Half-Life Performance Issues

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Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby athlon-power » 2018-12-02 @ 04:20

I've been having odd performance issues in Half-Life (WON GOTY Version). For some reason, it's been performing quite a bit under what I expect of it, here's the specs of the machine:

Intel SE440BX-2 Motherboard, BIOS P17
Intel Pentium III Coppermine 600E (SL43E)
192MB PC100 SDRAM
ASUS AGP V3800M (32MB)
AOpen AW744L II
48X Samsumg IDE CD-ROM Drive
WD400 40GB IDE HDD
1.44MB 3.5" Diskette Drive

I'm thinking that the weak link might be the ASUS V3800M, but it's practically an nVidia TNT2 M64 with 32MB of SDRAM, so I'm not sure why Half-Life would lag out on that. It ran fine during the Hazard Course, but in the main game I have even tried turning it down to 640X480 to no avail. I have been using the OpenGL rendering method. I recently changed the thermal paste out on the ASUS card, but in other games, with higher settings, it has ran fine, so I doubt that it would be an overheating issue, because I'm using Arctic Silver. I've ran a gagillion different tests on it with both 3DMark 2000 and 3DMark 99 MAX, bringing the PC to its knees, but at usually higher settings. It may be because 3DMark is synthetic, and real-world performance may vary, but I was told that the ASUS card would be just fine with Half-Life and similar games. Is it overheating? The heatsink on the ASUS card is very hot, so the heat is at least getting to the heatsink itself. Should I put a 120MM fan near the ASUS card so that it cools it? Or is it something else that I'm doing wrong? The ASUS card is running at AGP 2X (pretty sure that's the max of the board) with side-band off, using a 64MB AGP aperture.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby leileilol » 2018-12-02 @ 06:09

I can only think of a performance expectation issue. Don't expect a solid constant 60 in Half-Life with 1999 parts (especially on a M64). It's going to be slow in single player.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby mwdmeyer » 2018-12-02 @ 06:26

It should run fine even with an M64 in 640x480. Maybe try different video drivers.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby athlon-power » 2018-12-02 @ 09:04

leileilol wrote:I can only think of a performance expectation issue. Don't expect a solid constant 60 in Half-Life with 1999 parts (especially on a M64). It's going to be slow in single player.


I don't want a constant 60fps experience- I just don't want frame drops every 30 seconds to a minute or so. I'm not talking light ones, but ones where the game will stop for a noticeably long time (say, 1/4-1/2 of a second, up to a second) before the game continues. I was also told that the game should run alright on an M64. Is there any 1999-era GPU that will run these sorts of games okay without costing $100+? It's just frustrating, because I upgraded from an Intel i740, which, don't get me wrong, was far worse, but at the same time, I was hoping I'd at least be able to game in 640x480 in something like Half-Life.

mwdmeyer wrote:It should run fine even with an M64 in 640x480. Maybe try different video drivers.


I'm using drives I found online that was provided by ASUS themselves. It has a quite detailed control panel- something I need in this instance. GLQuake is very, very dark, and from what I've seen, the only solution is to brighten your monitor or use the video card settings to temporarily brighten everything, and afterwards, turn the brightness back down again. In my case, the ASUS drivers let me specifically target the brightness/color/etc. in OpenGL rendering, and it allows me to save and set custom options, so when I decide to play GLQuake, I can just open that menu, select the 'quake' option I made, and then the gamma will only increase when I start the game, so that it doesn't brighten the entire screen and blind me.

My point is, basic nVidia drivers probably would not allow me to go into that much detail like the ASUS drivers do. Everything else in the system should theoretically run the game just fine, with a 600MHz Pentium III and 192MB RAM. Just for comparison, here are the minimum system requirements for Half-Life.

Windows(r) 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT 4.0
Pentium 133+, 24 MB RAM
SVGA, high color (16-bit)
2x CD-ROM drive
Windows-compatible sound card
Mouse, keyboard

If mine is doing poorly enough for me to notice fairly large frame drops, what would it be like to play on those requirements? This came from the readme file in the WON version, by the way. Is the M64 really that bad? I went over this sort of thing a while back, when I asked about the best affordable 1999-era GPU, and I got recommended the M64 or something based off of the M64 multiple times. If the M64 is that bad, I am confused as to why I'd be given multiple recommendations on it. If it is, I'll be back to square one with the graphics on this build. Somebody told me a Rage 128 or Rage 128 Pro would be a much better option in the thread I mentioned- but, if I'm remembering correctly, I had already bought the 3800M off of eBay.

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viewtopic.php?f=63&t=63258
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby Munx » 2018-12-02 @ 16:07

Do you have EAX/A3D enabled by any chance? Your sound card does not fully support those in hardware and that might be causing issues. Just guessing here.

athlon-power wrote:Windows(r) 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT 4.0
Pentium 133+, 24 MB RAM
SVGA, high color (16-bit)
2x CD-ROM drive
Windows-compatible sound card
Mouse, keyboard


Those requirements are bullshit. This game can easily bring a P2 to it's knees.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby athlon-power » 2018-12-02 @ 19:53

Munx wrote:Do you have EAX/A3D enabled by any chance? Your sound card does not fully support those in hardware and that might be causing issues. Just guessing here.


No, not to my knowledge. Unless something like that gets automatically enabled, I don't see why one of those options would've been selected.


Munx wrote:Those requirements are bullshit. This game can easily bring a P2 to it's knees.


Here's a video of a guy that built a Pentium 233MHz system with VooDoo 2 SLI, and 64MB RAM, and he said Half-Life runs just fine:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnPHL4cbzLM

Timestamp around where he starts playing Half-Life is around 51:45 seconds. That runs better in some ways than on my machine- there's no crippling frame-drops. And that thing is technically far slower than mine.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby Garrett W » 2018-12-02 @ 19:58

Half-Life is very demanding, but the TNT2 M64 is actually alright, especially at 640x480. It really is the CPU that causes the performance drops here. As suggested, disable A3D or EAX if enabled, they would only make the CPU overhead greater. Also, make sure to use older drivers, perhaps Detonator drivers from 2000, early 2001. VogonsDrivers has some of them. From my own tests, a Pentium II 333 with a TNT2 M64 scored ~29fps on the Blowout timedemo. On a Tualatin 1.4 I got 90fps instead.

MMX 233 is super slow for this game, the video you indicated shows footage with no NPCs or enemies and you can already see the performance go down once Gordon pushes the payload and creates the resonance cascade.

You really don't want to see Half-Life running on minimum specs. I had a friend who beat the entire thing on an MMX 166 and an S3 Virge using software rendering back in the day, playing on a much smaller window, let me tell you it was not pretty, but we were not adjusted to high framerates at the time. Computers were also really expensive, so there really was no dilemma, you either had a computer or you didn't. You were essentially king at school if you had a computer capable of running current games, I remember my older brother really wowing some friends of his with Red Alert and such. Consoles on the other hand, for example, usually targeted 20 fps, sometimes 30fps and that was considered really nice. The most notable games that ran at higher framerates on consoles were usually fighting games.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby athlon-power » 2018-12-02 @ 20:12

Garrett W wrote:Half-Life is very demanding, but the TNT2 M64 is actually alright, especially at 640x480. It really is the CPU that causes the performance drops here. As suggested, disable A3D or EAX if enabled, they would only make the CPU overhead greater. Also, make sure to use older drivers, perhaps Detonator drivers from 2000, early 2001. VogonsDrivers has some of them. From my own tests, a Pentium II 333 with a TNT2 M64 scored ~29fps on the Blowout timedemo. On a Tualatin 1.4 I got 90fps instead.


That's odd, because I use a Pentium III Coppermine @600MHz. Being roughly in the middle of those two, I would expect 35-50FPS out of it. Honestly, 35+ FPS doesn't look all that bad, and I'm not worried about a solid 60+ FPS experience, it's just these frame drops. They are quite ugly. I'll check if something odd is enabled or something. Also, Like I said, I like to have a fine adjustment with colors for use with GLQuake, and so far, the ASUS drivers have not failed me in that facet. I just don't see how manufacturer-provided drivers would be worse than the generic nVidia drivers, as the manufacturer-provided drivers are built specifically for that video card, not just a blanket for the chipset on the card.

Garrett W wrote:MMX 233 is super slow for this game, the video you indicated shows footage with no NPCs or enemies and you can already see the performance go down once Gordon pushes the payload and creates the resonance cascade.


That would explain why I was getting good performance out of it in the Hazard Course. I didn't think of that earlier on.

Garrett W wrote:You really don't want to see Half-Life running on minimum specs. I had a friend who beat the entire thing on an MMX 166 and an S3 Virge using software rendering back in the day, playing on a much smaller window, let me tell you it was not pretty, but we were not adjusted to high framerates at the time. Computers were also really expensive, so there really was no dilemma, you either had a computer or you didn't. You were essentially king at school if you had a computer capable of running current games, I remember my older brother really wowing some friends of his with Red Alert and such. Consoles on the other hand, for example, usually targeted 20 fps, sometimes 30fps and that was considered really nice. The most notable games that ran at higher framerates on consoles were usually fighting games.


Like I said, I don't want 60+ FPS or anything, I'm honestly fine with it as long as it doesn't drop below 30. Lower framerates seem to appear a lot better on the CRT monitor it uses as opposed to an LCD monitor, I'm not sure why that is, though. I just want to avoid these frame-drops.

[EDIT]

I am using the ASUS AGP-V3800M SDRAM v6.31c driver, and I only have 'high-quality sound' selected in the audio options in Half-Life.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby athlon-power » 2018-12-02 @ 20:42

Aaand while testing half-life a little, I get a BSOD. I had turned it to render sprites using software, and used low-quality sound, and it was running alright- I had paused it a few times before to turn around and refresh the page on Vogons to see if I got any new responses, and I paused it again to do that, just to turn around and find out that Windows crashed.

I honestly don't know the deal with this system- let alone, this entire project. I've been working on this since February, and no matter what I've done, the system's always been temperamental in some form or fashion. Never can get it working quite right. And this is an entirely new motherboard, the old one I had was a Gateway Tabor III. Not only did I switch motherboards, but this one was sealed in its anti-ESD packaging; it had never been opened or used before.

I wish I knew what I was doing wrong.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2018-12-02 @ 21:22

Just a curiosity because I bought a new se440bx-2 a year or two ago from ebay. When you hit F1 on your keyboard in dos mode does everything go haywire and crash ? :P

You should definitely be getting acceptable performance in HL, here you can see it running on a k6-iii+ 550 / voodoo banshee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIOrPLjph7k&t=2345s Note that it does visibly slow down after the entry course but its not freezing for half a second, i'd guess around 15-25FPS. Your CPU should be quite close if not equal to this.

Re. Drivers, it wouldn't hurt you to try flipping through some earlier nvidia provided drivers just to evaluate performance. I bet the Asus software is based on a specific nvidia driver as it is, you may be able to manually change the driver and still use your asus color profiles. It's the only way we can rule out the driver, just because it was provided by Asus is meaningless without more input. That said, I see the 6.3.1 driver is stated to increase frame-rate in half-life, so it's possible you have some other instability.

I know the feeling with a temperamental retro rig, I went through 3 boards and quite a few parts before I finally had my 486 up and running well. You need to stress test this system to see if its stable first and foremost.
1. Memtest86 (floppy image)
2. Prime95 (32bit)
3. Run a surface scan on the HDD so it so it can detect and blacklist any bad blocks.
4. Have you run 3dmark99 and other benches? how do your scores come out?

My closest PC in comparison to yours is running a Coppermine 800mhz + Geforce 4 Ti, half life runs like absolute butter on it, I would expect a Coppermine 500 would also be perfectly suited to the task as well. The game is CPU demanding but not THAT demanding. I believe the fastest consumer processor ever released by launch day for half-life was a Pentium II 450mhz. I played on a K6-2 333 back then.

That said, you could always browse ebay for a faster CPU. I got mine cheap as it was an HP OEM model, but an 800mhz coppermine is an 800mhz coppermine. Runs just fine in the intel se440bx-2.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby athlon-power » 2018-12-02 @ 21:54

BeginnerGuy wrote:Just a curiosity because I bought a new se440bx-2 a year or two ago from ebay. When you hit F1 on your keyboard in dos mode does everything go haywire and crash ? :P


Just tried it, and everything works fine. I guess yours might have been buggered or something.

BeginnerGuy wrote:You should definitely be getting acceptable performance in HL, here you can see it running on a k6-iii+ 550 / voodoo banshee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIOrPLjph7k&t=2345s Note that it does visibly slow down after the entry course but its not freezing for half a second, i'd guess around 15-25FPS. Your CPU should be quite close if not equal to this.

Re. Drivers, it wouldn't hurt you to try flipping through some earlier nvidia provided drivers just to evaluate performance. I bet the Asus software is based on a specific nvidia driver as it is, you may be able to manually change the driver and still use your asus color profiles. It's the only way we can rule out the driver, just because it was provided by Asus is meaningless without more input. That said, I see the 6.3.1 driver is stated to increase frame-rate in half-life, so it's possible you have some other instability.


I got the Demolition drivers that Garrett W reccomended, and so far, Half-Life is running much better. It's running about as well as it was with the ASUS drivers did with software sprites and low-quality audio- except, with full hardware sprites and high-quality audio.

BeginnerGuy wrote:I know the feeling with a temperamental retro rig, I went through 3 boards and quite a few parts before I finally had my 486 up and running well. You need to stress test this system to see if its stable first and foremost.
1. Memtest86 (floppy image)
2. Prime95 (32bit)
3. Run a surface scan on the HDD so it so it can detect and blacklist any bad blocks.
4. Have you run 3dmark99 and other benches? how do your scores come out?


I ran quite a large amount of 3DMark 2000 runs when I was comparing this machine to a Pentium III 750MHz Laptop I've had for a while. Even with the ASUS drivers, this thing was a fair bit more powerful than the Latitude C600. I estimate that performance should be even better with these new drivers. I also ran CPUBurn, which is an older application that does practically the same thing as Prime95 does, to test the CPU cooler I had on it. I was worried that the heatsink wasn't taking heat off of the CPU because I could barely feel heat on the heatsink, but I found out pretty quickly that I couldn't feel any heat because I have a quite powerful fan on that heatsink, if I put my hand beside the processor where the fan blows down onto the heatsink, I can easily feel a stream of air shooting out the sides of the heatsink. There's a picture of the HSF arrangement on that Coppermine attached to this post.

BeginnerGuy wrote:My closest PC in comparison to yours is running a Coppermine 800mhz + Geforce 4 Ti, half life runs like absolute butter on it, I would expect a Coppermine 500 would also be perfectly suited to the task as well. The game is CPU demanding but not THAT demanding. I believe the fastest consumer processor ever released by launch day for half-life was a Pentium II 450mhz. I played on a K6-2 333 back then.

That said, you could always browse ebay for a faster CPU. I got mine cheap as it was an HP OEM model, but an 800mhz coppermine is an 800mhz coppermine. Runs just fine in the intel se440bx-2.


I actually upgraded the machine already. It initially used a Pentium III Katmai @500MHz, the SL35E model. I decided to throw the PIII Coppermine in it, and with the ASUS drivers, It showed a decent performance margin over the old Katmai. Here's a picture of a graph I made in Excel '97 to show performance margins between the laptop, desktop, and desktop w/ the Coppermine.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2018-12-02 @ 22:04

Yeah I got a bum board I guess. It works totally fine everywhere else but F1 will make it go insane with smiley face characters in DOS mode so I can't open help menus in any program unless I launch it in Win98. I wasted a good deal of time trying to diagnose that with no luck, but I digress lol.

Your scores seem perfectly adequate, I had it in my head that you had a coppermine 500 but I see it's a 600.

Are you still playing in VGA 640x480? I've been on kind of a half-life 2 kick so I'm tempted to hook my P3 rig back up and see if I can get fraps going to actually see how well HL runs on it. I'll try 640x480 to try to null out the geforce 4.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby athlon-power » 2018-12-02 @ 22:12

BeginnerGuy wrote:Yeah I got a bum board I guess. It works totally fine everywhere else but F1 will make it go insane with smiley face characters in DOS mode so I can't open help menus in any program unless I launch it in Win98. I wasted a good deal of time trying to diagnose that with no luck, but I digress lol.


I've had issues with the Tabor III that I wasted a decent amount of time on trying to fix. There was a point where I was trying to get a GeForce 2 MX400 working on it to no avail. I've not tried it with this machine, but I don't feel like it's necessary, and it breaks time-accuracy, anyways. Also, there was a point where I had to use an external IDE controller card just to get the HDD indicator working on the case, because I couldn't figure out the pin-out for the front panel connectors because it was a Gateway proprietary board. I'm sure other issues will come to mind later, but these are the ones that stick out to me the most.

BeginnerGuy wrote:Your scores seem perfectly adequate, I had it in my head that you had a coppermine 500 but I see it's a 600.


I forgot to show the settings I used, so I'll just use the notepad file I made to figure with the 3DMark scores, and what settings I used with them.

BeginnerGuy wrote:Are you still playing in VGA 640x480? I've been on kind of a half-life 2 kick so I'm tempted to hook my P3 rig back up and see if I can get fraps going to actually see how well HL runs on it. I'll try 640x480 to try to null out the geforce 4.


Yes, and it is now certainly more than playable. I just don't want to push it any farther than 640x480 as it seems to be playable just because I'm in 640x480. I might try an 800x600 setting, but I'm not sure if it'll be worth the performance loss, if there would be any real performance loss at all.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby Garrett W » 2018-12-02 @ 23:56

athlon-power wrote:That's odd, because I use a Pentium III Coppermine @600MHz. Being roughly in the middle of those two, I would expect 35-50FPS out of it.


I should note that the 333MHz part I mentioned is a Pentium III 667 at 66MHz FSB, so it is faster than a proper 333MHz Pentium II. Your PIII 600 is not in the middle of the two CPUs I mentioned.

athlon-power wrote: Honestly, 35+ FPS doesn't look all that bad, and I'm not worried about a solid 60+ FPS experience, it's just these frame drops.


I don't know what to tell you, but imo 35-40FPS avg is pretty bad, you are probably hitting very low minimums. Are you pulling those numbers by estimating or do you run something like FRAPS to determine the framerate?

athlon-power wrote: so far, the ASUS drivers have not failed me in that facet. I just don't see how manufacturer-provided drivers would be worse than the generic nVidia drivers, as the manufacturer-provided drivers are built specifically for that video card, not just a blanket for the chipset on the card.


You are looking at it the wrong way. Reference drivers are almost always better, because they were updated far more often. They also had explicit support for a lot of games of that era, something which may not have been implemented properly on vendor drivers. It's the reason why people avoid using Diamond drivers on their Voodoo1 & 2, it makes no sense.

athlon-power wrote:I am using the ASUS AGP-V3800M SDRAM v6.31c driver, and I only have 'high-quality sound' selected in the audio options in Half-Life.


Disable high quality sound and see if it helps any.
As for the BSODs, there could be a number of reasons:

a)general instability with Win9X which is par for the course. Check to see if you have WDM drivers installed and opt for VXD instead. Also, never go above DirectX 7, DX8 & 9 are known to cause random issues.

b) bad caps on the motherboard perhaps, you should check
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby athlon-power » 2018-12-03 @ 00:18

Garrett W wrote:I don't know what to tell you, but imo 35-40FPS avg is pretty bad, you are probably hitting very low minimums. Are you pulling those numbers by estimating or do you run something like FRAPS to determine the framerate?


No, I'm not using anything like FRAPS, I'm just estimating, really. I can't imagine that I am getting more than 45 or 50fps though, if I am, I'd be surprised.

Garrett W wrote:You are looking at it the wrong way. Reference drivers are almost always better, because they were updated far more often. They also had explicit support for a lot of games of that era, something which may not have been implemented properly on vendor drivers. It's the reason why people avoid using Diamond drivers on their Voodoo1 & 2, it makes no sense.


I have noticed that Half-Life runs better with these drivers, but for some reason, it's running somewhat worse in 3DMark 2000 than it was before, specifically on the 800x600@32bpp benchmark. I'll attach both results to this post.

Garrett W wrote:Disable high quality sound and see if it helps any.
As for the BSODs, there could be a number of reasons:

a)general instability with Win9X which is par for the course. Check to see if you have WDM drivers installed and opt for VXD instead. Also, never go above DirectX 7, DX8 & 9 are known to cause random issues.

b) bad caps on the motherboard perhaps, you should check


I looked at the caps on the motherboard, and they seem fine. No bloating, and no weird yellow fluid buildup on top of it. I know a bad cap when I see one, usually; I looked in a couple of Dell Optiplex GX260's and GX270's. Some of them were so bad that they had a weird yellow substance covering to tops of them, these were right in the middle of the great capacitor plague. By the way, I learned that at the time, internal documents from Dell showed that they knew the capacitors would fail in ~2-4 years, and they shipped the things anyways. Guess they figured that the customers would have spent another ~$8,000,000,000,000 to upgrade the entire offices full of the things at something like 600 or 800 dollars each. Nice one, 2004 Dell.

Overlooking the tangent, if I did have bad caps on the board, I'd have a bad board. I cannot solder, I have zero equipment to solder, and I know nothing about replacing caps, chips, or anything like that.

I can tell you how a Pentium differs from a 486 and why Pentium II CPUs were put on cards, but I can't tell you how to install a capacitor beyond sounding stupid. You put a soldering iron up to the back of the PCB where the cap's pins are, wait until it melts, then remove it, then stick in the new one, get soldering metal, and then stick the new one's pins into the mobo, paying attention to markings that indicate + and -, and somehow you melt down a very specific, small amount of metal without getting it everywhere, a task that requires actual skill, and focus. I can say that I have a tiny amount of focus, but I have zero skill- in almost everything imaginable.

I'd end up soldering a capacitor into myself, knowing how stupid I tend to be with such things.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby athlon-power » 2018-12-03 @ 06:35

I honestly have to say that I have zero idea why Half-Life continues to have frame drops like it does. I have changed the drivers to the Detonator drivers instead of the ASUS drivers, I have tried setting it to low-quality audio, I have looked to see if EAX or A3D are enabled (they aren't), and I'm honestly approaching my limit after yet another crash apparently induced by Everest Home Edition 2.20. I was trying to see if my PIII was overheating, but after selecting 'create system report' and then second-guessing myself and attempting to cancel it, the whole system locked up. I guess I can't even see my CPU temperature anymore.

Like I said, I am slowly approaching my limit. Is this Windows 98 SE? Would Windows NT 4.0 be better? Again, I just want to know what I'm doing wrong, and it seems as if there's no conclusive way to get an answer. The capacitors on the system board are fine, so I don't think it's hardware related. I don't know where else to turn my attention to other than Windows 98 itself.

I just don't understand how every single YouTube video I watch about these Win98 1998/1999 builds goes, for the most part, very smoothly (even with things like dual processor builds!), and I can never replicate anything near that level of functionality, regardless of whether or not I get a non-OEM board, regardless of whether or not I get a higher-quality sound card for DOS games, regardless of whether or not I try and get a better video card- there is always something wrong, and it always directly interferes with my ability to use/game on the machine.

Maybe I'm just a complete idiot, and that's why I consistently fail at doing this sort of thing. Every other person seems to just throw the parts together, install Windows, and boom, everything works as expected, even when they've ran into severe issues like bad capacitors on their video card. Here's the videos I'm going to reference:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM5uNxtT0Mk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8qDk-MBkcg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnPHL4cbzLM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stfgb1lbyac&t=235s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwRf4P5ROZc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay5pBVsQs_E
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxmQ-hpyCwA

There are many, many others. I think at this point, it's either something I'm overseeing, or it's user error (in everything), which would make sense at this rate. I'm just growing less and less confident in my abilities to do these sorts of things after 9 months of continuous work without any true success. And seeing these people, who build their systems right then, and 99% of it works out of the box, it just makes me less inclined to believe it's not me. I'm aware that AkBKukU collected his parts over two years, but as far as I can tell, the only problem he had was with the VooDoo, and he can solder, so was able to fix it! For me, that would've been a complete DOA card, and there could have been nothing that I could've done.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2018-12-03 @ 08:02

I played some half-life on my p3, see below.

I don't believe anybody just builds and then they're off to the races. Sure, some people get lucky, and others don't stop and pay attention to frame rates, and others I've seen go as far as buying all factory sealed boxes for the e-peen. I've been building and playing my entire life, and I had many, many frustrating builds. In fact just recently it took me weeks to sort out a memory issue with a modern AMD FX 8320 build, most people would have just let the memory default to 1333 and never thought twice, but I was aware of the issue and just had to find a way to fix it.

Generally a Slot 1 rig is a bit more friendly than say building a 386 rig, but not always. As I said, I've had to go through multiple iterations of all of my machines, and even having bought a brand new in box intel se440bx-2, the entire PC will crash crazy if i so much as hit F1 when playing dos games. Windows 9x is well known for stability issues as well, if you're not crashing win98, you're doing something wrong IMO :P. It's usually just simple things like minimizing and bringing back up a game or changing settings, but it's very easy to crash. I think you're just a bit too used to modern computers. If you read system reviews in the late 90s, reviewers always counted how many times the system would crash during the review period.

I still suggest you run memtest and surface scan your hard drive to rule out any memory or drive issues.Also make sure all software is closed when you're running half-life, even hardware monitors and light programs like fraps can slow these old pcs down.

Anyway, I got a bit addicted to half-life on mine tonight and got up to blast pit. A few things to note, in the first part of the game and in scenes with no AI, Fraps shows 65-72 FPS for me, but the game never FEELS that smooth, it's jittery and clunky. I thought maybe it was the LCD I'm using but Quake felt quite buttery. Half-Life also seems to load far more often than it does on my steam version resulting in just what you said, half second freezes, if an NPC is talking his voice will echo repeatedly. Modern patches have clearly alleviated some of that. My copy is version 1.1.0.8 (brings me back to CS 1.3, when men were men :P ). When the dimensional rift hit I saw my frame rate drop down to the low 30s, and same happens during fights. The FPS swings wildly from 72 right down to 3x with a notable stutter/freeze.

I played in OpenGL at 640x480 with high quality audio settings off. DirectX ran horribly slow when I tried it and so does software rendering.

Upon doing a bit more research and taking off my nostalgia glasses, it seems that even 1ghz CPUs - 1.4ghz tualatins and athlons will see this game have hard dips, with results varying between different patches. SO whoever said HL is a CPU intensive game was clearly right, once the action hits this game even puts a big dent in a coppermine 800mhz.

I don't think your frame drops have ANYTHING to do with your competence or luck, I think you may just be seeing how HL runs on a coppermine. Do remember that youtube videos showing the gameplay will always look smoother than it actually was, the video encoding does a good job of making motion look insanely smooth, just watch counter-strike videos to see what I mean.

Finally, I think we should find a patch version that works with one of the old half-life time demos / benchmarks and pass it around vogons for some benches so we can get some honest half-life performance metrics.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2018-12-03 @ 08:16

Also, I just remembered if you launch the game with the -console flag you can put in net_graph 1 or cl_showfps 1 in the console and see your FPS that way. Right click on your game shortcut and go to properties, where you see target put that in quotes so it's "C:\path\to\hl.exe" -console (just in case it needs explaining).

You can also use the -32bpp flag for 32 bit color as the old version of the game seems to default to 16-bit. Game looks much better for me that way.

What kind of range do you see while you're playing?

edit: It may just be a placebo due to the level (blast furnace) but it seems like -32bpp smoothed out the game for me. Could be my particular graphics card sucking at 16-bit color? Dunno, that's enough for me tonight though.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby athlon-power » 2018-12-03 @ 12:29

BeginnerGuy wrote:You can also use the -32bpp flag for 32 bit color as the old version of the game seems to default to 16-bit. Game looks much better for me that way.

What kind of range do you see while you're playing?


I ran FRAPS, it borught my performance down in general, more frame drops and the such, but it showed practically the same thing. I'd be at 60, 70 fps and it would stutter and throw me down to the 20's to 30's.

BeginnerGuy wrote:edit: It may just be a placebo due to the level (blast furnace) but it seems like -32bpp smoothed out the game for me. Could be my particular graphics card sucking at 16-bit color? Dunno, that's enough for me tonight though.


Going on my 3DMark results, if I did that, it would end up being a slideshow. My card seems to like 16-bit color modes better.

BeginnerGuy wrote:Anyway, I got a bit addicted to half-life on mine tonight and got up to blast pit. A few things to note, in the first part of the game and in scenes with no AI, Fraps shows 65-72 FPS for me, but the game never FEELS that smooth, it's jittery and clunky. I thought maybe it was the LCD I'm using but Quake felt quite buttery. Half-Life also seems to load far more often than it does on my steam version resulting in just what you said, half second freezes, if an NPC is talking his voice will echo repeatedly. Modern patches have clearly alleviated some of that. My copy is version 1.1.0.8 (brings me back to CS 1.3, when men were men :P ). When the dimensional rift hit I saw my frame rate drop down to the low 30s, and same happens during fights. The FPS swings wildly from 72 right down to 3x with a notable stutter/freeze.


I'm running HL 1.1.1.0 (I think, it's something very similar to that, at least), so I've got an updated version. I can't remember exactly why I decided to upgrade the installation, but apparently that update fixed nothing. I am just confused, because if I'm thinking back on it right, I used to have an nVidia GeForce FX 5200 paired with that machine because I had no other AGP/PCI card that could render games all that well, and I remember the game running just fine with that card installed. That card also was released in 2003, and has 256MB of DDR VRAM, so it is far from time-accurate.

I'll have to look into it when I get home later today, and see if there's anything I can do. I'm glad to hear that it's not just an issue with my machine, though.
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Re: Half-Life Performance Issues

Postby SPBHM » 2018-12-03 @ 13:04

this game is very heavy on the CPU side,
there was a significant gain on my slot 1 PC going from a PII 400 to a p3 750,
but as far as I can remember it still wasn't 100%, but fairly ok.


well, I have the p3 750 on 440bx and a voodoo 4 pci, if you have any demo files from bad parts I could test it on that, I have the CD version of Half Life (game of the year I think)

it's very easy on the half life games to record demos and use for benchmarking I think.
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