The ULTIMATE SC2 Optimization & FPS Guide 2.0

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Introduction
Section I - General Fixes and Tips
Section II - Improving Performance
Section III - Improving Performance Part II
Section IV - Improving Visuals
Section V - Improving Perpetuals
Testimonials


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Edited by Aldrexus on 11/1/2013 12:51 PM PDT
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MVP - Technical Support
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Introduction

Hey! I've been on and off in the tech support zone for a while, I've seen and helped with plenty of the common issues that come with some people's configurations and Starcraft II. I was made an MVP for my outstanding help and first optimization guide. This is the new version. This is not a "troubleshooting thread" exactly, but does contain many fixes that can solve a wide range of issues, along with a main focus on improving your FPS. I'll keep it as simple as possible for you.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This thread may come in handy if you...
  • Have an old computer which struggles to run Starcraft 2
  • Have memory issues
  • Have random FPS drops or unnaturally low FPS
  • Suffer from game crashing
  • Wish to push your system some more and get SC2 to run better
  • Wish to push up your graphics for free, and at little or no cost to FPS
  • Want the game to be more responsive
  • Want to lower your ping
  • Want to do a general troubleshoot, see if any of the listed fixes will solve your issue
  • Want higher FPS
  • Want Starcraft 2 to look better than ultra
  • Want Starcraft 2 to be more stable
  • And more...
  • --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    BEFORE YOU BEGIN!
    I highly advise you create a restore point, so if a problem comes up, you can just revert back. Click the link if you don't know how to create a restore point.
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/create-a-restore-point

    Note
    If this doesn't help you, then chances are the issue is on Blizzard's end, you can tell them about the issue in the bug report forums, link is below.
    http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/13440/
    Since this thread was made, it has been revised, and then remade to make it safer, better, and easier. Results may vary.
    You can help me and others by putting a thumb up on the first 8 posts and sharing this guide!

    (Thread version 2.0)

    Alright! Let's get started! Just follow along closely, and we'll be great!

    I am not responsible if you screw up bad, but I can help fix any issues you may have.

    Edited by Aldrexus on 11/1/2013 12:38 PM PDT
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    General Fixes and Tips

    In this section, we will quickly go over some general troubleshooting and fixes that generally fix/prevent a wide range of issues. You can skip this section and go to the next one if you want.

    If you use the new battle.net launcher, you should have less issues with updates and the first 2 subsections here wont apply as much to you. But just in case, to find the options, click the down arrow near the battle.net logo and then click settings. If you're interested in the battle.net launcher you can download it via the link below.
    http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/blog/10619040/

    Fully update and optimize Starcraft 2
    When you get a patch, make the the update/optimize bar is at 100%. Ensuring that this is done after every update does do a lot toward preventing small issues here and there. Don't skip it! Try this, in the launcher, go to options, then download preferences. Check "Allow quick play regardless of network speed," This will allow the game to optimize during play, it will resume the final bit of the update if it did not get a chance to finish before.

    Having a problem installing a patch?
    In the launcher, go to options, download preferences, and try disabling peer to peer transfer. In addition, you should exit out of everything else and disable your antivirus temporarily, and maybe even your firewall. Be sure your fully connected to the internet. You can also try restarting your modem and PC, see if that helps any. You could try booting into safe mode with networking, this should help if anything is preventing you from updating. Don't forget to turn your firewall and antivirus back on if you disabled them.

    Game crashing?
    If you have less than 4GB of ram, try setting your virtual memory to 4GB, but no more than 8GB. Or try buying more ram, that always helps if your willing to spend the money. To learn how to set virtual memory, read this.
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-vista/change-the-size-of-virtual-memory
    You want the min and max values to be the same by the way.

    A crash could be caused by your computer over heating. Check temps with this program if you think heat may be the issue.
    http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php
    You can try dusting your PC out with air spray or a vacuum on blow. Other methods to reduce heat are replacing thermal paste with good aftermarket stuff, opening up the side panel during play, and buying better cooling solutions.

    Also, You should get the latest drivers for your graphics card(s). Find out what you have and go to the manufacturers site and look for drivers. This is pretty easy to do, and chances are you'd be going to Nvidia's website, or AMD's website.

    It is also best to run Starcraft alone, nothing running in the background. Running the game as an Admin can help solve issues sometimes as well.

    Edited by Aldrexus on 11/1/2013 12:38 PM PDT
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    Improving Performance

    In this section, I'll recommend some things which are guaranteed to help SC2 performance in some way. I can't tell you exactly how much FPS you'll gain, but on average, it's like 10-15 FPS more and up. It all depends on your system.

    Large address aware
    This will allow Starcraft to use up to twice as much RAM, this can very effective in improving low end FPS if you use a 32 bit operating system. The difference is much smaller on a 64 bit system. This can fix a wide range of memory issues. Remember that to use this effectively, you should have 4GB of RAM or more. Effects may vary. Download it here.
    http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=34392&d=1269231650
    That links directly to the file, so it will download automatically. Unzip and open up the executable. Once you've opened it up, follow the steps.
    Step 1, select the SC2 executable (.exe).
    Step 2, check the check box
    Step 3, Save.
    Done!

    Razer Game Booster
    This will help on old and new systems alike, it will improve game stability and FPS. Here is a link to the official site.
    http://www.razerzone.com/gamebooster
    No worries, it's safe. Be sure to click the download button for the windows vista through windows 8 version and not the XP version. That is, unless you still use XP.

    Once you've installed it, open it up, you will need you to make an account. Make it and don't forget to verify your account before attempting to log in for the fist time. Once your in the program, click the add symbol and get the SC2 shortcut you applied Large Address Aware to.

    The boost settings are good as is, but to get some more performance, click utilities. Then click others from the drop down, then check Explorer.exe and "launch game on game desktop". Hit apply and you've just configured Razer Game Booster to make your game preform even better. Keep in mind that the 2 settings I had you check will make it so that you can basically do nothing but Starcraft when you run it from the booster. Not to worry, Your PC will return to normal after the game closes. There is another thing you can do as well, go to tweak, then click optimize, this will apply a set of performance enhancing registry settings to your PC, restart to fully apply them.

    In order to take advantage of Razer Game Booster, you must launch the game from Razer Game Booster. It will run in an idle state in the background once you open the launcher, unless you close it from your taskbar shortcuts or task manager. It is very lightweight though.

    Unparking your cores
    Create a restore point before this just in case! ONLY for those with multi core CPUs. This should be fairly safe for most people. Keep in mind that this can effect temperatures a bit, but more so for laptop users.

    This is a tweak that will essentially keep all your cores 100% ready for work at all times. It is a registry tweak, but this download will make it simple for you.
    http://www.coderbag.com/Uploads/Unpark-CPU-App.zip
    That link goes directly to the file, so it will download as soon as you enter it in. Unzip it and open the program up. Below is a quick how to video I found. You must restart your PC before it can take effect.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyo6H3W-vu8

    NOTE: Unparking cores has been show to cause crashes in some rare cases, this mainly occurs among laptop users. Luckily, any issues caused by unparking can be reverted.

    Setting up graphics properly
    Yeah, you may have a good GPU and all, but for some reason, your FPS is not where you'd like it. Tomshardware has determined that the CPU is the main bottleneck for this game, so setting the graphics properly can yield the best looks at the best performance. First, set models to low, this does not effect the "quality" of the models so much as it makes them less individual. Chances are you wont notice much of a difference, so set it to low and enjoy better FPS, especially in big battles. Also turn other settings that use the CPU off or low. These settings, again, don't effect the overall look as much, so go ahead and turn them down. These settings include physics, which I'd set to medium or low, reflections off, and effects low-medium. This will help regardless of how good your CPU is. It will greatly help those with a decent GPU but a somewhat lacking CPU. With the other settings, set them as high as you're comfortable with. test configurations out, you can see the FPS by hovering over the menu button in game.

    If you know you have a good CPU, but a crappy GPU, then set the GPU related settings down and all of the CPU settings up. just hover over a setting to find out if it uses your CPU or GPU.

    Once you're done with these settings, try not to change them again. Changing graphics settings later on may mess up some of the variable changes you can make in the next subsection.

    Variable.txt edits
    The video below shows a couple tweaks for a file in SC2 to improve FPS. Changing the bit depth to 16, which wont effect eye candy that much but yields a good performance boost. And disabling shadows for slower computers. BTW, you have to manually type in bitdepth=16, it's not there by default. don't forget to save the file when you're done. Remember you have to edit the file with notepad.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUh_MElGgoI

    You can also try these out. You can just type them in if there not there. (Some of these were copied from Xapti's "The comprehensive variables.txt thread!")

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    creepnormalmap=0
    creepQuality=0
    creeptrans=0

    frameratecap=70
    frameratecapGlue=30

    @VaderSeven
    You said wanted to disable the shinny glow on stuff with your settings, you can try these.
    hdr = 0
    spec = 0

    If you did not disable shadows, try these to improve performance.
    parallaxshadow=0
    shadowmapsize=512 (shadow detail. You can also try 256 or 128.)
    softshadows=0
    softshadowTaps=6
    transparentshadows=0 (Major change for ATI Radeon. cloaked units get normal shadows instead of transparent.)

    fog= 0
    normalmap=0
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Leatrix Latency Fix
    This is a simple tweak that will change the way windows treats incoming network packets or something, basically it will cut your game ping in half. I can vouch for this. This will help allot for those on laggy connections. Download this tweak via the link below. It links directly to the file as well, so it downloads automatically.
    http://www.wowinterface.com/downloads/download13581-LeatrixLatencyFix
    Unzip it and run the Leatrix Latency Fix application. All you have to do is click install, then you're done. You must restart your PC before it can take effect.

    Sound Settings
    Go into your settings, then to the sound section. Uncheck "enable reverb", then reduce the sound channels to 16 or 32. This will be hard to notice and can make a good difference with weaker CPUs.

    Disable your AV while you play
    This won't help much unless you're using a crappy AV like Norton, a resource hog Don't forget to turn it on. (By the way I suggest Avast, it's super lightweight!)

    Edited by Aldrexus on 11/1/2013 12:39 PM PDT
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    Improving Performance Part II

    Change the way the game uses your CPU
    I know that on Nvidia cards you can changes the prerendered frames, meaning the frames your CPU prepares before they get fully rendered by the GPU. Sorry AMD GPU owners, I don't know how to do this for you. Turning the prerendered frames down if your CPU is the bottleneck will improve performance. Likewise, increasing the prerendered frames when you have a good CPU, but weak GPU will also help.

    To do this, right click on your desktop, click Nvidia Control Panel, once it opened, go to "manage 3D settings", in the drop down menu, find Starcraft, or add it using the same Starcraft II.exe you used for other things earlier. In the settings list, find "maximum pre-rendered frames" option. Set that to either 1 or 2 if your CPU is the bottleneck. Or set it to 3 or 4 if your GPU is the bottleneck. You might test things out and see the results. This mainly helps out older CPUs. Stay at these settings for the next subsection.

    Get maximum performance from your GPU
    You should still be in the same Nvida settings you were in the last subsection just above this one. In that list of settings, you need to find "power management mode". Make sure to set that to prefer maximum performance. This will keep your GPU at full power while you play, so it should help FPS a tiny little, along with prevent unnaturally low or unstable FPS.

    AMD GPU users, I don't own an AMD card, but I think this setting is in catalyst control center, or whatever your graphics control panel is. So go have a look around in there and try to do the same thing, it should be fairly easy. Use Google when in doubt!

    Power settings
    Make sure that in your control panel, your power setting is set to high performance, or change your current plans settings. To change the settings, "click change plan settings", then
    "change advanced power settings", near the top there should be a drop down menu, try and find high performance on that, then set it to that. This may or may not help, you're just doing this to be sure, because at the high performance profile your CPU is not limited to 50% power like it may or may not be on the other profiles. After that, you can change some of the other basic power settings if you wish.

    Advanced power settings
    This should help out those who have unnaturally low or unstable FPS. I'd not do it unless I was having one of those issues, as the actual performance gain is small. This is more of an advanced setting that can be found in your BIOS. You may need to use Google to find it, but I'll see what I can do.

    To get to your BIOS, you need to push a certain key in when the motherboard is loading everything up, this key is typically delete or F2, but if not, it should be listed somewhere on the splash screen.

    Once you are in your BIOS, look around for the power or CPU settings. Look for something along the lines of power saving mode, intel power management, cool'n'quiet, etc. When in doubt, you should be able to find descriptions for anything you're looking at in your BIOS. You can also use Google of coarse. Once you find the right setting, make sure it's disabled. If you screw things up, you can go back into the BIOS and fix it no problem, but be cautious nonetheless.

    Unit preloader
    This is a custom map that loads everything it can from the game into the RAM, this will improve your FPS and stability when you play. Just run the preloader before you start to play. They make a version for each edition of the game.

    Timer resolution
    This will change the internal latency of your processor or something along those lines. This can yield 1-2 FPS in big battles. It can also help with microstutter.

    Download the free version here.
    http://www.lucashale.com/timer-resolution/
    unzip it and run it, no install required. Just click the "maximum button" and downsize the window. The next time you want to use this, You will have to open it up and click maximum again, it does not save settings after you close it. If it causes stability issues, which is rare by the way, then just don't use it. I'd not leave this on all the time by the way, just when you play.

    Overclock your CPU and or GPU
    Don't make me explain this, Google it and do it on your own. It can help allot, keep in mind that overclocking most any GPU is fairly easy and safe. Again, Google it. MSI Afterburner is a good tool for easily overclocking your GPU BTW. Watch those temps as well. You can download MSI Afterburner here.
    http://event.msi.com/vga/afterburner/download.htm

    Disable file indexing service
    File indexing is an old feature that has been preserved in the newer versions of windows. Basically, it helps speed up search times when you are searching for something within windows. This was important with older versions of windows, where hard drives were slow and windows was not as good. Currently, hard drives are much faster and windows is much better. Having this around just waists resources and hard drive speed. Plus, it's just ridiculous to have on a SSD.

    Disabling this will free up some CPU power as well as help increase load times a little. To do this, go to computer, then right click on your main hard drive/SSD, click properties, then uncheck "allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties". Then push apply. Give it anywhere from a few minutes to about an hour, possibly more. Be sure to let it finish, you can still use your computer during this time. When that's done, do the same thing to any other hard drives/SSDs on your computer.

    Edited by Aldrexus on 11/1/2013 12:39 PM PDT
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    Improving Visuals

    These will hurt FPS, so use these if you're on a high end PC.

    Ultra extreme graphics
    Make these changes to your variable.txt file to unlock some even better graphics.
    (From Xapti)

    -------------------------------------------------------------
    GraphicsOptionOverallQualityVer7 [5] = 4
    SSAO=1
    SSAOBlockerLookup=0
    SSAOOptimizedSampleDelta=1
    SSAONoiseBits=1
    SSAOEncodedDepth=0
    SSAODepthDownSample=1
    SSAOSmartBlur=1
    SSAOBlurPasses=2
    SSAOSampleCount=8
    shadowmapsize=4096
    TerrainTextureSize=4096[/quote]
    -------------------------------------------------------------

    SweetFX
    This can improve the visuals a lot at a low performance cost. Know that this is not technically within the user agreement simply because it's a mod. The chances of getting banned for this are extremely low, as there is no way I can think of that Blizzard would detect this or see it as an unfair advantage. But it's your choice. I use this in some of my other games and it makes them look amazing.

    If you're interested in this, here is a link to the files and some instructions.
    http://sfx.thelazy.net/games/game/212/
    That will take you to a page that has a little box that tells you where to put the files. To get them, choose the xvt preset and download the preset, then follow the instructions on the first page of where to put the files.

    Edited by Aldrexus on 11/1/2013 12:39 PM PDT
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    Improving Perpetuals

    Disabling Mouse Acceleration
    Did you know that by default, Windows will speed up slow movements you make with you mouse, delaying the time it takes to get to a point because of acceleration, and will slow down faster mouse movements? It even has the nerve of telling you is better by calling it "enhance pointer precision". In reality, this makes your mouse movements less consistent and require more processing.

    Go ahead and disable this by going to control panel, searching mouse, clicking the result labeled "mouse" or "mouse settings", then go to the pointer options section and uncheck enhance pointer precision. Then click apply.

    Trust me, it will feel awkward for at least an hour, but after you spend at least a couple days with it, it will feel much better than before, this is my personal experience and that of many others I've read about. I tested my mouse accuracy before and after, and to say the least, I got a better score. I really think you should try it for 1 or 2 days.

    Really cheap performance enhancing mouse pad
    This pad is designed to enhance the precision of optical mice. Go check it out, read the reviews and such. I do highly recommend this pad.
    Here is the link to it ($6).
    http://www.amazon.com/3M-Precise-Optical-Mousing-MP200PS/dp/B0017D5Z40/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1383271828&sr=8-2&keywords=mouse+pad
    Here is a link to one with a wrist rest ($12).
    http://www.amazon.com/3M-Leatherette-Antimicrobial-Protection-MW309LE/dp/B001A1UX0U/ref=pd_sim_op_3
    vt guide

    Edited by Aldrexus on 11/1/2013 12:40 PM PDT
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    Testimonials

    A lot of these testimonies can be found in their original form at the first version of this thread. Oh, and by the way, if you find or have any issues, just tell me here.

    "THIS NEARLY DOUBLED MY FPS, AND THE GAME LOOKS HARDLY DIFFERENT!
    THANK YOU!!!
    +1000000000000000000000000000000000
    "
    ~RedOctober

    "I no longer suffer from low FPS in larger battles and 4v4s!
    THANK YOU!
    +1
    "
    ~FlyingEagle

    "Thx :D I can now actually STUTTER STEP."
    ~ditao

    "awesome guide man good job"
    ~SeRTeCH

    "This was very helpful thank you so much Duke, my pc isn't that great but I noticed a difference after following the instructions, but anyways thanks!"
    ~Lithium

    "I've gotten about a 15 fps increase with all of the tips, big thanks."
    ~Lazo

    "GREAT thread, LOVE IT. I REALLY appreciate things like this."
    ~VaderSeven

    "+1, great thread. Thanks for taking the time to compile this."
    ~Blake

    Edited by Aldrexus on 11/1/2013 12:40 PM PDT
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    Edited by Aldrexus on 11/1/2013 12:41 PM PDT
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    DONE!!!

    I hope you found it helpful, any questions or issues you have concerning this thread can be posted here. Hope it helped you!

    Don't forget to like the first 8 posts in this thread, it helps make it more visible on dee Googles!!!

    Duke, MVP Tech Support
    Edited by Duke on 11/1/2013 1:40 PM PDT
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    @VaderSeven
    You said wanted to disable the shinny glow on stuff with your settings, you can try these.
    hdr = 0
    spec = 0

    Not works since patch 1.5.3. These optios are attached to Shader level. With Medium or higher shaders you can't have hdr and spec turned off.

    Before it was a part of Hybridic Graphic settings which introduced true-Medium settings between Low and current Medium. These hybridic settings had shadows, special effects, no glossy effect, and non-animated creep

    http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=350426
    Edited by Existor on 12/5/2014 6:49 PM PST
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    @Existor
    Hmm. That's lame. Any mistakes I may have made will be fixed in 1 month in a revision, the final revision.
    However, though the options are not there, you can still add them in, that may work, it does for other things.
    Edited by Duke on 11/1/2013 1:41 PM PDT
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    Great Work, Duke!!! 8D
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    11/01/2013 01:42 PMPosted by Velnrak
    Great Work, Duke!!! 8D

    Thanks!!!
    Reply Quote
    Posts: 1,880
    This thread is a thing of beauty.
    Reply Quote
    MVP
    Posts: 6,905
    Congratulations Duke!
    Im MVP - Techical Support of LA comunity and I realize that there is still much to learn!
    When I get a chance, i will read the entire contents of this thread.

    Question:
    Can I use and translate this thread to share to the LA community? I will put your nick as real author.
    Edited by Vicebacker on 11/7/2013 10:45 AM PST
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    MVP - Technical Support
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    Question:
    Can I use and translate this thread to share to the LA community? I will put your nick as real author.


    Of coarse! You're more than welcome to!
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    MVP
    Posts: 6,905
    Thanks Duke! Regards.
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    Posts: 1,576
    I suppose this is a bit more informative than my optimizing guide:

    How to optimize: Click "low settings" and don't game on pentium 4.
    (I will say that this works for just about any person)
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    Posts: 6,905
    11/19/2013 09:17 AMPosted by Dhark
    How to optimize: Click "low settings" and don't game on pentium 4.


    In my house Im actually playing SC2 on a Pentium 4. I think this thread is usefull for entry level or old computers. Regards.
    Reply Quote

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