. If you have money for a faster hard drive, then power to you.


Hi Callistra, I have yet to come across a 5400 drive that will outperform a 7200 drive in a laptop. Remember we're talking laptop drives not larger desktop drives which is where some confusion could come from.

On an Optima P4 owned by a work colleague, a heavy World of Warcraft addict - he originally had a 5400 spin dive in there and his time to boot windows XP was approximately 180 seconds, and his time to load WoW was about 55 seconds. He removed the drive and cloned it onto a 7200 speed, and his boot time dropped to under 1 minute, and his WoW loading time under 15 seconds. I'd say it's pretty effective. I've also done side by side tests with 2 identical machines, the only difference being the HDD and 40% speed improvement seems pretty consistent.

Hate to have to nit pick about something trivial, but it really is one of those things where you have to actually see it to appreciate it I guess.

I do agree with your order in determining what to buy in this case - GPU, CPU, RAM then HDD. A rule of thumb there is you can skimp on stuff that is easy to add in later. RAM being so cheap these days though...

To the OP - your Asus looks like a good piece of gear, all the best with it. It has only the one rear vent so if it gets real hot (it shouldn't) just jack up the back of the laptop to improve the airflow.
 
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