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Posts with tag nvidia

World of Warcraft on Windows 7 RC

Later this year Microsoft will release its next major desktop operating system, Windows 7. After deciding now was the time to expand my hard drives (because I really need 3TBs of space), I took the opportunity to install the "release candidate." The release candidate of Windows 7 is just that -- it's a version of the operating system that while still in development, has all the bells and whistles, and is essentially the exact same thing that'll be sold on the shelves.

The installation and configuration of Windows 7 went very smoothly. For the technically inclined, my computer has four gigs of RAM and operates off of two dual-core Intel Core2 processors. I have an nVidia GTX 260 graphics card, which is the latest generation. There's a bunch of other bells and whistles that I have as well, but those are the big things relevant to what I do every day here at WoW.com and how I play WoW.

Prior to installing Windows 7, I used Windows Vista updated to the latest patches. I got about 60 FPS on average, with a maximum of around 100 while idling in some far off place with not a lot of traffic; and a minimum of about 50 while in some of the more graphic intensive raids / battlegrounds. After installing Windows 7 I was running at about 75 FPS average, with a maximum still of around 100. However more importantly my FPS during raids / Wintergrasp shot up to 70.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Features, Guides, Hardware

The limits of Video Mode Ultra


I think I've found the limits of Video Mode Ultra -- when we first hard in the 3.1 patch notes that Blizzard was adding in a superspecial video mode for high-end computers to use, I was excited. I just recently "updated" my PC (read: "it broke and I had to spend a lot of time and money to fix it"), and it's been running like butter, so I was interested in putting it to the test. The day after the patch dropped, I flipped the switch to Ultra, and had no problems -- until this past Saturday. While wandering around Dalaran, I noticed my framerate had dropped quite a bit. I lowered a couple of the environmental settings just a bit and I was fine again, but apparently even with a 2.5 GHz quad core CPU, 4gb of RAM, and a GeForce 9600GT, Video Mode Ultra is still just a little too hardcore for me.

What's interesting is that I ran Wintergrasp a few times before having those slowdowns in Dalaran, and never had a problem. But then again, Blizzard did say that they had spent a lot of time making sure Wintergrasp was streamlined enough to run huge battles with minimal slowdown, so maybe Dalaran didn't get that same makeover. And I should say as well that I had no issues anywhere else in the world -- even my Naxx run the other evening looked perfect with Ultra flipped on.

Having a "future" graphics mode on PC games is nothing new -- for most games, the highest graphics setting is usually "experimental," so there's a little leeway in terms of release time (the game looks good with current hardware, but even better with next year's gear). And Video Mode Ultra is just that -- Blizzard trying to send a shot across the bow at those who are already saying the graphics look a little dated.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Hardware

Fixing FPS issues with patch 3.1

A few people are experiencing slowdown issues with patch 3.1, and since our last bit of technical help went over so well, we figured we'd do a little troubleshooting for you on this one, too. If your computer is running slower since you updated into patch 3.1, the first thing to do is check your video options -- Blizzard has tweaked a few things in there, and chances are that by tweaking them again, you might be able to fix your problem (or at least make it a little better). Specifically keep an eye out for the new Video Mode Ultra setting -- that specifically is not designed to be used unless your computer is current and top-of-the-line. Shadows also are quite a drag on the video card and CPU, and turning them down won't affect gameplay that much.

If your options are already low, the next thing you might do is check your videocard's make and driver version (scroll down to the "manually" section there -- you don't need to run Intel's program). Nvidia, who makes the common GeForce series of video cards just updated their drivers to version 182.50 on April 2nd, so if you have an earlier version than that, running the update will probably help. If you have an ATI card, you can find the drivers over on their site.

And of course if all of your software is set up and you're still having issues, there's always the possibility of updating your hardware. That can be quite an ordeal, though, so if you're not so sure on how to install new RAM or can't recognize the difference between SATA and IDE, you might want to enlist a friendly techie for a little help. WoW is still very forgiving, but Blizzard has been slowly adding on the graphical goodness, so if you've been playing with the same PC since launch four years ago, it might just be time for an upgrade.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Hardware

WoW in 3D doesn't work so well

3D seems to be making a reemergence lately -- there was a 3D commercial on the Super Bowl last week, I'm going to see Coraline in 3D this weekend (Neil Gaiman and stop motion for the win), and Nvidia's 3D Vision cards have recently been integrated with World of Warcraft. But not so fast there: apparently while the system does make WoW stereoscopic (sends a different picture to each eye), and while it does work for some media (apparently watching 3D HD content with the system "feels like your monitor is a window"), analyst Rob Enderle over at TG Daily says WoW in 3D isn't all that amazing.

Let's not forget, of course, that this is a game going on four years old, and while it has a terrific art style, and has recieved multiple graphic updates since then, we're still dealing with old technology in terms of a graphic engine. So Enderle says that the 3D really makes you realize that there are no real physics in the game -- "the objects," he says, "look like flat cutouts fanned out in a 3D field." The physical limitations are there, too -- you need a special monitor, apparently, and it's only 22" big, which might seem fine for most, but anyone who works all day on a computer (like yours truly), is used to a little bigger screen.

Not to mention that, as he says, any technology that requires you to wear glasses isn't quite as cool as it could be yet. But 3D is obviously making progress, and the more popular it gets, the easier it'll be to make and experience. Maybe someday we'll all see Azeroth as a 3D world around us.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Hardware

WoW and the PC gaming market

The XPS. Oooooh.With over 10 million subscribers, World of Warcraft commands a pretty hefty chunk of the PC gaming market. Stopping by my local Best Buy, I asked their Geek Squad members to simply: "Show me the machines for WoW." One guy smiled, nodded, and took me to what he called "the WoW rack."

"These are the machines," he promised me, "that'll get you through the game." According to my Geek Squad advisor, there's been more than a few memos in the store about which machines to recommend for World of Warcraft. "Corporate wants to be sure," Brian told me, "that you people can get Warcraft machines right out of the box."

Best Buy isn't alone in this preparedness. AMD Game! is a branding label that, in theory, recommends the best-of-the-best, all according AMD. They prescribe a set of base, minimum requirements for a computer, and then run that box through a series of games to be sure the game plays the way it's supposed to play. If the system passes muster, then the system is allowed to stamp itself with the coveted AMD Game! label. And, yup: World of Warcraft is certainly on that list.

And since the World of Warcraft XPS sports an nVidia card -- you can be pretty tootin' sure that gets tested as well. While the XPS still costs a little more than most might pay, it's branded, toyed-out the wazoo, and all about WoW.

WoW: Im in ur PC market, designin' ur boxes.

[Via Gamers Hell]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Hardware

New Nvidia beta drivers, and a fix for WoW in SLI mode

I have to admit, sometimes I dread it when new video card drivers come out. It always seems like something about them goes wrong, and one of my favorite games refuses to work well with them, and I end up having to roll back to some old drivers just to play what I want to play again. That said, sometimes they also work well, and your graphics run smoother, and life is good. As Alex said to me earlier, Azeroth is a whole lot prettier when it's at 90 fps instead of 10 fps.

But seriously, to the point. Here's a heads up to all our Nvidia card users who like living on the edge as far as upgrading goes. Nvidia has just released new beta drivers for their graphics cards. We repeat: these are beta drivers, so only install if you know what you're doing.

Here's the links:

WoW gets a mention in the release notes as well. If you've been having performance problems in WoW lately and you have a Geforce 6800/6600 GT, it looks like there might be a fix for you.

[Via worldofwar.net]

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Filed under: News items, Hardware

Reminder: Give your video card drivers a little love

Theflamecrow on WoW LJ provides us with our quarterly reminder: it's probably time to update your video card's drivers, if you haven't done it in a while.

If you're on a Mac, you don't need to worry about this (Software Update's got you covered, and the latest graphics update already helped your framerate). For PCs, Nvidia card drivers can get the latest version here, and ATI card owners can grab the latest files here. If you're not sure what kind of video card you've got installed, you can just follow along with this simple guide from the last big video card reminder, or one of the many other driver update guides available.

I should warn you: 99% of the time, updating your video card drivers will fix all kinds of problems-- it'll usually help your framerate, if it needs it, and it will often clear out problems with artifacts and other graphics glitches. But doing any system activity like updating drivers has the potential to harm your system, so always follow all instructions (like turning off all other programs and restarting the PC when asked) and, if possible, have a backup ready when you update. I've never had a system problem while updating graphics drivers, but if you're not careful, it could happen.

Filed under: Patches, Odds and ends, Hardware

New Nvidia drivers for Windows Vista may fix WoW problems

Reader Scott kindly dropped us a note (thanks!) that Nvidia released new drivers for Windows Vista on Tuesday, and hidden in the release notes is a note that the "low frame rates" within WoW have been fixed.

So if you're running WoW in Vista, have an Nvidia graphics card (with one GPU), and still having graphical problems, a driver update definitely wouldn't hurt. Things seem to have calmed down on the graphics issues since a few patches have hit, but maybe there are still a few of you out there looking for a solution.

As for us Windows XP users, looks like we're still stuck with an older driver version. If you've updated your drivers on XP and are still having problems, the best thing to do is probably just to let Blizzard know about it.

Update: Whoops, Slashrude (and other commenters) point out what I missed: these are beta drivers, which means installing them may not be such a good idea. Update at your own risk.

Filed under: Patches, Bugs, News items

Graphics drivers updates for everyone

Just a quick technical note (thanks to WorldofWar for the heads up): both of the major graphics card makers have released brand new drivers for their video cards recently. Even if you're not technically inclined, all you need to know is that the newer the version of video card drivers you have running, the better your 3D videogames (of which WoW is one) will look.

If you're running Nvidia cards, you can get the latest version right here. And those with ATI cards can find their new drivers over on their site. Just download the right file for your operating system, run it (you'll probably have to restart your system, so save your work), and then marvel at... OK, it probably won't look too different, but trust me when I tell you you want to be running the newest drivers possible. In fact, if anything will fix those graphical problems people have been seeing in the last patch, this probably will.

But Mike, you say, what if I don't know what kind of card I have? For Windows XP, just right click on My Computer and go to Properties. Choose the Hardware tab, then Device Manager, and then look for the "Display Adapters" menu in the list-- that should tell you the build and brand of your video card. For Mac OS X, you don't have to worry-- Apple updates your drivers for you with Software Update. And for Linux-- well, if you're running WoW on Linux, I'll assume you already know what you're doing, because I sure don't (though you can probably find help here if you need it). And yes, you technically inclined and sharp-eyed ladies and gents, I do call my custom-built, lightning fast XP box "Refridgerator." Why? Because it's freakin' cool, man.

Filed under: Patches, Tips, Odds and ends, News items

Dual-heading and WoW: a how-to guide


There's been many a time when I have been tempted by the lure of a larger monitor. I just never seem to have enough room on the screen in WoW, between all my toolbars and chat windows and party member icons and such. The actual window into the world seems to get more crowded the more I play. Now, since I am ultimately a geek, what would be better for me than one big monitor? Two monitors. Yessir, I've been planning to dual-head my system for a while now, and when Bill wrote WoW Insider asking for help on this, I jumped at the chance. I know it's been a long time coming Bill, but here it is.

First, some caveats. I run a nVidia graphics card, so these steps are using their drivers and control panel. I don't have access to an ATI card since they are not allowed within 100 yards of my house, so I cannot give any advice with that side of things. However, the setup within World of Warcraft should pretty much be the same. For the purpose of this article I set up my system using two 18-inch monitors: a Samsung and a Sony, so it doesn't matter what brand of monitor you use. Being left-handed I configured the left-hand monitor as my main game space, and the right-hand monitor as my toolbar/bag/chat window space.

Also, in order to complete this dual-heading setup within WoW you'll need to download CT Mod 2. I used the CT_Viewport feature within the mod to configure the play space within the game. There might very well be some other options out there, but this seemed the simplest since I already had the mod running on my system.

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Filed under: Tips, How-tos, Add-Ons, Guides

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