PlanetSide Universe - View Single Post - Low FPS? Ailos' guide to having a better experience V2. (Updated 1/21/13)
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Old 2013-01-21, 12:01 PM   [Ignore Me] #1
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Exclamation Low FPS? Ailos' guide to having a better experience V2. (Updated 2/23/13)

This is a re-post update to the original optimization guide. Thanks to everyone for your support and feedback!

A lot of folks have issues with PlanetSide 2 underperforming compared to other modern games (BF3, Skyrim, NFSU, etc).

I've been playing PS2 from early Beta and through that time frame, I've witnessed many updates that've both optimized and broken performance, as well as some tweaks posted around the interwebs. In that time, I've also upgraded my original gaming rig, and as a result have tested these tweaks on all three of the following machines:

Ultra setup: Intel Core i5-3570K @4.4GHz, 16GB of DDR3-2133, GTX 680 4GB, 256 GB Samsung 840 SSD. (Runs 30+ FPS in heaviest fights on ultra settings as described below).

Recommended minimum: Phenom II X4 955 BE @3.8GHz, 8GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, 2x Radeon HD 5770 1GB in Crossfire, 500 GB WD SATA 6 Gb/s HDD. (Runs 30+ FPS in heaviest fights on medium/high settings.)

Absolute minimum: Llano AMD A6-3650 with Radeon HD 6530D, 4 GB of DDR3-1333, 500 GB WD SATA 6 Gb/s HDD. (Runs 20+ FPS on all lowest settings as described below, you can only really be useful in a support role with this.)

The moral of all that is: this game can run on a very large swathe of hardware, but you obviously won't get the same experience everywhere. So if you're having issues with your set-up, be it a low-, mid-, or high-end keep reading and you might find something useful here.

How to use this guide
First, we will try to figure out which part of your system is causing you grief, and then attempt to remedy that in steps of increasing severity, where the first steps are simple, require only a few clicks, but may not yield much improvement, through driver-based settings overrides, and all the way to overclocking levels. I will also suggest low-hanging fruit upgrades that may change your experience significantly.
Use this guide at your own risk. Whenever possible, I shall attempt to warn you of potential issues in good faith and personal experience, but I cannot predict everything. Taking certain steps (e.g. overclocking) may cause you to void your hardware warranties, and such steps will be written in this orange color. I assume no liability for broken or faulty hardware as a result of steps taken. If you don't know what the settings mean, don't change them! At a minimum, if you don't know something, read up before you change anything. Links to overclocking guides are provided at the end of this guide, and links to other useful tools are provided throughout.

If you have an overclocked system or a multi-GPU setup, you may skip to step 4 (but browse through steps 1 and 2 for any low-hanging fruit).

Step 1: What seems to be the problem?
So first, we have to get an idea for what's causing you to have poor performance.
First things first, let's restate the official minimum requirements:
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 or AMD Phenom II X2 or higher
GPU: GeForce 8600 or Radeon HD 4850 with 256+ MB of VRAM or better
RAM: Min 4 GB of accessible space

Those are relatively liberal requirements. However, I can personally vouch that you could actually get away with using a less powerful graphics card (e.g. a 6530D) and still have a playable experience. With this in mind, here are my empirical minimum requirements (this will give you min 30 FPS in all but the most intense fights on low settings):
CPU: A dual-core processor running at 3 GHz or faster* (Core2Duo or PhenomII X2)
GPU: NVidia 8600 or Radeon HD 3650, Intel HD Graphics 4000 or AMD 6530D (A6-Llano).
RAM: 4 GB of DDR3-1066**
Empirical recommended requirements (this will give you minimum 30 FPS in any situation with all settings on high, provided your resolution is 1080p or lower):
CPU: A quad-core running at 3.5 GHz or faster* (Core i5 2500K or FX4300)
GPU: NVidia 660Ti or Radeon HD 7870, Laptop cards: 680M or 7970M
RAM: 8 GB of DDR3-1600

This game is, admittedly, a very good subject for the "but will it run Crysis?" gag. So in that spirit, and because we also frequently get asked "what is the system that can run the game absolutely flawlessly?", I'm also going to include a best-available configuration that can run the game flawlessly at "Ultra" settings which require messing with useroptions.ini.
Empirical "ultra" setup:
CPU: Latest gen quad-core clocked at 4+ GHz (i5/i7 Ivy Bridge or FX Vishera, the higher clocks, the better).
GPU: GTX 670 or AMD 7950 for single-monitor, GTX 680 or AMD 7970 for multi-monitor below 1080p/screen, or GTX 690 or SLI for surround view, or a CrossFire setup with each card at least on an x8 cabale slot.
RAM: 8 GB of DDR3-2133
Other extras: wired Ethernet connection and dedicated sound card (especially if you're also using a full 5.1/7.1 speaker system).

If your hardware does not meet the above empirical minimum requirements, stop here and start saving money for a new system.

Next, we will begin some troubleshooting. This part draws heavily from a post by SOE developer CyclesMcHurtz during beta, that is now listed on the official SOE help page for PS2.
  1. Start up your PS2 client and go to the warpgate on a mildly-populated continent (you want ~30 people in your vicinity). Step outside the spawn building, walk 10-20 meters off to the side (look both ways, don't get run over!) until you can see the spawn building in your field of view in its entirety.
  2. Press Alt+F to show the in-game FPS counter (bottom-left corner of screen, below the minimap). It will tell you whether you're currently CPU or GPU-bound, note this.
  3. Go to your graphics settings and turn the "Render Quality" slider all the way to 0.5 (yes, the game looks horrible, but this is just a test).
  4. Take note of your new FPS figure and CPU- or GPU-bound status.
  5. Look around and see what happens to your FPS counter when you're looking out into the sky, when you're looking at the ground/mountains around, and when you're looking back at the clusterfuck that is the immediate area around the WG spawn building.
  6. Log out.

At this point, we can start applying tweaks based on what happened in the above test. This is organized in order of severity. Find your scenario, then attempt everything listed below it until the desired result is achieved.
  1. You went from GPU-bound to CPU-bound, and your FPS improved significantly (15+ FPS).
    This simply means your GPU is the culprit. Solutions (use some or all):
    • Turn down your resolution
    • Set Graphics quality, textures, model detail and lighting to low
    • Set shadows to low and uncheck 'Fog shadows'
    • Set Render quality to 0.85-0.9
    • Set PlanetSide2.exe to run with desktop composition disabled. (If you don't know how to do this, reply asking for additional instructions.)
  2. You were and still are GPU bound, but your FPS increased significantly.
    Your GPU is still the culprit; see above. Alternatively, you may overclock your GPU.
  3. You were and still are CPU-bound, and your FPS improved marginally (5-10 FPS).
    This is where we start getting into grey areas.
    Simple things to change (may not yield any results):
    • Turn down terrain quality.
    • Turn down the audio quality.
    More tricky things to change (credit: t.Rek from official forums):
    • In your useroptions.ini file (if you don't know what this is or where to find it, ask), in the [Rendering] section, set:
    • RenderDistance=1005.000000
    • ParticleDistanceScale=0.650000
    • MaxVoices=30 (Credit: HiroshiChugi)
    • RenderFlora=Off (Credit: HiroshiChugi)
    • If you have an NVidia card, set GPUPhysix=1
    • See the note below about system memory.
  4. You went from GPU-bound to CPU-bound, but your FPS did not improve much.
    This means your CPU is a big limiting factor. Try the tweaks above, and run the test again.
    • If you're running on a laptop or a desktop with a wireless connection, try running through a wired network - latency is a BIG thing in PS2.
    • Credit: Nalvasa PS2 shows a dependency of having access to plenty of fast memory, with measurable gains all the way to DDR3-2133. If you have the ability, set your memory speed to be higher - e.g. from DDR3 1333 to 1866, enable the higher speed (even if it causes your timings to slip from CAS9 to CAS10 or 11).
    • Alternatively, you may also go straight to overclocking your CPU.

    Step 2: None of it helped
    I should at this point out that there's no practical reason to have VSync on in this game, so make sure that's disabled. Now let's dig deeper. See if your system displays any of the following additional symptoms:
  5. PlanetSide 2 freezes or crashes frequently (once an hour or more) during gameplay, including BSOD.
    There are any number of causes for this, including things that we can't do anything about. Steps to mitigate:
    • If you're running under Vista or XP, make sure to run as administrator and disable desktop composition.
    • If you're running the Steam version of the PS2 client, install the Sony Station version of the client.
    • If you are running in SurroundView/Eyefinity, disable and run on a single screen.
    • Make sure your video drivers are up to date (on both NVidia and AMD cards).
    • If you have an NVidia card, download the NVidia Experience applet, which includes automatic setting optimizations for PS2 (that you should use).
    • If you have enabled GPU PhysX, disable this feature.
    • In either case, if you are re-installing the drivers make sure to do a complete and clean driver install - that means wipe all current drivers first before installing the new ones.
    • Download CoreTemp and GPU-Z and monitor your CPU and GPU temperatures to make sure they're not overheating (>90C for Intel and AMD FX, Llano or Trinity and; >55 C for AMD Phenom or Athlon; >70 C for older GPUs, >80C for modern ones).
  6. Screen flickers, freezes, shows extra/missing textures, strange colors.
    This is indicative of overheating. See the last bullet above. This is particularly common on laptops or all-in-one platforms.
  7. After all graphics tweaks, you are still CPU bound.
    This happens frequently if you upgraded your rig's GPU to one of the latest generation, but left the CPU alone for various reasons. There's two approaches to help alleviate the bottleneck.
    • On NVidia GPUs, lower the number of pre-rendered frames by going to NVidia Control Panel>Manage 3D settings>Program Settings, select PS2, and scroll down to "Max pre-rendered frames", and set it to 1 or 2. This will only give you one or two extra FPS, but the game will feel much more responsive, and therefore more playable.
    • On ATI GPUs, download Radeon Pro driver addon, and enable Dynamic Framerate Control to the lowest framerate you feel comfortable with (I recommend setting it between 35-40). This will make the card attempt to budget its resources for delivering a new frame every 25-28 ms and should similarly improve responsiveness in combat; this is also particularly helpful on Crossfire setups (because standard Catalyst Drivers aren't very good at frame latency).

    Step 3: Easy, cheap upgrades.
    This is easier on desktops simply because, well, they're desktops. These are listed in order of cheapest to most expensive.
  8. If running with 4 GB of RAM, upgrade to 8GB
    If possible, also upgrade to faster RAM, check to see what is the maximum speed your processor and MB can support. If you aren't sure how to do this, make a post asking for help.
  9. If running slow ram (DDR3-1333 and below) upgrade/overclock to faster RAM (DDR3-1866 or higher).
    Section credits: Impaler and Nalvasa
    PlanetSide 2 shows a significant dependency on memory bandwidth. PlanetSide 2 in particular can be constrained by your memory bandwidth in really heavy fights, as certain aspects of Forgelight flat out require CPU processing and cannot be paralleled out or delegated to a CUDA/GCN core. Upgrading to faster RAM can gain you 10+ FPS in the heaviest of combat if you move from 1066 to 2133. With RAM prices sustaining their historic lows, this upgrade can really make the game come together, but make sure that your motherboard can support the new RAM (check your manual!).
  10. If running with less than 1 GB of GPU VRAM, swap the card.
    Current recommendation is to go with at least a Radeon HD 7750 or NVidia GTX 650.
  11. *Upgrade CPU to higher clock/core count.
    Do this only if you own a socket AM3+ (Phenom II X2 to an FX-6300) or LGA 1155 (a Pentium to an i5-3470) otherboard. Upgrading a CPU outside of these sockets is simply not worth the expense. The question of "Which are more important: cores or gigahertz?" is common. When considering core count versus clock speed, the primary concern is the processor's instruction/cycle throughput for all cores combined. The current situation in the CPU marketplace makes this a difficult decision, since AMD is slower on the throughput but makes up for it somewhat by having more cores, and the fact that both chip makers still sell multiple generations. What we do know is that the game taxes only 4 threads (it does span out to others if they are available, but they add little to performance). This means having slightly slower quad core is better than a faster dual core, but an over-clocked quad core is better than a stock hexa- or octo- core (including hyperthreaded versions). This holds only for chips based on the same architecture. To compare between architectures, refer to the CPU hierarchy chart at the bottom of this post.

Last edited by Ailos; 2013-06-27 at 12:49 AM.
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