First, xNormal rocks. After trying for two days to get blender bake to behave I started to look for alternatives, and it's quite perfect for my needs. After that was sorted out, I could proceed to the baking of things. The high poly model i used to bake AO & Normals from:http://s23.postimg.org/52irgt70b/WIP_2013_10_13_HP.png
Now, I was interested about the corners (not the big half-pipes but the beveled ones) and how much normal map can help them. Therefore:
90 deg corner:http://s8.postimg.org/bycnm8q6d/WIP_201 ... _Rev01.png
2x45 deg corner:http://s22.postimg.org/mmavszepd/WIP_20 ... _Rev02.png
3x30deg corner:http://s17.postimg.org/40rdinnrz/WIP_20 ... _Rev03.png
For the texture I used the baked AO. Since the source model is the same every single bake, I dont know why the 1st came out so different to the other two.. All options were identical. Anyways, the problem is this: is the more smooth corner worth the increased polycount? Sure, 100 or 300 does not make a difference alone, but since this is for the pipes -set, it will multiply..