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 Got Lag - ingame -Read Me

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PostSubject: Got Lag - ingame -Read Me   Thu 20 Dec 2007, 11:44

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At one time or another, all of us have complained of too low or choppy
frame rates at least once when we're playing games. Low frame rates can
be detrimental to the gaming experience, particularly if it happens at
that critical moment when you've lined up for a frag and got fragged
instead by the one on your crosshair. Naturally, we don't want any lag
when playing games, so what can we do? A lot actually, but we must know
what caused these problems in the first place.

When most people complain about lag, they either mean too low frame
rates or choppy frame rates (stuttering). Actually, they are very
different from one another - low frame rates are often caused by the
lack of performance from either the processor or graphics cards in your
PC. On the other hand, stuttering can be caused by a number of
different things. Solving low frame rates problems are relatively easy:
either get a faster processor, graphics card or both. A less expensive
solution will be to turn down the details and / or resolution of the
game you're playing. Stuttering problems are harder to solve - it can
be anything from a software bug, either in the drivers or the game
itself, to something else entirely. That's why people are always
telling you to update your drivers and games with the latest drivers
and patches.

So, if even after updating your drivers and applying the latest
patches, you still have stuttering - what's next? Barring software bugs
and hardware problems, stuttering problems are often caused by the game
taking too much time retrieving or fetching data it needs - either from
the memory or hard disk. In short, that could mean your PC's memory is
too slow or too small. Here we look at what we can do to eliminate
memory-related stuttering and what's the best solution to have a lag
free gaming rig.

Virtual memory (Page File)

The paging file is widely known as the windows virtual memory file.
This file is used by the system when the windows run short of the
actual RAM. Windows keeps on increasing and decreasing the size of the
page file, which in itself is not very efficient. This affects the
accessibility of fragmentation of your files. You should rather define
your own paging size. Select the minimum and maximum size of the virtual memory to be the same. <<(This one really works well). A preferable size is about 1.5 times the RAM you have.

To enhance performance, it is good practice
to put the paging file on a different partition and/or on a different
physical hard disk drive. That way, Windows can handle multiple I/O
requests more quickly. When the paging file is on the boot partition,
Windows must perform disk reading and writing requests on both the
system folder and the paging file. When the paging file is moved to a
different partition, there is less competition between reading and
writing requests.

To access the Page file in Win XP

In Windows XP go to My Computer, right click it and then choose
Properties, go to the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in
Performance. Then click the Advanced tab and the click the change
button in Virtual memory.
Now you can view and set the parameters you need.
Under Drive [Volume Label], click the drive that contains the paging file you want to change.

Under Paging file size for selected drive, click Custom size, type a new paging file size in megabytes (MB) in the

Initial size (MB) or Maximum size (MB) box, and then click Set.
Make shure you set the Initial size and Maximum size to the same amount (about 1.5 times your Physical Ram)

If you decrease the size of either the initial or maximum paging file
settings, you must restart your computer to see the effects of those
changes. When you increase the paging file size, you typically do not
need to restart your
computer.

For best performance, do not set the initial size to less than the
minimum recommended size under Total paging file size for all drives.
The recommended size is equivalent to 1.5 times the amount of RAM on
your system. Usually, you should leave the paging file at its
recommended size, although you might increase its size if you routinely
use programs that require a lot of memory.

If you do put the file elsewhere, you should leave a small amount on C:
- an initial size of 2MB with a Maximum of 50 is suitable - so it can
be used in emergency. Without this, the system is inclined to ignore
the settings and either have no page file at all (and complain) or make
a very large one indeed on the C: drive.

Virtual memory does have its limits and these limits can be very
'limiting'. Suppose you only have 512 MB of memory (in addition to
virtual memory), but the game you're running is using up to 1 GBs of
memory (or more). Even with virtual memory, there's only place for less
than half of that in RAM. You'd have to put the rest of it in virtual
memory. If the game needs to access all of them at once, the operating
system must swap between the RAM and the page file. In this situation,
the processor will be able to quickly process the data in memory, but
it may have to wait until the rest of the data (in virtual memory) is
swapped from the hard disk - the hard disk is much slower than RAM.
That's when you'll notice a sharp drop in frame rates - a 'stutter'.
Frame rates will go back up once the hard disk finished reading (or
writing) and all the data processed. With larger amounts of data, the
hard disk will have to spend more time accessing data, so the 'stutter'
can take more time. The worst scenario in this case will be if the game
needs to access all this data all the time, then the operating system
must continually swap data between RAM and virtual memory.

Larger is better

The next question is how much RAM do we really need - especially to run
games. Now, let's take a look at some memory 'footprints' - how much
memory and page file used by several games.

Windows XP
Mem available 382.55
Mem installed 512
Mem used 129.45
Page file used 172
Page file normal 172
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>0
Total memory used 129.45
(estimated)

BF2
Mem available 39.47
Mem installed 512
Mem used 472.53
Page file used 1032
Page file normal 172
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>860
Total memory used 1332.53
(estimated)

Brothers in Arms
Mem available 181.18
Mem installed 512
Mem used 330.82
Page file used 314
Page file normal 172
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>142
Total memory used 472.82
(estimated)

Call of Duty
Mem available 12.41
Mem installed 512
Mem used 499.86
Page file used 445
Page file normal 172
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>273
Total memory used 772.86
(estimated)

(all numbers are in MBs and are rough examples)

You can see that older games usually have smaller memory footprints
than newer games - most of them will still fit comfortably within 512
MB of RAM. Higher details (both polygons and textures) means larger
amounts of data and larger amounts of memory needs to be accessed.
Games with total memory used lower than 512 MB should be (relatively)
'stutter-free' since we don't always have to access the hard disk.
Games with memory footprints slightly larger than 512 MB should still
be stutter free, since the game may only need small bits of data from
the hard disk. For games with larger memory footprints, it would be
wise to upgrade this 512 MB system to 1 GB or even 2 GB (like for
Battlefield 2) to completely avoid memory related stuttering. Larger
amounts of memory, while tempting, is not really necessary. Remember, a
32 bit application (and operating system) can only address up to 4 GBs
of memory. The 32 bit version Windows XP does come with a feature that
allows it to address more than 4 GBs of memory, but it won't be useful
for games (particularly 32 bit games).

A typical motherboard has 3 to 4 memory slots (DIMM slots) to hold
memory. Most modern chipsets such as the NForce 4 or VIA K8T800 cam
support up to 4 GBs of RAM. So if you want to have 4 GB, you need 4
modules of 1 GB, preferably PC3200 DDR SDRAM modules (or greater). If
you're shooting for 2 GB, you could either use 4 modules of 512 MB or 2
modules of 1 GB. The difference will be the command rate - the 1 GB
modules may be dual bank modules so you'll have to use 2T instead of
1T. The other difference will be latency: 1 GB modules usually comes as
CAS Latency 3 modules, while 512 MB may come as CAS Latency 3, 2,5 or 2
(if you're willing to spend the money).

Lower Load Times

There is one other point I wanted to address in this post that while it
doesn't affect gameplay performance, you as users will appreciate too:
load times. By having more memory, the game will be able to make use of
the additional memory and load all the data it needs entirely in RAM.
This could make load times shorter. At least in theory. Take a look at
this example: if an application has 640 MBs of data to load at one time
on a 512 MB system, the rest (about 128 MB) will be written back to
virtual memory (hard disk). Now, the game may not need all that data at
once, so the additional data can be loaded in background while we're
playing (without causing a stutter). However, during loading, the
operating system must write back the data into the hard disk, adding
more time to the loading process. In this situation, having more memory
provide extra benefits that performance testing alone can't show.

Closing down background tasks

Almost certainly there are a variety of programs running on your
computer, eating up resources, even if you don't know they are there.
These range from programs you have open to windows processes or even
spy ware running without your knowledge. Often these 'background tasks'
cause conflicts when trying to play games and eat up some of your RAM
that the game needs. Even users with plenty of system resources can
still experience conflicts with background tasks such as Antivirus or
Crash guard programs running. Thankfully it is easy to shut down
background tasks and this can be done each time you want to play
without affecting your computer.

To shut down background tasks if you have Windows XP:

Hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys on your keyboard at the same time, and
press the Delete key once to display Task Manager if you have Home
Edition.

To End Applications

Click on the Applications tab to view the list of active programs.
Click on any program listed in this window and select the End Task button.
Repeat the previous instructions until all programs have been closed.

To End Processes
Click on the Processes tab to view the list of active processes.
Click in the User Name column header to organize the processes by login.
Click on any program listed next to your Windows login, other than
EXPLORER.EXE and TASKMGR.EXE, then select the End Process button.
Repeat the previous instructions until all programs associated to your
Windows Login are closed other than TASKMGR.EXE and EXPLORER.EXE
Note: Do not close any processes running under SYSTEM, LOCAL SERVICE, or NETWORK SERVICE.

That's it. Don't forget that any background applications or processes
that you shut down will be unavailable to you, but they will return to
normal the next time you reboot your computer.

Or you can get a good FREE program (Smart Close) to do it for you safely here

Multiple Partitions

It is also good practice to make multiple patitions.
One for the operating system.
One for the paging file.
One for games.
One for Graphics, Music, Downloads etc etc.
This way they do not get to Fragged, and it is quicker and easier to
Defragment when nessecary (about once a week is a good guide.)

By the way this is the best defrag software available IMHO is......
Diskeeper 2007 home or small office.
http://www.diskeeper.com/defrag.asp
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