I've tested a large number of graphics cards recently with STO and one thing I find rather amazing is the extremely high load STO places on the GPUs. In most ground missions and some space missions, it's easy to find very high end graphics cards reaching loads of 92-100% GPU usage continuously. This 92-100% GPU usage is seen even on high end Crossfire and SLI configurations.
Another concern is I doubt it's the lighting, since for AMD configurations, I had to disable Dynamic Lighting or many of the setups will crash. Despite disabling Dynamic Lighting, the load is still consistently high.
This would be a cause of a lot of the overheating problems which many users have been complaining.
My question is, what is in STO that requires such a consistently high load on the GPU?
Even though I got a nice PC I found its a little too low for me on Maximum settings (30FPS Is not good enough for me lol) so I find the only thing that affects my FPS is changing the Lighting from High to Low. Not a massive change in graphics but a very nice change in FPS putting it up to 60 for me.
I have 2x Gforce 8600GTX setup in SLI, all my settings are on high, including dynamic lighting. I have seen no problems, and my GPU load is consistently around 30%-40% even during combat.
Usually about 40-60 FPS.
I have a Quad core Pentium, 4GB RAM and Windows 7 Ultimate though, not sure whether this would cause much difference.
Gforce 7900, all settings on high, including dynamic lighting and no problems.
GPU loads is generaly around 60%-70% though.
Usually 25-40 FPS.
Dual core Pentium, 2GB RAM and Windows XP Home
I don't know why your graphics cards are struggling, but I have heard other people with similar problems. There are people working on it as it is a known issue, but all I can advise is turn off dynamic lighting and maybe lower settings until the load is reduced until the problem is patched or at least some kind of workaround is released.
Ive never had a graphical problem with my computer or noticed any kinda lag while playing STO. I have a Dell Studio XPS w/ intell i7 3.2 CPU and a GeForce GTX 260 and windows 7 Home Premium for an OS. I do know however that any windows based OS has memory leaks too that can affect a computer and how it runs, sometimes something as simple as a reboot before launching a game can improve gameplay. I have all the settings on high or as high as they can go as well.
The Tom's Hardware performance review of STO made the following conclusion...
As things stand, STO requires a formidable graphics subsystem in order to enjoy the highest detail settings in all areas of the game. At the same time, visual details can be scaled down to accommodate smooth performance on even low-performance PCs.
Well planets do get pretty intense, especially those really grassy ones.
But the asteroids and plethora of debris that seems to dominate most systems also adds a lot of work for the GPU.
But it almost seems that STO's graphics engine is extremely optimized and strives to render the maximum frames it possibly can as fast as it can(hence the Troubleshooting option).
For me... with a 260 GTX heavily OC'd... I find my 3.1 Ghz Core2Duo to be the limiting factor framerate wise... my CPU is constantly pegged at 100% and the times that the CPU utilization drops to anything below 100% on both cores, my FPS jumps up to 60 (capped due to V-Sync). From my experience MMOs have always been very CPU intensive when compared to single player games.
MMOs have usually lower poly counts and lower particle counts than SP games, and thats surely true for STO... i run modellers and renderers, and i run current games, and there is no game or application which would push my gpu fan into turbo mode during 100% of the runtime - not games like AC2, DiRT2 or Splinter Cell:Conviction, and not maya or 3ds max... only STO does it..
there is nothing extremely spectacular in STO which would justify such constant GPU loads as we encounter, its just suboptimal code, no offense meant.. i can live with it, the game runs fine, and i hope future patches will address this issue.. *shrugs*