Archive for the ‘Go Faster’ Category

Go faster – tips to improve WOW performance

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

As near as i can tell Blizzard has a small group of developers who are responsible for the Mac client application. My hat’s off to them for maintaining the program on a par with the Windows/PC version (mostly).

I’ve been trolling sites and message boards looking for specific tips and notes that are relevant to improving performance of WOW on a Mac.

Here are some official tips from the Blizzard message boards:

Just a few things to look out for if you are tweaking for performance. In no particular order. Some are based on anecdotes and we appreciate any feedback you may have in confirming or countering them with your own experiences.

a. on machines like iMac G5’s and PowerBooks, a noticeable number of users have found better speeds after enabling Highest Performance in the energy saver options of system preferences. The “Automatic” performance setting in some of these cases has been too aggressive in saving power at the cost of FPS.

b. turn off vertical sync in your video options.

c. If on Tiger (10.4) be sure to add the WOW game folder to the list of “Private” folders that won’t be indexed by the built-in Spotlight feature. On new machines or machines that have been recently upgraded to Tiger, some hours may go by before the file system indexing has been completed on the whole hard drive.

d. some users have noticed that tossing out WDB and WTF folders and going back to default settings, has yielded better results.

e. don’t assume that having Vertex Animation Shaders (vertex shaders) will yield higher performance; there have been reports of seeing better performance with them switched off, notably on GF4Ti and fx5200 NVIDIA GPU’s. This may be driver revision dependent and is quite likely to change with future updates to Tiger.

f. full screen glow has a big performance cost; be really sure you want it turned on.

g. some UI mods have inflicted FPS penalties in the past; always double check with UI mods disengaged. If/when you remove any UI mods, be sure to toss out your WTF folder contents with the possible exception of – data left behind by UI mods can cause the game to crash if not removed along with the mods at the same time.

h. there are Dashboard widgets for Tiger(10.4) that can consume CPU power even when not visible. In particular there was at least one such widget that would track WoW server status, and some users would run two or three copies of the widget in order to monitor multiple servers – the author of that one soon found out that it was a bit of a CPU hog and has released some updates.

One thing that can be worthwhile to look at, is to run WoW in a window (Command-M) and then also run Activity Monitor in the background. The activity monitor can let you see if there are any other processes on the machine that are using up a noticeable fraction of your CPU power, and also let you see things like virtual memory paging counts if you switch tabs.

In general on a single processor machine, with WoW in foreground, we should be able to absorb 90%+ of the CPU available. If you notice other tasks getting 5% or more of the CPU, be suspicious. If you notice hundreds of VM page swaps per second, you may want to consider a RAM upgrade, or shut down some apps to free up RAM.

[Use Activity Monitor to see which Apps are using the highest CPU %’s ]

Some additional tips from us at

1. Reboot your Mac. Some programs don’t free up resources like they should. Also, the Mac cleans up it’s memory and hard drive after a Restart.

2. if you like to keep a web browser open while playing, use Firefox for a smaller resource load on the computer.

3. if you can afford to: get more RAM. It easier than dumping your favorite files in order to increase the available space for swap files. On many Macs, the speed of the RAM can affect performance. If you have more than one slot for RAM, match speeds (in Nano Seconds -> NS) for better performance.

4. open your system preferences for Spotlight (10.4+ only) and make the WOW folder private.