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Advice for sim rig

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by red bullet, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. red bullet

    red bullet
    Premium

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    I need some help in upgrading my not-rig for simracing (it’s just a laptop and a basic Thrustmaster wheel). As a seat I use a highly comfortable desk chair, with the only downside being that it’s on wheels. I only play Rf2 and probably will keep it to that for the future. My goal is not the participate in the VEC or similar, since I don’t have the time to do such races. Club races etc. will still be my main goal.

    The first things I’m looking at are a separate monitor and a bit later a desktop for the racing. In a later stage I would love to have a triple screen setup, but space is a bit of an issue at the moment (maybe we can convert a part of our basement into a gaming/gym…. area in the more distant future) and also a better wheel/pedals. As a seat I’m considering the Playseat Challenge which can stored easily.

    My GF is also considering a separate monitor for her laptop since she uses photoshop and lightroom from time to time. She would only be using the monitor for the editing. As I’ve understood IPS-screens are best for that purpose, but for gaming TN-screens are better (faster reaction times). Since I’ve also found IPS-screens with relatively fast reaction times, I thought I could consider IPS as a monitor. What do you reckon is best, knowing that space is limited? Should I worry about getting a monitor with Gsync (I would probably stick with Nvidia for V-card) or is that not necessary to get a good performance?

    Regarding the spec’s for a gaming desktop: I have no clue regarding the spec’s. All I can say is that my setup is not enough (2.3GHz dual core i5 processor, 6GB ram (if I remember it right) and Nvidia 1GB V-card). My FPS is really poor on some tracks and reasonable on most if driving alone. With a lot of AI or while multiplaying it drops quite a bit.

    My aim is not 100+ fps, around 60 seems ok for my needs. So what would I need regarding processor, RAM and V-ram/V-card knowing that it should be ok for triple screens? I’ve heard about SLI’ing multiple V-cards doesn’t help getting good fps. So one V-card would be my preference.

    How do you connect the multiple monitors: do you need 3 separate connections (eg. 2 HDMI and 1 displayport…)

    I have no experience in putting my desktop together from separate parts, so I would try to get a BTO or premade desktop that fits my spec’s. I know it’s more expensive, and I do have to take money into account, but I won’t risk it.

    Thanks a lot for the help.
     
  2. Emery

    Emery

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    Display Types
    IPS works fine for race sims (my current triple 27" are IPS because I like the rich colors and screen brightness). Pixel response time is all about ghosting and that's not a problem in race sims at 5-6 mS GtG pixel response. TN and VA panels can get pixel response time below 1 mS, but it's not necessary IMHO because at a fast 144 Hz refresh, the pixel will be turned on for 6.9mS. VA panels are brighter than TN panels, but get a moire pattern when viewed at an angle; some are worse than others, so read reviews and/or see it in person before buying.

    More relevant is the input lag time and all monitors seem adequate in this regard. TVs often have extra lag, sometimes as much as 100% more, so check reviews and see that the TV has a "gaming" or "computer" mode that was tested for input lag.

    Display Refresh

    Another factor for input lag is refresh rate. At the standard 60 Hz refresh, it will be 16.7 mS until the next frame is displayed, which is about half the typical total input lag (monitor + computer/controls + game software). At 120 Hz refresh, you've effectively reduced total input lag by 25%! Refresh rates above 90 Hz are not noticed by most of us... this is one reason VR helmets use 90 Hz.

    4k monitors currently only come in 60 Hz. This summer you will be able to buy 144 Hz 27" 4k monitors.

    So why 144 Hz refresh gaming monitors? I think it's because it provides some overhead for the Freesync & nSync electronics to avoid microstutters. On the other hand, that's what the market is standardizing on, so it doesn't really matter what I think. There are a few monitors using lightboost techniques to generate refresh rates above 144 Hz and reviews indicate image quality suffers.

    If you've ever enabled VSync in a game so that it runs the display smoothly, without tearing, then you've also seen the horrendous lag it introduces. gSync (works with nVidia GPUs) and Freesync (works with AMD GPUs) add only a small amount of lag (about 15% of what VSync creates) while generating a smooth display. In practice, though, I think most people end up leaving gSync or Freesync turned off & relying on a high fps combined with a 144 Hz refresh to minimize screen tearing without introducing lag... especially since most gaming monitors are Freesync and most enthusiasts choose nVidia GPUs for higher framerates.

    Display Resolutions
    1080p, 2k, & 4k are the standard choices in 16:9 aspect ratio. Extra-wide versions are available in 21:9 aspect ratio (27" 16:9 stretched to 21:9 is a 34" monitor; all the 34"-35" monitors are just stretched 27" monitors). 2k on a 27" monitor looks real good, 4k on a 40"+ looks really good, and I feel 4k on a 27" monitor is a waste of pixels.

    Display Sizes
    24", 27", 32", & 40+" for 16:9 aspect ratio. Choosing a good size for the monitor(s) is bound up in resolution & a realistic FOV & what you can afford. The closest you can practically have a monitor is just behind the rim of your steering wheel at about 20" distance from your eyeballs.

    Field Of View (FOV)

    For immersion purposes, it is nice to use the displayed mirror & gauges rather than using virtual mirrors & HUDs. To see the rearview mirror & gauges, the AC Cobra and stockcars in rF2 require around a 45 deg vertical FOV (vFOV). Formula cars are not so sensitive to vFOV. Plug the numbers into a FOV calculator and you'll see 24" monitors just aren't going to be useful for a realistic FOV, even at 20" viewing distance.
    • 27" monitor at 20" viewing distance requires a 37 deg vFOV which is sub-optimal (Important to remember now that the extrawide 21:9 monitors are the same as 27" monitors for this purpose!).
    • 32" monitor at 20" viewing distance requires 43 deg vFOV, which is close enough, but measure carefully because it might be too tall to be placed correctly since you have a big ol' motor housing for your steering wheel that gets banged into.
    • 40" monitor at 20" viewing distance requires 52 deg vFOV, but it DEFINITELY will interfere with the steering wheel. Push it back to 22" viewing distance and a 48 deg FOV works well. Larger displays are even better.
    GPU
    Of the sims, rF2 needs the most horsepower for graphics, especially if you don't want to turn off shadows or antialiasing. The CPU is less relevant and most any modern one is sufficient.

    The GPUs have versions with triple HDMI or triple displayport to make hooking up triple monitors an easy job. My GTX 1080 has triple displayport plus an HDMI for a 4th monitor that some people would put above their triples for monitoring stats.

    I find the "Relative Performance" chart at https://www.techpowerup.com/gpudb/2839/geforce-gtx-1080 to be useful for selecting a GPU. All you need to do is take a card with known performance and compare it to others to find a card that fits your needs & budget. In rF2:
    • GTX 770 will run rF2 at 1080p with settings turned down at 60fps, but not very well after adding AI cars.
    • GTX 970 is a good choice for single screen 1080p in the 80 fps range, VR with a few effects turned down (Gamermuscle videos last year), and marginal for triple screen 1080p.
    • GTX 980 is a good choice for triple 1080p screens in the 60 fps range, VR, and single 4k monitors at 60 fps.
    • GTX 1080 is a good choice for triple 1080p screens in the 80-100 fps range.
    • If you want to run triple 2k screens, you will need a top-end multi-GPU configuration.
    TV or Monitor?
    This boils down to the question of whether you want to have a large screen or a fast refresh rate since TVs generally do not have a true 120 Hz refresh rate in their "gaming" mode. I've heard a few exist, but someone would have to verify before purchasing. TVs also do not have gSync or Freesync. TVs only use HDMI cables.

    Going big with realistic FOV, watch:

    Single 40" TV at 1080p


    Triple TVs at 1080p of unknown size (probably 40")
     
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  3. red bullet

    red bullet
    Premium

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    Wow, thanks. that'll help me a lot. I was considering a 24" but now I'll probably go for a 32". A 40" TV seems a bit too much and so far I couldn't find one with 60Hz or more overhere.

    At the moment I can't even get 60fps on my laptop, so I won't be able to enjoy it to the fullest until I get a desktop.
     
  4. Emery

    Emery

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    "Pick any two: big, fast, cheap... but you can't have big AND fast".
     
  5. red bullet

    red bullet
    Premium

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    Then it'll be smaller and somewhat cheap. :D