STO Performance and Frame Rate Guide v1.1
Since I haven't seen one, I thought I'd take the time to create a performance guide. Maybe you're trying to play STO on an older system, or have a few hardware pieces that need an upgrade. Well you can still play the game at a playable frame rate, you just need to tweak it. This is a guide to increase game performance meaning, the game will run faster, quicker and give a better FPS rate for playing. Less pretty stuff, more bang for your buck.
Update: 3/16/2011 - Added thread link for more Wine/Linux performance
Legend - In-Game Options - System Tweaks - Utilities and Programs - Playstyle - Recommended Setting for best FPS (RS for abbreviation) - Linux/Mac/Etc
*note* recommended for those in need of FPS
In-Game Options Menu
In game, pres Esc and choose Options -> Video
Display Mode - pretty simple, keep the game in Full Screen or Windowed Mode. Depending upon your system, one may have better performance. Even if your hardware is underpowered, Full Screen can still have some benefits, as Windows isn't having to draw the desktop and other applications in conjunction with the game. RS: Full Screen
Fullscreen resolution - How big you want the game, your field of view basically. The chief rule is, the bigger the resolution is, the more is drawn and seen by the game, so more drain on your system. You can always go to a lower resolution and generally see a framerate increase. RS: As low as you want it and/or as low as you can get to gain FPS
Fullscreen refreshrate - The speed at which your monitor will update, generally 60 is a decent setting, some people perform more. However if you're aiming for more than 60 FPS, you'll need to bump the refresh rate higher as it'll be hard capped by that rate.
Brightness - not a general performance drain, though it may make seeing darker colored objects, especially in the dark backdrop of space, easier to see.
Aspect Ration - width basically, of the display. Think, HD vs SD, generally. If you have a widescreen monitor you can crank it up to 16:9 or 16:10 etc or typical 4:3. Smaller might get you a frame or two but generally not since the game is already drawn, this is simply altering how you view it. RS: 4:3 or Auto
Monitor Vertical Sync - This will attempt to keep your fps in sync, but it takes up a little bit of resources, and most often if you're trying to tweak FPS, then you really don't have the power to keep a constant FPS to begin with. Some debate this is better on rather than off, you can experiment but in my gaming lifetime, having this off in a game has always boosted performance. RS: Off
Half Resolution - Now this, is a very very very good way to boost your FPS. Basically, everything but the in-game HUDs, get a massive lowering of quality. Poly count, texture detail, etc (from a visual perspective at least). It will make the game look bad, but a large performance increase. So if you can live without eye candy, and really want a better FPS, this is the option for you. RS: On
Now, onto more options. In the same dialog as seen in http://www.redshirtarmy.com/tweak1.jpg you want to checkmark Show Advanced Video Settings, and scroll down for more options.
Antialiasing - AA for short, it generally rounds off objects that are round. Turning this setting higher makes less "jaggies" on graphics but at a performance decrease. So if you have a way to turn it off, do so. Slightly graphic decrease but a performance increase. RS: None/Off
Dynamic Lighting - pretty colors. generally makes lamps or any lightsource more vibrant and nice, but at the cost of performance. RS: Off
Lighting Quality - simple as it sounds, more quality less frames, less quality better performance. RS: Low
Max Lights Per Object - limitation of how many lights per thing in the game world. Less is better. RS: 2 (lowest setting I can find
Max Shadowed Lights - same as above roughly, but with shadows and effects. Less is better. RS: 1 (lowest setting I can find
Texture Anisotropic Filtering - a method for texture quality/deployment. Some games let you toggle between bi or tri filtering, less is better. RS: Off
http://www.redshirtarmy.com/tweak2.jpg - Scroll down some and we'll look into more settings
World Texture Quality - quality of world objects (planets, items, etc). less is better. 50% (lowest setting I can find)
Character Texture Quality - same as above but for character models, pretty sure this includes ships as well. less is better. RS: 50% (lowest setting I can find)
World Detail Distance - draw distance in a fashion, from a point where the world starts to decrease or increase quality depending upon range. less is better RS: 25% (lowest setting I can find).
Terrain Detail Distance - same as above but for terrain. less is better. RS: 75% (lowest setting I can find).
Character Detail Distance - again same as the above. less, always better. RS: 50% (lowest setting I can find.
Show High Detail Objects - we don't want high detail if we are aiming for better FPS. RS: Off.
Max Physics Debris Objects - amount of stuff that goes boom when you pewpewpew. Less, better. RS: 0
Postprocessing - debatable if you want it on off, some games in my experience it helps, sometimes not. I play without it. RS: Off.
Visual FX Quality - quality of effects, while nice to look at, more of a drain so less will be good. RS: Low.
Soft Particles - less quality, more bang for your buck. Not 100% sure which all effects in game this involves but less is always better. RS: Off
Shadows - while cool and add a nice graphical touch especially when done right, they are more of a system drain, no need for them. RS: Off
Bloom Quality - that fuzzle glow things can have, its beautiful but not needed if you can disable it. Same goes for Bloom Intensity. RS: Off
Screen-space Ambient Occlusion - basically, pixel shading, with some other geometrics thrown in. Your GPU already has a certain level of pixel shading it can handle, so off this goes. RS: Off
Cinematic Focus - more quality you don't need. less is better. RS: Off
Underwater view - gimmicky setting, you don't really need it. RS: Off.
Reflection Quality - some objects like water or shiny metal of ships have a reflective surface, so while pretty, less is better for performance. RS: Off
http://www.redshirtarmy.com/tweak3.jpg - Now, here's a great place in the Options menu most people over look, the Troubleshoot tab, click this to open some great choices.
Framerate Stablizer - if you've ever seen options in an MMO to maintain a certain FPS, this works similar. Once your frame rate reaches a point of X, sometimes these functions kick in to try to maintain a FPS of a certain level. And it will also help keep things in check, if it sees you heading into a big battle with a lot of frame rate lag, it'll divert more resources to process it all. RS: On
Auto-stabalize Framerate - I'm fairly certain this performs the above function, automatically. More testing to be done, for now it can't hurt. RS: On
Limit CPU Usage When Inactive - if you need to say, Alt+Tab out of the game for something, this feature hard limits the resources STO will use in the background until you bring it to the active foreground again. Trust me, if you're looking up a lot of information while playing STO, this can be handy on a lower end machine. RS: On
Multi-core Rendering - for people who have dual core or quad core CPU's, this ain't too bad. Some might debate against it but it seems to work fine for me and I'm simply running an Intel 2 core cpu @ 2ghz per. It splits up the graphical rendering on the various cores. Try it and see if it helps you. RS: On
Use Full Detail Character Animation - more detail and such for characters and animations. eye candy is again nice but less is better. RS: Off
GPU Accelerated Particles - this offloads some of the graphical work of particles back onto the video card (graphical processing unit). Purdy stuff but less is better. RS: Off
Reduced File Streaming - I believe this lowers how much the game streams and/or loads a zone information to you as you move area to area. I personally don't use it. RS: Off
Now click Apply then Ok, STO may restart but you should see a good increase in framerate if you changed the settings.
Lets go over one tab at the top to http://redshirtarmy.com/tweak4.jpg
Believe it or not but disable some of these can give a small boost. I mean most of these are simply the text or identifier above objects, players, etc. You might want player names displayed, but not Fleet names. Sure, turn off Fleet names. So on and so forth. Imagine being in a full instance with all names displayed, not compare it to with minimal names displayed, there'd be a frame rate or two increase. RS: Personal Preference
Sounds - Believe it or not but churning out the hip vibrations of the game can lower performance some. If you've got a dedicated sound card and a decent system, on is fine. Low end systems with an integrated sound card, might see a slight boost with it off. RS: Off
Now, if you've never did anything with Windows processes or tasks or such, here is a great time to learn.
Windows Update - simply keeping Windows updated can keep up your performance of the OS itself, usually. Not to mention security fixes,you can usually find some tweaks and updates of things here, never know when a slightly updated version of DirectX is released. Visit the Windows Update Site for updates,or you can do it from within Windows itself (Start Menu, plus some people have it on automatically).
BlackVipers Process Guide - located at http://www.blackviper.com/ pick which operating system you have (most people use Windows). If you have Vista,XP,etc there is a guide there. You should see inside each guide, a massive table of all Processes that Windows runs in the background. Did you know most of these are unneeded for every day gaming? Take this example chartl, you can see how BV shows you a variety of setups from a "gaming" setup,to completely barebones with everything off you need. This will vary per system (my laptop has some services a desktop won't) but you get the idea. Simply look at his site,pick the setup you want, and tweak.
Open Start - Run - type in Services.msc (or if you are using Vista/Win 7 hold the Windows Key and press R) this will open up the services administration panel with all the process and services on your system listed here. You may see some listed as running some not.
Simply follow the guide on BlackViper's site, and go down the list. I personally go by the "Safe" setup,and disable / stop all processes that aren't absolutely needed for Windows to function normally. If you opened your Task Manager before this,you might see 60,70,or even more processes listed, going by the guide there, you can trim that down to around 40 or less,or even better depending upon your system. Don't worry,it's safe and you can re-enable something should you need it later. RS: "Safe" list from the OS guide
You can also check processes that are set to startup but may not necessarily have a service assigned to them that goes along with it.
Open Start - Run - type in Msconfig (or if you are using Vista/Win 7 hold the Windows Key and press R) and after msconfig is open, click the Startup tab. These are all the applications Windows loads on boot up into the desktop environment. You can google what each one is if you're unsure. Otherwise uncheck the ones you don't want,hit Ok. Reboot. Less stuff running now.
Anti Virus Software - If you don't use an anti viral product, please do. There are some decent free ones, Avast, AVG or Kaspersky are some good choices. Download one, update it, scan your PC and keep it clean of viruses. (if its got process that run in the background, you can disable those at least while playing STO). If you want a paid a.v., there are more choices, I'd recommend Nod32 (its lightweight, scans fast, and catches just about anything).
Jotti's online scan lets you pick a file and run it against a few dozen scanners at once. Only drawback is it's just a file at a time,so if you have something singular that you think is suspicious, this is a good way to do a broad scan. It's free too.
Housecall is TrendMicros virus scan on the fly. It's a free scan you can do from just about any web browser,as long as you have Java installed. Download the plugin, and let it run. This makes a great secondary anti virus in conjunction with your regular installed version,since it requires no download/install,just a small plugin and an internet connection.
Anti Spyware Software - just like their big brother anti virus software,anti spyware will keep your system running lean. You wouldn't believe how many tracking cookies just general non-porn surfing will generate. Toss in people using unsecure browsers (IE) or surfing some rather untrustworthy websites (warez,porn,etc) that's a lotta spyware. Download and install some anti spyware software such as Spybot/Search & Destroy, MalwareBytes,or some alternatives to anti spyware that help point out infected processes or files, such as HijackThis.
GPU Drivers (Video Card Drivers) - You'll want to keep your drivers up to date. Whether or not you have an ATI card or a Nvidia,there's usually up to date drivers for it unless its many years old. You can get ATI Drivers, right here and you can get Nvidia Drivers, right here. If you aren't sure what video card you have,Right Click My Computer - Properties - Hardware - Device Manager and select Display Adaptor & you should see the model of the GPU listed there. If it's an intergated card like an Intel on board video card,check Intel's website.
Turn off Programs - Unless you need it, turn off everything else. If your system needs the power to go into STO,having iTunes or Winamp open to listen to music might not be so good. You don't need your various IM applications open either,I'm sure you can deal without AIM/Yahoo/MSN/ICQ for a period of time while you play. Keeping files downloading in the background,like streaming a large highdef movie from Netflix or Youtube can hamper things,and even if you're using bittorrent for a legitimate purpose,turn it off while playing to see a performance increase.
Check Your Peripheral Hardware - that USB mouse and keyboard may be nice, on lower end systems, could drain more resources. Not much of an issue for modern pc's. Recommend a normal PS/2 connection if using low end PC.
Utilities and Programs
There are a couple other ways to tweak things a bit within your system.
Game Booster - I know what your thinking, this has to be some crappy piece of spyware that doesn't really do anything and comes from a rather small company. I thought so too at first. But I tried it. Of course I scanned it with every anti virus I could think of and spyware too,it was clean. All Gamebooster does is provide a method in one single gui, to check your current running Processes ( http://www.teknobites.com/wp-content...me_booster.jpg | http://technabob.com/blog/wp-content...me_booster.gif ),and it has a built in list of which ones aren't absolutely needed. So if you didn't use BlackVipers guide or still had a few processes you could live without,GameBooster gives you the option to turn them off,AND once you are doing playing,with one easy click GameBooster turns those processes right back on. Think of it as process management for those that want it simpler or might not know much about how to deal with them. And to top it off,it's free. No trial or limitations really, just free. Nab it at the Official Game Booster site.
CCleaner - a freeware registry cleaner,a lot of old programs leave crap in the registry which here and there ain't so bad but a ton of over time and drain some performance. CCleaner lets you go in and delete some of this extra stuff. Now,WARNING,if you mess with your Registry in windows and make some critical mistake,thats not good. Make a backup of your registry and research what you are removing and see if it is safe to remove before even thinking of it. You can get at CCleaner's site
Defrag - I lump this into programs cause,while Windows has a default defrag utility, some people prefer others. And there are many to list, so I've leave it with this; defragging once every month or two helps. A traditional HDD breaks down into tiny little sectors, each one containing X amount of information of a program, split across many areas. Think of it like a really big jigsaw puzzle. Your system can piece it back together each time, but just like trying a new puzzle, you might not complete as fast as your last puzzle, or you might lose a piece of a puzzle making reassembling it time consuming while you find the piece or lost completely. HDD's work similarily, and defrag helps keep all the pieces in a neater package for faster easier reassembling. You can use the default tool Windows offers or there are a plethora of defrag tools available online,free and paid.
Field of View - A staple of reducing some lag and gaining a frame or two. Instead of playing with your ship/avatar/toon zoomed all the way out,zoom in some. You'll notice the closer you zoom, the more frames you net. Now it's not going to be a huge increase but if there is an area of the game, say a high populated area in an instance that maybe slows down your rig, you could zoom in and possibly look down. Depending upon your activities (fighting,tradeskilling,etc) you could walk through that area fine, other times you may need to adjust to what you're doing.
HUD Placement/Removal - Now at the moment we really can't remove HUDS or make drastic changes to the UI, but you can minimize some of them. This won't get you a huge increase but if you can live with a smaller chat hud, or some things shrunk down, every little bit of stuff your PC doesn't have to draw graphically can help. At least, this has always been my experience in mmorpgs.
Getting STO to function in a different OS - there's been some discussion on this, mainly a good back & forth going on in Someenigma's STO Under Wine/Linux/Mac thread. This will show you how to get it run.
And this thread, helps Linux/Wine Performance.
That should make STO more playable if you need it to be. Updates will come to the guide as needed.
1/22 - Updated with a few more links to information and a new subsection for non-Windows OS. More to come soon.
This needs to be stickied, in my opinion.
Ahh, nice thread! :) Have to point out one thing tho, typically its recommeneded to run any game at the same resolution of your desktop.., not sure why but it been a rule of thumb Ive always followed.
Keep up the excellent work/thread!!
Update - fixed a couple of links that were broken, updated the Anti Virus section with more options and added a couple new screenshots. More to come later (when I can pry myself away from the beta lol..)
My system has just started to have probs with STO so I need to 'fine-tune' things.
What is the command to show FPS in-game?
Overall it's good, but there ae still a few problems with your descriptions and help that need tweaking.
Half resolution doesnt do what you seem to think it does... it does what it says. It halves the choosen resolution and stretches that to your "actual resolution", does not effect polycount or anything else.
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