FAQ - Reader Contributions

GPL Survival Guide
GPL Hardware FAQ
GPL Online FAQ

GPL Reader FAQ

  1. General
  2. Hardware
  3. Online
This is a work in progress, which will likely expand over time.

The GPL Reader FAQ contains information contributed by other GPL enthusiasts. If you're a newbie to GPL, start with my GPL Survival Guide.

Please note that I have made no attempt to verify the accuracy of any of the information on this page. I've made this information available as a service to GPL racers. Use this information at your own risk!

For my general suggestions about GPL, see my GPL FAQ. For my suggestions about hardware, controllers, and operating systems, see my GPL Hardware FAQ. For more information about racing over the Internet, see my GPL Online FAQ.

1 General

[No reader comments in this section yet.]

For more general information about GPL, see my GPL FAQ.

2 Hardware

V5 and the new Direct3D Rasterizer

Jammer has posted suggestions for setting up the Voodoo5 for use with Papy's latest Direct3D rasterizer to take advantage of the V5's anisotropic filtering feature.

Jammer says the Voodoo5 and D3D rasterizer gives much better performance than either the V5 with the Glide rasterizer or a GeForce3 with the D3D rasterizer on his machine.

Read the entire post here.

Reader Likes new Logitech Formula Force GP

David Simmons says:

"I read your comments on the Formula Force GP. I'm sure what you say is true when comparing the two wheels but the original Formula Force is next to impossible to find. I haven't found a new one yet. And I really don't like used hardware. The GP did seem cheaply made in comparison and I'm sure it's not smooth like the belt drive (I wish they had at least kept that) but the force feedback is excellent, the pedals feel great, and the layout of the buttons and feel of the wheel is just fine. It takes up very little space on my desk and was only $99.

"So far I'm very pleased with it. It's my first force feedback and there's no way I'd go back. GPL is just awesome with FF. I can hardly believe how it enhances the driving experience of these games especially in Viper Racing where it makes a huge difference.

"Thanks for all the set up tips concerning FF on your site. I never would have figured that out on my own. They should have included that stuff in the Read Me. Why add FF and not implement it into the menus? That's a strange one to me."

I think the reasons for not modifying GPL's menus for FF were cost and time. The GPL patches were a more or less unofficial project mostly by one engineer. To involve artists in modifying the menu structure would have significantly increased the cost (and probably gotten management involved, which might have killed the whole thing).

ATI Rage Fury Pro, Athlon Smokes with GPL

David Littlefield has found that the new Direct3D Rasterizer for GPL from Papyrus has opened up an excellent new option for running GPL at very high resolution. David reports:

"Just thought I'd let you know that I'm using Papyrus' new D3D patch with my ATI Rage Fury Pro 4x AGP card and getting framerates of 36 with everything turned on and 19 opponents! Looks great, too. I'm running GPL on my new AMD Athalon 600 with SB Live! Value card and 128 mg RAM."

I asked David for more details about his computer, and what resolution he's running at. He replied:

"I'm running 1280x1024. My computer is a MicroExpress. It has been the #1 "budget pc" by PC World Magazine for the past several months. Quality and technical support ain't Dell, but for about $1200 (plus $125 shipping) for a 17" monitor, AMD Athlon 600, 128 mg ram, 10x DVD, 20 gb hard drive, Soundblaster Live! Value card, 3d speakers, and the ATI card I mentioned earlier, I can put up with a few inconveniences."

David also notes:

"Great site, thanks for the effort. I configured my computer based upon your suggestions, along with the purchase of a Logitech Wingman FF wheel. I had to take a bit of a leap on the ATI Rage card, since the manufacturer didn't offer a Voodoo."

Turtle Beach Montego; Diamond Monster Sound PCI

Inspired by the following comment from CSi Motorsports Forum member Andy Booth, I whipped the legacy sound card out of my PII/400 (which you wouldn't think would need any help with frame rate) and assayed a Turtle Beach Montego.

"Just thought I'd give you an idea of how a PCI sound card helps. I have both a legacy AWE 64 Gold and a new PCI Diamond Monster Sound. With the number of sounds heard set to between 4 and 6 the cards produce nearly identical results, but if you increase the number of sounds heard to max (16), the Diamond MS wins hands down, giving nearly 5 fps advantage over the AWE 64."

Holy chrome moly, he's right! I had been getting 19 fps on the grid @ Monza, with the AWE and a pair of SLI'd Monster 3D (Voodoo 2) cards. I had to pull one of the 3Dfx cards, and was anticipating a huge drop in fps. Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when the rate picked up a bit, to 22 fps, with a single Monster II and the Montego PCI sound. The audio is cleaner, too, with less artifact (that annoying background static), and the engine notes more pleasing.

- Steve Smith

Soundblaster Live!

I today installed an SB Live Value and the surprise it gave me was so tremendous that I wanted to report it. It belongs into the GPL knowledge base, IMO.

Before, with my old soundcard, also a PCI board, when doing the standard GPL-fps test of starting at the back of a full field at Monza, I got these values with a 3dFX SLI pack:

- at he back of the field, all cars standing still, 16 - 18 fps - right after the start, all cars moving including my own, 14 - 15 fps - pretty soon after that, fps goes to 26 - 28 on the front straight, and then to 33 - 36 after Curva Grande

After installing the SB Live Value - which costs only in the range of $70.- I got this:

- at he back of the field, all cars standing still, 26 - 28 fps (twenty-six to twenty-eight) - right after the start, all cars moving including my own, 24 - 25 fps (twenty-four to twenty-five) - pretty soon after that, fps goes to 33 - 36 on the front straight after a couple of metres.

I cross checked ten times, because I couldn't believe it, so I think this increase in fps can be regarded as a hard fact.

My system is:

Asus P2B @ 112, PII @ 392, V2-SLI, 128MB RAM, PDPI L4, Thriller 16MB AGP as the main graphics board.

What stunned me was the substantial increase in fps (up to 10!) I saw in GPL in the Monza-at-the-start-at-the-back-of-a-full-field-of-AI test <g> solely by exchanging the sound card. Apparently, the SB Live frees up the CPU horsepower the V2-cards need to draw the full field of AI cars smoothly.

In FS98, for example, the increase in fps was less impressive - in the range of 2-3 frames - but it was again substantial in Falcon 4, with an increase of 5-6, F4 also being a CPU hog.

The SB Live seems to free up a lot of CPU power. The Ziff Davis Audiobench confirmed that, BTW. The SB Live causes none or close to no CPU usage at all in all the tests of that benchmark, where my old sound board, the Terratec XLerate, a Vortex 1 based board, caused CPU loads between 2.5 and 60 (!) percent, the latter figure only occurring in very few of the tests, but nonetheless.

The advantage is most noticeable in games which need a lot of CPU horsepower - or so is my theory :)

So, the baseline of what I'm saying is that for GPL, looking for a soundboard which causes minimum CPU usage can be a cheap and easy way to get a much better system performance.

- Achim Trensz

I asked Achim about the difference between the SoundBlaster Live! Value and the full SB Live! Here's what he said:

The Value version is technically identical to the full version, both in terms of speed and sound quality. The board is well made, no cheapo cheapo production. The main soundboard is the same as the full version. The sound quality is excellent, and also the quality of the effect processor which can be used to enhance the sound of any game without CPU usage or performance hit, BTW. The preset effects which you can add to enhance your games, are a bit gamish (=exaggerated).

What's missing are mainly a game CD (Unreal) which comes with the full version, and the daughterboard about the function of which I am not sure. Allegedly, the digital input (maybe on the daughterboard?) is also missing, although on my board I can see SPDIF hardware, so I'm not sure whether it's really missing or not, and the documentation - but I'm not sure there's more documentation coming with the full version.

So, unless you're a musician or sound technician, you won't even scratch the surface of the SB Live, and especially of its sound processor, except by coincidence and cumbersome trial and error.

But the SB Live allows you to define all the effects in every little detail - from envelope parameters like delay, attack, sustain, decay etc., to advanced things like high frequency decay, propagation time, etc., to the ratios in which the effect and the original sound are blended, to mixing your own effects by combining all the features of the excellent sound chip. A playfield for those of us who have a lot of leisure time <g>

Oh yes, and it allows you to save all the effects you create, and it also allows you to save Soundblaster settings for each game or software. These settings include all the effects and adjustments made for a specific game, and get saved in the form of a soundset which can be reloaded with a few mouseclicks before starting the game. If you'd like to do that, you could give every game its individual sound environment. Quite amazing :)

- Achim Trensz

PDPI L4 and Gateway G6-450

Thought you might like to know about what I ran up against concerning PDPI L4 and my Gateway:

PDPI L4 was purchased and last week I installed it in my Gateway G6-450, per PDPI's instructions,(before finding out they have just started putting new instructions in with the hardware and CD-ROM installation disk). I was not able to get it to work with my computer.

I called PDPI, and Mike Pelkey e-mailed me the updated (January 1999) installation instructions. Armed with this, I then attempted a second install.

Problem: Gateway is using an integrated sound card, you cannot remove this card and then reinstall it after the computer assigns the address. I called Gateway, and they have no clue(or they just don't want to tell me) as to how to enable an aftermarket product to work without conflict.

Mike Pelkey sent me an e-mail from another client of theirs who did the install, then paid for a new sound card. Not my ideal of fun. I was able to get the control panel to disable my sound card. Then the L4 worked just fine-but without sound. As soon as I re-booted and re-installed the sound card, the conflict returned and the L4 was inoperative.

So the L4 goes back. PDPI said "Sorry, we will put out some information on our site about the Gateway problem."

- Craig Landen

Mouse Freezing in GPL Menus

Having experienced a mouse freezing problem in the GPL menus (esp. the main one), I've spent quite a bit of time looking for a solution. Reading rec.autos.simulators I see that quite a few other people have had this problem, and generally there seems to be one fix. I won't go into the details (I know you get loads of email), but suffice to say I think it would be great for others if you could put the solution in your Hardware FAQ.

A description of the fix is at:


and the required Voodoo2 reference drivers are available at:


Celeron A Overclocking

You may have read about the Celeron A overclocking. While Intel is putting out another generation (the PPGA) it remains to be seen whether Intel will prevent overclocking on the release version (tests to date have been on pre-production samples).

Anyways, as I haven't been find the computer markets you mentioned to save some of the costs of the upgrade to WIN98, the following deal is looking good to me since it leaves plenty of cash to pony up to the cost of a full WIN98 CD.

One of the Celeron reviews linked me to compucheap.com. They are currently offering a package deal- an Abit BH6 board, cartridge cooler and a Celeron 300A overclocked to 450MHZ. The tests I've seen show this combination runs about on par with a PII 450MHZ. Of course you have to add 100MHZ RAM.

The package runs about $250 (Abit raised prices, but this price does not take into account the price drop on Celeron A's announced in today's NY Times). It's burnt in and guaranteed for a year. While they won't guarantee the voltage they say it will not in any case be more than 2.2 v, and will be stable. Since I still feel the real systems will be PC99 compliant ones, with 700-1000MHZ CPU's, this seems a nice way to have a hot interim sytem for significantly less bucks and not be stuck with a PII 450 that will be outmoded by years' end and cost a bundle (and we will need new motherboards for the ISA-less PC99 anyways).

I know you've mention the AMD K6-3 as a possible gamer's solution but I think this particular price/performance point is hard to beat and the issue of AGP compatibility which has been attributed to the K2 should not raise its ugly head.

- John Valersky

AMD K6-350

The first thing I did was install GPL and gave it a whirl. You were right, the utter smoothness of this sim is unreal!! With the AMD K6-2 350, FIC motherboard, 8 Meg Thriller AGP, 128 Meg PC-100, PDPI L4, 800 x 600 resolution, All graphics and Anti-Aliasing turned on, I get:

I could probably bump the fps up at the start and in the pits with turning off a couple of non-essentials but I wanted to give you a "max load" reading. So, I guess I don't have to worry about wether I made a mistake or not going with the K6-2. The only thing that bothers me is the "jitters" that the car gets when the steering wheel at center.

Well, there you have it.

- Jason Hunsinger

Microswitches for Shifting

In my suggestions for upgrading the Thrustmaster T2, I recommended using microswitches from Digi-Key for shifters on the backside of the wheel.

I called Digi-Key about the microswitches, but they wanted $5 shipping and handling, so I went to Radio Shack. I found 2 microswitches with rollers for $1.89 each. The part number is 275-017A. They are much better than the cheasy inconsistent buttons I was using, and they mounted better. Thanks for the idea!

- Charlie Rice

For more information about GPL and hardware, controllers, and operating systems, see my GPL Hardware FAQ. Also see my controls page.

3 Online

Netgear Router

Tore Hansen writes:

For those who are serious about sharing your single internet connection in your "home" network I recommend a hardware router. I just installed a Netgear RT311 Internet Gateway Router (couldn't afford a Cisco router) and it makes a world of difference. I can't compare it to Win98 ICS. Now I get connection speed on each computer. I also get security and I don't have to tie up a computer as the server. I also can configure the router unlike ICS which is unconfigurable unless you get third party software. I also don't have to wait until ICS actually shares the connection. I am also under the impression that Road Runner is working on a method to disable ICS or make it so unstable that it is useless, after all for each shared connection they lose money.

To me it's like the difference between software vs. hardware rendering. But it costs a couple hundred dollars, however I feel it is worth it. I could have spent the money to update my P2-400, but I feel the reliability of an internet connection is more important at this time.

I was finally able to host a GPL race. I haven't been able to do this while I was using ICS, at least in a reliable way.

I tried the ICS configuration utility, but it can't compare to what I can do with this router.

As of February 2000, the Netgear router is available from Buy.com for just over $200. Go here.

Cable Modem Setup

Paco Skiinoff writes regarding the suggestions for cable modem setup:

I just wanted to tell you that at the VROC site which claims that these patches will speed up cable modem proformance. I found these patches 10 months ago; to me they're old news but carry a price. Most cable modems run on a network whose MTU is 1500, such as mine. These patches in effect maximize this value so download speeds are higher. Reason is, larger packets. Playing with other cable modem players whose MTU is 1500 (Cable patch installed) when you have one as well is a treat.

Now here's why it's bad news. Most people are on dial up and the MTU is restricted to 576 or less, smaller packets. When trying to connect to a cable modem that is running a 1500 MTU, the dialup cannot keep up to the larger packets from the server. This causes major warping and lots of disappearing cars.

Here is a tid bit from my home page about the patch. These settings are aggressive and will help in speeding up download rates. The patch is based on a MTU setting of 1500. To improve gameplay on the net you will need to set the MTU to 576. Set MTU to 1500 for fast downloads and 576 for better gameplay with others, like dial-ups.

All cable modem players should set their MTU value to 576 to accommodate the smaller packets that most people are using. Telling people to use this patch will only make things worse.

I use a program called I-speed which is freeware to control this. I simply select 576MTU for net play at VROC and when I want to download quickly I set it to 1500MTU. Just my opinion based on practical experience.

- Paco Skiinoff

See Michael Carver's detailed response to this.

For more information about racing over the Internet, see my GPL Online FAQ.