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Guitar Hero III (GH3) For Mac: We might be able to make this work yet...

Thanks to this article on xlr8yourmac.com we were able to disregard the terrible feedback for the ATI X1900 found on the apple store and get one installed and running reliably on our Quad 2.16 Mac Pro.

Since the article was so in depth there is not much that we can add other than this summary to throw on the pile of similar experiences from other card owners:

- The stock cooler for the ATI X1900 isn't just bad; it's utterly unusable. Within a half hour of initial installation it overheated and took the entire system down. Cranking up the HDD corridor fans using smcFanControl did nothing as the stock cooler exposes little of it's heat sink and relies entirely on it's own loud, ineffective fan

- After a 4 week backorder at newegg.com we finally received our Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 (rev 2) and found that the directions were, indeed, poorly illustrated and hard to understand. Knowing what the kit will look like when properly assembled helped a great deal. In the end installation was very smooth and linear.


- We are able to run work activities on an Apple 23" Cinema display (sharing the graphics memory between OS X in one "spaces" space and Windows XP Home SP2 on a second space) using the standard fan settings and passive cooling (no turbo module)

- The first run of Guitar Hero III crashed the system pretty hard but we presumed this was heat related and cranked the HDD fans up to 3000rpm (probably higher than needed) using smcFanControl. With these settings you can feel the air blowing out the back of the case and game runs fine at 1280x800 with crowd and lens flare on with the exception of certain camera pans in a few arenas which Aspyr acknowledges as a problem that will be addressed in a forthcoming patch.


So all in all it's a little disappointing that so much tweaking is left to gamers and that consoles seem to continue to be the only "just works" way to play a game. That being said, good results can be had on Mac/PC and the Accelero S1 is quite a bargain for the stability it provides.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on March 28, 2008 | Comments (0)

Performance Problems with Guitar Hero III on Mac

What does a guy have to do to rock? (on a Mac)

A lot, apparently. We've been working with Aspyr recently due to their smash-hit game simply not performing on a very nicely equipped system.

The problem we've run into: Screen Stutter in the Desert Rock Tour and Kaiju Superdome. In particular: the camera views when looking up to the stage from the front row as well as sweeping camera pans from the back row to the stage.

On a quad 2.66 Xeon with 5GB RAM, a 500GB SATA HD, and a GeForce 7300 card with 256MB RAM the stutter in these areas is noticeable and seriously affects gameplay.


To attempt to remedy the situation we:
- obviously shut down all other programs
- made sure GH3 was patched (version 1.1 is the latest at press time)
- made sure we were on the latest OS (Mac 10.5.2 at the time with the "graphics update" package)
- set the game's graphics mode to "boring" (eg: lowest resolution, low crowd**, no special effects) (low crowd is not NO crowd-- they just remove the crowd near the stage and thin the crowd in the back)
- killed the dashboard to remove the last bits of network connectivity (many widgets connect frequently to the internet which can cause hiccups)
- created a new account on the system to use
- upgraded the graphics card to an ATI X1900 with 512MB RAM

Once we hit that last step we knew there was a real problem with the game, which aspyr has finally admitted to. There is a another patch in the works but there is little info as to what exactly they are patching and how so there is not much we can do but wait.

In the meantime, if you are experiencing some performance issues that you think might be related to your widgets this article tells you how to kill them (and restart them later)


Apparently Aspyr is not allowed to mess with the widgets due to some legal issues with Apple but end users have a little more flexibility.

To that end, I've used Automator to create two programs that you can try to see if your performance is improved somewhat:

rockout.jpgRock Out.app sets the dashboard to "off", restarts the dock (making the changes take effect) and launches GH3 (presuming that you've quit your other running applications and that your game is in /Applications/Guitar Hero III folder)

donerocking.jpgDone Rocking.app sets the dashboard to "on" and restarts the dock to resume normal computer use

You can download them here


Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on March 9, 2008 | Comments (0)