Getting subnautica to run on a cooked potato

Discussion in 'PC Games' started by metamorphosis, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. metamorphosis

    metamorphosis Member

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    I haven't upgraded my gaming/home rig in 11 years, largely because I didn't need to - I don't play that many games, and I don't run high resolutions - up till recently, my main screen was 1280x1024. Every modern game seemed to run swimmingly.
    But anyway, subnautica came along, and I'd always been keen on playing it, then it was free on the epic store - so I grabbed it. And wow, is it badly optimized, like most Unity games. Like, wow. But still amazing game, great sense of atmosphere, etc. SO I wanted to play it. Could I upgrade my gaming box to a modern 2nd-hand haswell setup? Well, yeah, but then I have to reinstall everything, including my programming/academic setups, all the additional apps I use, getting windows the way I like it, etc - just to run a game. Not an option with my limited time.

    So I butchered another machine I've been using as a hacked-together HDD salvage box.

    So for starters, my original setup is E8500 (core2duo, 3.1ghz) OC'd to 3.8ghz on air, ninja2 heatsink/heatpipe + scythe 12cm fan, gigabyte ud3p MB, 4GB g-skill 1000mhz ram, SSD for OS, HDD for storage, geforce 750 2GB.



    Software stuff I did to get the game to run better:

    1. There's a switch you can enter at the command line for subnautica which makes it go to exclusive fullscreen. You have to go to Settings in the epic game launcher (left-hand tab, not under the game), then subnautica, then specify the command line option. The line is: -window-mode exclusive
    For those who don't know, games run much worse in non-exclusive fullscreen (otherwise known as "fullscreen desktop") generally. Why subnautica isn't exclusive by default is beyond my comprehension - I think it's something to do with compatibility in some scenarios -

    2. Optimized nvidia settings, in particular, 'fast' vsync setting.

    3. In subnautica, 'medium' graphics then turn motion blur & screen space reflections off, set ambient occlusion and fxaa to 'low'. Resolution 1280x720 (screen is 1920x1080 but I don't care), vsync off.

    4. Turning off 'aero' (in win7). Aero uses negligible additional CPU, but does use 220mb vram.

    5. Had to copy the game to the SSD to get even vaguely good performance - there's a hell of a lot of on-the-fly loading in this game, if you run off HDD, you're Screwed.

    [EDIT: 6. Geforce experience. Works on the epic games version, you just have to scan the folder and run it once from geoforce experience (it'll crash), then run it normally from the epic games launcher.]

    Worked pretty well but I got pissed off with the semi-constant jitter & stuttering (variable, dependent on location in game). Also I wanted to run higher texture settings as the medium textures are pretty low-res really.



    Hardware stuff I did to get the game to run better:

    The game only uses 2GB ram on 'medium', uses about 3.5GB once you switch to 'high' (higher-resolution textures).
    So ripped the two 2GB ram sticks out of the other machine, upgraded gaming rig to 8gb.

    Secondly, the game is largely CPU-bound - a better graphics card doesn't really speed things up, it's all bottlenecked by the CPU.
    I knew that subnautica played best with 4 cores, even having issues if there were more than 4 cores! (there's a fix here: https://steamcommunity.com/app/264710/discussions/0/135514823815985163/) At any rate, 2 cores wasn't cutting it.
    So, swapped the processors from my backup machine to the home machine (e8500->q9550). Luckily the current OC settings worked well, the e8500 being pretty similar spec to the q9550.
    Had the q9550 overclocked from 2.8ghz to 3.4ghz with a vcore underclock of 1.243 (normal 1.28).
    Then, got the OC'ing bug again :) Haven't felt that in the longest time...

    Stuck second 12cm fan on the ninja heatsink for maximum airflow, and without too much drama got it up to 3.6ghz @ stock vcore, then 3.8ghz @ 1.35 vcore. At that point it was hitting 75c sometimes on (THAT ONE GOSH-DARN CORE SENSOR THAT'S ALWAYS 3-6C HOTTER THAN THE OTHERS) in prime95, and going higher didn't seem to work out anyway with 4ghz always crashing prime95 regardless of vcore, MCH etc, so settled there. Bearing in mind, hottest part of the year in NZ, 33c ambient air temps, high humidity.



    Results:

    Game runs smoothly, even (in most areas) when bringing up the graphics to 'high' textures (then dropping down FXAA, motion blur, screen space reflections and ambient occlusion).
    Resolution unchanged but everything just nicer-looking, stuttering infrequent. Not that I've measured, but framerate probably doubled.
    Pretty happy with the result. Thank goodness I'm not running win10. That crap is so hard to run lean.

    Also tried the geography pop-in fix here: https://steamcommunity.com/app/264710/discussions/0/1693785669845485600/
    which works but definitely drops framerate by half. Not worth it, for my personal rig.

    But now, back to the fishes:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
  2. walker_2003

    walker_2003 Member

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    Good work. But I feel like we should do u a gofundme for an upgrade haha
     
  3. hvalac

    hvalac Member

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    For additional usage decrease when in game press F8, it brings up bug reporting but also the mouse cursor, from there press F3 and int he top left corner of the screen there is a new overlay that allows you to change a few details, in particular light shafts and ambiant particles.
    To finish just press F3 then F8 again and continue on your way.
     
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  4. zeggie

    zeggie Member

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    ...but plenty of time to config/pull apart old machines? lol
     
  5. power

    power Member

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    there's an xbox one version of this, the ultimate potato.
     
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  6. OP
    OP
    metamorphosis

    metamorphosis Member

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    Ha! Thanks. Unnecessary though. I'm happy :)


    Ah, was wondering how you could get the mouse once you pressed f3... cheers


    Honestly, takes way less time just to transfer a CPU.


    Well, it's not that old is it? Is it? Wait, how old am I? Oh god
     
  7. zeggie

    zeggie Member

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    Windows 7 is dead in 10 months. Why prolong the inevitable?
     
  8. OP
    OP
    metamorphosis

    metamorphosis Member

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    ... upgrading to win10 is also not a big deal, compared to a reinstall. Read first post.
     
  9. Sphinx2000

    Sphinx2000 Member

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    Nicely done. I also find this game uses more CPU than a lot of others, perhaps for all that Fish A.I.

    Playing this game in VR (which it supports), can be quite... disconcerting at times.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    metamorphosis

    metamorphosis Member

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    What I find great is the sense of exploration and emergent gameplay - like, nobody's forcing you down a corridor, but you end up in situations where you have to be creative to survive.
    On a side note I've noticed I'm way more comfortable swimming deep IRL than I was before I started playing.
    I guess my brain goes, well, if I die I'll just respawn back at the base...
     
  11. Pinkeh

    Pinkeh Member

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    i had an E8500. That was like 4 builds ago. :D

    You could probably go to amd's 2200g apu rig if you wanted an upgrade.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
  12. OP
    OP
    metamorphosis

    metamorphosis Member

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    Oh I know. There's all sorts of things I could go to. I just don't want to.
    I have a haswell machine for the studio. And a small i5 rig for the HTPC.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    metamorphosis

    metamorphosis Member

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    Discovered something else: Geforce Experience seems to make a massive difference to fps in this game.
    It's possible to get it to work even on the Epic games version - just scan the epic games folder, 'Subnautica VR' will show up, run it, the game will start then quit. By that point Geforce experience will have written the config settings to subnautica, and you can run it from the epic games launcher.
    Using this I was able to get the same fps I was originally getting at 1280x720, at 1600x900.
     

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