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Old 03-13-04, 06:35 PM   #1
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Question Console graphics vs Computer TV-OUT

I'm thinking of getting an Xbox soon but was wondering if the graphics will be improved over what you get when displaying computer games using TV-out. I'm currently testing TV-out using 800x600 (basically b/c it easier to see from a distance than it was when using 1024x768).

Would anyone that games on both a console (preferably an Xbox) and a computer care to comment on the quality difference if any? TIA.

One other thing, my Sony 32" TV is kind of old (about 12 years old). I know some newer TVs come ready for consoles so I don't know if that matters or not
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Old 03-13-04, 07:30 PM   #2
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As far as the actual picture clairity, the images will be pretty similar. I played Splinter Cell on the Xbox and PC on my TV, and they looked virtually identical (especially since I couldn't use AA on the PC version). But running a PC TV-out at above 640x480 resolution will probably muddle up the image a bit, as TVs can only really output at that resolution so having it any higher will just force it to scale the image down to fit on the TV (probably why you're noticing slightly fuzzy graphics from your TV output). Obviously you can use AA/aniso in almost every PC game whereas most Xbox games don't use those effects, but aside from that it's about the same. However some Xbox games do still appear a little fuzzy on a TV, in Steel Battalion: LOC I sometimes have trouble reading the text on my sub-monitors. Oh, and turning Sharpness on your TV all the way up sometimes helps clear up the image a bit, as well.

As far as actual graphics in PC vs. Xbox, the PC obviously wins by default due to it's upgradability and more options, but the Xbox still does pull off some very impressive graphics. If I didn't have a gaming-class PC (which is starting to show it's age...), I wouldn't mind playing games like KOTOR (and even Doom 3, based on how it's shaping up) soley on the Xbox, and games like Ninja Gaiden and Panzer Dragoon Orta just plain look great.

For the price, you might as well pick up the Xbox, it has some nice games and decent features. I was actually impressed by Xbox Live, it has a lot of capabilities that I wish PC online games would make standard. And supposedly the Xbox is dropping to $149.99 or so in April, so you might want to wait a month and get the most for your money (though I think LiquidX did have a nice deal on a used Xbox in the For Sale forum).
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Old 03-13-04, 09:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
I'm thinking of getting an Xbox soon but was wondering if the graphics will be improved over what you get when displaying computer games using TV-out. I'm currently testing TV-out using 800x600 (basically b/c it easier to see from a distance than it was when using 1024x768).


On games that are available for both X-Box and PC, using 640x480 as the resolution, I would say if you have the hardware that can max the games out while maintaining at least 30-60FPS, then you can get a better graphics from the PC then the X-Box, due to being able to use higher levels of texture filtering. PC's can also use higher levels of Anti-aliasing, but I wouldn't recommend it (flicker filtering does a good enough job of reducing jaggies).. TV's are blurry enough as it is. Anything more will make make it even more so.

But really, you have to remember the X-Box is only $199.. While on comparing games available on both hardware the PC might win, it might take at least $1,000 worth of PC hardware to sometimes match the X-Box.. And in the end, the X-Box still has better polygon capabilities then the PC (even with the latest hardware). So a lot of exclusive games on X-Box look more stellar then PC games.



On TV out in general, I agree with Edge. I only use a resolution of 640x480 whenever I play games on my TV. Analog TV's just don't do high resolutions very well. Anything higher then 640x480 is going to leave you with a subpar picture quality.

Flicker filtering does a good enough job of eliminating jaggies, if you use a strenght equivalent to 2. So you don't need to resort to AA. Overall, with the right TV out settings, you can get a very nice picture quality, and overall a better *picture quality then most consoles.
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Old 03-13-04, 09:56 PM   #4
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Thanks for the detailed comments Edge and NickSpolec. Much appreciated.
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Old 03-14-04, 09:26 AM   #5
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I think that you will find that textures will still look better using tv out, plus AF, also draw distance should be better.
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Old 03-19-04, 03:51 PM   #6
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Well, not to nitpick, but here I go regardless (more of an excuse to digress on my recent Xbox experience, so take it for what you will).

Quote:
Originally posted by NickSpolec

But really, you have to remember the X-Box is only $199.. While on comparing games available on both hardware the PC might win, it might take at least $1,000 worth of PC hardware to sometimes match the X-Box..
You can easily configure a $1000 PC - with 19” monitor, large HD, 512 megs with a 9800 Pro and a good CPU, so that simply isn't the case. Such a system won't "match" the Xbox, it will exceed it in spades. Of course, all that hardware can be used for far more than games as you certainly know.

I speak from experience, as I have a 64meg Geforce 4 4200 (running at 300 core/600 mem though) with a 2400 XP running on 512 megs of 266mhz memory. Running the same games on each system almost always have my PC winning by a significant margin in terms of performance and appearance (speaking of Gamecube as well, not just Xbox).
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And in the end, the X-Box still has better polygon capabilities then the PC (even with the latest hardware). So a lot of exclusive games on X-Box look more stellar then PC games.
Uh…I would take some issue with that statement. Could you extrapolate on these "better polygon capabilities" a little more perhaps? The NV2A chip in the Xbox has the dual vertex-engine of the Geforce4 line yes, but doesn’t compare to the engines in the 5900/9800, not to mention the bandwidth/fillrate of these cards and pixel shading abilities that dwarf the Xbox’s. With consoles, especially the Xbox, the main CPU has to be involved in polygon setup to a lesser extent than the PC, it still doesn’t imply that this means the system can push out more polygons than a PC that has technology in it 2 years more advanced. It’s not as if preferred developers are given a secret “Push more polygons=1” switch by Microsoft. Coding to the metal of the hardware and the unified memory architecture of the Xbox can certainly give you more performance than you would get from a Geforce3 stuck to a Celeron 733mhz through an AGP connection (which some PC users forget), but there’s a limit.

Exclusive games on consoles almost always look superior to multiplatform titles simply due to the fact they're exclusive, which means a large development budget/team and well optimized code that’s usually coded very closely to the target hardware that’s difficult (for financial reasons or otherwise) when you’re targeting multiple platforms. Skilled art direction can also mean a hell of a lot when it comes to the final aesthetics of a title (which I admit more console developers seem skilled at as compared to most PC developers), not to mention the game's design being architected around the limitations of the particular consoles strengths/weaknesses. Games like DOA3 look good because of skilled programming, but also because the environments are extremely confined and there are far less variables to be concerned about than a complex FPS (which is one of the reasons 3D fighters are usually the best looking titles on their respective platforms - has any PS2 game looked as good all-around as Tekken 4 which was a frickin' launch title?!). Heck, from what I recall the early Dead or Alive 3 videos that were wowing people before the Xbox were released were being produced by a development box, which at the time was a Geforce2 Ti in an AGP-equipped PC.

Regardless, now to the main purpose of this post (this really isn’t directed at anyone in particular): I'm at the tail end of renting an Xbox for a week (got one and sold it a few months after it first came out, have a Gamecube still and also had a PS2 as well in the past), although I've always played it when I've had a chance at stores; I just wanted to catch up with the new titles and get a more hands-on experience with them than a few minutes at a kiosk on a crappy monitor.

I've been impressed with some titles - Crimson Skies definitely looks great and is a lot of fun for example, and although I didn’t get a chance to rent it, I’ve played Ninja Gaiden and that is obviously extremely polished (although suffers from the small room ->load ->small room->load syndrome I see in a lot of console titles).

But knock-your-socks off exclusives are a rare beast I’m finding, so most of the titles I rented I already had on the PC (or at least in demo form), so this experience largely amounted to see how they compare with my middle-range (slipping to entry-level) rig, which at times feels like it needs an upgrade for my standards.

With the exception of Beyond Good and Evil which would require me to turn down the res to 800*600 on my PC to get the same or better performance of the Xbox version in all areas (although it’s still faster at 1024*768 in some scenes which seem to be more more polygon-limited than fillrate), almost all of the cross-platform titles were definitely superior on the PC, and you can’t tell me these games were all ported from the PC. Freedom Fighters, Prince of Persia, NFS:Underground (30fps and under aliased blurry mess on the Xbox, vs 45+fps 1024 res on my PC with everything except road reflections maxxed), Splinter Cell, KOTOR, Armed and Dangerous – it practically was a whitewash with my ol’ PC cleaning up, even while in most cases I was running at 1024*768 or higher as compared to the Xbox’s 640*480, not to mention higher texture detail. I’m leaving out obvious PC->Console ports which are almost always poor performers on the console side, I did try Unreal2 Xbox for a laugh though, which it certainly provided (if you thought the PC version was slow and inconsistent art – yeesh!).

And I have to grind my teeth (as I always do) at the gamepad control for certain titles -ugh, Freedom Fighters & Armed and Dangerous are absolute nightmares with a pad vs a mouse especially when running at the choppy framerates of the Xbox versions, I have no idea how other people get through these games using that control system. James Bond: Everything or Nothing is presenting somewhat similar frustration, you just get around it by "locking on" ever bloody enemy within 5 ft of you. But I digress…yet again.

Hey, I have a gamecube and have certainly enjoyed it, consoles have definite advantages in some situations (portability, starting price, large TV as output device which helps with multiplayer in the same room, sports titles), so I’m not intending this as a consoles-must-die rant by any means, to get the full gaming spectrum you have to have both (or perhaps four – a PC and all three consoles - the downside to this "exclusivity" bull**** which I can’t stand. People seem to forget that if you’re comparing a single console brand at $150 to a $800-$1000 PC, that you’re going to miss out on a lot of titles on the two other consoles as well, or perhaps the best versions – there isn’t one console standard folks). I just wanted to see if that much had changed since my first Xbox foray, and while I didn’t get a chance to play all the titles I wanted, I came back seriously under-whelmed as compared to gaming on my PC; which is certainly no performance behemoth these days itself.

Ah, but I digr – uh…I think I’ll stop saying that.
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Old 03-19-04, 05:25 PM   #7
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Well, you do of course need to take into account the amount of time the current generation of consoles has been out. 2.5 years later, it's not suprising that the Xbox can't keep up to modern PC graphics. However, when it was released, it was almost unmatched by PC hardware, especially in price. Hell, the graphics card alone would've cost as much as the Xbox, and at the time there really wasn't anything that could compair to Halo or DOA3. Obviously, now we're seeing much cheaper PC technology, but I think for $150 the Xbox is still a pretty damn amazing deal. Since the videocards you mentioned retail for around $300, I'd still say the Xbox is probably the better deal.

But lets face it, we don't play games JUST for graphics. I got an Xbox because it had many interesting games on it that I wanted to play but weren't availible on any other platform (PDO, Otogi, Ninja Gaiden, Steel Battalion, etc.). Graphics are nice, but if I was really that critical on graphics I'd upgrade my TI4200 card and get a nice 19" monitor that's capable of displaying at 1600x1200. I actually prefer playing Splinter Cell on my Xbox compaired to my PC, simply because it's easier to manage and it's more comfortable using a controller (not to mention my 5.1 surround sound system really helps in that game, which would be a major pain to set up with my PC). I'm all for great graphics, especially if I don't have to upgrade my hardware to get it, but I don't think graphics alone should be the sole reason to choose one platform over another (hell, I'd still rather play Fallout 2 than almost any other RPG released recently). But to be honest, I'm still waiting for a PC game with as much character and texture detail as the Shen Hua presentation demo that's in Shenmue for the Dreamcast (a system which can be bought for as little as $14 nowadays).

Oh, and with a little work, a $200 Xbox can be turned into a Linux box with a variety of capabilities. I've considered modding my Xbox just so I could actually watch my anime on the big screen (it's a huge hassle hooking my PC up to my TV). The Xbox does have the advantage of being more convenient for many people, whereas the PC works good as a multi-purpose utility but often ends up being a very problematic platform. Hell, I was actually able to play Steel Battalion resting the controller on my lap, and it was still easier to manage than trying to operate a computer without a decently sized desk in front of you (and if you've seen the Steel Battalion controller, you'll know how freaking hard that thing would be to use on your lap!).
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Old 03-19-04, 06:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Edge
Well, you do of course need to take into account the amount of time the current generation of consoles has been out. 2.5 years later, it's not suprising that the Xbox can't keep up to modern PC graphics. However, when it was released, it was almost unmatched by PC hardware, especially in price. Hell, the graphics card alone would've cost as much as the Xbox, and at the time there really wasn't anything that could compair to Halo or DOA3. Obviously, now we're seeing much cheaper PC technology, but I think for $150 the Xbox is still a pretty damn amazing deal. Since the videocards you mentioned retail for around $300, I'd still say the Xbox is probably the better deal.
Well, my 4200 is coming up on 2 years old actually, so it's not as if I'm comparing it to a 3ghz P4 with a 9800, I'm comparing it to my current system which I've had for quite a while.

The 9800 Pro is ~$200 now, not $300 unless you have a desire to be ripped off. And yes, obviously that is more than the cost of the Xbox itself, price was only entered into this thread due to NickSpolec mentioning that you would need $1000 worth of PC hardware just to match the Xbox. I included a system with a 9800 Pro for under $1000 to illustrate that's just not the case at all - for $1000 these days, you can get one ass-kicking PC setup, but you hardly require a 9800 Pro to play most PC games well. Hell, my system which still outperformed the Xbox in many titles while looking better in the process could probably be had for ~$600 now. PC prices aren't what they used to be, unless you have a desire for a case with 8-layer reflective paint complete with custom dremel artwork, hardware RAID and the most expensive P4EE on the market offered from several boutique vendors.

And bear in mind, while a high-end video card will retail for more than a console late in its lifespan, the comparison isn't so clear-cut. Purchasing a new video card brings an immediate benefit to your existing library - higher res, AA/aniso, more effects, better framerate, etc. If a video card purchase acted like a console purchase, in that I would have to purchase new games to see any benefit at all, then I would have given up PC gaming eons ago. So "better deal" is not quite so obvious in the consoles favour all the time, the console will have titles that aren't available on the PC so in that sense the choice is obvious, but a $200-$300 graphics card on the PC will allow multiplatform games like the ones I mentioned to run smoother with higher graphic detail (and better control, although that's nothing to do with the videocard) which can translate into a significantly better gaming experience for some titles - you pay more, you get more. Graphics and gameplay are not utterly disparate elements, although they're relatively simple, games like Armed and Dangerous and Freedom Force are improved significantly with higher res, better framerate, and the quick response you can only get with a mouse - they're severely hampered (IMO) when played on a console.

A minor additional point: PC versions of the same titles are usually $10-$20 cheaper at launch, and drop in price more rapidly, just to illustrate the price/performance scale is a little more complex than at first glance.

Quote:
I'm all for great graphics, especially if I don't have to upgrade my hardware to get it, but I don't think graphics alone should be the sole reason to choose one platform over another (hell, I'd still rather play Fallout 2 than almost any other RPG released recently).
Of course no one is saying graphics should be the sole reason to choose one platform over another, I purchased a Gamecube because it offered game genres that were nonexistent on the PC, and don't regret it one bit.

But this thread was started by someone inquiring about the graphics capabilities of consoles as compared to a PC through a TV, and it's being hosted by a webboard dedicated to PC graphics hardware - it's not surprising graphics quality is going to be at the forefront of many discussions here.
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Old 03-19-04, 08:38 PM   #9
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Funny thing, when people are stating the "cheap" price of consoles, they never take into account the price of the TV sure you can have a cheap console, but it aint any good if its not plugged into a tv

Srry coldnt help myself
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Old 03-20-04, 10:16 AM   #10
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And not just the TV, but also the electricity bill it costs to RUN that TV! Also you don't magically have a place to put that TV for free, so you have to buy a HOUSE to put it in too! But of course the house can't just be put anywhere, so you have to buy LAND to put the house on! And in the end you spend hundreds of thousands of dollers just so you can play a damn console!

Heh, well obviously most people are going to have a TV, the reason a monitor is usually factored into buying a PC is because the monitor serves almost no purpose other than to display data from a PC (though it doesn't have to be factored into the cost if you're upgrading your PC). But I really like the fact that you can just hook a console up to stuff that you already have, I'd never have a 5.1 surround sound system for my Xbox unless my parents had bought it for their DVDs

I think for a direct cost compairision between a console and a gaming-class PC, you should compair the cost of a PC which runs normal applications, and of one that can also run games well. Obviously you're going to need a motherboard, CPU, etc., but overall you probably wouldn't need a fast CPU or lots of RAM or a good video card unless you're planning on playing games. I think $100 for a video card "equal" to the Xbox's capabilities, $40 for 256 megs of ram, an extra $60 for an XP2400 CPU or so (since for almost anything else you could just use a 1 ghz CPU and it would be fine), and $40 for a decent 5.1 sound card are the main things you'd need to play games "as well" as an Xbox. You can get a $400 Emachine and it will perform almost any normal PC function fine, but to upgrade it to play games decently you'd probably have to drop an extra $200 or so onto it.

Of course a $200 videocard would definatly output graphics better than the Xbox, but obviously anyone who's going to spend that much on a videocard is definatly going to use it well. Though I was refering to retail price and availiblity when I was talking about $300 videocards, since unfortunatly the supply of cheap 9800/FX5900 cards are drying up a little and the only place to get them is online, sometimes only in OEM format). But sometimes you can get decent deals on consoles as well, I got my Xbox a year and a half ago for $180, and it came with a 3 free games (Jedi Starfighter, JSRF and SegaGT2002) and a $30 Bestbuy gift certificate. At the time, a 9700 card would've cost over $300 (unless you were one of the insanely lucky people to get a moddable 9500 card).

But as I've mentioned before, the Xbox does actually make a decent "PC-Lite" with a mod chip. If you're only looking to watch videos, play games, and listen to music, an Xbox actually might make a nice alternative to getting a better PC (assuming you have an older PC that couldn't be upgraded, like my friends 500 mhz computer). But I think most REAL gamers will have at least a gaming-class PC and a couple of consoles, since there's so damn many good games out there availible on all platforms. I have a feeling I'll be playing Steel Battalion: Line of Contact as much as I've played Natural Selection (which was my previous all-time favorite online game).
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Old 03-20-04, 07:37 PM   #11
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I thought I posted already but maybe I lost it since I was trying to respond around the time the forums went down.

Anyway, I almost bought one yesterday but then thought about renting to test it out. But, then today I read that the price will drop to $149 in early april so I'll probably just pick one up then. I wish I would have held off buying MVP Baseball 2004 and just got it on the console. I can't even use my gamepad in this game b/c it only supports like 5 or so and provides no generic profile. Just ridiculous. I rarely get any sympathy (heh, or help) when trying to run console-like games on the PC though so I guess it's my own fault for continuing to try to do so.

The other thing is, I'd like to see a console connected to a 40+ plasma TV to see how it looks. Anyone tried something like that yet?
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Old 03-20-04, 08:06 PM   #12
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Yeah, that's the other problem with PCs: they may be "customizable", but a lot of things on it are screwy. Hell, I just got done reformating mine because it kept having odd problems (blank textures in games, previous "demos" showing nothing but a black screen, and I was getting 7000 3dmark2001s on an XP2000 with a TI4200...). Also it often takes a lot of tweaking to get it to work right, I was getting horrid performance in games before I remembered to install my AGP drivers for my motherboard.

And similarly, some PC developers are about as lazy as you can get. And it's not just ports: I remember with Starlancer, there was NO mouse control in the game at all, and it was a space flight sim! I ended up just waiting for the Dreamcast version so I could actually use it with a decent control input device (since I didn't like the joystick control on the PC version).

But once you get it set up, PC gaming is usually a lot of fun. And yeah, I'd like to see a PC running at HDTV resolution on a big screen, it should look spectacular (though the image clairity would probably be similar to an Xbox game running in 1080i mode...for all 4 games that actually support that option). But man...Half-life 2 on a 40 inch plasma screen at 1920x1080 resolution...
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