Periodically users ask me what my setup is. Usually the user wants to set up a really nice machine to run X-Plane at its best and figures "let's find out what the guys who write X-Plane have."
But ... my main development machine is definitely not selected to be the best possible X-Plane machine. I put together a system to:
- Debug X-Plane productively.
- Test all aspects of X-Plane.
- Create the global scenery as fast as possible.
Being an Intel Mac, the machine is triple-bootable into Vista (someone in the company has to have it) and Ubuntu Linux.
Right now I have a Radeon 4870 in the machine and an 8800 on my shelf. I do recommend the 4870 to Mac users - it's a very nice card. But for my purposes it has one annoying problem: it takes up the space for the second graphics card slot and both power connectors...I may go back to a lower powered card so I can have one NV and one ATI card in the machine at the same time - a great configuration for debugging. (I do not recommend that any user ever mix graphics card brands..."don't try this at home", etc.)
Maxing out X-Plane isn't on the priority list. In particular, past these goals, the faster the machine, the less likely I am to notice a problem.
An example: during 930 development, for some period of time, we had accidentally set the code to allocate an extra 1 GB of RAM at startup. Oops! The embarrassing part: neither Austin and I noticed for weeks. Both of our machines have plenty of RAM, and OS X has a decent VM system, so we just ran, using a lot of memory.
Then one day I try to start X-Plane on my laptop and the whole machine nearly catches on fire. Sure enough...an extra 1 GB of RAM is being grabbed.
The moral of the story: I'd rather not have a machine that hides things from me, if it doesn't affect productivity.