MacBook Pro 17 2011 Starcraft 2 weird framerate drops and lag

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by GammaRayToaster, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. GammaRayToaster macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2011
    got my first mac last week, 17" MacBook Pro.. some things i like, some things i don't like but one thing that drives me crazy:
    Starcraft 2 runs on kinda medium settings between 20 and 60 frames, which is nice and smooth to play. Once I open another application things start to mess up: while the framerate keeps the same, it's dropping to 0 causing the game to stand still for a second constantly, like every 2 to 10 seconds. The more action the game has, the worse.

    So far its worst when firefox is open in the background, surprisingly it doesn't get better when i close firefox.

    So i checked the activity monitor while playing and saw nothing. CPU is bored, RAM has about 500 mb untouched and even the fan is kinda quiet. Nothings points to a lack of performance, yet game stands still every 10 seconds at least.

    I tried updating to Lion, since I got it free for my new Mac. It increased the framerate, but the problem remains unchanged.

    Theoreticly nothing but the HDD is left to be the cause of the trouble, but how can a simple 750gb drive not be enough run a game on medium settings (changing the texture settings doesn't significantly make it worse)
    while having firefox, or chrome, or anything else open as well?
    And even if, closing all other applications should solve the problem, but it doesn't.

    The only way to get the dropdowns disappear is restarting, and open nothing but Starcraft 2 and Adium/Skype maybe, that seems to cause no hearm.

    Can't be the answer, am i wrong?

    I haven't installed that much yet, Office 2011, Firefox, Chrome for testing, Adium, Skype and iStats Menue to track the problem.

    My system has the i7-2720, 4GB RAM and the 750 GB HDD.

    Anyone familiar with that issue, or suggestions?

  2. nnoob macrumors member

    Dec 7, 2006
    Playing games will throttle the CPU because of Apple approach of balancing the GPU and CPU load efficiency. The only solution is on windows:
  3. GammaRayToaster, Aug 3, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011

    GammaRayToaster thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2011
    I thought throttling would appear once the machine gets too hot or lacks power, and manifest in a much more consistent problem than just frequent drops to 0 fps, like dropping to 5 at all and staying there until the machine cooled down or more power is available.

    This is kinda weird.
    I don't think this is already throttling of CPU and GPU. I can turn the graphics settings much higher without problems, as long as i keep away from launching any browser, word processing or itunes in background.
    The drops to zero don't seem to significantly increase with the graphic settings.
  4. dsio macrumors regular

    Jun 19, 2011
    I have the same issues with SC2, there's something really up with the game, or at least the mac port of it, has nothing even remotely to do with throttling.
  5. GammaRayToaster thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2011
    Do you get the zero fps drops regularly anyway or with multitasking browsers and stuff only as well?
  6. seong macrumors 65816


    Feb 11, 2010
    I play SC2 on my Mac (details in my sig) and I have no problem whatsoever running on Medium. It's a 2009 13" model.
  7. Apok macrumors regular

    Feb 9, 2011
    Columbus, Ohio
    I have no problems with my mid-2010 model while playing. From time to time it will lag a little if the action gets too heated, but other than that, it runs great. In fact, I think Ill play a little SC2 tonight.
  8. xpcker macrumors regular

    Oct 25, 2010
    thats very very very weird, you should play with all settings in high with no problem!

    Lion has a new coded OpenGL so it would run as good as windows, also, maybe theres an issue in the graphic card change, download gfxstatus that is a software (free) that makes u decide with video card is on. try that.

    If that doesnt work... maybe a full clean of the system formating from scratch could make u imprve performance but its weird.

    Maybe theres something wrong with the motherboard but also its very unlikely, try that =)
  9. GammaRayToaster thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2011
    I'll give the full reinstall a shot on saturday!
    I do have the chance to return the System until next Tuesday and I was considering it because of overall really slow multitasking, at least it's not the speed you'd expect of a 2500€ System. Looks like somethings not right with my System and it's rather asking for repair than return ;).


    Yeah it's weird: it's running smooth, no lag at all for 2 hours.
    Friends are afk for a while, I'm wasting time in firefox browsing while Starcraft runs in the background (in the menu) and its feeling really laggy in firefox, not like a 2011 System.

    Typing in Firefox has a noticable delay. Switchting back to Starcraft though is instant, maximize the window, enter a game and watch the misery starting:
    loading takes at least 5 times as long, it takes that long - people started flaming me :(..
    once in the game fps drop down to 0 every 2 to 5 seconds, game stands still for like a second, back to 60 fps again (lion, 30-40 snow leopard) and again.. and again.. for all the game.

    I can quit Firefox, i can quit everything (and it quits, checked if the processes still run, they don't) but it doesn't quit lagging.. restart OS X and its fine again.. but hell don't touch firefox, chrome or microsoft office.
    Restarting Starcraft 2 doesn't fix it either.

    While VLC, Adium and Skype are running fine in the background.

    So far i tried reinstalling Starcraft 2, Firefox, tried if with Google Chrome.. same story.

    ** apple startup test, whatever its called - using the os cd, says nothings wrong with my hardware so far
  10. xpcker macrumors regular

    Oct 25, 2010
    my gf has the same system than u and the notebook is flawless

    Well... for specs i think this gen of mbp is ver very nice price/performance

    i have the 2010 330m and that wasnt a good deal honestly. keep your mac, its gona last forever =) and also resell

    if yur looking for other brands there is asus and sager, both very good quality, i dont like dell honestly, but still.. youll be spending US$2000. if u do game a lot, change it. i prefer build quality and portability cuz i have all day the notebook on my bag pack with me

    cheers have good luck :D
  11. GammaRayToaster thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2011
    Can't believe I haven't seen that earlier.. memory hasn't been a performance factor for me since dual core cpus arrived, so I guess I skipped that part too fast believing 4GB was simply enough.

    Well, 4GB of RAM might be enough for anything you might want to do with a windows/linux system, except for virtualisation. Having used a Linux System with swappiness set to zero at work for years now, I was unaware of what OS X does with inactive memory. I heard if OS X has RAM, it uses RAM. That's fine, that's why it's there. But swapping, swapping isn't fine, it's slow. Another discussion, not to be held here.

    Conclusion: My MacBook almost freezes every time inactive memory is transferred into swap, combined with a hang to installing too many addons to firefox or chrome, which results in unbelievable memory consumation by those, i simply ran out of memory..

    And quitting applications didn't fix anything since they wouldn't disappear from the memory but be written to the swap file, that combined with the HDD performance just became a bottle neck..
    So if you're looking into your Activity Monitor and see not much green pie left (free), believing "there's plenty of blue, no problem" (inactive) is a misbelieve, it's got to be fransfered to your HDD before it's usable again.

    The only thing I don't understand is why it wouldn't stop dropping to 0 fps after most of the swapping activitys. Displaying something about 100ish mb of free memory I guess that's because once starcraft needs more, the system swaps a little bit more, resulting in almost never ending swapping lag.

    I'm looking for a clean and simple way to tell the system to not swap that hard, so far without luck.

    Thanks again for all your replys.
  12. iPawl macrumors newbie

    Sep 28, 2011
    Hi all, new to the forums :)

    I signed up because I usually browse through forums, but I am having the exact same problem, and it is driving me mad. Whilst I still haven't tried running Bootcamp and install games there (I really don't want windows on my machine), I'd like to get this sorted on my MBP.

    When a battle hits in Starcraft, I get massive FPS drops. And it's not just Starcraft, happened to me in WoW and TF2. I wish there is something that I can do to prevent this from happening any more, but I've spent the past days since I got this MacBook with no real solution, except for Bootcamp.

    My machine is Early 2011 MBP 15.4" w/ 2.2ghz and HD6750M.
  13. mark28 macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2010
    I have the same problem with SC 2. Not sure what the issue is :confused:

    Normal multiplayer games ( like 8 people ), it will play fine at high. But custom mods can lag so terribly if I have Apps running in the background.

    Closing the Apps running in the background won't stop the lagging.

    Something is wrong with OS X + SC 2 + mods.
  14. xdbuix macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2008
    i had the exact same problem. I have my settings set on a mix between high and medium. My solution was the 8gb ram I installed. Once I installed, i noticed the load times were shorter and the game played smoother. This is with my google chrome up with like 15 tabs, iTunes, skype all up.
  15. Gurutech macrumors 6502

    Jan 22, 2006
    I experienced the same problem. Starcraft 2 lags whenever there's a battle, and after sluggish battle, it returns to the normal frame rate.

    And yes, it has to do with memory swap and HDD slowdown I think.
    4 gig is apparently not enough or OS is not good at freeing up the memory while executing Starcraft2 and browsers (especially with flash loaded pages).
    To test how much HDD was slowing down, I swapped to SDD while the amount of memory was untouched, and guess what? With same number of programs running, no lags. Obviously, not enough memory, or lack of efficient memory management seems to cause too much page in and out.
    Now I have 8gig and ssd, and believe me it's a much better machine now.
  16. iPawl macrumors newbie

    Sep 28, 2011
    Thanks all for the replies. I have ordered 8gb of ram the other day, should be here soon, and hopefully this will be sorted. :)
  17. shimamizu macrumors newbie


    Nov 18, 2011
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I have 8GB of RAM and SC2 lags the crap out of my other applications. For example if I switch back to Adium and try to type to someone, it's got a HUGE delay after I type before I see the letters appearing. The game itself runs fine for the most part, it's just that I can't do much of anything other than SC2 when it's open due to the insane lag it causes the problems. I'm running it on Medium and windowed full screen mode. I also keep a memory cleaner app running that shows me the current available memory and it shows I still have 2-3 gb's free when I'm running the game, so it doesn't appear to be that the memory is the problem. Very confused. Don't have this problem when I run WoW, just SC2.
  18. thundersteele macrumors 68030

    Oct 19, 2011
    As a first step, I would disable the memory cleaner app.

    Then, check the Page outs in the Activity Monitor. To me it also seems unlikely that it is a memory issue, but it's worth checking.
  19. mark28 macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2010

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