On forum: 04/04/2007
Message edited by:
A Guide To Help Eliminate Stutter!|
This thread's purpose is to address the widespread stutter issues people are facing. Below is a list of steps to take, in order to ensure that your PC is prepared for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is prepared for your PC. As well as improving S.T.A.L.K.E.R. performance, this guide should improve the general overall responsiveness of your system, and in doing so, should also improve performance in other games, not just S.T.A.L.K.E.R. If you spot any fallacious statements, and/or you have suggestions for improving this guide, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Step #1.) Update all of your drivers to the latest version. By "all" of your drivers, I really do mean all of them: motheboard/chipset driver, graphics driver, audio driver, any necessary perhipial driver(s), etc.
Step #2.) If running the game with Full Dynamic Lighting, install the latest official version of the Float32 mod. This mod is a miracle-worker, and can be found here:
Step #3.) Update S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s core OpenAL files for improved performance. Click on the link below, and download and install the file.
Once done, navigate to your C:/WINDOWS/system32 directory, and copy the files entitled "OpenAL32.dll" and "wrap_oal.dll". Then, paste the files to your desktop, and navigate to your C:/Program Files/THQ/S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl/bin directory. Here you should see two files with identical names to those you just pasted to your desktop. Move them to a folder you can find them in later if something goes wrong, and then proceed to paste "OpenAL32.dll" and "wrap_oal.dll" from your desktop to your C:/Program Files/THQ/S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl/bin directory. Congratulations, you have just updated S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s core audio files.
Step #4.) Disable prefetching of game data. Go to your S.T.A.L.K.E.R. launch icon, right-click on it and select Properties. Then in the Target box, one space after the last character, insert the switch "-noprefetch" (without the quotes).
Step #5.) Disable all unnecessary 'automatic updating' services. This includes disabling Windows Automatic Updates, and instead manually checking for updates at the beginning of each month in this address:
There are also numerous other programs responsible for hogging your PC's memory and CPU cycles with their updating agents. To observe a list of programs which have scheduled updates active, navigate to C:/WINDOWS/Tasks.
Step #6.) Disable all unnecessary startup programs. Download and install CCleaner from the following link:
Then, start the program and go to the 'Tools' section. Click on the "Startup" button and remove any items in the list which you think are unnecessary. These items can include (for example) Adobe Speed Start, Adobe Synchronizer, iTunesHelper, etc. etc. If you're not sure whether something is safe to delete, use your best friend: Google.
Step #7.) Disable all unnecessary services. This is an important one. Go Start --> Run... and type "services.msc" into the box (without the quotes) and hit OK. Then start disabling/setting to "manual" all services which are unnecessary to have running all the time. For proper guidance on how to do this safely, see the following links:
Step #8.) Consult TweakGuides.com for information on how to set up S.T.A.L.K.E.R., your graphics display driver and operating system for maximum performance and stability.
Step #9.) Defragment your hard-drive:
(A.) Go Start --> Run... and type "rundll32.exe, advapi32.dll, ProcessIdleTasks" (without the quotes) into the box and hit OK. Monitor your CPU/memory usage from Task Manager, and once it returns back to normal, move on the next part.
(B.) Go Start --> Run... and type "defrag [drive letter] -b" (without the quotes) into the box and hit OK. So for example, if you only have one hard-drive which has a name "c:", you would write "defrag c: -b" into the box. A Command Prompt window entitled "Defrag.exe" should pop up. Once it disappears, move on to the next part.
(C.) Go Start --> Programs --> Accessories --> System Tools --> Disk Defragmenter, or alternatively, use third-party defragmenting software, and defragment your hard-drive.
Step #10.) Make sure you have a contiguous pagefile, at least 1536mb in size. Right-click on My Computer, and select Properties. Then click the 'Advanced' tab and choose 'Settings' under 'Performance'. In 'Performance Options' choose the 'Advanced' tab and under 'Virtual Memory', click 'Change'. Then, choose "No paging file", click Set, then OK, and reboot your PC. Once done, navigate to the aforementioned window again and select "Custom size". Write whatever value corresponds to your RAM amount (from the list below) in both boxes (entitled 'Initial size' and 'Maximum size' respectively). Now choose "Set", and then OK to accept the changes. So, for example, if you have 1024MB (= 1Gb) of RAM, you should write "2048" (without the quotes) into both boxes.
NOTE: The recommended pagefile sizes in accordance to the amount of RAM one is in possession of are given below. These recommendations are my personal opinion, but should be quite reliable and work for most people.
RAM ...................... PF Size
512MB .................. 2560MB
1024MB ................ 2048MB
1536MB ................ 1536MB
2048MB/more ....... 1024MB
As you can see, all of these corresponding values add up to a grand total of 3Gb of allocatable memory. Since S.T.A.L.K.E.R. alone can use a tad over 2Gb in some cases, and background applications may exceed 500MB of memory usage (though they shouldn't if you use consult this guide), I feel that 3Gb of allocatable memory is the perfect amount. You may disagree, in which case you can of course use a different value than given on the list above. Your choice.
Step #11.) Quit all other non-essential programs before playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R. This includes programs like X-Fire, MSN, Firefox/Internet Explorer, any music player(s) you have open, etc.
Other potentially useful tips for improving S.T.A.L.K.E.R. performance:
* If in possession of 1Gb or more of RAM, allocate more memory to sound caching for reduced stutter. Navigate to your C:/Documents and Settings/All Users/Documents/STALKER-SHOC directory and open the file named "user.ltx" with a text editor. Give the snd_cache_size -variable a value of "32" (without the quotes).
* Restart explorer.exe prior to launching S.T.A.L.K.E.R., in order to free up precious memory. Explorer.exe is commonly known as "Windows Explorer", and manages the Windows Graphical Shell. Upon termination of explorer.exe, Windows's graphical interface will disappear. In layman's terms, this means that when you close explorer.exe, nothing besides your desktop wallpaper & any open third-party program windows (such as Firefox) will be visible to you. Your taskbar will disappear, as will your icons.
The reason we want to restart explorer.exe is simple: to free up any excess memory that the process has bound to itself upon being active. To do this, Press the keys "CTRL", "ALT" and "DEL" simultaneously. This should bring up Task Manager. Find explorer.exe in the list of processes under the appropriately labeled "Processes" tab. Then, right-click on it, and select "End Process". When Windows prompts you about losing data, etc. just answer "Yes", as there is no danger of losing data here. Now, you should witness your taskbar and desktop icons disappear. Once that happens, bring up Task Manager again, and go File --> New Task. Write "explorer.exe" (without the quotes) into the 'Open:' box, and once done, click OK. You should now witness your taskbar and icons reappear. You have just restarted explorer.exe, and unbound any valuable memory that the process had previously kept occupied to itself for no good reason.
* When playing, use perma-bodies to stash items. After some investigation, I have discovered that most stashes residing in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s game world create lag over time, when overloaded with items. This lag can add up to about 15-40 second pauses, and can be almost entirely avoided by using "perma-bodies" (= permanent corpses lying around the game world) to stash items instead. These perma-bodies do not cause severe lag, unlike most regular stashes. An example of a perma-body would be the lone stalker near the truck visible to you upon entry to Rostok from the Garbage. This particular stalker is dressed in a white leather jacket.
* When playing, try to stash your items in an area where few major battles take place/ an area which you seldom visit. We already know that stashes create lag when loaded with items, and we also know that lag/stutter is worst during a battle, because that is when it can really disrupt gameplay. The Bar is a great place to stash items in, because unless you are an enemy with duty, the area is quite calm. If all of your items were stashed in the bar, and you ventured off to another area, you should theoretically be able to avoid any lag caused by stashes in that area.
* Lower in-game texture detail. Video memory on-board your graphics card is a limited supply; higher texture detail renders more video memory (Vram) used, which in turn can lead to stutter if the amount of space occupied by this texture data exceeds your Vram amount. In this case, the only means of remedying the issue is by either purchasing a new graphics card with a higher amount of Vram, or to lower in-game texture quality.
* If using Full Dynamic Lighting and none of the previous works, switch to the DX8 renderer (Static Lighting). Not only does Full Dynamic Lighting introduce some very nice dynamic lights and shadows, it also introduces a great deal of techniques which enhance the appearance of textures, like for example parallax mapping, etc. With these techniques enabled, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s textures take up a great deal more space than they do with Static Lighting. So, if all else fails, switch to Static Lighting. Note that Static Lighting remedying stuttering issues is more than likely an issue with insufficient system RAM / Vram, in which case it would be more prudent to lower texture quality instead of switching to Static Lighting, of course assuming that you have a card capable of handling Full Dynamic Lighting framerate-wise to begin with.
* Purchase more RAM. I know, I know; This is not something you want to hear, but S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a serious memory-hog. The game is playable on 1Gb, but it really requires at least 2Gb for smooth and enjoyable gameplay. Note that this step is a non-essential one, but a strongly recommended one nevertheless.
Potentially useful links:
For ATI users only:
• Sky Reclamation Project v1.1.3: https://www.moddb.com/mods/srp/downloads/srp-v113
• Sky Reclamation Project WIP: https://github.com/Decane/SRP