- May 15, 2018
- Moscow, RUSSIA
I know my system is very old (i5 2nd gen with integrated gpu and 8gb ram) but is there any method to improve the game performance?
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.
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.
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.