MICRO CENTER: COMPUTERS AND ELECTRONICS
Random Access   chris, kp & rob
In The Lab
Doom's Nuts and Bolts
by chris

Doom 3 Minimum System Requirements:

  • 3D hardware Accelerator Card Required - 100% DirectX® 9.0b compatible 64MB Hardware Accelerated video card and the latest drivers.
  • English version of Microsoft® Windows® 2000/XP
  • Pentium® 4 1.5 GHz or Athlon(tm) XP 1500+ processor
  • 384MB RAM
  • 8x Speed CD-ROM drive (1200KB/sec sustained transfer rate) and latest drivers
  • 2.2GB of uncompressed free hard disk space (plus 400MB for Windows® swap file)
  • 100% DirectX® 9.0b compatible 16-bit sound card and latest drivers
  • 100% Windows® 2000/XP compatible mouse, keyboard and latest drivers
  • DirectX® 9.0b (included)

Supported Chipsets:

  • ATI® Radeon 8500
  • ATI® Radeon 9000
  • ATI® Radeon 9200
  • ATI® Radeon 9500
  • ATI® Radeon 9600
  • ATI® Radeon 9700
  • ATI® Radeon 9800
  • All Nvidia® GeForce 3/Ti series
  • All Nvidia® GeForce 4MX series
  • All Nvidia® GeForce 4/Ti series
  • All Nvidia® GeForce FX series
  • Nvidia® GeForce 6800 series
    Important note: Some 3D accelerator cards with the chipset listed here may not be compatible with the 3D accelerator features utilized by Doom 3. Please refer to your hardware manufacturer for 100% DirectX 9.0b compatibility.

Multiplayer Requirements:

  • Internet (TCP/IP) and LAN (TCP/IP) play supported
  • Internet play requires broadband connection and latest drivers
  • LAN play requires network interface card and latest drivers

Can you cut corners on Doom 3 requirements?
I tested Doom 3 on several systems that did not meet these basic requirements. Most results were predictable in that Doom 3 either would not run, or was not playable on the system.

System 1: Sharp laptop with 256MB of RAM (shared video memory resulting in 232 available) -- DOOM 3 splash screen is displayed, then program terminates without running.

System 2: P4 3GHz with 1GB of RAM and ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon 7500 -- DOOM3 runs in 640x480 low resolution with a 1-2 frames per second display rate; totally unplayable.

System 3: PowerSpec 8210 (P4 1.5GHz, 384 MB of RAM and an nVidia GeForce2 MX display adapter -- DOOM 3 will run, I just have no idea what it is doing. The display is a series of pale blue boxes (text) with the occasional shading mask displayed; again totally unplayable.

System 4: KDS notebook 800MHz P3 512MB RAM, DOOM 3 does not run, graphics engine dialog box is displayed showing that the video did not support the necessary DirectX functions.

Rob had luck on a notebook system that apparently can barely meet the minimum requirements. When writing his review, Rob used the system built in our BYOS articles, and I borrowed a PowerSpec 9420 (Athlon64 3200+ with 1GB RAM, and an eVGA nVidia GeForce FX 5950 video card) Both of these systems worked fine playing DOOM3, although I suspect that mine must have had some sort of operator defect - I kept dying in deathmatches.

Doom3 and Local Area Networks
Doom3 supports Internet or Local Area Network game play with up to 4 players. We first tested a configuration with fixed IP addresses on the internal corporate network, but security filtering through our local routers blocked the necessary communication between systems. Doom 3 uses TCP/IP protocol and communicates using logical port 27666. If you have an active firewall, including the latest Windows XP Service Pack 2, you must configure it to allow traffic on this port, or disable it during game play.

We next tried a simple 802.11b wireless connection and successfully engaged in LAN play between our two computers. Rob used a USB wireless adapter, while I configured via wired connection to the LAN switch on a Buffalo AirStationG54. To simplify our configuration for game play, the Buffalo Wireless router was returned to factory settings. WEP security was disabled, and no WAN connection was used. The WiFi channel defaulted to 11, with DHCP services enabled. Because Rob was using 802.11b, I forced the router to this mode rather than the default automatic switching between 802.11b and 802.11g. One thing we noticed using 802.11b was that there was a lag when someone picked up a new weapon or power-up. It was most noticeable when the other player caused the lag, because that was when your movement through the game would hang for a second or so. Once in a while you would end up facing a different direction once movement resumed. This lag was barely perceptible on the system running as the "pure server;" it was the client player that experienced the worst delay. If the delay occurred as you were entering a room with the other player in, well - you die. We replicated this both directions, first with the BYOS system as the server, then with the PowerSpec as the server.

For our final LAN play test, we carted the computers and monitors off to a room where we could connect them through the integrated 10/100 LAN cards in the computers. We connected the two systems together with a crossover patch cable, allowing us full 100BaseT throughput. No switches or hubs are required for a two-computer LAN match. Windows TCP/IP protocol properties are configured to automatically obtain an IP address. This only works if you are connected to a network that provides DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol.) Routers and some Wireless Access Points will provide these services, as will computers configured for Internet Connection Sharing. DHCP can be installed on NT and other servers as an optional service. However, Windows also uses what is called Automatic Private IP Addressing, where you will be assigned an IP address if one is not assigned across your network. With a direct cable connection, neither of our computers would provide an IP address for the other. Mine came up with an automatic IP address of 169.254.181.202 (Windows APIPA will always have the same first two number groups in the assignment, but the last two groups will be a number between 0 and 254.) Rob's machine had a manual IP address assigned from our earlier LAN attempt, so he changed this to "Obtain an IP address automatically" in the TCP/IP network properties. We decided it was taking too long to generate a private address, so went back and manually assigned an IP of 169.254.181.203 to his machine; at which point it finally generated one and then we had to change it to our manual address. We tested the connections by "pinging" each other's machine. Rob could ping me, but I could not ping his address. Rob had the Windows XP Firewall enabled on his network connection in the Advance properties. Once this was disabled, I could ping to his IP address, and we were ready to start some high speed network gaming.

Rob entered the multiplayer settings, changed the connection to LAN, then started a DOOM3 Server on his system; on my system, I changed the setting to LAN under the Multiplayer section and refreshed the list to see his server. After connecting, and playing, I continued dying at the hands of Rob. Using 100 megabit network cables totally eliminates the lag we noticed using 802.11b WiFi.

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