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Ridiculously Low FPS on Thunderbolt display

jareogunprb18_ESO
jareogunprb18_ESO
Soul Shriven
Okay so here's the breakdown:

I own a retina MBP (2013) with 16GB RAM, Nvidia 650M (1024mb), 2.7GHz i7, all-round top of the line machine. The game runs smoothly on the 1440 x 900 resolution when I use the laptop on its own (High Ultra settings.) However, once I connect to the thunderbolt display, all hell breaks lose. On the Mac client of the game of course.

I have dropped it to the minimum settings to get reasonable fps (60+) but it looks so bad I might as well play tetris. Is there a workaround for this or at least could someone explain to me how the thunderbolt display reduces the performance so much.

This performance caveat has prevented me from enjoying the game and as a beta+early access player, I'm still level 18 because I can't sit through a playing session without pulling my hair out.

PS: (Never had this problem with GW2, Call of Duty or League Of Legends.)

Help Me
  • KhajitFurTrader
    KhajitFurTrader
    Community-Botschafter
    Hi @jareogunprb18_ESO‌,

    I think it's a pure mathematical problem in the first place. When connecting a TB display, the GPU suddenly has to drive 4000x2340 pixels (1440x900 + 2560x1440), instead of its native 1440x900. That's 7.2 times more pixels. Yes, you're playing ESO only on one screen, but the GPU still has to drive both. And going from a 1440x900 game resolution up to a 2560x1440 is still a factor of 2.8. So about 3 times slower frame rates on the same quality settings are only to be expected in the best case. Keep in mind that in all cases, VSYNC should be deactivated, or else FPS would be forced to be lower than necessary.

    But honestly, what makes you think that only 60+ FPS are "reasonable"? The human eye and its brain interface, the human visual system, can process 10 to 12 separate images per second, separately for each eye (source). We see absolutely fluid movement with 24 FPS (the frame rate of movies). A frame rate of 25 FPS in a computer game is not only acceptable, anything above is simply wasted computing power, since it contributes nothing more to the impression of fluid movement at all.
  • Dimillian
    Dimillian
    ✭✭✭
    The above answer is 100% right.

    The retina screen is already incredibly high to drive for the mobile GPU.
    The best thing you can do is closing your Macbook while playing ESO on that big screen, it'll save a lot of pixels and improve your framerate decently.
  • jareogunprb18_ESO
    jareogunprb18_ESO
    Soul Shriven
    Thanks for the response guys, @KhajitFurTrader‌, I play on my TB display with the mac closed, does the GPU still have to drive the retina display as well?

    If it does, then I totally understand why my FPS has been terrible and would probably quit the game till it's better. (Can't go back to the bootcamp life).

    Thanks!
  • KhajitFurTrader
    KhajitFurTrader
    Community-Botschafter
    (Can't go back to the bootcamp life).

    I'm with you!

    As for your question: it depends. Lacking a TB display myself, my guess would be that the internal display is kept in a kind of standby, in case clamshell mode ends. That would mean that all resources are still allocated, even when the display is not in active use.

    There is, however, a way to force OS X to use only one display: it is detailed here, 5th post down. CAVEAT! Fiddling around with NVRAM parameters could seriously bork your computer, so please double-check every command and parameter.

    In fact, to be on the safe side, do this beforehand in the terminal (as a user with administrative rights):
    $ sudo nvram boot-args
    
    This should tell you whether there is already a NVRAM variable called "boot-args" defined, and if there is, what value(s) it has. If there isn't, you'd see this:
    nvram: Error getting variable - 'boot-args': (iokit/common) data was not found
    
    If there is, you can save its original value like this:
    $ sudo nvram boot-args > ~/nv_boot_args.txt
    
    Now you can apply the above tweak:
    $ sudo nvram boot-args=”iog=0×0″
    
    Be sure to include any other predefined values within the string " ", separated by spaces. If you want to reverse your change, you can simply type:
    $ sudo nvram -d boot-args
    
    if there weren't any predefined parameters, or
    $ sudo nvram boot-args="`cat ~/nv_boot_args.txt`"
    
    if there were. (the ` ` are backticks, Shift-[´])

    Remember that all changes to NVRAM variables only apply after a reboot.
    Edited by KhajitFurTrader on May 9, 2014 10:03PM
  • jareogunprb18_ESO
    jareogunprb18_ESO
    Soul Shriven
    @KhajitFurTrader‌ Hey, THANKS A MILLION! This boosted my FPS way high and for the first time I was able to actually fight without going "what the hell did I press". I get 20-44 FPS on all high. Thanks again :)

    Btw, how did you learn the terminal commands or are you using some sort of residual linux knowledge (one IT guy to another). I've always wanted to learn the terminal

    Thanks again mate!
  • KhajitFurTrader
    KhajitFurTrader
    Community-Botschafter
    Always happy to help. :smiley:

    You know, I've heard it said about IT guys that "they just google their answers". This is, of course, absolutely right. But what differentiates the professionals from the laymen is that the pros
    • know what to google for,
    • can quickly filter and classify the results,
    • know how to adapt them to situations that differ from those found in the results.

    Regarding the terminal, this is a very broad field. In a sense, the terminal, or shell, is *NIX, and *NIX is the shell. I learned using the shell mostly by doing, and I've been doing it since 1991 (VAX/VMS might have been involved at some point). If you want to learn about the OS X Terminal (which, by default, is just bash(1) on a BSD userland), I'd recommend this for starters, and this for advanced topics. Can't really go wrong with their books.
    Edited by KhajitFurTrader on May 10, 2014 9:17AM
  • Moonraker
    Moonraker
    ✭✭✭✭
    I was reading about this and I 'think' that in 'closed clamshell' mode i.e. when the notebook is fully closed and you use external keyboard and mouse direct to the display, then the MBP display is fully disabled. From the Apple support kb article;
    If you open the lid of your supported Mac notebook computer while in closed clamshell mode it may appear to have no video. This is expected behavior. When your computer is in closed clamshell mode the built-in display is disabled and all video memory is allocated to the external display for best performance.
    Mac notebooks: How to use your computer in closed clamshell (display closed) mode with an external display

    Therefore it 'should' not impact the VRAM. Unless I miss something.

    Just make sure you set it up as per that article to ensure it is actually closed clamshell mode. Would be interested to hear if you do try it.
    Edited by Moonraker on May 10, 2014 1:21PM
  • KhajitFurTrader
    KhajitFurTrader
    Community-Botschafter
    Moonraker wrote: »
    If you open the lid of your supported Mac notebook computer while in closed clamshell mode it may appear to have no video. This is expected behavior. When your computer is in closed clamshell mode the built-in display is disabled and all video memory is allocated to the external display for best performance.
    Mac notebooks: How to use your computer in closed clamshell (display closed) mode with an external display

    Therefore it 'should' not impact the VRAM. Unless I miss something.

    I think I've come across the same document on my google search yesterday, because I wasn't sure about the behavior of OS X in clamshell mode myself. I've looked again, and the section you quoted above is headed by "Mac OS X v10.6.8 and earlier". For OS X 10.7 Lion and later it says:
    If you open the lid of your supported Mac notebook computer while in closed clamshell mode, the display will flicker to a blue screen after a few moments then both displays will become active. Close the lid to return to closed clamshell mode.
    So they seemed to have changed the internal handling of clamshell mode quite a bit, which might explain the reported FPS increase when disabling displays via the NVRAM tweak.
  • Moonraker
    Moonraker
    ✭✭✭✭
    @KhajitFurTrader Ah yes I read it as "or later" ^^. Shame really and does explain why that works.

    Would pressing the Power button for one second as noted in this article also turn off the display, in Mavericks new function? It seems that two-three turns off external display also so perhaps this would leave them on but turn display off?
    Edited by Moonraker on May 10, 2014 3:07PM
  • jareogunprb18_ESO
    jareogunprb18_ESO
    Soul Shriven
    Always happy to help. :smiley:

    You know, I've heard it said about IT guys that "they just google their answers". This is, of course, absolutely right. But what differentiates the professionals from the laymen is that the pros
    • know what to google for,
    • can quickly filter and classify the results,
    • know how to adapt them to situations that differ from those found in the results.

    Regarding the terminal, this is a very broad field. In a sense, the terminal, or shell, is *NIX, and *NIX is the shell. I learned using the shell mostly by doing, and I've been doing it since 1991 (VAX/VMS might have been involved at some point). If you want to learn about the OS X Terminal (which, by default, is just bash(1) on a BSD userland), I'd recommend this for starters, and this for advanced topics. Can't really go wrong with their books.

    Awesome Thanks! I'll get started

    LOL I was born in '91 omg I've got a long way to go then I guess :)
  • Randay
    Randay
    ✭✭✭
    @KhajitFurTrader‌ Hey, THANKS A MILLION! This boosted my FPS way high and for the first time I was able to actually fight without going "what the hell did I press". I get 20-44 FPS on all high. Thanks again :)

    Btw, how did you learn the terminal commands or are you using some sort of residual linux knowledge (one IT guy to another). I've always wanted to learn the terminal

    Thanks again mate!

    just type into terminal
    man nvram
    

    and you will see your options. this - of course - requires you to know which mac process does what. thats where your already collected mac os knowledge start to take affect.
    i would say learning by doing :P
    ---
    i also agreed to @Moonraker. In closed clamshell mode the internal display shuts down.

    ---
    there are also 2 other fun ways to do so
    keep in mind that you should always be careful using magnets at any computer !!!
    (i also have no idea if the magnet trick still works in Mavericks)
    Edited by Randay on May 13, 2014 1:14PM
    if less really is more, then maybe nothing is everything
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