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Why is CIV so slow on a 2011 PC and how to make it run faster

Discussion in 'Community Patch Project' started by Maxxim69, Oct 10, 2020.

  1. Maxxim69

    Maxxim69 Chieftain

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    Good news for low-spec PC owners who want to play Vox Populi.
    This spring I spent three months on COVID lockdown in rural Japan, and what I had for a PC was a 8-years-old Dell Inspiron One 2320 I salvaged from my friend's attic. The machine had a low-power, almost laptop-class second-gen Core i3 CPU with an integrated GPU, 4GB RAM, and a slow old HDD. Nevertheless, I managed to tweak it enough to enjoy Vox Populi in glorious Full HD. :)

    The key is to understand where the bottleneck is in configurations like this.

    It's not the CPU. True, CIV is a computationally intensive game, but it came out at roughly the same time as Gen2 Intel Core CPUs, so if you have at least a 2nd-gen Core i3 or equivalent, you should be all right. (And if anything, Vox Populi optimized a lot of CIV code.)

    It's not the RAM. CIV is a 32-bit app, and as such cannot allocate more than 4GB RAM for itself even in theory. In practice, it rarely even goes over 1.5GB unless you have lots of cosmetic mods installed. Like I said, I could enjoy Vox Populi on a system with 4GB RAM. Just exit all apps and run CIV, it's that simple. If you have 8GB, don't even bother closing your apps. :)

    It's not the slow old hard drive. Sure, swapping it for an SSD (any SSD, really, just buy the cheapest one if you're strapped for cash) will instantly make your PC that much snappier. CIV though? Yeah, it will start faster, but that's it.

    It's the integrated graphics controller that is the bottleneck. Integrated GPUs in early Intel Core CPUs were weak even by the standards of their day. You noticed lag in the UI: you click on something, and it takes time for the action to register. You press the End Turn button, and it takes your PC a minute and a half to end that turn, even if it's Turn 2. You may think your CPU is inadequate, while in fact these are signs of a weak GPU struggling to do its job.

    What we can do to take the load off the struggling old integrated GPU is to make it draw less 3D stuff. And no, converting terrain textures will not help with that because textures you do not draw, you sort of drape them over the 3D stuff (polygons). Converting textures will help reduce memory footprint for graphics, but, as I said, memory is not the issue.

    Did you notice that almost all units in CIV consist of several little 3D people? So what if we draw just one of then instead of six, eight, or sometimes even twelve? You as a player may not notice much of a difference, but your struggling old GPU definitely will. Luckily for us, there is a mod, Single Unit Graphics by Nutty, that does exactly that, and it's compatible with Vox Populi!
    (I couldn't get his "Human Settlers" modmod to work, so unless someone helps us, we'll have to make do with settlers represented by donkeys, but that's a small price to pay for being able to play the best 4X game out there on a low-spec PC. :))

    Now off to the options we shall go.
    VIDEO OPTIONS

    Screen Resolution
    : The native resolution of your screen. Changing it is not a good idea.
    Anti-Aliasing: Off. No two ways about it. It's a performance hog that we can't afford.
    Fullscreen: On.
    VSync: Off. Every bit of performance helps. We can live with some screen tearing.
    High Detail Strategic View: Off. If you use Strategic View a lot, feel free to experiment with this On.
    GPU Texture Decode: Off. Your old integrated GPU is overworked as it is.
    Minimize Gray Tiles: No preference. This setting is about RAM/CPU/HDD (SSD) balance. Should we pre-load terrain textures or load them on demand? Experiment.
    Allow Shadow Fadeout: On. We need every bit of performance, and we're dialing those shadows down anyway.
    Automatically Size Interface: N/A. Doesn't affect 3D performance.

    Leader Scene Quality: Low or Minimum. Can't really afford much eye candy.
    Overlay Detail: Medium.
    Shadow Quality: Low or Off.
    Fog of War Quality: Medium or Low. Minimum-quality fog of war is so hideous it's not worth it.
    Terrain Detail Level: Medium or Low.
    Terrain Tessellation Level: Medium or Low.
    Terrain Shadow Quality: Low or Off.
    Water Quality: Medium or Low.
    Texture Quality: High. Performance impact is negligible compared to difference in quality.

    So that's it for the graphics settings.

    Oh, and if you're thinking of running the DirectX 11 version of CIV because it, you know, sounds more modern -- don't. Even if it works on your low-end PC, it will not be better or faster, so just stick with DirectX 9. :)

    Now, what else can we do to make CIV run faster on that old PC of ours? I've searched quite extensively, and couldn't find anything apart from the excellent Quick Turns mod (that everybody probably already uses anyway). I didn't notice any significant reduction in turn times using LuaJIT (I tried several versions), but you can experiment (especially in late game) and see for yourself.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2020
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  2. brutalz

    brutalz Chieftain

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    these also might help

    increasing your virtual memory in windows - mine is set at 16gb

    also if you go to windows settings and search performance - adjust the appearance and performance of windows - there's settings here that might help a little
     
  3. Maxxim69

    Maxxim69 Chieftain

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    Will not help at all, alas.
    (Unless you somehow have a lightning-fast NVME SSD in that RAM-starved old rig of yours, and you refuse to close any apps as a matter of principle. Then it may help. But not as much as closing all apps and/or rebooting before starting your CIV session.)
    Seriously, just read up on virtual memory. I don't think it is what you think it is. :)

    Nope again, sorry. These are only to make Windows user interface (all those windows and menus) appear snappier, nothing else.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2020
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  4. brutalz

    brutalz Chieftain

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    i really like your guide, you should post it in the CIV reddit/steam workshop
     
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  5. darkstrat

    darkstrat Chieftain

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    So, the only difference is that I have an i5 of that gen otherwise we are same. Is using the RED modpack which makes all units small and increases their numbers adding up on my loadtimes? And if I do take your advice and only use 1 unit model, would my UI be super responsive?(Like perfectly responsive or is there just a relative increase in performance)? I just dont want to swap too much candy for little increase in performance.
     
  6. tu_79

    tu_79 Deity

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    You can try. Savegame compatible for sure.

    I've seen many people advising to play at the strategic view. That's the least fancy one, but the most responsive.
     
  7. Maxxim69

    Maxxim69 Chieftain

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    It's not the only difference. Did you notice I specifically mentioned the CPU in that machine being "low-power, almost laptop-class"? This is because there are significant differences between mobile and desktop CPUs from the same generations and tiers. And to add to the confusion, there are low-power SKUs for when you need a lower TDP than desktop but higher performance than mobile.
    Also, you never said whether your PC was desktop or mobile.

    First, let's clear up the confusion here.
    The bottleneck for load time is your disk drive.
    The bottleneck for responsiveness is your GPU (in our general case I addressed in my instructions).

    So now it turns out you're using an extensive eye-candy modpack (which you never mentioned before). In other words, you're putting more strain on the very performance bottleneck in your system, and then you go looking for ways to improve performance. Sorry, but you can't have your cake and eat it too. :)

    Nobody can answer that question but you. :) Experiment and see for yourself. And please share your findings in this thread for the benefit of fellow low-spec PC owners.
     
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  8. darkstrat

    darkstrat Chieftain

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    1. Yes it indeed is the only difference. My laptop has a 2nd gen i5 mobile CPU. It is a laptop and I get what you are talking about but yeah my statement stands true- it is the only difference. Also mine comes with a HD3000 which I expect is the same as you.

    2. I meant responsiveness. Also are you referring to my old thread on performance improvements when you say I did not mention it earlier? BTW in terms of responsiveness- I see minimal-no effect by using RED compared to vanilla. Also the entire point of threads like these is to find the perfect balance/compromise of candy and performance. I could always play on strategic problem solved! But optimising and finding the balance between good looking and playable configuration is the deal.

    3. Well actually you can. How much of a performance improvement did you get? Was it as I asked a perfectly responsive UI or just some improvement over vanilla.

    Also, I am sorry if this gives off any rude vibes, I mean it in constructive discussion.
     
  9. Maxxim69

    Maxxim69 Chieftain

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    ...used to have for about three months in spring 2020. I mentioned that at the beginning of my post, but I'm not sure you realize I don't have access to that old PC any more. :)

    Yes I do. I even included a quote from your message linking to your original topic. :)
    I started replying there, but when I realized my reply is turning into a guide I started a separate topic instead.

    It was literally unplayable without Single Unit Graphics due to massive interface lags. With that mod plus some video options tweaks it became quite playable at 1920×1080.

    I don't think I had any noticeable input lag. But you have to realize I was happy I could play at all given the circumstances.

    No, it absolutely does not! :) I hope nobody senses any bad vibes from me either, because none are intended. :)
     
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  10. vyyt

    vyyt Deity

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    Just to chime in, I think the RED is savegame compatible, so you can easily try with it on and off.

    If you also play with the ethnic reskins on top of scaling down the units and increasing the number of members in the formation, be prepared first for lags, then graphic glitches and CTDs starting in mid game.
     
  11. abulafia77

    abulafia77 Chieftain

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    I am playing on - comparably - "beefy" PCs (Laptop with 7500U and desktop with Xeon E3 1220 v3 / NVidia GTX 1050 Ti) but exclusively on "strategic view".

    Still, using some of the settings suggested - I presume primarily turning off anti-aliasing and VSync - did lead to a - perceived! - significantly increased snappyness even under strategic view. Effect more pronounced on the laptop, which would fit with TO's findings.
     
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  12. darkstrat

    darkstrat Chieftain

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    Alright I went ahead and did some testing last night with three configurations: 1.Vanilla 2.RED Modpack(comes with ethnic reskinning thing) 4.Single Unit Graphics.

    My laptop: HP ProBook 6460b i5-2520M, Intel HD 3000, 8GB 1333 Dual Channel RAM, 1TB HDD.

    *For this test I ran no other mods than VP mods and the ones needed for testing. Standard size with 8 civs and 16 CS on Warlord. The video settings are what OP recommended.

    Vanilla
    My game took 1 minute 44 seconds to start a new game. Input lag was not present until turn 17. From then, The lag kept increasing slowly till in the Information era when around the end of the game I was facing lags up to 3 seconds.

    RED Modpack
    My game took 2 minutes 39 seconds to load the same game played above. Till turn 17, there was no lag. In the medieval era, there was slight input lag which kept increasing till Information era when the game end was giving me around 3-4 seconds lag at most. This is almost the same as what I get on my regular games with around 9 other mods.

    Single Unit
    M
    y game took 2 minutes 31 seconds to load the same game played above. Till turn 78, there was no lag. Since then the lag kept increasing till Information era when the game was giving me up to 2 seconds of input lag.

    So Single Unit Graphics mod gives me significant improvement over vanilla and RED. But for me personally, it is not enough to sacrifice the formations and ethnic reskin of RED. Other mods do not seem to increase lag by any noticeable amount. And also I have played more than 20 full games with RED and till now not face any CTD or Graphical glitch because of it. Also I am not saying everyone will have same experience as me with the above settings.
     
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  13. maxf

    maxf Chieftain

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    I have a modern computer with Rizen 5 3600, but with not the latest video card (AMD R9 280), and usually the time of calculating a move by the end of the game increases greatly, sometimes reaching 3-4 minutes on a huge map. Some warring nations take almost 1 minute. I suppose, that the problem here primarily in the processor or is it in the video card too?
     
  14. darkstrat

    darkstrat Chieftain

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    Hey, have you tried using the quick turns mod?
     
  15. maxf

    maxf Chieftain

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    OK, now I've tried. I added this mod and also disable some things in video options. And with default options of the mod I've got... +1 min to turn's time (7:55 instead of 6:50; turn 401 on huge map, normal speed, 18 civs; VP 2019-10-08 with many non-visual mods (civs, Wonders Expended etc.). Well, I set "Quick Movement" for all except Player (Quick Combat was set by default). And got 5:45, -1 min of the initial. Not dramatically, but at least something.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
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  16. abulafia77

    abulafia77 Chieftain

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    1. Try switching to strategic view before ending turns. It has been reported that this significantly speeds up turn processing.
    2. Probably mostly CPU single core(!) Performance related.
     
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  17. darkstrat

    darkstrat Chieftain

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    Have you replaced Lua with Luajit?
     
  18. maxf

    maxf Chieftain

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    No, what is this? :confused:
     
  19. abulafia77

    abulafia77 Chieftain

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    See the link at the end of the very first post on this thread. Essentially, it replaces the Lua interpreter with a just-in-time (JIT) compiler for Lua. If it works, it can significantly speed up the game, buuuuut it may not work with the VP Lua code. (Lua is the scripting language used to code a substantial part of the civ/VP game mechanics).
     
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