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PC specs & short story before I get to the questions...
Specs: 8800GTS 512MB, E6850 3GHz, 4GBs @ 800MHz (PC reads it as only 2.8GBs though), Windows XP Pro SP3, 600W PSU
^ This PC is not only the PC that I'm using now, but it is also the same PC I used when I had initially tried the game. No changes have been made to it since my initial attempt at trying to run EQ2.
Story: The first time that I had played EQ2 was about a year ago. When I had initially tried it, I really enjoyed it. I thought the game was really fun. Only problem was that the performance of the game on my PC was less than perfect, to say the least (I would have to run the game on settings at, or below Balanced (usually below balanced if I'm in a town-type area)). Now I'm not one to prefer graphics over gameplay, and so I usually wouldn't mind running the game on at least the default balanced settings, but there was only a certain amount of un-optimization on the games part that I could put up with before I just couldn't put up with it anymore. When I started to group up with other people for quests and other group activities, my frame rate would constantly dip in to the <30 region, and I would have to run the game at extreme/high performance settings at a resolution of at least 1024x768 in order to get a playable frame rate. It was really pathetic, and at that point, I just stopped subbing to the game.
I was really bummed. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, but I couldn't put up with the crap frame rate that I was getting. So every once in awhile (every major update or so), I usually give the trial a go to see what my performance on the game is like. I went ahead and gave the game another try when they started to implement some multi-core functionality (off-putting some of the shadow processing/character animations to the second core in a multi-core processor). Unfortunately, my frame rate really hasn't gotten any better at all. I heard that SOE is trying this whole "GPU shadows" thing on EQ2 now, and I'm sort of interested in finding out how this will affect the overall performance of PCs on EQ2. Since EQ2 is a fairly CPU-intensive game though, I figure that if my GPU can help take some of the load off of my CPU, my PC might be able to run the game slightly better than it did before. But by this point, I've tried the trial probably over 5 or 6 times by now, and I just don't feel like reinstalling/updating the game again, along with having to create another trial account. So this essentially brings me to my set of questions...
Questions: Will the newly implemented GPU shadows drastically improve the performance of the game on my PC? Like, is it something that would improve the frame rate so much, that the game would become playable on at least the default balanced settings? Or has the performance on the game decreased because of this change? Or stayed about the same?