[rescue] OS X is certified UNIX

nate at portents.com nate at portents.com
Thu Jun 14 12:05:15 CDT 2007

> From what I've seen, driver support has been the big blocker for gaming on
> 64-bit Windows of any stripe, up to and including Vista. Vista has really
> forced the issue on hardware manufacturers and software publishers,
> though, and it's finally starting to sort itself out...but it isn't
> completely there yet.

Windows XP x64 is fine for gaming, with a few caveats.

I have two custom-built PCs at home dedicated to gaming (one 3Ghz Core 2
Duo with 8GB of RAM, the other a 2.6Ghz dual core Opteron with 4GB of RAM)
running Windows XP x64.

I currently have about 60 commercial games installed on both (I own about
100 commercial PC games), and most work fine, some work fine with patch
updates where the publisher removes the copy protection because they
weren't competent enough to ship a product with copy protection that works
in 64-bit, and some I've had to apply third party "no cd" patches to in
order for them to run, however I haven't had any trouble with games
otherwise, especially after AMD released their Dual Core Optimizer driver:


"The AMD Dual-Core Optimizer can help improve some PC gaming video
performance by compensating for those applications that bypass the Windows
API for timing by directly using the RDTSC (Read Time Stamp Counter)
instruction. Applications that rely on RDTSC do not benefit from the logic
in the operating system to properly account for the affect of power
management mechanisms on the rate at which a processor core's Time Stamp
Counter (TSC) is incremented. The AMD Dual-Core Optimizer helps to correct
the resulting video performance effects or other incorrect timing effects
that these applications may experience on dual-core processor systems, by
periodically adjusting the core time-stamp-counters, so that they are

As far as drivers go, any recent motherboard or video card has 64-bit
drivers, any decent motherboard/chipset will have the ability to handle
I/O remapping for 64-bit operating systems so you can use all the memory,
and Logitech has had 64-bit drivers for it's gaming mice, game pads,
joysticks, and driving wheels for a while now (and frankly I wouldn't use
anything other than Logitech peripherals anyway).  Creative Labs also has
64-bit drivers for their Audigy and now X-Fi series, however they have a
bug with EAX and 4GB or more of memory, so they've actually disabled EAX
in the drivers when you have that much memory, and they've told me they
are working on a fix for the problem and their next driver release will
re-enable EAX when you have 4GB or more of RAM and 64-bit.  Unfortunately
Creative is really slow with their driver updates, and they haven't even
announced an ETA.  Most games have non-EAX multichannel sound these days
anyway and they work just fine without EAX hardware acceleration, so it's
not a dealbreaker, but I agree it's annoying if you actually paid the
money for a Creative card.

Performance of 32-bit games in Windows x64 is fine, stability is great,
and really if you know what you're doing, it's good.  There are some
fabulous examples of idiocy by game developers that you'll bump into (for
instance Doom 3 installs and plays fine on XP x64, however the expansion
developed by Nerve Software had an installer which simply refused to
install the game, and there's a similar problem with the UK version of the
adventure game Fahrenheit, and so end-users have re-packaged the installer
files so they work correctly in XP x64 - you can find a lot of end-user
fixes for things like that on planetamd64.com).

There are some 64-bit native games such as Unreal Tournament 2004, Farcry,
Chronicles of Riddick, Half-Life 2 (and other Valve Source Engine based
games), but they're not really that different or vastly improved over
their 32-bit counterparts.

With most 'enthusiast' gamers being overly-obsessed with running their
memory as overclocked as they can (despite the fact it doesn't help that
much and that memory costs a lot), it's resulted in 'enthusiast' gamers
with two 512MB or two 1GB sticks of memory and reluctance to even fill
four slots (filling four slots means you have to slow down your memory
speed, loosen your timings, or both, which would mean they get less of
their precious overclocking).

I can't really recommend Vista for gaming though because it is still
slower than XP, and DirectX 10 isn't that compelling yet.  Maybe someday,
but all I've seen done with it so far is increased gound clutter/detail in
Company of Heroes, and real-time depth-of-field and motion blur in Crysis
(both games will also work in XP, and you'll get better performance on the
same hardware).  I have yet to see something in DirectX 10 that makes me
really want to bother (Epic keeps talking about the cool things they will
be doing with their new Unreal 3 engine in DirectX 10, but I have yet to
see it in action).

Microsoft is trying to push everyone onto Vista by making their games only
Vista, which means Halo 2 and Shadowrun right now, and making
cross-platform gaming with the XBox 360 be Vista only, but that's not in
any way compelling enough for me to run an OS where DRM is baked in so
deeply (and where the new audio driver model has completely removed the
ability for companies to create a hardware-accelerated sound drivers for
Vista which means Creative has been toying around with a kind of driver
'wrapper' for EAX support in Vista, though with so many games going with
OpenAL anyway EAX might end up being a moot technology anyway).

- Nate

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