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4-14-2009 @ 4:53PM
Although this is far from the only (or even greatest) reason for WoW chug, one non-obvious thing is that WoW uses significantly more semi-transparent textures than more modern games. Many effects that a game designed only to run on higher-end systems would achieve with a shader, Blizz achieves with semi-transparent textures so that it will run on lower-end systems. However, this means that settings that increase the processing cost of semi-transparent textures (like anti-aliasing the contents of semi-transparent textures) have a disproportionately large effect on WoW performance. It also means that many extremely modern cards get worse perf than you might expect because the cards and their drivers are not being optimized to work with "old techniques" like large numbers of semi-transparent textures. If your drivers support different profiles for different games and you have some kind of semi-transparent texture anti-aliasing turned on, you might see if turning it off just for WoW helps. I find that WoW, on my GeForce GTX 280, takes about 50% more perf hit from going form None to Multisampled to Supersampled semi-transparent textures than more modern games.On a related note, in WotLK, they improved their depth-sorting algorithm for semi-transparent textures at the detriment of perf. But the plus is no more objects disappearing because you're looking at them through the edge of a blade of grass.Still, none of this is really at the root of the Dalaran problem. (you notice these more in areas with lots of trees and/or ground clutter) Dalaran - like Shatt before it and Ironforge and Orgrimmar before that - is a place where more players gather at once than anywhere else, and WoW's engine has always had trouble dealing with large numbers of players onscreen at once. I suspect it's either CPU or memory-bound, or possibly even some kind of foolishly synchronous network traffic, but I haven't got an 80 yet, so I can't do a lot of testing on my own.
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