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what is my bottleneck? (sims3) (wall of text warning)

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I have:

i7 920 cpu
dual radeon 4890s in crossfire
12gb 1333mhz ddr3 ram
regular hard drive with game files, ssd with OS

Now, some games show obvious graphics lag. I turn down graphics settings: they get faster. Actually, just ordered a 7870 graphics card which should be a genuine improvement. It came with 2 free games I was going to buy anyway (I'm not cool enough to pirate for free), so ultimately a cheap upgrade once I resell my 4890s on ebay for $80.

Step 2 is to actually learn how to overclock my 920 past its 2.67ghz.

However, there are 2 games, sims 3, and civ5, which might be different.

By the end of the game of civ5, on a monster map with 1000 units walking around, it really can bog down. It's not graphics. Turning them down does not change the speed. It has something to do maybe with the sheer number of units and their moves that must be calculated.

Anno2070 never has this issue... maybe fewer units, maybe better programming.

Similarly for Sims3. SIGNIFICANTLY WORSE, actually. Unplayably worse.
I like story, and saga, and character growth. In sims3 I just followed one family across generations. This has become a computer problem.
You see, if you start a fresh game, no issues! One character, one generation of the town, few interactions, not much stuff.

My sister played sims medieval, and it never, ever, bogged down. Cleaner, I guess. And all the first person shooters I play, also don't accumulate data the same way.

But I like my saga with its history. Its 20 generations of accumulated interactions. Its 100,000 saved in-game items.
It's weird: I might have 5000 "life fruits" in the fridge. Just moving them into a character's inventory can freeze the game for 20 seconds! As if each of those 5000 fruits has unique data that must be transferred. I'd think it would be easier.. just change "fridge" to "sim john doe" and be done with it, but somehow it can take 20seconds to transfer. To move the whole family lot, can take 20 minutes. I'm not kidding. Something is seriously slowing this game down, and I don't think it's the GPU. My sim family's pride and joy is their appreciated wine cellar. 50,000 unique bottles of wine that the game has to track, going back to the first patriarch. I think that has a lot to do with the slow performance, but I can't let it go. That's the legacy that I like the game for.
It's worse with more expansion packs, and it's worse with a longer continuous game.

I'm NOT educated with computers. Not in any depth.
So I'm guessing in the dark.

Is it the cpu? The game can only use 2 cores, so 8 cores doesn't help me here. Like I said: I'll try overclocking, anyway smile.gif I do not know how to tell, while in the game, what percentage of WHICH cores are being used. So even if the game is minimized and I'm only using 20% of cpu with the little gauge that windows provides, that doesn't mean that it isn't maxing 2 cores while I'm actively playing.

I don't think it's RAM. The only time it even came CLOSE to maxing ram was when I did a disk check... for whatever reason that consumed 7gb of ram! That, and before a patch, civ5 would try to load large saved games all at once or something like that, and crash the computer from RAM overload. (you'd save the game just fine, go back to play it, and it would crash when it tried to open).
But even with sims, at least minimized, and 100 browser tabs open, I might only use 4gb of ram. Unless it's using a lot more while actively playing full-screen and I can't see the dial gauge.
Or unless 1333 vs 1600 is a significant difference.

Is it hard memory read/write speed, as it accesses all of these in-game items? My saved games are about 500mb apiece, iirc. Big files in their own rights! After a couple expansions, I had to move everything off of my 128gb ssd and back onto a disk drive. It might very well be a lot slower. Hard to say: I took a 1 year break from ever playing the game, uninstalled it to make space on my ssd, so I can't tell you I played it yesterday on ssd and today on disk drive.
Turns out, today's generation of SSDs should be several times faster at read/write even than my 3 year old ssd! So if that's a likely bottleneck... a samsung 840 250gb ssd could be a $170 solution (could speed up all of my other games too, once I no longer need them split across 2 hard drives). For me, the 840 vs the 840pro might not be a bad deal.

Is it some other optimization trick, and not hardware at all? Find mods to eliminate trash in the game and streamline it. "clear registries" (not entirely sure what that means, but it was mentioned on a forum thread).



Well, let me know what your best guesses are. I can throw another $250 into hardware upgrades; would enjoy upgrading anyway just 'cause. But don't want to upgrade the WRONG things and run out of money because the bottleneck was This and not That.
And if I need to get you more information, like download some monitoring software, boot up the game, and record some numbers to get a much more definite finger on what's slowing it down (and not conjecture), just say the word and point the direction.

I might not be the only one:
http://www.overclockers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=709086
post #2 of 16
what operating system, and where do you store your page file.

those games eat up ram more than you think.

When it slows down check out what your hard drive response time is.
Cosmos
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Cosmos
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2x120gig vertex2 Pioneer D212 H60 Win7 
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post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
I store the page file on the ssd. game files on the internal disk drive
Windows 7.

how do I check for hard drive response time? Is there monitoring software I can download?
post #4 of 16
I don't have a win7 computer handy, but open task manager click on performance tab then there should be a resource monitor button.

That should open a new window and you should be able to monitor your hard disks. And it should be able to show you the response time on the files it is accessing.

I have highlighted the important sections in red in my screen shots (different operating system might look different on win 7 cant remember)


Cosmos
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Cosmos
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Q6600 EVGA 680i SLI A1 Radeon HD 7950 8gig Balistix 8500 DDR2 
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2x120gig vertex2 Pioneer D212 H60 Win7 
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post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
alright.

replayed the game (been a couple months: haven't been playing sims because of performance issues).
It specifically hangs up on inventory. There is inventory in a chest, I tell the character to "take all," and 20sec later it's transferred...

There's generally stuttering performance during the rest of the game, but anything that involves picking up an item into inventory, transferring, selling, buying, and especially in quantity and variety, is bad news.

Come to think of it, far cry 3 was always smooth as silk... but only ever crashed when selling too many things too quickly out of a too-full rucksack. Dunno if that's just a far cry 3 bug, or a pattern.

During inventory transfers, and during the rest of the game, according to the windows app overall cpu usage never, ever went past 50%, usually hovering at 25-30% while the game was running. It does not tell me which cores are being used individually.
If "core temp' is reliable, it said that cpu load never went over 30% on any one core (doesn't quite make sense, unless load isn't the same as usage). According to core temp, at idle I'm seeing 43C, when the game was running full speed ahead, maybe approaching 60C. I don't know if cpu was a limiting factor or not. Might upgrade from the stock cooler, anyway.

RAM usage was a steady 50% of 12gb while the game was running.

Disk speed... was hard to keep an eye on. Lots of processes flitting in and out, the speeds changing too fast to assess any kind of average. I saw spikes of up to 60ms response time: mostly though it was 0-5ms. Read/write speeds were never higher than 60 kb/s, which seems in line with what my older model ssd can do.
It was hard to tell, since some game files, including the saved game, are on the ssd. The bulk however are on the 7200rpm disk drive (what kind of read/write speed can that do?). Lots of processes are showing .1-1 kb/s read/write speeds, but that might just be because that's all they need to do.
post #6 of 16
The ram usage sounds strange to me.

It doesn't appear to be a hard drive issue if the max response you've seen is 60.

However if the hdd is trying to access multiple files ... it could be a delay in how the magnetic drive reads the files. Try a defrag on that drive.

I don't recommend it but you could try setting affinity on your game process in task manager. Try changing it to two cores.

Have you checked the forums to see if anyone else has a similar problem in the games? Could be a known bug.
Cosmos
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Q6600 EVGA 680i SLI A1 Radeon HD 7950 8gig Balistix 8500 DDR2 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
2x120gig vertex2 Pioneer D212 H60 Win7 
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Westinghouse 37'' Logitech G15 Antec True 650W Cosmos S 
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Razer Deathadder Razer eXactMat X-Fi Fatality 
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Cosmos
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Q6600 EVGA 680i SLI A1 Radeon HD 7950 8gig Balistix 8500 DDR2 
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2x120gig vertex2 Pioneer D212 H60 Win7 
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Westinghouse 37'' Logitech G15 Antec True 650W Cosmos S 
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Razer Deathadder Razer eXactMat X-Fi Fatality 
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post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
most of the ram is going to the 50 chrome tabs I have open wink.gif
The game seems only to be using 1-2gb ram
post #8 of 16
Hey man. My girlfriend plays a lot of TS3 on my PC (sig rig), and the main bottleneck of this game is HDD. This game constantly read stuff from the HDD. Installing the game on an SSD may solve your problem.

Batman AC has the same problem, and I solved it by installing on my (small) SSD. The stuttering was not completely gone, but it was greatly reduced.
Hell Froze Over
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2*Seagate 500gb 7200.12 Corsair Force GT 60gb CNPS 10x Performa + 2*CM Blade Master W7 Ultimate x64 
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Hell Froze Over
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i5 3570 @ 4.0-4.2ghz Asrock Z77 Pro3 Zotac GTX670 Amp! @ 1300mhz 4*4gb Kingston 1333mhz 7-7-7-20 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingOS
2*Seagate 500gb 7200.12 Corsair Force GT 60gb CNPS 10x Performa + 2*CM Blade Master W7 Ultimate x64 
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Samsung T27A550 Asus U-75HA 750w CoolerMaster HAF 912 
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post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks! ...that's what I was suspecting, just because every major lag spike had to do with in-game inventory. But I really wasn't sure.
Alright-- 250gb ssd bought! Looks like even the budget-minded samsung 840 (not the 840 pro) is 5x faster than my 3-4yr old ssd.

The game really slowed down with expansions --BUT-- with expansions, my ssd also completely filled up with like 4gb space left. Which may have been the problem right there.
And then I transferred the game files over to the disk drive.
Which certainly didn't help speed.
post #10 of 16
Yeah, I try to keep my SSD with 50% free space at least. It starts losing performance real quick when you fill over 50%. But that's for my humble Corsair GT 60gb wink.gif
Hell Froze Over
(11 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 3570 @ 4.0-4.2ghz Asrock Z77 Pro3 Zotac GTX670 Amp! @ 1300mhz 4*4gb Kingston 1333mhz 7-7-7-20 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingOS
2*Seagate 500gb 7200.12 Corsair Force GT 60gb CNPS 10x Performa + 2*CM Blade Master W7 Ultimate x64 
MonitorPowerCase
Samsung T27A550 Asus U-75HA 750w CoolerMaster HAF 912 
  hide details  
Reply
Hell Froze Over
(11 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 3570 @ 4.0-4.2ghz Asrock Z77 Pro3 Zotac GTX670 Amp! @ 1300mhz 4*4gb Kingston 1333mhz 7-7-7-20 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingOS
2*Seagate 500gb 7200.12 Corsair Force GT 60gb CNPS 10x Performa + 2*CM Blade Master W7 Ultimate x64 
MonitorPowerCase
Samsung T27A550 Asus U-75HA 750w CoolerMaster HAF 912 
  hide details  
Reply
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