This post was published long before the Mists of Pandara Expansion.
The tips and techniques explained here may be outdated.

Coping with Crappy FPS

Computer Hell I am on the cusp of greener pastures. Two of three boxes for my new PC are now sitting in my front room waiting on the third box to be put together. The third box should arrive today. Before I (hopefully) leave the land of “lag” I wanted to post what little I’ve been able to do to make it a little bit better.

Wow seems to be very CPU and graphics intensive. A “good” graphics card with poor CPU results in crappy performance (fiancee’s current setup). A “crappy” graphics card with sub-par CPU results in crappy performance (my current setup). An “Ok” graphics card with “Ok” CPU results in crappy performance (Combat Medic’s current setup).

I’m hopeful that an “uber” graphics card with an “uber” CPU will blow the game out of the water. (new setup)

My current PC was built about 2 years ago on a shoe-string budget. It was a good “starter” gaming rig.. and it did well through BC. It looks like I started kvetching about my fps about a year ago. Really the performance hasn’t been -too- bad.. until I got into 25-man raiding.

In most of Northrend I’ve been seeing about 22 fps. In Dalaran I usually run at 9 fps. In 10-man Naxx I’m at about 16 fps. In 25-man Naxx I’m at 3-5 fps (sometimes dropping as low as 3 seconds/frame). Most of the time when I look at my processor it shows that with WoW up it’s pegged at 98-100% cpu usage.

It’s the raiding FPS that finally prompted me to upgrade. But until I finally committed to the upgrade I had a few tricks to make it somewhat better.

  1. Updated Thy Drivers
    There’s a rumor that having the newest drivers for your hardware will make a difference. I updated my drivers.. but didn’t really see a difference.. so mileage may vary. Do it anyway.. just in case.

  2. Thou Shalt Not Multi-Task
    Turn off any programs outside of the game that might be sucking up resources.
    This includes that web browser you normally leave open to WowHead, YIM/AIM (or any other chat client), iTunes (nasty horrible system sucking POS that’s running in the background). If I’m really desperate I’ll even shut down my virus scanner for the raid. Usually I run with only Wow and Ventrilo open. I could probably free up even more resources by shutting down Ventrillo.. but we’re a very vocal guild.. so I didn’t feel that I could shut it down. Though I had considered setting Ventrilo up on a laptop next to me instead of on my main computer.

  3. Thou Shalt Use The Right Tools For The Right Job
    Less addons take up less system resources. I’ve actually tried really hard to keep my number of addons to a minimum. I’m not terribly sucessful at that. Instead I use another addon called “OptionlessHouse” to monitor and toggle my addons. OptionlessHouse allows me to turn installed addons on/off with a /reloadui. It also shows me the memory consumed by each addon so I can benchmark similar addons (Prat vs Chatter) and choose the one that takes up the least memory.

    When you’re raiding, you don’t need to see things like Auctioneer, GatherMate, QuestHelper, TomTom, etc. At the beginning of the run I’ll go into OptionlessHouse and toggle -=all=- unneeded addons off.. and then do a /reloadui.

    Consider also.. Recount is a -huge- resource hog. Consider turning it off.. and doing a WWS instead. It will gain a lot of perfomance for you.

  4. Twiddle Thy Video Settings
    Northrend shadows take up a fantastic amount of processing power and are totally un-necessary to raiding. In -most- cases you can raid with the big “video settings” slider set to the lowest setting. I’ve found this works ok.. but has a couple of problems.. there are some effects that just don’t show up at the lowest setting (Grobbulus’ poison clouds, Faerlina’s rain of fire and the tank’s consecration). I would usually set my slider at the next-to-the-lowest setting.

After doing all of these things.. I could -usually- get about 5 fps in heavy combat. Sometimes I ended up casting spells by feel.. or just spamming the buttons and a lot of the time I dreaded having to turn my camera in another direction because I knew I’d over-shoot and have to spend extra time re-turning. These things all contributed to the final decision to just purchase a new PC. Hopefully I’ll put it together tonight and be able to raid on it later this week and let you all know how it works out.

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5 comments to Coping with Crappy FPS

  • dorgol

    I did the whole “watch the wall while healing” bit towards the end of TBC. That was on a 6 year old PC that was surprisingly capable (I WAY overspent for it then, but since it lasted as long as it did I try not to complain :) ).

    Anyway… that PC completely died in January. At the time the wife and I didn’t have the cash on hand to buy a new machine, so I borrowed one of my parent’s old laptops. OY. The machine is less than two years old, but it is absolutely HORRIBLE for gaming. On board video, not enough ram, hideous sound. I was getting 7 FPS in Naxx 25 with EVERYTHING turned down (in other words, about what you were talking about).

    Luckily, we did get a new laptop about two weeks ago. Runs WoW smoooth. 30 FPS in Naxx25 with everything (except shadows) on max. Now if only I could figure out what is causing the lagspikes… :)

  • New post in Computer Hell: Coping with Crappy FPS http://tinyurl.com/c4d7kz

  • sara

    Great post, I’ve had a lot of problems with fps :o (
    I went and got optionlesshouse on your recommendation, it looks like a great addon, but… I might be blind, but I can’t find out how to toggle it in game. No button on the minimap, and I can’t figure out the ‘/[app name] config’ abbreviation. How do I bring up the window?

    Thanks!
    Sara

  • Nibuca

    @dorgol
    I can’t imagine playing on a laptop. Well ok.. I can imagine it.. but it’s -so- far from my optimal gaming setup it’s almost foreign. If you had the funds available would you upgrade to a desktop?

    @sara [where to find the config for OptionlessHouse]
    When you’re in the game, hit the ESC key to bring up the main menu. OptionlessHouse added a button called “OptionHouse” to that menu.

  • sara

    Thanks! I feel a little dumb for not trying that… lol.