WoW PC Performance Guide - Increase your FPS in World of Warcraft

By Ionstorm

PC Hardware

If you are a Laptop user then this section is kind of void for you, sorry!  It is HIGHLY recommended that despite what the retards on wow-europe forums say (including the MVPs), overclocking on a laptop is a bad bad bad idea! Especially if it’s old!

If you are an advanced user and can quite easily get to the Laptops CPU Heatsink and Fan, then it’s recommended that you remove all the dust inside the heatsink, make sure the fans spinning freely (if not replace), and clear out dust from the exhaust ports and whilst gaming ensure the exhaust ports (where the CPU air is blow out) unblocked.  The reason for this is all CPUs will downclock if they get too hot – so your old laptop could be running even slower than it should be because all the dust and crap is making it get too hot, too soon.

For you people who have had a PC for donkeys years and have never cleaned the dust from inside it, then the time is now, order some air in a can (air duster), unplug the PC, take it outside and get dusting!  If you do not have any after-market CPU cooling and no past experience of overclocking then I highly suggest you do NOT overclock your system at all.

For those of you who are water-cooled or have an aftermarket CPU Heatsink and Fan, then you are most likely Overclocked already, if not then your CPU would be a great place to start.

Google is the best place to start as different CPUs, Different Motherboards etc clock differently depending on how much RAM you have too!  Remember also that just because someone with your CPU has reached XXGhz doesn’t mean you will, regardless of what cooling you use, not all CPUs are created equal, sorry!

Handy Monitoring Tools for Hardware

1) Core Temp (has Logitech KB Screen plugin).

Info and Download:
http://www.alcpu.com/CoreTemp/

Allows you to keep a track on the CPU usage and the temps of each of your cores, along with setting up various warnings in case your threshold is hit, this will help you monitor not only your overclock, but if your laptops overheating or if your desktop CPU is going down from its Boost clock due to heat.

2) GPUz

Info and Download:
http://www.techpowerup.com/gpuz/

A little like Core Temp, but this is for your Graphics Card, should you choose to overclock it because it’s your bottleneck (semi-doubtful). Once you’ve clicked on the “Sensors” tab you’ll be able to see how hot your GPU is using, the Fanspeed and the actual GPU usage, don’t be suprised to see the usage go through the roof exploring Pandaria, to suddenly drop to very little when you’re in a room full of people // looking at Org/SW Bank – This is where WoW’s CPU whoring comes in to play (and we’ll get to this later in graphics settings on why lower graphics isn’t a good thing).

These are quite vital if you’re overclocking your card and checking for stability (or if its a super hot day), generally speaking GPUz can just be done for testing, but Core Temp should ALWAYS be running whilst your CPU is overclocked.

PC Software – Windows 7, 8 and 8.1

Whilst people complain about the look of Windows 8, I personally have seen a few FPS gain – which will increase even more with windows 8.1,  provided that your hardware supports Windows 8, it may be worthwhile upgrading, however it’s not a major factor in the guide.

1) Cleaning up Start-up items.

If you’ve had your PC for a year then you’ve likely installed a whole host of crap, generally stuff you don’t need or seldom use.

Windows 7 users press WINKEY+R and it’ll show the RUN window,  type  msconfig  and press enter, and then go to the Start-up tab.

Windows 8 users can right click on the task bar and select the “Start-up” tab next to Processes, Performance, App history etc.

You will then be given a really big list of programs.  It’s a rule of thumb to full on disable everything there, and then go through one by one and decide if you need that application – it’s important that you right click and go to properties or windows 8 users can right click and open file location and check to see if it’s a required app or not.  If you have any problems it is best to google the application.  It’s recommended you do not disable any antivirus, drivers (NVidia, AMD, Realtek, Intel) and if you use a printer – perhaps keep that there too.  If you’ve got CoreTemp or any other overclocking/monitoring software, keep it enabled.

Just remember here, it’s better to be ruthless than to be too careful – it’s just a simple matter of running msconfig again and just enabling something you missed or later realised you needed.

2) Windows Update

It’s recommended that if you’re using a Licensed version of Windows to keep it up to date, however if a driver is recommended to be updated, check with the hardware vender for a updated version first (see step 3).

Whilst Windows Update is fantastic, you don’t want that crap downloading or installing whilst you are raiding, so go here:

Control Panel > Windows Update > Change Settings

And select “Check for updates, but let me choose whether to download and install them”.   This will stop the background downloading (which could cause latency issues) and background CPU/HDD time which will slow you down.

3) Update those drivers + BIOS*

Updating your drivers can bring you a whole host of added performance and stability including enhancements, NVidia often gives wild figures of 20% and higher gaming performance upgrades in drivers compared to others, the truth is it’s never going to give you that much of a boost (unless you’ve only ever used the CD Drivers that came with your card), but there will be a gain none the less.   Motherboard chipset drivers are also important to keep up to date, it’s like the veins in your body, if that gets clogged you won’t get what you need to function correctly.

Updating you BIOS can see overclocking features increased, minor performance gains and better stability, however it is done at your own risk! Most motherboards now a days can update over the web from within the BIOS, or have a Windows app that makes it less of a risk.

If you are unaware of your CPU Chipset, or cannot recall what motherboard make or model you have (to get the latest drivers), then a program called CPUz will be your saving grace, as it will give you all this information.

CPUz Info and Download:
http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html

It’s worth noting the download button is top right below the search bar.

4) Anti Virus / Anti Malware / Internet Security

We’re all scared of catching full blown internet aids, but there’s no reason to go batshit crazy when it comes to anti virus protection.  If you are purely using your computer for gaming then Microsoft Security Essentials.

In terms of contacting internet aids via a website packed full of viral goodies, there is a easy resource free way of helping out in this department, DNS.

If you look at the Network icon in your task bar, right click on it and select “Open Network and Sharing Center”, from there select “Change adapter settings” right click on “Ethernet” or your Wifi Connection (Tip wifi SUCKS for gaming), and click properties.

Located a line that says “Internet Protocol Version x (TCP/IPv4)” and double click it, depending if you have a static IP or a an automatic IP the top 3 boxes will be greyed out // filled out, but below it notice a box that says “Obtain DNS Server address automatically”.   You need to select “Use the following DNS Server address”.

You now have 2 choices Google Public DNS or OpenDNS, personally I would suggest that you try OpenDNS first.

Pros / cons here:

http://www.opendns.com/technology/opendns-vs-google-public-dns/

To use OpenDNS simply enter these details:

Preferred DNS Server:  208.67.222.222
Alternative DNS Server:  208.67.220.220

Or for Googles DNS:

Preferred DNS Server:  8.8.8.8
Alternative DNS Server:  8.8.4.4

Your Current PC Software

Start > Control Panel > Add / Remove Programs

It is recommended to go down that list and uninstall software you never use.

Disk Defrag

So, if you’re still in the stone age and don’t have an SSD yet, it’s highly recommended that you Defrag your HDD

WINKEY+R,  Type:   dfrgui  then press enter.

This will run the GUI for disk defrag, defrag away, REMEMBER DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU HAVE AN SSD.

Windows Settings

If your PC is diabolically ancient then you can try disabling all the shiny effects windows has to offer:
Right Click My Computer > Properties > Advanced System Settings > Performance > Settings > Visual Effects

You could try selecting “Adjust for best Performance” and see how it goes, it’ll make windows far more responsive and snappy at the expensive of being less “Shiny”.

Software to Increase Performance

Now, daddy always said don’t click those retard links on websites that claim to boost your PC’s performance by over nine thousand percent!  BUT! Alas there is some software out there that WILL give you a good gain on your PC’s performance!

1) FancyCache now known as PrimoCache

Why Use it?

WoW uses a lot of HDD time generally speaking, it loads content on the fly, therefore being able to cache the content to the RAM increases performance and seek times.  Also if you quit WoW // Relog, it’ll decrease the time to get back on WoW by quite a lot, especially if your HDD is older than Gandhi’s Flip Flops.

Info and Download:
http://www.romexsoftware.com/en-us/fancy-cache/

This software is under “beta testing” and has been for over a year, the website allows you to download a 90 day testing period of the software.

I have used this software for donkeys, before I claimed my first SSD, and provided you have 6GB of RAM and above, setting a 1GB cache for read and writes will destroy the load times of often used content.  I choose to use this on my SSD still to get insane performance still, Disk benchmarks will see you hit many a gig/sec transfer rate.

WARNING:  Using this on a laptop with sub 30% battery is not recommended, nor is it recommended if you live in an area with bad electric supply / regular power cuts.   The reason for this you can delay the writes of the HDD (recommended) so that applications and games write the data to your RAM instantly which then slowly writes to the HDD in the background, if your power goes then you’ll get data loss.   If you live in one of these areas or use a laptop, or are not an advanced user – > stick to READ caching only.

2) Leatrix Latency Fix

What does it do?

Leatrix Latency Fix will reduce your online gaming latency significantly by increasing the frequency of TCP acknowledgements sent to the game server. For the technically minded, this is a program which will modify TCPAckFrequency.

You will see reduced latency in many online games including World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Diablo 3, Star Wars, Rift, Aion, Warhammer, Lord of the Rings, and more.

Info and Download:
http://www.wowinterface.com/downloads/info13581-LeatrixLatencyFix.html

My Comments

I personally saw a drop by 1 or 2ms on 120mb/12mb Fiber, other people will have higher or generally as low success, but in the industry they say every little helps, and this may well take away the HPB in you!

3) Tweaking Applications such as GeForce Experience and Razer Game Booster

I personally don’t see much point in these games other than Nvidia choosing the graphics settings best for you,  you can try to test them, maybe you’ll see a gain maybe you won’t, if you don’t remember to uninstall Razer Game Booster – Nvidia GF Experience is there as default for any Nvidia card user as it will also notify you of driver updates.

I don’t really recommend you trying any other tweak software other than those pair, I haven’t had any experience with any other so therefore cannot recommend you blindly download random software that will most likely do more harm than good.

World of Warcraft – UI, Settings etc

IMPORTANT: It is Important to inform you that if you are using Flash based web browser Music Streaming services your Graphics Card MAY run in 2D mode reducing your WoW FPS, there has been a glitch with mostly ATI / AMD cards that any flash running will cause 2D mode, even if its just a banner advert, I believe in the newer drivers this may have been fixed, but caution anyway – if you are having poor performance than try not running any browser.

High End System Users

Make sure you are running in DirectX 11 Mode.

After reading up a great deal about DirectX 11 it seems that dropping your graphics settings on a High End card will actually unload some graphics instructions to your CPU, this seems common for many a game, with World of Warcraft being heavily CPU orientated it’s important to unload as much as possible off of the CPU, so although it sounds weird, try a higher setting first.

Low End System Users

If your graphics cards pretty old and it does not fully support DirectX11 it is recommended that you switch to DirectX9.

Why?

Well, in the same way DirectX11 unloads tasks to the CPU if your graphics card isn’t good enough, the reverse happens if your card does not support DirectX11 meaning your CPU has to perform some of the DirectX11 tasks.

Short story, Roll with DirectX9 and you may see a decrease in CPU usage and an increase in FPS, combined with a higher minimal frame rate.

Display Mode – Fullscreen vs Fullscreen Windowed

Now, many of us will be running Windowed Fullscreen, this is so we can check vent, checking WoL, browse the net and do whatever else it is some of us seem to do during raids, which for users with a high end system, can pretty much always pull off, however.

FULLSCREEN MODE WILL GIVE YOU MORE FPS

In block capitals, just so its read correctly, if your WoW performance is really bad, then try going FULL SCREEN, this ensures WoW gets full CPU and GFX Prio, some people who’ve always gone Windowed have measured up to 50% in FPS Gain depending on system spec.

WoW Addons

We love our World of Warcraft addons, I mean who can live without Gearscore right?

Jokes aside, the performance of World of Warcraft can be heavily influenced by Addons.  They use our ram, they use our CPU and they slow the game down – but they can also stop you from being a failure!

I recall back in MSV / HOF and TOES, where I would run around Streaming at Ultra in 10 man with every meter and addon going in the world, EVER and WoW still be smoother than a MJ Fancy.  When I moved to 25man I got a shock, a huge shock, I couldn’t for the life of me work out how I was hitting 1 FPS, I turned my graphics down and got to the point I was going to be removed from the raid for epic failure (hey 1 fps, is 1 fps right?).   And then someone from the raid group asked me if I was using Recount.  I disabled it.  Guess what? that 1 fps turned to 27 fps, get it?

So, with just 1 addon World of Warcraft could pretty much be ruined during combat, just to see how much you’re doing or not doing damage wise.

OK, but we need a damage meter right? Well if your system is old then no, Live Logging to WoL especially with the FancyCache enabled will not hinder your performance and you are free to sit and see what your damage etc is between pulls.

That said for raid leaders, they may need something on the fly, so I’d recommend Skada, and unless you are otherwise monitoring said options I would disable:   Skada CrowdControl, Skada Threat, Skada Watershield PPM (and other class related crap).   That said if you’re a tank, then I recommend keeping Threat Enabled and removing Omen 3 to make tracking threat less of a CPU issue.

There is no point going down what addons you SHOULD and SHOULDN’T use, but It’s recommended you monitor them, this is where an addon called “Interface Usage” comes in to play.

Info and Download:http://www.curse.com/addons/wow/interface-usage

Now, normally as a rule of thumb you should not use out of date addons – but this one will help you recognise just exactly what addon is misbehaving CPU wise – you will need to click “Enable Script Profiling” to use the addon, and to open you simply /iu

This should help you make an informed decision about what addons to use, for example I recently switched to Chatter as it used much less CPU time than others.  And remember, ensure you test LFR 25man in combat – if your PC slows down at a certain point on only 1 or 2 fights, it’s highly recommended you test it there in LFR to assist you on solving your FPS headache.

Thanks for reading the guide!  I’ll add more help to this later and feel free to comment on anything I’ve missed on the forums :)

NOTE:  Ensure you disable Interface Usage after your testing is complete.

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