PyroGhozt's World of Warcraft Optimization Guide for Noobs.
Hello everyone and welcome to PyroGhozt's World of Warcraft Optimization Guide for Noobs. For those of you who didn't understand the title this a technical guide on how to optimize your computer system to get the best performance from it when playing WoW.
If you don't know much about computers don't worry! This Guide is for everyone!
So for those of you who have had their computer systems literally "Shattered" by the shattering please read on.
Chapter One : The Simple Things
In this chapter we are going to go over the obvious things that need to be done when optimizing your PC or Laptop for playing World of Warcraft or any Gaming for that matter. Believe it or not, your computer has feelings and it is very sensitive, one little thing can set it off. That's why we need to make sure everything is just right, like when you warm up milk for a baby or a toddler. One might also argue that your computer is like a an athlete at his/her peak and one little thing can have a drastic change to its performance.
The first thing we are going to be looking at are your drivers. Drivers I say? What are those?
For the intermediate to advanced user this may seem obvious enough, but there are certainly many wow players who may have a misconception or may not know what drivers are at all.
Drivers are essentially software files that allow your computer to communicate, understand and use your hardware properly. Every single device on your computer has some sort of driver, many of them are installed automatically in this case the drivers we are most likely to be looking at are your Video Card Drivers.
Video Card? What is that? Well to put it simply its the hardware device that sends the image from your computer to your monitor. While all video cards can be used in this effect there are some differences that need to be noted. In your computer you will either have an integrated video card (that is a card that is built onto your motherboard) or a dedicated video card which normally functions as its own unit.
A Good example of dedicated video cards are the obvious 2 different Brands dominating the market at present time, AMD Radeon and nVidia GeForce. You probably already familiar with these brands even if you don't know what a video card is.
With the integrated cards whilst you will still find some also made by nVidia and AMD most of them tend to be made by Intel these days.
Using a tool called Driver Sweeper, we are going to clean off all of your old drivers before we install new ones. Not doing what we call a "clean install" of your drivers can result in multiple things such as.
Performance Issues (FPS), Artifacts, Crashes, overheating etc.
Before we use driver sweeper its best to remove the current drivers on your PC through the Remove Programs tool in Control Panel. You can find control panel in your start menu on the bottom left corner of your screen.
Once in the control Panel open "Add or Remove Programs" for XP or "Uninstall a Program / Program Features" for Windows 7.
You should get a list of installed software, what you need to do is scroll down until you find your video drivers, Catalyst Control Panel for AMD and Nvidia Display Drivers for nVidia, If you see nVidia Chipset Drivers it would be best to leave those alone. Those are probably drivers for your motherboard's chipset, it is a common mistake for users to remove them thinking they are video drivers.
Once removed your computer will ask you to restart, promptly oblige it. Don't be shocked when your windows greets you with a low resolution desktop and huge icons. This is all part of the process. Now we are going to run our friendly little tool "Driver Sweeper" once opened it will give you a list. If you are uninstalling AMD drivers select AMD Drivers and select analyse.If you are uninstalling nvidia drivers tick both the nvidia display drivers box and nvidia physx box then click analyze. I will note again do not uninstall the Nvidia chipset drivers.
For both AMD and Nvidia after clicking analyze you will be greeted with a list of remaining files on your system, some might be just the install files for the drivers other might be remnants in the system, we are going to remove them all anyway so go ahead and click remove.
Please note your computer might look like its locked up or take some time doing this. I suggest you go afk a bit while it finishes. After driver sweeper is done it may ask you to restart, oblige it and continue. When you boot back up to windows you will notice your resolution is still low and your icons still huge.
Now its time to install the latest drivers from your video cards manufacturer's website.
In the case of AMD it will be the Catalyst 10.12 Drivers in the Case of Nvidia it will be their Nvidia GeForce 263.03 Drivers. The drivers are fairly simple to install just follow the prompts. During the installation your screen migh black out for a sec, you might even get a few bleeps like a hardware device is being removed and some flickering as well. This is normal. Don't let any of it bother you. When the driver installation is done you will again be prompted to restart your pc. But dw this time you should be greeted with your full resolution windows and icons at normal size.
Well done you have just unlocked the achievement "Clean Driver Install". Woo hoo!
With drivers installed its time to move onto memory management part of our Guide.
Memory can mean many things on a computer, but the most popular use and reference of memory is RAM, Random Access memory. RAM is a form of temporary storage that is much much faster than your hard drive.It is used by your operating system and your software to perform tasks quicker. The more programs you have running at once the more ram you are going to use. When your ram is used up your computer will start using your hard drive as if it was ram, this is called "virtual memory". Usually when your computer starts to eat into your virtual memory your computer will run very slowly and in some cases in this can make WoW crash and give you a memory error.
WoW uses should I say in my opinion misuses a lot of memory (specially if you have addons). In fact its been noted that the the longer a wow session is the more memory it seems to consume. This is why we need to clear up as much memory as possible for our little memory pig! The most common problem is that there are background programs that you don't really need running and using your memory! These memory ninjaz need to be dealt with and both windows xp and windows 7 come with a utility to deal with this problem.
Our hero for the moment is called msconfig, you can call upon the super powers of msconfig by clicking
and typing letter for letter "msconfig" and pressing enter.
After doing this a little window will pop up.
I want you to change to the startup tab! In the startup tab you are going to see a list of programs that are being told to automatically boot up.You may want to read the list and see if there are any unwanted applications a lot of them will be your instant messengers and such like Skype,MSN,AOL etc others might be your Anti Virus, you might want to leave the anti virus alone. The things we are looking for are programs you don't need at startup or don't use. So If you don't mind running your private messenger manually, take it off your startup. Once you have decided which programs you don't want to run at start up, apply the settings and you should be prompted to restart your computer.
GPU(Video Card) / CPU Central Processing Unit - your computers brain) Temps
Many fps issues can be caused by CPU / GPU overheating problems. It is not something you want to overlook when trying to track down an FPS/Performance issue. In fact if you are getting what we call "artifacts" which are funny coloured little specs on your screen. Your GPU may be overheating or faulty. Run HW Monitor and check the temps of both your GPU / CPU, If either looks particularly high do a google search and find out what the max temp of your gpu/cpu is. If you are getting an overheating issue your going to have to fix that before you really want to be using your hardware. If you are dealing with a PC the best thing you can do is clean out the fans / vents on your PC case and fans on your GPU/CPU as well. Sometimes on older systems the cpu could be overheating because the thermal paste is not doing its job anymore, very often it may have dried up. If you are familiar with changing thermal paste on your CPU do it yourself. If you aren't seek help from a technician or friend with computer experience. If your running a laptop and it is fact overheating the most common method to fixing this is to use a can of compressed air to blow out the dust that might be clogging up the fans. If this doesn't work you can buy a cooling pad, its a little pad with a fan,. you put your laptop ontop of it and it cools it down.
On a final note, to get a good idea of what your temps are doing run HWmonitor while you play wow and use alt+tab to check what your temps are at under load.
There a few known things that need to be done with WoW when having performance issues. The 1st thing one should do is rename or delete the WTF folder in the main wow directory. An easy way to get there is to right click on your wow shortcut and click "open file location".
You will see a WTF in there, you can either delete this or you can click on it and press F2 on your keyboard to rename it to something else. When you start up wow the settings will be reset.
I will go into a few details what are the best settings for what computer system, for now I want you to log on and disable all your mods. Have a look at your frames and take note of them. They will be shown in the little green computer on the bottom right left of yout bags. You can see them by scrolling over it with your mouse. You can also press alt+R to see them on your screen.
Chapter 2 Tweaking
a) Dedicated Video Card Setups
So now that you have cleaned up your drivers, optimized your memory and reset all your wow settings to default, You are ready to tweak your settings to get your FPS just right. Those of you running older video cards are more likely to have less issues optimising your game, adjust your settings within the Good/ Medium option and monitor your frames. Its the High End rigs which are going to need some tweaking and optimising to get the best performance / eye candy out of them.
You can access the Video settings by hitting the ESC key while in wow and selecting video from the top of the list.
The current generation of AMD Graphics cards are certainly good value. They don't overheat easily and consume much less power than their competitors and give good bang for buck. Any IT technician will tell you if you want to build a high performance rig you don't need to spend top dollar, you just need to know what gives the best bang for buck. And that is where AMD is shining all round. Unfortunately atm the AMD GPU do not get along so well with WoW. If you want to get the best Performance out of your AMD GPUs you are going to have to sacrifice some not so notable settings. Having Shadows on Ultra on an AMD GPU normally results in an undersirable frame rate. Setting Shadows to good seems to be the sweet spot for AMD GPUs. If you are running WoW in dx11 mode, there are also a few other problems at the time of writing. You should change your multi sampling to x2 and your liquads to Good. If you are running a high end AMD rig and you still aren't getting desirable frames. I would suggest heading over to the forums with your dxdiag information at hand.
Shadow to Good
Liquids to Good
Multi-sampling to x2
nVidia have been trailing behind AMD for a while now. They have better marketing so being at the back on the price performance side hasn't hurt them too much. Much more of you are going to be familiar with nvidia video cards. The brand has been a popular favourite for years. They are also a must have for people who are doing certain jobs that require CUDA. As far as heat and power consumption go, AMD is still better. But nVidia gets along way better with wow than the AMD Gpus do. You can have your Shadow settings on Ultra with an nVidia setup. If you are running in dx11 mode you should turn your liquids to Good and multi-sampling to x2. There are known issues with these problems since the latest patch. That being said if you system is still not performaing after all this cleaning and tweaking. Its probably time to get some help on the WoW forums. Just make sure you bring your dxdiag info with you.
Liquids to Good
Multi-sampling to x2
c) Intergrated GPUs
With Cataclysm coming out a lot of the Intergrated GPUs on Laptops and Cheaper systems are not capable of keeping up anymore, In fact a lot of them are not supported by World of Warcraft. Luckily the blues have provided a work around for this that may help you. You need to add a line to your Config.wtf file. To access this file easily right click on your WoW shortcut, click properies then click on the open file location button.
This will lead you to your main wow folder, in here you need to open the "WTF" folder. Inside ther "WTF" folder you will find the Config.wtf file.
You will need to open this with a text editor like notepad. You can do this by right clicking and selecting open with and then choosing notepad from the list. One you have opened the text file be careful not to edit any of the settings. All you need to do is add this one line (SET fixedfunction "1"). Anywhere in the document should be fine. Just add the line, save the file and close it.
SET fixedfunction "1"
While I can't garanteer this will fix everyones problems, I can tell you it has worked for many others and is definetly worth a shot if you want to get some extra life out of your current system or can't afford a new one.
Nvidia Optimus is a new feature for laptops with Nvidia gpus. It allows for switchable graphics, That meaining, You can switch between an intergrated gpu and a faster gaming gpu. This feature is mainly designed to save power on laptops. You are going to have to make sure you aren't getting bad frames in wow because you are running it on the intergrated gpu instead of the one that is more apt for gaming. You can do this by using the nvidia control panel and making sure WoW is on the list of programs that will make use of your nvidia gpu.Open up your nvidia control panel it will either be in your startmenu or in the bottom right hand corner of your screen, that is if you didn't take it off your startup list. In nvidia control panel select "Manage 3D Settings" then select the "Program Settings" tab, you should have a scroll down list of programs and games. Find wow in the list and make sure that it is using the nvidia gpu and not the intergrated one. If you can't find wow on the list you can add it manually by selecting the "add" button. If you are having a problem finding it you can go to your shortcut to find out the proper location of the game exe.
e) Multi GPU Setups.
Many users were having issues with their crossfire systems in wow since the last patch, I'm just noting here that Crossfire is in fact working. You will need to do a clean install of the 10.12 drivers and install the latest application profiles. I have done several benchmarks and been playing the game actively. There is certainly a noticeable fps gain over a single gpu, the scaling is very high in 5 man dungeons actually(closed spaces). Unfortunately SLI setups are not working correctly at the moment.
Directx Diagnostic Tool
dxdiag is a very friendly tool that can help determine whats wrong with a computer system even if you aren't very good with computers you can still show it to someone who is and they can assist you in fixing your problem. If your computer is still having performance issues after following this guide, I highly suggest you head over to the WoW forums with your dxdiag info.
To get this info go to Start >
type in "dxdiag" press enter.
Dxdiag should open up. It will have a button that says "Save all Information"
Click on this button and save the text file somewhere you can open it.
Open it up and you should see a lot of information!
Copy the whole document, You can do this by using Ctrl+A or selecting copy all from the edit menu.
Hopefully this info will help in fixing your problem.
While most of this information is common knowledge to those more tech savvy users! I do hope this Guide has been helpful in resolving issues for WoW players who might not be that tech savvy. That being said I hope you had a Merry Christmas and will soon have a great New Years.
At first I thought that maybe I had not put enough time and effort in this guide, but after actually reading the guides in the rare section and seeing how little time, effort, screen-shots and relevant information those guides had I have to say I'm a bit displeased with my guide being stuck in the uncommon section. Not only is it original but it also addresses many of the common problems plaguing users who are still asking for help on the WoW official technical forums to date.
That being said maybe I need to work on my guide writing techniques, what in particular did you not like about this guide and what weaknesses do I need to address in future?
I think you outlined exactly how and what to do if you want to change and optimize some settings.
The problem that your probably ran into is that the average reader just wants simplicity, and seeing a very long and drawn out process might make them think that the end result isn't worth their time.
It looks like your were trying to reach out to a portion of the WoW community that is a little more advanced in computers, and although you showed exactly what to do, long processes and lots of steps seem to scare people away.
A few months ago I said I'd update this guide, unfortunately I have been side tracked quite a bit by RL things, I promise I will make good on it by making a a re-write concerning the latest 4.2 Patch as soon as It is humanly possible to do so.
1) Change title to "...Optimization Guide for Noobs on Windows 7", quite a few people are still using XP although Vista should have mostly the same methods.
2) The majority of the "tweaking" happens with in-game WoW settings and GPU driver settings, and while you've gone into great detail how to REMOVE drivers, you haven't explained what to do with driver settings. Explain what the settings in Catalyst Control Center and nVidia Control Panel mean when it comes to WoW, and try to roughly describe the impact of individual WoW settings on performance (e.g. Shadows: high impact, View Distance: high impact, Anisotropic Filtering: low impact, etc). This way players can get the most tweaking done, and quickly.
3) Delete all that stuff about AMD vs nVidia's heat problems because you should not run into ANY heat issues with current generation mid-range cards. It's only an issue with top-end cards, i.e. GTX470/480 or HD6950/6970 that use reference coolers. It's good to keep an eye on GPU temps, but WoW never pushes the GPU far enough to even remotely overheat. The entire GTX500 series runs fairly cool. But all that info's not needed really.
4) Add a link to MMO-C computer forums - it is by far the best place to ask ANY questions regarding WoW tweaking, CPU/graphics questions, driver questions, anything computer-releated really. They can post it there and it will most likely get answered fairly quickly (if they post it anywhere else, sometmes the mods are kind enough to move it to the computer forums for them). It's a fairly active forum with lots of people who know their stuff
I am not an idiot, but I don't know much about the technicalities of my computer. I am indescribably grateful to you for this guide, simply written and not just assuming
everyone knows what RAM is, etc. Thank you! My WOW icon does not have the option you suggest, however. I went to "find target" instead, didn't delete the WTF file
because later in the guide you say we should add a line to the text in that file, ..a bit confused? Otherwise, great info! Here's playing more WOW!