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Desktop PC tips for Planet Coaster?

Matt N

Strata Poster
Hi guys. I have a question for you all, and it’s regarding PCs to play the game on. Now I should clarify that I do currently have a laptop that I play the game on, and I wouldn’t personally say it’s a low-specced one; I bought it back in 2017, and the specs are as follows:
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8GHz (3.8GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB VRAM.
  • RAM: 16GB
Now as I said, this is not a low-spec computer by any means; I paid a substantial amount of money for it back in 2017. However, when running large parks, the FPS are... not amazing. I’m currently in the process of building a new country for my Worlds of Globala park (I shouldn’t be finished in too long, so keep your eyes peeled to that thread if you’re liking the park!), and while the FPS are perfectly adequate (about 6-8FPS when in play mode and about 10FPS or just over when paused), my GPU drivers have crashed a couple of times trying to run it, implying that the computer is really suffering, and my FPS drop substantially to 5FPS or below whenever I record my work for you guys. And I should clarify that this is with no guests in the park. If you’ve seen any of the videos I’ve filmed in Planet Coaster, you can get a basic idea.

So in the mid to long term, I am pondering purchasing a new PC to play the game on. This time, I’m thinking about going for a desktop, because they can be upgraded more easily than laptops if need be, and they often provide more performance for your money. So my question is; do you think it would be worth me buying a new desktop PC, and if the answer is yes, are there any particular tips you could give me? This is not going to be an imminent thing by any means; it’ll likely be at least July/August before I end up buying one, and I should hopefully have a pretty substantial budget by then (possibly somewhere in the region of £1500-2000).

I was more thinking that it might be a good idea if I ever want to attempt something more ambitious in terms of scale or detail than Worlds of Globala, as I feel like my current system might run into difficulties, and Planet Coaster 2 is also possibly rumoured to be coming within the next couple of years, so it might be a good idea to upgrade my system in preparation for that.
 
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Hixee

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I'm no expert in this, and don't play Planet Coaster myself, but your current set-up should be doing better than that I would think.

My PC was a mid-high spec when I built it in 2014 (and it's a combination gaming/photo-video editing spec), and I think on paper lower spec than yours, yet I've yet to find a game I can't run at minimum 30fps. GTA5 at 1080p (max res. of my monitors ATM) easily runs at 60fps in "High" graphics quality, Dirt games run at +60fps, etc, heck even BeamNG holds +40fps in most instances.

Before you convince yourself to fork out a ton of extra cash - are you sure you've got everything configured properly? Do other games you have run this badly (hinting at maybe a settings problem somewhere on your graphics card)? Is it only Planet Coaster (hinting that maybe a settings problem within the game)?

When you run the game, open up task manager and/or whatever NVIDIA's graphics card task manager thing is and see if there's something hogging loads of resources.

@Antinos is pretty clued up on this stuff I think. Have I misremembered how the hardware codes work?
 
Another option is using something like geforce now, which essentially streams the game from a more powerful computer. You'll need a decent internet connection, but I've tested it with planet coaster and it works well. There's a free version which limits sessions to one hour of you wanted to give it a try.
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
I opened Task Manager, and I couldn’t notice any obvious red flags; it was Planet Coaster taking up practically all of it.

I also tried updating my drivers, but I didn’t really notice a difference when I did that either (perhaps a marginal improvement; 7-9FPS instead of 6-8FPS. It’s hard to tell, though, as it varies a lot; I’m still getting the same sort of lag).

Maybe I’m just expecting too much from the game... it’s probably not designed for parks as large as mine.
 

GregBoxall

Roller Poster
Looking at some screenshots of your park I'd suggest reducing the amount of trees and rocks you're using. These pieces can quickly add up causing a large FPS decrease. Also if you've let people into your park I'd recommend limiting guest numbers to around 2k.
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
To be honest, in hindsight, I’m probably making this into a bigger problem than it really is. I personally find the way the game is running on my PC perfectly adequate, and I didn’t really consider the FPS to be a major issue for me until people on here began to point it out.

I do appreciate the help though, guys!
 

furie

SBOPD
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To be honest, in hindsight, I’m probably making this into a bigger problem than it really is. I personally find the way the game is running on my PC perfectly adequate, and I didn’t really consider the FPS to be a major issue for me until people on here began to point it out.

I do appreciate the help though, guys!

It'll be your GFX card. I run a very similar spec to you, only I have a 980TI. I struggle a little with the game, but it's entirely playable. I did some comparison checks against our cards, and the 980TI runs about 150% faster than the 1050TI. So, that will be where I make the gains over your system.

I know it's not exactly the best market now, but if you can pick yourself up a better GFX card, you'll reap the rewards. It's really annoying though, and it depends on how much ray-tracing gives you a semi (or is likely to in the future). The problem with supply of the latests cards just makes everything harder.

If you're not looking at ray tracing, then look around and see if you can find a cheap 1070 or 1080TI kicking about, or a 1660TI if options are limited. If you have the cash and some time to wait, then the second hand 2070/2080 market is going to come alive once that the 3000 series supply issues are sorted. But then, you may as well pick up a 3070...

I recently got Minor_Furie a cheap, second hand 1080TI, and it's made his system fly. Maxi-Minor_Furie has an RX580 and it outpaces mine - but that's because he has a better CPU at the backend as well. So, it's well worth the upgrade if you can find the right card for the right budget.
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
It'll be your GFX card. I run a very similar spec to you, only I have a 980TI. I struggle a little with the game, but it's entirely playable. I did some comparison checks against our cards, and the 980TI runs about 150% faster than the 1050TI. So, that will be where I make the gains over your system.

I know it's not exactly the best market now, but if you can pick yourself up a better GFX card, you'll reap the rewards. It's really annoying though, and it depends on how much ray-tracing gives you a semi (or is likely to in the future). The problem with supply of the latests cards just makes everything harder.

If you're not looking at ray tracing, then look around and see if you can find a cheap 1070 or 1080TI kicking about, or a 1660TI if options are limited. If you have the cash and some time to wait, then the second hand 2070/2080 market is going to come alive once that the 3000 series supply issues are sorted. But then, you may as well pick up a 3070...

I recently got Minor_Furie a cheap, second hand 1080TI, and it's made his system fly. Maxi-Minor_Furie has an RX580 and it outpaces mine - but that's because he has a better CPU at the backend as well. So, it's well worth the upgrade if you can find the right card for the right budget.
Out of interest, do you know what sort of FPS your system gets in large parks? Also, what do you mean by ray tracing?

Thanks for the suggestion, but the only issue is that I own a laptop currently, which I can’t really upgrade components in. If I went for a desktop this time, I would be able to do that in the future if need be; I think it would probably be a better long-term decision.

Although to be honest, I’m starting to lean anyway from the idea; the more I think about it, the more I think I’m perfectly happy with the way my FPS are now, personally. From having read a bit about the game, the FPS is apparently something you’ll encounter regardless of how highly-specced your system is. And besides, I don’t personally find my current FPS to be too much of an issue.

What I’m basically saying is that I’m not sure spending £1500-2000 on an entirely new system is a wise idea if it’s not going to bring much, if anything, in the way of performance improvements.
 

furie

SBOPD
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Out of interest, do you know what sort of FPS your system gets in large parks?

I'm getting lows of 20FPS and highs of 35FPS - depending how much is on screen at the time. It's worth noting that I play it in 720. So I do get a frame rate hit which I've overcome by reducing the resolution.

Also, what do you mean by ray tracing?

Only the biggest revolution in gaming :D

It's true lighting, where individual rays of light are calculated and then the reflection they make (depending on luminosity of the object they hit) will create a new, changed ray that is calculated. When that hits another object, it creates another ray, etc.

Essentially, it's the lighting equivalent of real world physics. It maps light in the same way that light actual works. It's a big deal, but it's also incredibly computationally expensive.

Look up some comparisons. One of the things that sets the PS5 and XBSX apart is that they have limited ray tracing capabilities.

Thanks for the suggestion, but the only issue is that I own a laptop currently, which I can’t really upgrade components in. If I went for a desktop this time, I would be able to do that in the future if need be; I think it would probably be a better long-term decision.

Although to be honest, I’m starting to lean anyway from the idea; the more I think about it, the more I think I’m perfectly happy with the way my FPS are now, personally. From having read a bit about the game, the FPS is apparently something you’ll encounter regardless of how highly-specced your system is. And besides, I don’t personally find my current FPS to be too much of an issue.

What I’m basically saying is that I’m not sure spending £1500-2000 on an entirely new system is a wise idea if it’s not going to bring much, if anything, in the way of performance improvements.

Ahhhh... Always the tricky thing. The balance between the convenience of a laptop and the power/flexibility of a desktop.

It's a difficult one, but personally, I would run a low powered laptop for "work convenience" and then have a dedicated gaming rig - but... Only if I was doing a lot of gaming. I wouldn't spend £1500 (and you could get a really decent AMD based rig for that, which would make a difference on Planet Coaster) just to play a single game.

I bought mine 6 or 7 years ago, and it's just creaking at 1080 gaming now. With an updated GFX card, it will still be fine. Well worth the £1500 investment I made all those years ago.

Most of my gaming is on console though. I spend all day in front of my PC for work, so don't want to continue through the evening :D
 

MouseAT

Hyper Poster
I guess the first question needs to be: what details level are you running on? Planet Coaster is highly tweakable in terms of detail, and you'll often find that most games have a few settings that have a really big impact on framerate. I couldn't find a detailed guide to Planet Coaster in the few minutes I spend searching, but I did find the following guide for Planet Zoo, which I assume uses the same game engine, and will be affected in a similar way.


Anything that really slows down Planet Zoo (e.g. high quality shadows, reflections or geometry detail) will probably have a similarly large effect in Planet Coaster. If you're running on higher detail levels, dialling down some of those settings a notch or two may help significantly.

I did some testing with the Land of Legends park that's listed somewhere else in this forum, as that looked like it's be a bit of a system breaker, and concur that the GPU seems to be the limiting factor most of the time on my machine. I'm currently rocking an AMD 5600X CPU, 32GB RAM (which is probably overkill for Planet Coaster), and a NVIDIA 1080Ti GPU. Equivalent GPUs would be the 2080, 2070 Super, 3060Ti, and upcoming AMD 6700 XT for rough comparison; I mention this mostly as the GPU market is a nightmare at the moment, with most of the new generation stuff being virtually impossible to find in stock at the moment, so hopefully that gives a decent idea of what's as fast, or faster, over the last few generations.

I set the graphical preset to ultra, and then increased every individual setting, except antialiasing, to maximum, set my resolution to my native monitor resolution of 3440x1440, and loaded up the Land of Legends park that I found on the CF forum. In overall park view, I was getting around 25-30FPS on average. On ride, I was generally getting somewhere in the 30-60FPS range, with dips to around 25 in some really detailed areas. When dropping the resolution to 1080p, framerates looking at the park as a whole were closer to 40 across the board, and on-rides were generally a bit higher, although one of the themed underground sections on the single rail coaster still dragged the FPS down to around 25, so I suspect that particular area was probably limited by something else (CPU?) rather than GPU.

I hope that's of some help. If you're looking to crank the detail and are playing at 1080p, you can probably go a tier or two lower on the graphics card than I'm currently running and you'd probably be fine. In the meantime, see if you're running on higher detail settings, and if so, try knocking a few of them down a bit; You may be able to get some fairly substantial gains by reducing two or three settings by a notch or two, and may not have to take too much of a graphical hit in order to do so.
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
Sorry to bump this thread, but I just wanted to thank you all for all of your help & support (even though I’m 6 months late…)! I also wanted to update you all on the situation, as I’ve actually gone ahead and bought myself a new PC!

I decided to revisit the idea of buying a new desktop PC after getting rather a lot of money for my 18th birthday, and after a bit of thinking & researching, I decided to take the plunge and order this amazing-sounding system from PCSpecialist; with the specs it was offering for the price point, it was an absolute steal that I couldn’t refuse: https://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/gamin...tx-3060-2-tb-hdd-512-gb-ssd-10223939-pdt.html

The desktop PC I’ve gone for costs £1,350, and has the following specs:
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X (Hexa-core, 3.7GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz)
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 (12GB VRAM)
  • 16GB RAM
  • 2TB HDD & 512GB SSD
Before ordering, I ensured to put the specs into a comparison site to compare with my current system (current specs in opening post), and:
  • The CPU comes out at around 110% better than my current one overall, and the GPU comes out at around 150% better.
  • The new CPU had a score of 10/10, compared with 4.6/10 for my current one.
  • The new GPU had a score of 9.8/10, compared with 2.5/10 for my current one.
  • My current system had the GPU identified as a notable bottleneck, whereas this new system had no identifiable bottleneck.
I’m certainly excited to see how the game runs on my new computer! I’m hoping I can produce videos of my future park projects that run at considerably better FPS than my current system attains, although even if I can’t, moving to a desktop should certainly bring other benefits (am I correct in saying that desktop components are replaceable, so I can simply replace components in the future as opposed to having to buy an entirely new system?)

I’m getting very close to the end of the final country of Worlds of Globala, so I don’t think you’ll be seeing any Globala videos filmed on my new PC, but I certainly hope I can pull off ambitious creations in the future with better FPS!
 

furie

SBOPD
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
RGB makes everything faster!!! :D

Glad to see you're truly joining the PCMR. I reckon it will run like a dream. The 3060 is my next PC upgrade (price per FPS without bottlenecking my CPU - it can't be beaten)... If they ever become readily available at a decent price.

So, interested to hear how it pans out :)
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
RGB makes everything faster!!! :D

Glad to see you're truly joining the PCMR. I reckon it will run like a dream. The 3060 is my next PC upgrade (price per FPS without bottlenecking my CPU - it can't be beaten)... If they ever become readily available at a decent price.

So, interested to hear how it pans out :)
I’ll be sure to tell you how it works out @furie; I’m hoping that the PC arrives within the next couple of days! When it comes and I can run PlanCo on it, I’ll be sure to tell you the kind of FPS I’m getting so that you can make a decision on whether to upgrade your GPU or not!

As for how it compares to my current system; the comparison site I used reckons it’ll more than double my performance in terms of both CPU & GPU power, but I’m hoping I see an actual, tangible difference in frame rates! With a GPU (the thing that’s apparently my current bottleneck) that has triple the VRAM of my current one (12GB compared with 4GB currently), and a CPU with nearly a whole 1GHz more in clock speed as well as two additional cores, I’m certainly hoping that I can see tangible real-world frame rate improvements, so to speak!
 
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