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Gaming performance & pagefile windows 7 x64

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August 24, 2009 1:22:42 PM

I've recently started having performance issues in both Crysis and Farcry 2 when loading new areas/bits of the games to the point where they become unplayable, it seems to get worse and worse in Crysis as new areas load and sometimes it just doesn't seem to settle down at all, it feels like it's trying to load new textures from the HDD as they appear onscreen. Farcry is not as bad but does seem to exhibit the same kind of behaviour, sometimes going very choppy for 30 secs when I come in range of an enemy outpost.

I'm running windows 7 RC1 7100 x64 with the following specs in brief

Processor: Phenom II X550 black edition
RAM: 4Gb DDR3
Graphics: HD 4870
HDD: 500Gb Seagate less than 50% full on both partitions

Harddrive partitions - C: windows 7 partition & programs ; D: data (movies, music, pics etc)

I know my graphics card can run both games on max settings with 8xAA on my HDTV 720p resolution of 1280 x 720, the experience is smooth and fast once all loading/page swapping activities have ceased.

So having hunted high and low for a fix I've started fiddling with my pagefile and have found the following:

Default setting - Pagefile system managed on C and off on D

This is the original setting and gives me the performance issues above - Crysis only playable (just) with everything on high rather than very high

Setting 1 - Pagefile = 200Mb starting and 1000Mb max on C, off on D

Better performance in both games but still some loading/stuttering; no windows errors yet (I haven't tried opening loads of apps) - again Crysis settings left on high rather than very high for playability

Setting 2 - Pagefile = off altogether

Superb performance in both games with everything set to max, Crysis runs smooth on Very High for all settings with the pagefile off. However Windows 7 frequently reports that it's running low on virtual memory.

So I seem to have two choices currently, pagefile off for brilliant performance in games but potential system instability/insufficient virtual memory OR pagefile normal, system stability but bad gaming experience. This is not a purely gaming rig, as is probably the case for most people, I use my PC for multimedia, work and gaming.

I don't understand why the pagefile should make such a massive difference when I've got 4Gb of ram on my system, it's almost like I need to be able to tell Windows not to use the PF unless absolutely necessary but I'm guessing that should be the default behaviour in Windows. I'm tearing my hair out over this as I have a good rig that should be fully capable of running games and other applications smoothly, does anyone have an alternate solution or has anyone else had this problem and solved it. Please don't recommend buying new hardware as I don't think that it is required, my HDD is less than 50% full and fully defragmented, and I know that the rest of the system can handle the games as they run beautifully with the PF turned off... I just don't get it!

Cheers,

J

August 24, 2009 1:59:07 PM

Have you checked for malware? That can eat a lot of memory.
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August 24, 2009 2:11:30 PM

Haven't checked specifically for Malware but I'm running antivirus and haven't been online since I moved house about a month ago whereas the problem seems more recent... So Malware not impossible but very unlikely I think... Also as you can read above, the problem is fixed by tweaking the PF so surely the issue is there?
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a b $ Windows 7
August 24, 2009 2:15:46 PM

Quote:
when loading new areas/bits of the games to the point where they become unplayable, it seems to get worse and worse in Crysis as new areas load and sometimes it just doesn't seem to settle down at all, it feels like it's trying to load new textures from the HDD as they appear onscreen. Farcry is not as bad but does seem to exhibit the same kind of behaviour, sometimes going very choppy for 30 secs when I come in range of an enemy outpost.



Yah - Malware could be a contributor, but in this case I'm inclined to bet it's a Hard Drive I/O problem. Your drive is struggling to page out old info while retrieving/loading new.

With the pagefile off, you're forcing windows to keep everything in memory. This cuts down on the amount of disc I/O, but as you have found uses a lot more RAM and may eventually impact the system itself.


Couple things you may do: One is attack the root cause (HDD I/O) directly with a faster hard drive, by setting up a RAID array, or by using an SSD for your system/game partition. Another is (if you're using a 64 bit version of the OS) more RAM. Doesn't solve the root, but gives more overhead for the sytem to operate under.

Both cost money, though.
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August 24, 2009 2:47:37 PM

I hear you, more hardware would fix the problem I'm sure, however I'm looking for a solution using my current hardware as I'm 98% sure that Crysis should run perfectly with max res textures at 720p resolution on 4Gb of RAM... scratch that, I know it should run perfectly because it does sometimes.

Maybe I should rephrase my question to 'how do I stop Windows/Crysis/whatever is running from abusing my harddrive because I feel it is unneccessary and poor memory management in a system with 4Gb RAM'. See I won't accept that I need to buy more HDD space or RAM because I know that I have plenty, consoles run like a dream with a quarter the memory if that and I just sold my PS3 because I built this computer that is WAY more powerful and should run farcry better!
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August 24, 2009 2:49:50 PM

Oh and money is not the problem here... I guess it's principle... if there's not a solution then I'll go upgrade to 8Gb ram, and I intend to raid my HDD soon anyway for data recovery reasons. But even if I do upgrade my system this will still bug me.

Hope that explains things better...
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October 1, 2009 9:43:42 AM

Hya there. I can understand your frustration, let`s try and find some solutions.
Because the hardware is not an issue, as you say, try a bit of a online benchmark, it`s called "can you run it" so you can establish what kind of load Crysis is puttin` on your system. Link here http://cyri.systemrequirementslab.com/srtest/.
Afterwards you can have a go at a trial from Totalidea http://www.totalidea.com/product.php?Product=Tweak-7. It`s not that comprehensive as a full edition but you can see that it gives you some results tweaking Windows7. Try to eliminate the unnecessary services, google it a bit and you will find out which ones.
Last but not least try to defrag your hard-drive with a decent utility, not the windows one. I recommend Jkdefrag run in command-line mode (i think that now is called MyDefrag). It`s working for x64 Win as well.
Let me know if any of this approaches worked for you :)  .
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October 6, 2009 2:30:32 PM

Couldn’t we say to windows not to use the page file unless it is totally necessary. As far as I know, even if you have 8GB of ram, windows still prefers to use the stupid page file!!
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a b $ Windows 7
October 6, 2009 4:28:42 PM

wlk said:
Couldn’t we say to windows not to use the page file unless it is totally necessary. As far as I know, even if you have 8GB of ram, windows still prefers to use the stupid page file!!


Firstly, the OP's issue is one of Hard Drive I/O, and not a memory problem.


Secondly: It's common knowledge that XP does not use extended amounts of RAM, except when required. Therefore shutting off the pagefile might have benefits on a system with lots of installed memory and while running programs which do not require a P/F. Why? Doing this tricks the OS into keeping more objects in RAM than it would otherwise.

However, this is NOT true with Vista and Windows 7. These will try to maximize the usage of RAM by default, not to mention the intentional caching features. Microsoft changed the P/F's behavior so that it has more of a Queuing role - essentially maintaing a record/list of what is in memory *plus* what could be useful but isn't at the moment.

These two things being true: Disabling Pagefile can be an option in XP, but shouldn't be a consideration in Vista or Win 7.
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October 8, 2009 6:58:29 AM

What I understood and trying to explain is that windows (all versions) don’t use physical memory efficient enough even if there is plenty of memory.

If gaming performance increases after the PF has been switched off it means that there is enough physical memory in the system but windows didn’t use it all unless user told it to do so.

It could be something wrong with hard drive I/O but it shouldn’t matter if the system has enough physical memory installed. Because the system should use this physical memory in the first place instead of trying to reach PF and therefore the possible I/O problem shouldn’t effect gaming performance.
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a b $ Windows 7
October 8, 2009 1:42:54 PM

Your understanding is outdated - As explained above, shutting off the pagefile may apply to XP but not to Vista and Win 7.
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November 4, 2009 7:34:25 PM

Scotteq said:
Your understanding is outdated - As explained above, shutting off the pagefile may apply to XP but not to Vista and Win 7.

Perhaps you would care to explain then why turning off the PF allows the game to play smoothly from memory while leaving it on leads to I/O issues. Obviously one of those senarios is leading to disk activity and the other is not. Are you saying Windows 7 has everything loaded into memory (as it would without PF turned on) but is accessing (read or write) the PF for some other reason (loading things it might think useful or writing what it has just loaded)?
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a b $ Windows 7
November 4, 2009 8:07:37 PM

I'm not saying that PF on (or off for that matter) somehow magically solves HDD I/O issues: Sooner or later, the data comes from the hard drive anyhow. This is an inescapable fact. Please refer to my earlier post to the OP saying he may consider a RAID or SSD.

I *am* saying that the "disable pagefile to increase performance by forcing the OS to keep more objects in memory" concept is outdated. Because Microsoft changed the way the OS's work - trying to maximize memory usage by default, instead of trying to keep it to a minimum like XP does. In the newer environments disabling the page file gains you nothing.

Disabling it might bring benefits in XP. Because they keep objects in memory by default, disabling PageFile does nothing for you in Vista or Win 7 - best practice is to leave it alone. If you must, manually set it to a smaller fixed value.
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December 26, 2009 8:10:54 AM

I have the exact same problem. You know how I solved it? I installed Vista x64 on a little partition with Crysis and a few vista-better-games. It's NOT an I/O problem usually. It has something to do with Windows 7, or at least the drivers in it. I get ABSOLUTELY smooth very high settings with my 2gb gtx 285 on vista (brand-new install plus drivers) but on Windows 7 (brand new install on the same partition!!) I get the crap-tacular problems the original poster has.. I never thought I'd say this, but vista saved the day for me..

2x gtx 285 2gb @ 710 (the issue also happens with only one installed)
EVGA 750i FTW / Q9950 running at 3.9ghz
Dominator 1066 4gb
w400aaks 640gb 100Mb/S Sata drive ( x4)
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a c 209 $ Windows 7
December 26, 2009 3:00:58 PM

When you run with the pagefile enabled and your games are having performance problems, use "Ctrl-Shift-Esc" to bring up Task Manager, click on the Performance tab, and tell us what the "Commmit (GB)" figure shows (toward the lower-right in the window). If the first number is 4GB or more, that's why the page file is being used - the OS and all of the running programs have requested that much memory.

Don't forget that some programs are smart and allocate more memory if the system says it can supply it. And if you have 4GB of RAM and a 4GB page file, then Windows will indicate that 8GB of memory is available.
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January 7, 2010 5:48:51 AM

Quote:
I'm 99.9% certain that the ATI 4870 can not run Crysis on very high settings with 8xAA well, I would suggest that you be humble and turn the AA down to 4xAA or 2xAA.



i'll have to disagree with you. if it's the first crysis he's running, that card shouldn't have much of a problem with higher graphics. The game is pretty high end, but my little brother has it with a GeForce 260 and he can run it on max without a hitch.

i don't know a ton about window 7, as it's closer to vista than xp, and as far as i'm concerned vista never existed. But if modding the page file to off affects how the game is run, obviously windows 7 on your system is not utilizing the ram as has been suggested. REGARDLESS of if that's how windows 7 has been built, my bet would be something is wrong with your over-all settings, or the OS didn't install uite right. Flame me all you want for that part, i don't care.

I'd check the HD tho, try running Crysis off another HD if you have a spare you can install. that will eliminate your HD being faulty, in which case i'd start barrel assing through the OS config, and see if you can't find the problem, or a "Restore Defaults" option. again, i don't know W7 very well, and an option may no exist.

but try a different HD. could uite possibly be processor as well, because if your processor isn't getting the locations of object-instances to the GPU fast enough, it may end up having the load the textures at the last second, causing the HD to read/write at the same time in order to get the frames out in time without dropping any and causing that oh-so-glorious stuttering effect we as gamers love so much :) 
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January 7, 2010 2:27:50 PM

stuttering doesn't mean GFX. i got a 275 myself, i run 16xQQ AA, very high graphics on everything, and in left for dead i even boost the film grain. and once in a while it does stutter, but it KNOW it's from my cores trying to keep up with the GPU. i got an i7, but 4 corres at 2.8 ghz is only really one 2.8 ghz core in gaming.

the stuttering CAN be your processor working overtime to keep up with the graphics. The GPU is only resposnible for drawing the of the images, not the actual mapping. thats the CPU, it has to figure where YOU are, where your aiming, where everything else is in relation to you, and where they're aiming. if the processor fails to get that data to the GPU on time, frames are dropped, and you experience the stuttering.

yeah having 8xAA is a bit obsessive, but for some people it's more than just "The Game" that they're playing for. and having good graphics adds to that. the difference between 2x and 8 AA is phenominal.

as well, your lag isn't necessarily caused by your graphics. more often than not, GPU has nothing to do with it. you can lag because buddies computer can't keep up. all the data you send out to the server is using your graphics, so when buddy recieves them on his $250 netbook, his computer has to read all these complicated graphics data, and then turn them down to match his systems settings. then when he lags, it introduces lag in to the server, which in turn makes your computers on the other end strain to try and overcome the lag. and depending one what your running, it can cause your computer to stutter sometimes, rubberband, and lag. and then there is also packet loss... but i won't get into that. you wanna learn how lag is introduced and overcome, look into how MMO's work.

i still think the processor is the problem. crysis is old enough that it's threaded optimization isn't that great, and to tell the truth, there really is no game that is truly meant to run on more than 1 core. they can emulate it, but it wasn't designed that way.
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January 7, 2010 5:27:37 PM

You all are focused on hardware issues, but I think you oversee the fact that he uses Win 7 RC 7100.
It may be related to a OS issue. My Win 7 RC has caused a lot of issues, whereas after switching to Retail most of those issues ceased to exist. And most of it was performance in games.

I'm not saying it is definitely not hardware related, it's just a theory.
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January 7, 2010 6:13:31 PM

i totally agree with this. the card should have no problems, and the processor is just at theory.

the fact that changing his settings in windows affects how the game runs suggest more of a software issue than hardware. i know the version of windows 7 i'm running has some issues while installing apps, doesn't set up the TCP/IP protocol properly, and most of the time i have to manually go through and set up the rules for it.
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January 8, 2010 8:38:29 PM

This was very interesting to learn what pagefiles is, how it reacts with RAM and HDD I/O! Had no knowledge of this at all before I read this thread. A lot of good hints and ideas when I soon will buy Win 7 64. Had for a couple of years ago a similar problem with my games just keep stutter and freezing more the higher levels I got to and the more I replayed unfinished races/courses, understand now that the HDDs could´nt keep up the I/O because I had I pixel-error on the graphic card and two RAMs that does´nt worked with each other.

One thing I and every Windows user suffer under is that in time the list of background services, additions and processes grows so big that they hinder you to play games and make them stutting and get stucked, when your RAMs too busy trying to handle both the services, processes and the game. No news for anyone I know but I whant to pay attention to the fact that there is a simple solution that may help you. Every time I am about to play games thats on the edge of what my computer is capable to run I first reboot and then unplugg the net cable, then exit all the unneeded programs in the activity field (ex antivirus, firewall, messenger, antispyware, media agents etc). Then I open the Task Controller and delete all unnecessary processes like spoolsv.exe and wmiprvse.exe, things I dont need when playing. When all that is done I usually am able to play my most CPU and RAM-consuming games for hours without any drag at all.

Probably you already have tried this but felt for give my little straw to help you. Good luck!

uum, about stutter, can someone please tell me what the word strutter means (you know that old song by KISS)?
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January 26, 2010 5:40:27 AM

One thing that was oversighted entirely was superfetch, which is in both Vista and 7. If superfetch is on, then it could be the answer as to why your gaming performance is increased without the pagefile and also why you're getting low on memory issues. Superfetch is a pre-cache system loader that runs on Windows start after a delay and non-peak CPU/HDD time. It loads the most common files and applications into virtual memory so when you do actually load up said common programs, they're quicker than having to access those files real time.

Personally, I turned it off. I power down my personal computer daily and don't have a SSD and found it extremely annoying having my HDD constantly whirring after I boot my computer up while simply reading e-mails or websites, etc (nothing memory consuming)... I plan on keeping my HDD for a while, and superfetch will greatly reduce anything with mechanical life.

I'm not saying that's the problem, but it could be part of the explanation. Also since no one mentioned it, thought it'd be important to note.

I'd also have to agree that your pre-release build 7100 is probably are large concern and I'd recommend a later build or a full release build. I've read some common networking infrastructure issues with release 7600, which is what I am using still, and have found tremendous problems with it.
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Anonymous
a b $ Windows 7
April 25, 2010 9:57:44 AM

Hello

During my couple of years building performance hardware for a local builder in Stockholm, Sweden, I have learned that you need to have all the basics up to par with what you are after performance wise. If all else is equal and you have built your new system (or upgraded) to specs that you desired, then it all comes down to what you can add to boost system performance. Specially when gaming.

Virtual memory should always exist. But if you have plenty enough RAM you will not need to use it. Instead of a system managed size setting a custom size (that is locked to a certain size initially up to max size) lets OS skip doing a bunch of recalculating every time paging is needed. So you gain in performance but lose a little HD space or about 1.5-2.5 x GB RAM.

example: 4GB RAM = 4 x 1024 = 4096 => 1.5 x 4096 = 6144 set size for page file

so...
go to Virtual Memory settings...
mark the drive you want to have paging file on...
then choose Custom size (4GB RAM example from above)
!!! If you want page file on other HD than OS, remove page file from C: HD after reboot.

Initial size (MB): 6144
Maximum size (MB): 6144

Push [Set] button then [OK] and exit. Reboot system. Check Virtual Memory settings to make sure all is OK.


Best scenario...

- Max RAM @ top speed your MB can handle (installed properly)
- 1st HD (2 x 32GB SSD RAiD-0/STRiPE=speed) Operating System
- 3rd HD (1 x 32GB SSD) Page file @ set size from example above
- 4th HD (1 x 500GB SATA) Games/Programs (!!! paging file for certain programs pointed to correct HD)
- 5th+ HD (? x 1TB SATA or GBit NAS) Storage as needed

PS. don't forget to cool the system properly so it runs smoother and use latest bios/drivers. ALWAYS save data to separate physical HD or external unit! =)

/Joe Cool
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Anonymous
a b $ Windows 7
April 27, 2010 6:43:20 AM

they should come out with modified superfetch and pagefile no1 thought of that yet
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June 14, 2010 6:18:47 PM

You only have 1 drive partition into two. That's a no-no in this modern day. Buy a secondary hard drive then move your pagefile to the second hard drive. Placing the pagefile to the second partition is an illusion, it's still the same drive, and your taxes your hard drive to move between partitions. I have multiple drives, my primary has the os of course, the secondary has my programs folder, my third hard drive which is a raptor hosts my pagefile. I also have windows 7 64-bit with 4gb of ram.
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August 18, 2010 1:17:40 PM



Sorry for responding to an older thread here (last post two months ago.)

Scotteq said:

However, this is NOT true with Vista and Windows 7. These will try to maximize the usage of RAM by default, not to mention the intentional caching features. Microsoft changed the P/F's behavior so that it has more of a Queuing role - essentially maintaing a record/list of what is in memory *plus* what could be useful but isn't at the moment.


Do you have any references for the statements above? (That the pagefile has a Queuing role.) It might possible be correct, but seems very very strange. Why should it keep a list of what is in memory at the moment and place it on slow disk?


Scotteq said:

I *am* saying that the "disable pagefile to increase performance by forcing the OS to keep more objects in memory" concept is outdated. Because Microsoft changed the way the OS's work - trying to maximize memory usage by default, instead of trying to keep it to a minimum like XP does.


I do not think it is really correct to say that XP tries to keep the memory usage to minimum. XP might be a little more aggressive to swap out unused pages than the later operating systems are, but it was written in a time when something like 128MB of RAM was default.


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Anonymous
a b $ Windows 7
August 30, 2010 9:58:08 PM

hello, which would fit the best for SYSTEM (30GB), PAGEFILE (7GB max, 4GB RAM), WORKDISK (50GB), STOREDISK (300GB)

i have:
- 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 7200rpm 32M
- 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 7200rpm 32M
- 74GB WD Caviar RAPTOR 10000rpm 16MB


( both with win7 installation 64bit windows rank 5,9)

according to HD Tune RAPTOR has almost half acces time (about 8s) but almost 1/3 slower read write (about 74MB/s).
Samsung F3 spinpoint acces time abour 14s and read/write about 110MB/s.
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August 31, 2010 3:43:35 PM

I'm running Windows 7 ultimate 64bit, q6600 (4 cores), ati 4870, 8 GB of DDR3 memory, and a I TB WD Black (7200 rpm). I am a gamer, that's all this computer is used for. After disabling the page file, my computer runs games much more smoothly....Your computer looks in the RAM, then the paging file, and your RAM is wayyyy faster than ROM (your hd) and basically bottlenecks to a degree. I have done this for a while, bc of a suggestion i read on another forum, and I highly recommend it. I do use this computer for other stuff (a little sony vegas, and other general stuff), and have never, ever had my ram drop below like 2.5 gig available. When i do i just restart. And that has only happened once...it usually stays at about 5gb free when gaming. I play HL2 games, such as Counter strike source, i Have played Crysis...COD MW2, and this method drasticly makes gaming smoother.

Just because you guys think disabling a page file doesnt help on windows 7 because you read it somewhere...maybe you should test it first. I get better benchmarks all around this way. This HD is only a month old, not because it went out, i just wanted more space, and a faster RPM HD.

But as i said, i do have 8gb of ddr3 ram..not 4gb, so i dont know how much of a difference that would make. But generally speaking, if you are a gamer, i would highly recommend disabling the paging file if you have 4gb+ of RAM.
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a b $ Windows 7
August 31, 2010 5:23:37 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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