WoW resolution and fps

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by UrielSynthesis, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. UrielSynthesis macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2008
    Hey, I'm running WoW on a unibody 2.4 ghz macbook with 4gb of ram. I've got all details set to high, except i have shadows turned all the way down and v-sync off. Running in both OSX and Xp via bootcamp, I'm pretty happy with the framerate, getting a little over 30fps in most outdoor zones. Although I must say I prefer playing in XP. The framerate is roughly the same in OSX but it stutters badly when i pan the camera around quickly, before settling to normal.

    Anyway, the point of my post is that I'm consdering getting the 24" LED Cinema display. What I'm worried about is what moving from 1280x800 to 1920x1200 will do to my framerate. I dont really want to go below 30fps in most zones as once i get into the 20fps range it starts to bother me. Also I dont want to reduce texture quality or draw distance.

    Has anyone out there tried running WoW at this resolution on a mb, and if so does it make any impact on graphical performance?
  2. UrielSynthesis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2008

    I'm ready to pull the trigger on this, I just really need some impressions of the performance hit of running WoW at 1920x1200.
  3. asphyxiafeeling macrumors regular


    May 31, 2008
    Cali baby!
    i'd anticipate a small dip in FPS. unfortunately i'm not sure how much... i don't have any experience trying this myself, by switching around resolutions with other games on other computers has really put a dent (or boost) in fps.

    i have the same unibody MB, i play wow with my graphics on fair settings to get an fps of 40-55 in most zones.

    i know you don't want to, but worst comes to worst you could keep your 30 FPS on the cinema display just by dropping view distances a bit, and keep textures and all that on high.
  4. Maclarny macrumors 6502


    Apr 20, 2003
    With that significant jump in resolution I do not expect you will be getting near the kind of smooth performance that you would like. The 9400m simply cannot put out that kind of quality.

    For what it is worth, though, I think you would enjoy playing on the 24" screen, although if you want smooth performance I can say for certain that you will have to settle for much less than 1920x1200 and will probably have to sacrifice on other graphical bells and whistles, as well.
  5. UrielSynthesis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2008
    Then again I could just run in window mode and set the game to the appropriate resolution for the size of the window (I'm assuming the window size will grow/shrink when i change the resolution). That way I'd have good performance and have direct access to my browser, etc.

    I'll pick it up tomorrow and if anyone is interested in the results I can post a before/after report on framerate.
  6. Maclarny macrumors 6502


    Apr 20, 2003
    I would be interested in the results. Play around with multiple resolutions and settings and try various locations (City, Raid, Solo Questing, etc.)

    Enjoy the new monitor :)
  7. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    I'm using a MBP with a 22inch screen.
    It runs decently, but i loose quite a bit fps by using its 1680x1050 res compared to the builtin 1440x900.

    Gaming was one on the reasons i chose a 22 over a 24, because i don't think it would handle 1920x1080 res very well
  8. relativist macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2009
    Just as a rule of thumb, when estimating FPS at different resolution, multiply the numbers for the total number of pixels, so you know how much more work has to be done. So from a MB at 1280x800 you have about 1 million pixels, and a 24" 1920x1200 has about 2.3 million pixels. What you need to realize though is that at higher resolution you can get similar good looking graphics even with some of the extras turned down.
  9. aluminumapple macrumors regular

    Jan 7, 2009
    huh really?

    i have the almost exact same spec as yours 2.4 and 4gb ram and i can run with everything up vsync off at 40+ fps.. never goes below 40..
  10. UrielSynthesis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2008
    I'm not buying that A.) you can do that with shadows turned up, or B.) that you can get anywhere NEAR that in places like Dalaran, where even the most powerful gaming pc's in existence bog down. Unless this is some 2.4ghz Macbook Pro I don't get it. Even then, a dewdicated video card doesn't help that much since WoW is processor reliant.

    (Mind you, in quiet zones such as Nagrad my fps can hover in the 40's, but it does go down to 15-30fps when i enter some cities and other more graphically busy zones.)
  11. aluminumapple macrumors regular

    Jan 7, 2009

    this person has it maxed and created a video of him playing it. this is a 2.4 2gb ram. do you still doubt me?
  12. UrielSynthesis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2008
    Well, the results are in: it was a disaster!

    First, the technical problems with the display itself. I use Windows XP in bootcamp and this thing is basically useless there. When using the display in XP, you cannot set it to be the primary monitor. Nor can you clone the laptop's display to it. When in Display Properties>Settings, you have two check-box items listed for each display: "use this device as my primary monitor" and "extend my desktop onto this device". Both checkboxes are grayed out for the laptop's screen, and only "extend my desktop onto this device" is available for the cinema display. So that means you only enable or disable the cinema display, and then tweak position, resolution, and color settings. That's it. My research on Google shows that this is the case for others, so I imagine this is the status quo until they add something to the boot camp support package.

    To add injury to insult, it acts very glitchy when used in XP. Sometimes when I boot into XP, the display will not turn on. Other times, it will turn on but be very dim. And one time, a strange smear of neon-colored pixels appeared on both screens.

    Now, the display itself was breathtaking and I could have easily just used it in OSX alone...

    ...but WoW is unplayable on this screen. Normally on my macbook, I have everything maxed out except for v-sync being off and shadows at minimum. This grants me an average 30fps in most zones, in both OSX and XP. When playing on the cinema display, I get a SINGLE-DIGIT framerate with every single possible graphical setting DISABLED OR DECREASED TO MINIMUM. This is being tested in a deserted corner of Nagrand. With both screens active, I can play WoW on the macbook's own screen with the same performance I normally have. Its only when I move the game window to the cinema display that this happens. I can even put WoW in windowed mode on the lowest possible resolution (800x600) and as soon as I drag it onto the cinema display's screen I am back to getting single-digit framerates. Seriously, you can drag the WoW window back and forth across the screens and watch it switch between 30fps and 3fps.

    Single-digit framerates. With every possible graphical feature at minimum/unchecked. Running at 800x600. :(

    Obviously this issue goes far beyond the expected performance hit of an increased resolution. It seems as if the integrated card cant handle driving both the monitor and driving a game on that monitor. And its definitely not an issue with overall resource use of the card, because as I said if you click-drag WoW back over to the macbook's built-in screen the performance immediately goes back to normal. I would bet that with the MBP's dedicated video card you would see this issue completely eliminated rather than just reduced.

    I was too offput by my initial impressions to test other things such as Photoshop, but I'd imagine that any intensive application might have the same issues, game or non-game. In short, if you are reading this it means you are a gamer and you have an aluminum MB, which means you should NOT get the LED Cinema Display.

    Disgusted, I returned the cinema display today, having purchased it yesterday. I had to haggle with the Apple Store manager to waive the 10% restocking fee. He explained that they would charge me a restocking fee since there were no physical defects with the display itself. I had to lay out several points to convince him otherwise:
    A.) Its not as if I was trying something out and decided I didn't like it. I returned it because of specific issues I discovered with it.
    B.) I felt that the issues I experienced, when taking into account traditional experiences with external displays and the amount of information Apple makes available for this product, were unforeseeable and outside of reasonable expectations. I shouldn't lose $90 just to take a display home for one night to find out it can't handle the tasks I would reasonably expect it to.
    C.) The random nature of the monitor's operation in Windows XP means a physical issue with the display isn't out of the question, on top of the other intrinsic issues I already had with it.
    D.) Whether the problem is with the macbook, the monitor, or both, in the end it is all part of Apple's hardware ecosystem and by Apple's own mantras I should expect great synergy between them unless they note otherwise.

    He begrudgingly waived the restocking fee "this one time". I'm glad he did, otherwise you'd be reading a Page 2 story tomorrow about someone going postal in an Apple Store.

    My original plan as a Mac initiate was that I would get this MB and the LED Cinema Display, then at some point in the near future purchase a MBP for the extra horsepower. As I was dealing with this problem, it dawned on me that that was the wrong plan. What I am now going to do is save some more dough and buy a top of the line iMac when they are (supposedly soon) refreshed. With an iMac I would still be getting a 24" 1920x1200 display, as well as a machine that might very well crush the best MBP performance-wise, all for significantly less than the cost of a maxed-out MBP alone. Add in the $900 I would save by not buying the Cinema Display and the fact that 2 mobile Macs would be redundant, and its a no-brainer for me.

    I hope someone has benefited from this. Its late (early?) and I'm tired, so pardon any incoherence on my part.
  13. miniConvert macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2006
    Kent, UK - the 'Garden of England'.
    Did you try WoW on the ACD with the lid closed on your MB? There's no way in hell it'd like having both screens active at the same time. I remember seeing similar 'works better on native display that ACD' with an old Macbook and 23".

    On the ACD I'd have expected a pretty big hit but not single digit FPS, not with the MB lid closed.
  14. sammich macrumors 601


    Sep 26, 2006
    EDIT: I reread your post, it is interesting how the performance varies when moving the screen between the two screens. If you did try what miniConvert suggested then I guess i'm outta ideas :( In either case, if you posted your results before returning it to the store, we could've helped you out.


    I'm going to suggest you at least tell us the results of your test before you went into the store to return it because...what I've quoted is going to improve the fps DRAMATICALLY.

    When multiple screens are attached, the graphic card is effectively multi-tasking, and the graphics memory is split evenly between the two displays. Your poor GPU is struggling to render both Aqualicious OS X on one screen and a fully fledged game in a resolution that really should only be used with (game-wise) a discreet card on the other screen.

    For some comparison, when I hook up my 17" MBP (x1600) to my 1080p Bravia (extended mode), and watch a 720p trailer full screen on the TV side, it doesn't play at the full fps of the movie.
  15. UrielSynthesis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2008
    Yes I do doubt you. Did you even watch that video?

    A.) He's got Shadow Detail turned all the way down, just like I do (Shadow Detail, btw, is a HUUUGGE hit to performance, more than you'd think. Maxing it cuts my framerate in half). He has Texture Filtering turned down some, whereas I have it maxed. That might explained why he is getting between 0 and 5fps more than I do in the same areas. Its impossible to tell whether V-sync and the other settings on that tab are enabled or not, but theoretically my settings might be higher than his. This is not "maxed" as you would call it. If I duplicated his exact settings and went to the exact same areas I have no doubt my results would be practically identical.

    B.) I don't know how this video proves that your framerate never drops below 40fps, since the very first fps result he shows says 30fps.

    C.) There is NOT a home computer that can run WoW and "never dip below 40fps". You can be running 6GB of ram, a $1k Intel Core i7 processor, and the latest quad graphics cards. You will still get chugging in Dalaran. There are issues that exist between the server and your pc when calculating the actions, appearance, and positioning of so many other live players. If you had 20 players on your screen, it would probably run worse than if you instead had 40 npc's on your screen. Its about more than rendering polygons. Even when it IS about rendering polygons, its not a universal numbers game, since WoW can't take advantage of higher graphics tools. This causes more detailed games than WoW to run better on your MB than WoW does.

    Such an implausible statement just isn't going to sell. If you were in a knowledgeable pc forum saying that you never went below 40fps in WoW on your Windows pc, they'd still laugh you out of the internet. How well do you think it will work here where several of us have absolutely identical hardware to yours?
  16. UrielSynthesis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2008
    I did not post this because I didn't think to, but I did try it with the mb lid closed using just the cinema display. I bought the Apple wireless keyboard at the same time as the cinema display expressly for this purpose. The results were no different. Only after I saw what was going on did I fiddle with having both screens active. Of course I couldn't try only the cinema display in Windows because settings restrictions in XP made it impossible.

    Something interesting I didn't really touch on was that once I was confronted with this poor WoW Performance, changing the video settings did nothing. Near-maxed graphics in 1920X1200 gave me practically the same performance as minimum graphics in 800x600. Roughly, I'd say that the former resulted in 2-7fps whereas the latter resulted in 5-12fps.
  17. Mackilroy macrumors 68040


    Jun 29, 2006
    That sounds extremely fishy, because every time I've ever hooked my MB up to a larger monitor and closed the lid, my FPS in games has gone up.
  18. relativist macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2009
    Yes, sounds like something's wrong. Anyway, it's to late now, you've already returned the monitor. From what you've described it sounds like the MB is not the right computer for you. If playing WoW is important to you, and at higher resolutions like 1920x1200, then integrated video with 144MB or so of RAM is not going to cut it. (don't remember if you have the unibody which is 256MB integrated.) What you need is dedicated video with dedicated RAM, and the more dedicated RAM the better. Without knowing more details it's hard to diagnose what happened, but it's obvious you need better graphics. I'd suggest getting a MBP soon, then getting the 24" monitor. As for getting an iMac, you might want to test out what you want to do with a MBP and a 24" monitor instead, your plan sounded reasonable to me, except for getting the monitor before upgrading to the MBP.
  19. aznguyen316 macrumors 68020


    Oct 1, 2008
    Tampa, FL
    I'm playing on lower res and a lot of settings down lower.. I feel like now after reading this thread I should turn some up haha cuz I'm getting 40+ 50+ FPS will most my settings med/low with a low res.. I'll mess with it to see if it's worth going 30FPS

    sweet, got res to wide 720x, highest on 24bit whatever sampling, all high except, shadows on low, weather at low/med, spell at med, full screen glow off. in orgrimmar got 30-45, not bad, but I noticed some changes in texture which look nicer =)
  20. UrielSynthesis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2008
    The (unibody) MB actually suits me in that it plays WoW fine when I just want to sit on the couch and play on a laptop. As far as the memory goes, the 9400M actually has its own dedicated memory so it is really a dedicated card that happens to built into the logic board, just not a spectacular one. With the MB providing a satisfactory mobile experience I do think the iMac is a better idea for me than MBP+Cinema Display. I could seriously end up spending half as much and getting better performance. Lets just hope they come out soon! (LOL at people believing that video of the current Mac Mini with an altered rear panel)

    Anyway I'd love to think that there was a problem with the monitor or my settings, because that would mean that setup is still feasible! The question is, who else is going to get a cinema display and test this?
  21. UrielSynthesis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2008

    Yeah, its really surprising how well the MB can handle WoW. V-sync is a performance killer in any game and shadows in WoW take up more resources than one might expect (I assume because they were patched in and the engine hasn't been optimized with those in mind).
  22. rj-300zx macrumors regular


    Feb 2, 2009
    Just putting it out there, I run WoW on Medium-High settings with shadows turned half way at 1440x900 and get 25-35fps constantly even in crowded areas. Just some input.:)
  23. relativist macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2009
    I just wanted to clarify, the MB has shared memory, not dedicated. It's stated clearly on the specs. It is DDR3 though, since thats the memory type it uses, so it's a bit faster than the DDR2 of the previous MB.
  24. aluminumapple macrumors regular

    Jan 7, 2009
    from what i've read in your posts your using it in Windows Xp. you do know there is a huge difference between direct x and OpenGL right?
  25. NewMacCity macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2009

    hio :D id like to lump/bump my very similar query onto this (very relavent to my interests) thread!

    TL;DR at the end

    im considering buying this setup:
    2.4 uni macbook upgraded to 4g(DYI) ram + 22" dell monitor


    2.4 uni MBP same ram + same monitor

    ive been reading a ton on these forums about the differences between these two mb's listed above. irealize this is basically a MB vs MBP topic but i really like the specific WOW nature of this thread, as it is a pretty descent factor in my decision.

    my ONLY(semi-only) deciding factor has come down to possible preformance of playing WOW on a MB WITH an external monitor (CLAMSHELL mode of course).

    and also this will be my MAIN computer system and im worried of the regular/often play(2+ hrs) of WOW and if it will dramaticlly lower my MB life (CPU/GPU)? possible burnout vs the dedicated VRAM card on the mbp?

    WOW and maybe the SIMS II will the probably be the only graphically intensive tasks i intend to execute.

    i dont understand resolutions that well, but id like to have med-med/high settings for ingame WOW video settings on the 22" think id be fine with a STEADY 35-40fps WOTLK included.

    im not looking to MAX out the screen just want to have a LESS jumbled/cluttered WOWUI screen (more "real estate").

    will just playing on the larger monitor with native MB resolution accomplish this or will i have to up the reslution for the desired effect?

    assuming native resolution on the mb and the dell display i should still expect a drop in fps vs no external display?

    TL:D DR:
    will a 2.4 uni macbook w/ 4g ram ON A 22" dell display be able to handle WOW(WOTLK) on MED - MED/HIGH settings at a descent resolution with desent/high fps?

    will constant play of WOW burn out a non dedictated 9400 shared vmemory card faster than the 2.4 mbp's 9600 dedicated mem. card?

    does this concern warrent the UPgrade to the MBP?

    THANKS for your time and infos for this almost first time mac user! apologize for redundancy and LENGTH but its getting late cant edit this anymore =)

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