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Playing Rocksmith 2014 on a Laptop

posted Mar 09, 2014 22:21:24 by MichaelWamback
I really wanted a way to entertain myself when things are slow at work - and I didn't want to have to drag a lot of gear. Decided to upgrade to a new laptop, and took a shot that I could get one that would run Rocksmith 2014 - so all I would need would be my laptop, my guitar and the cable.

After doing a lot of research, I settled on a "Sleekbook" from HP. It's 14 inch display, so small enough to be portable but still big enough to see reasonably well.

The trick to getting the Rocksmith software (hate to call it a game) to run on a PC is the processor. I had tested it on the wife's Toshiba laptop with an Intel processor, and found that it didn't really run all that well. After doing lots of research, I decided the AMD processor was the way to go. And I was right, the game runs beautifully with Windows 8.1 installed.

The difference between Intel equipped laptops and AMD is the way they handle graphics. Intel uses integrated graphics, meaning the processor also handles the graphics. While integrated graphics have improved, it's still not the best way to do things. AMD, on the other hand, has a Radeon graphics card to handle the graphics, freeing up the processor.

I was able to get an open box return, with AMD's 1.7 GHz quad core processor (with boost up to 2.7GHz) for $417 on Ebay (and it's touchscreen, which is nice for Windows 8.) Windows 8 ran well enough, but 8.1 was freezing a lot - which is why I suspect it was a return. All it needed was the BIOS updated, and it's run flawlessly since.

The Rocksmith software runs beautifully on it - very smooth with graphics turned up, not hesitation or lag, not freezing - just the way it should. It's made passing the time when things are slow a lot of fun. So if you are considering Rocksmith for a laptop, it's possible to get it to run well.

Playing Rocksmith on a laptop, it's possible - and you don't need to have the full specs of a gaming machine - but consider the AMD quad core processors. Much better than the Intel by a lot shot (although it would probably run decent with Intel's i7 processor, but still nice to have a dedicated graphics card.)
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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13 replies
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stanton.kramer said Mar 17, 2014 01:36:46
Hi Michael,
My daughter has Rocksmith and no doubt about it... it IS a game. She is an excellent symphonic musician having studied with some of the greatest flute teachers in the US and played in a couple half way decent orchestras. However, put a guitar in her hand and put her in front of Rocksmith and every morsel of musicianship goes out the window. She's had it for about 6 months, so just conveying my observation.

I have two Sony Vaio laptops and though I haven't tried RS on my duo core w 4G ram (which I like the best of my two laptops) I have a recently purchased Core i5 with 8GB ram. It works just fine with RS. But as you said the graphics on an AMD is separate. On the Core i5 Vaio I thought the faster processor and more ram would also provide better visual results on large flat screen monitors. It does not. My older Vaio is crisper and clearer than the new one. But I paid up for that one to get some other features that I needed for business.

So bottom line: A good modern laptop will work with Rocksmith. But if graphics are important to you before purchasing I'd have a look at how crisp the picture looks both on the laptop and plugged into a large PROFESSIONAL QUALITY flat screen monitor.
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MichaelWamback said Mar 19, 2014 14:52:19
My concerns in buying the new laptop were:

Price - have a tight budget,so wanted to try and stay under $500.
Size - Need to carry it in my backpack going back and forth, so it had to fit.
Processor - I really wanted it to play Rocksmith well.

After hunting around Ebay, I found an open box return of this HP Sleekbook 14 inch for only $417 shipped, and it was touchscreen which was a bonus.

I had been in the habit of taking my Zoom G3 pedal to work, which made for a heavy pack when combined with the laptop. The Rocksmith game lets me just carry the cable and plug straight into my laptop. I can then use the Tone Creator part of the game to set up a tone and just do my thing with my headset on. It really was the most ideal solution for portability.

And I'm happy I went with the AMD processor and graphics card. The game runs super smooth with not so much as a hiccup, and there is no lag at all.

And I agree it won't make you a phenomenal musician - but when you want to learn a new lick it's pretty cool. But you have to make the guitar your own at some point.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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stanton.kramer said Mar 19, 2014 18:40:26
I'm going to have to spend a bit more time with RS, but as of this moment I have great reservations about it. I'll be curious to hear of your progress.
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MichaelWamback said Mar 26, 2014 15:22:02
I'm actually having a lot of fun with it - and the 2014 version has a lot of improvements over the original one. You can definitely use it to learn a new song or two.

The big advantage for me is not having to take anything besides my guitar and laptop to work with me. I can just plug the guitar straight into the laptop, put on the headphones, fire up Rocksmith and jam. That, to me, is worth the price of admission, since it really lessons the amount of gear I have to schlep.

In terms of whether it will make you the world's greatest guitar player, probably not. But I am having fun with it. I also find that I tend to learn a new riff or a few cool new chords, and then I like to just experiment with it and ad-lib something.

So I definitely think it's well worth the price of a couple of guitar lessons.

And the bottom line, anything that can make practicing a bit of fun isn't bad.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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stanton.kramer said Mar 26, 2014 15:40:54
There is a lot to be said for fun and enthusiasm. I suppose today's "video game generation" would be motivated at least to pick up a guitar and play (not sure if it can be considered "practice"). I'm curious as to what happens when a player learns the song with RS then changes environment that does not have those visual cues? I have a friend who is a local band leader, a great sax player and marvelous clarinetist. He also conducts a local community band. It is amazing to watch, but as soon as he gets a baton in his hand all the musicianship is drained from his body. What he displays as a player completely disappears as a conductor, as if he needs his instrument to be musical. My point is to contemplate the change when the RS program is not in front of the player. My guess is that he would have to then learn the MUSIC as he has only learned the notes and fingerings. Will someone learning on RS work on any musical nuances while working with the program. I dunno. Just wondering.
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MichaelWamback said Mar 31, 2014 13:28:03
The new 2014 version of the software does that. It starts out with a very stripped down version of the song (a few notes) and gradually builds the complexity as you do well (more notes get added, notes become chords and so forth.) Once you reach a certain point of having mastered sections of a song, the game starts to fade the visual cues. Eventually, the tabs disappear all together, and you are just playing the song by memory. I have one song I've been working on currently where about 75% of the song now I'm playing by memory, since the tabs are now gone.

And there are actually training exercises to develop nuances such as vibrato and so forth.

I think it's pretty cool, and a big step over the original version. Well worth the cost of a couple of lessons, just for the fun of having the songs to play along to.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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stanton.kramer said Mar 31, 2014 14:39:49
I don't want to be overly critical without actually giving it a real try myself.

I can tap my daughter's account and try it out. But I don't have a cable interface into the computer. Is there any other cable that will work besides the one provided in the Rocksmith package?

What songs are you learning, Michael? Right now I'm entering my Joe Bonamassa phase. Simply in love with his playing an presentation.
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MichaelWamback said Apr 01, 2014 17:05:32
I just installed the PC version of the original Rocksmith and used the importer tool. Cost $40 total, but imported most of the songs from the original into the new game. I did notice, however, that they all sound much different. The audio has been much improved and the entire experience is much richer overall.

Have been getting reacquainted with some of the songs I'd learned from the old game. In particular, Soundgarden and Nirvana stuff. In the new game, have been working on "Pour Some Sugar On Me" an have that mostly down to memory now. Started on "Behind Blue Eyes" since it will give me something nice to pick on the acoustic.

I find that, for me, the best way to learn is the riff repeater tool. You can isolate and loop a small section of the song, slowing it down to a crawl. Then as I build up the muscle memory, you speed it up - then extend it into the next section. Like everything else - patience and practice. :)

And then just messing around with some improv stuff and running scales much of the time.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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stanton.kramer said Apr 08, 2014 17:33:51
Michael...

Got my daughter's serial and pw so I can now try out RS more extensively. I know this sounds stupid, but how do you download (and load) songs???

TIA
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MichaelWamback said Apr 09, 2014 14:46:20
If you go to the rocksmith website, under the "support" tab there is instructions for downloading without the CD. You download the software called "Steam" first. Once you run that, you can enter the serial number and it will download the software. The three things you need are her account name and password to log onto steam, and then the serial number that should be printed on the brochure that came inside the game CD.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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stanton.kramer said Apr 10, 2014 17:28:18
I have Steam. Just don't know what to do now.
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MichaelWamback said Apr 11, 2014 04:40:41
You open steam and log into her account. The top menu has the options "Steam View Friends Games Help" and you click on "Games". You then click "Activate a Product on Steam..." and you will be given the chance to enter the code that was on the game manual that came inside the CD case. It will then download the game from their server (it's a huge download, so may take a bit.) After that it will install and run the game.

What's cool is that you can access it after installing Steam and the game from every computer you own. I can play the game on my laptop and then pick it up again on my desktop when I get home. If you do download any extra songs you pay for, you may have to download them on each device.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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RussGreer said Apr 20, 2014 18:56:03
theres also a pretty big community of folks that create custom songs for RS.... you can find all kinds of classic rock etc on their forums, and they have tutorials on creating your own content.
Just do a search for customs forge, although adding custom content does involve some work arounds.
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