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Guide: FFXIV Macbook Pro with Nvidia 320M (or 320M+ GPUs)Follow

#1 Nov 26 2010 at 3:24 PM Rating: Good
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At home I play on my Windows desktop rig and can play at 1900 x 1200 with most settings near max other than Ambient Occlusion, and Drawing Detail settings (previously Resolution Buffer, which I had set at Resolution).

I travel a lot for work, as well as for visiting family, like for Thanksgiving. I wanted to be able to play FFXIV while traveling, but I did not want to install on my work laptop, if it would even handle it. So I decided to try putting FFXIV on my 13.3" Macbook after bench marking. Also, this video inspired me as well: FFXIV Vs. Macbook Air.

The results have been great so far, and even better today (post 11/25 update) following the new Graphic config options for General Drawing Quality and Background Drawing Quality that replaced Resolution Buffer Size setting in the FFXIV config tool. Prior to this change, I played on 2/3 windows size on the Mac, 3/4 was stable but a tiny bit slower in camps and crowds. Now I can play with both these settings as Standard (8 and 3) and it looks better and is stable with no hitching or slow down in game. I have not tried a large party yet, but small parties, camps, repair NPC, Adventure Guild areas present no issues. I expect no party issues, but if I do have some, I am hoping lowering Background Drawing Detail will solve it.

Notes

1. Use at your own risk! Adjust services at your own risk! Read all instructions on Black Viper if you choose to mess with services!
2. Always make sure any laptop has proper ventilation when gaming! Use a laptop board or play on a flat smooth surface, like a desk or table! Never set your laptop on a soft surface like a carpet or pillow, especially while gaming!
3. I highly recommend using something like CPUID Hardware Monitor or some other tool to monitor CPU and GPU temps, as well as Fan Speed. Make sure your system is stable while gaming! Link to CPUID HWMonitor
4. I do not recommend Overclocking the 320M and did not Overclock to play FFXIV. Overclock at your own risk!!
5. I recommend playing with a game pad if using a Mac, but this is completely user preference!
6. This guide may also help for other Mac models or laptop users with GPUs that are close to the 320M or better. Click here to see comparable GPUs (Notebook Check)
7. My bench mark is 856, after tweaks, but there is room to lower settings further, so may be possible to play with a much lower benchmark if settings are lowered further.


My System Details:

Macbook Pro 13" with Bootcamp 3.2 Apple Store Link (specs)
Running Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit (40gb partition)
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 2.40Ghz
Ram: 4Gb (3.74 usable)
GPU: Nvidia Geforce 320M (Notebookcheck Link)

My Benchmark (After Tweaks):

-Running AVG Anti-Virus: 843 Latency: 16870ms
-AVG Anti-Virus turned off: 856 Latency: 15847ms
-Using Readyboost Thumb Drive (32Gb allocated): 854 Latency 16860ms (no notable improvements)

My Windows Tweaks:

1) Adjust Windows Display performance options to Best Performance Setting (i.e. turn off Aero, etc.). For Windows 7: Start/Right Click Computer/Properties/Advanced System Settings/Performance Settings/Adjust for best performance/OK/OK

2) Turn off System Restore (do Manual backups if needed): Start/Right Click Computer /Properties/ System Protection/ Highlight the correct drive/Configure/Turn off system protection/OK/OK. **Note: I only use my Win partition for gaming and do not mind wiping and recreating it if I have issues.

3) Turn off all non-essential Auto Start up programs. Goto Start Menu, type msconfig in the search box, click on Start Up tab, turn off everything that is not needed (leave Boot Camp on). This is especially important if you are using your windows partition for other things besides gaming, For example, If you have MS Office installed. This is where you can turn off the auto start for Anti-Virus programs like AVG, Norton, etc. as well. I do manual virus scans as needed and only browse using NoSript and AdBlock Plus. Also note, when not playing FFXIV, you can manually start things like Virus Scan, Spy Bot TeaTimer, etc.
Sample msconfig Picture

4) Follow this guide to tweak running services: Black Viper Win 7 Services *Note, site also has guides for other Windows OS. ** Note, I am using the "Safe" settings. *** Note, If using wifi, you may need to manually start the WLAN Autoconfig service, or change it to Automatic.

FFXIV Graphics Settings:

Display Mode: Full Screen or 1280 x 800. Full Screen will give better results, but 1280 x 800 works fine for me. Recommend using ShiftWindow if running windowed mode: http://www.grismar.net/shiftwindow/
Mutlisampling: No AA
General Draw Quality: 8 Standard (move down if you need too, 8 stable for me)
Background Draw Quality: 3 Standard (can be moved down if needed, 3 stable for me)
Shadow Detail: Lowest
Ambient Occlusion: Off
Depth of Field: Off
Disable Cutscene Effects: Not checked (no problems so far)
Texture Quality: Low
Texture Filtering: Low

FFXIV Config Picture 1
FFXIV Config Picture 2

In Game Configuration Settings
Dust Effects: Off
Extended Draw: Off
Physics: Off (I leave it off, but seems to do fine on most times, especially if solo in non-crowded locations)
Character Shadows: Off (I leave Off most times, but having them on does not seem to hurt anything so far)


Pictures

In Game Pic, Quicksand in Ul'Duh
In Game Pic, Camp Horizon
In Game Pic, After Leve
Pic, CPUID HWMon (CPU and GPU Temps, etc. Taken while in game for over 2 hours

I may edit this to add some video if I can. I have yet to try running fraps out on this laptop with these settings.

My goal on this is to run FFXIV with stable settings, not necessarily achieve the best graphics. These is room to move settings around a bit and still be stable, but I have my desktop to satisfy my need for awesome graphics while at home. Running on my current settings seems to maintain stable temps for prolonged periods so it should be suitable for anyone wanting to get into FFXIV and use a similar Macbook or Laptop for their main method of playing.


Edit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPhEt5tkVp8 (Free version 30 second fraps video). Recording with fraps lowered my fps a lot, but still the video is pretty decent.

Edited, Nov 26th 2010 7:01pm by Leodesol
#2 May 04 2011 at 12:23 AM Rating: Decent
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17 posts
Not sure what the rules are here for necroing a thread, but I've just got to give props. I am in the same boat as you laptop wise and this thread looks be be a lifesaver. I just downgraded to a single laptop (mine being the exact same MBP as yours) and won't be able to build a new rig until later this year. I was pretty sure I would have no luck running FFXIV on this MBP but then I found this thread.

I'm installing right now and will return with results. Thanks for this : )
Necro Warning: This post occurred more than thirty days after the prior, and may be a necropost.
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