Diablo® III

Stuttering despite steady fps counter

Hi. I have heard somewhat similar issues to mine but I think this particular problem had not yet been addressed. If it has please just link me to the article.

Since patch 1.08 I have experienced a lot of stuttering. I will play for about 10 minutes and then it will start a constant stutter. It is about half second intervals. I played around with my video and audio settings and have not been able to resolve the issue. Prior to patch 1.08 I did not have this issue. I'm not saying 1.08 is the problem, but that is when the problem started. While it is stuttering my fps counter holds steady. It will tell me I have 50fps while I'm stuttering like crazy. I currently have trilinear filtering turned off, although it did not seem to make a difference.
Here are my system specs: Hardware Overview:

Model Name: MacBook
Model Identifier: MacBook7,1
Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
Processor Speed: 2.4 GHz
Number of Processors: 1
Total Number of Cores: 2
L2 Cache: 3 MB
Memory: 4 GB
Bus Speed: 1.07 GHz

NVIDIA GeForce 320M:

Chipset Model: NVIDIA GeForce 320M
Type: GPU
Bus: PCI
VRAM (Total): 256 MB
Vendor: NVIDIA (0x10de)
Device ID: 0x08a0
Revision ID: 0x00a2
ROM Revision: 3533
Displays:
Color LCD:
Display Type: LCD
Resolution: 1280 x 800
Pixel Depth: 32-Bit Color (ARGB8888)
Main Display: Yes
Mirror: Off
Online: Yes
Built-In: Yes
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Oh yeah and I am running the latest version of OSX Mountain Lion.
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King, if you could, the next time this starts to happen could you hit CMD-M to switch to Windowed mode (if you aren't already in that mode) and open Activity Monitor (found in /Applications/Utilities)?

I need you to check the System Memory tab. Post the numbers in the Page Outs: and Swap Used: fields.
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Edited by TheTias#1192 on 8/24/2013 12:06 AM PDT
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Those numbers are only relevant if they have low to no free memory. You can have high page out numbers and have that be irrelevant if you have enough free ram for the game to run.
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Not entire true, even if ANOTHER app is doing page outs, D3 still reads a lot of data from disk too, it doesn't load everything in ram, just objects current in your visual scene but when you move around it still buffers data from disk and if the disk is actively paging out another application it still slows disk read speed regardless of whether or not D3 is the source of the pages. If pageouts are slowing your disk, it's always relevant.
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If another application was causing page outs, then you wouldn't have enough free ram for diablo, as i stated, the fact that you have page out size isn't relevant to current performance IF you have currently available free ram.

A better test would be to cold reboot and then only have diablo open and looking at these numbers. The stutter vs the 50fps counter is because the fps counter doesn't update constantly.
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08/24/2013 10:49 AMPosted by DirkGently
If another application was causing page outs, then you wouldn't have enough free ram for diablo, as i stated, the fact that you have page out size isn't relevant to current performance IF you have currently available free ram.


Diablo 3 can have plenty of RAM when it launches and suddenly find itself without RAM. This is especially true with the current iteration of the Battle.net Desktop Application (BDA), which appears to have a pretty severe memory leak.

Another thing that can cause an out of memory situation is if D3 has enough RAM for launching, but not enough during sustained play due to OS X not releasing the disk cache that resides in RAM. That happens a lot. Even after closing every possible app and relaunching the Finder, OS X typically will not release the disk cache unless you use the purge command in the Terminal. That's why the Applescript applet I created for launching D3 without the launcher/BDA opens Terminal, runs Purge, waits three seconds (to let purge finish) and then launches Diablo 3, closing Terminal after another three seconds.

I've been down to <50 MB free RAM because of OS X's disk cache and when I ran Purge, lo and behold I had 6.23 GB free. So it isn't just applications that can cause D3 to run out of memory.
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The system will automatically reclaim that "inactive" memory as that is saved memory of applications previously opened and no longer open. That exists to speed up the launching of applications that you are likely to open again.
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08/24/2013 09:01 PMPosted by DirkGently
The system will automatically reclaim that "inactive" memory as that is saved memory of applications previously opened and no longer open. That exists to speed up the launching of applications that you are likely to open again.


Except that it has been proven time and time again that OS X does not reclaim the memory all the time (in fact a lot of the time). Why else would I have page outs on my own system with 7 GB RAM and usually only one or two open applications at a time?

I've been at <1 GB free and closed down all open apps and even relaunched the finder after doing so in order to free up more RAM and World of Warcraft still did not have enough RAM for more than just loading the character screen. I hit swap the momemt Stormwind loaded.

There's a reason I use the Purge command and it is precisely because OS X often fails to let go of that RAM. I wouldn't be using or recommending that command to anybody if I knew OS X was ultra good at releasing unused RAM, but it is not and never has been.
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Heh. The purge command is still broken in Mavericks. That's going to get really irritating when the OS refuses to relinquish RAM in the Inactive state.

BTW, anybody expecting Mavericks to fix the microstuttering, you can forget it. It's just as rampant as in Snow Leopard. And to verify that I tested it on a friend's Mac Pro as well. Still there with a vengeance. Framerates were much improved though and I got some butter smoother framerates in places I couldn't before. That is until the physics portion of the D3 engine kicked in...
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Wow. thanks for all the feedback guys. Before I read your replies I already looked at the activity monitor while D3 was running and I was having that problem. I had 16MB of free ram and more than 2 gigs of inactive ram. D3 was the only application running. I will go in today when I have stuttering and write down all the results on activity monitor and post them. Again, thank you for helping me address this problem. Note: If the computer had been resting for a few minutes I can usually play D3 for 10-15 minutes stutter free before the problem starts.
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If you were running anything other than Mountain Lion I'd say use the Purge command in the Terminal before starting D3. Unfortunately as of 10.8.1 and later that command is broken and remains broken even in Mavericks. :(

What Purge does is clear inactive RAM where possible, as well as any disk and OS caches that are resding in memory. It's pretty much like giving your computer as close to a "fresh boot" scenario as possible without restarting.
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Edited by TheTias#1192 on 8/25/2013 6:46 PM PDT
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Have you tried toggling the vsync option? With unfortunate timing I think this may result in some stuttering when it is switchen on. But hard to tell if that is the micro stuttering you experience without seing it myself..
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I've done with and without vSync active. The microstuttering remains the same. It was made awesome in 1.0.5, but when 1.0.6 came out it came back with a vengeance and hasn't been re-fixed since. It's especially bad in Act 3 and in FoM.
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Ok here's the numbers when its stuttering:

Free: 615 MB
Wired: 757 MB
Active: 1.62 GB
Inactive: 1.04 GB
Used: 3.4 GB

VM size: 259.8 GB
Page-ins: 1.75 GB
Page-outs: 354.6 MB
swap-used: 149.6 MB
Hope this helps to diagnose.
BTW I tried the purge command and like you said, it doesn't work very well. It helped for about 1 minute, then back to the stuttering.
Thanks again for any additional feedback!
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The purge command needs to be used when only the Finder is running. All other apps must be shut down first, otherwise not all of the inactive RAM will be freed because the address blocks are usually not contiguous. The problem, as mentioned earlier in the thread, is that Purge is broken in ML/Mavericks right now. It just won't work. The only way to fix that unfortunately is a reboot. I'm not sure how Apple messed that up, but hey, they sure did.

Is D3 the only app running at the time of the stuttering (other than the Finder of course)? If so, you shouldn't be having memory issues like this even with the 320M taking 256 MB of your RAM as VRAM.
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Yes all other applications are closed at this time. All other users logged off. I even changed my desktop picture to just a solid grey to free up resources. Nothing but D3 running. It will be fine for the first 10-15 minutes then drops into stutter mode.
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The next time this happens (from a fresh boot please), could you go back into Activity Monitor and check the processes list and look in the Real Mem column and see if anything other than D3 is taking >500 MB? I know kernel_task can do this, but I want to make sure nothing else is leaking memory and causing your issues here, because D3 shouldn't be forcing you to hit swap so quickly, especially since it has no known memory issues in the OS X client.
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Well. I think I have finally pinpointed the problem. After downloading a memory optimization program and a fan control program, I monitored temperature, fan rpms and memory through about 2 hours of game play and this is the final answer (or so I see it). I have a hardware problem. Whenever my video card reaches a temperature of around 200F, the stuttering starts. When this happens I have looked at my memory and seen that it is fine. Now I'm not sure if a video card is even supposed to get that hot, but it is getting that hot, even with the fan running 6200 rpms to keep it cool. It shoots up in temp pretty quickly too. I think my video card may be going the way of the dodo. What do you think? Consistent with the symptoms?
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It's possible that the GPU is overheating and performing an action known as thermal throttling, whereby it purposely lowers its clock speed to cool down before it returns to normal speed. This would definitely cause stuttering since the GPU becomes the bottleneck instead of the CPU.

Your system may have an imminent hardware failure on the horizon, but it may also simply be clogged full of dust bunnies. Apple's laptops suck those in like they're going out of style. If you can, take it an Apple store and ask them to check it out. They'll be happy to clean it for you at no charge. They'd much rather clean it than perform maintenance on it, especially since it's the low end of the laptop spectrum even for its time.
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