HOWTO:Tweak your framerate
First of all, let us be clear: your framerate (FPS) with Inner Space and ISBoxer should not usually be significantly lower than your framerate without Inner Space and ISBoxer with the same size, number, and position of game windows. This guide should help you achieve at least the same FPS, if not higher.
- Your Power Profile in Windows can throttle your CPU; selecting the "High Performance" power profile will usually improve framerate if it is not selected. See How to disable CPU throttling for more information.
- Disable anti-aliasing/multi-sampling!: Anti-aliasing is likely to have a significant performance impact when multiboxing.
- Disable vertical sync: Vertical Sync (or V-Sync, also called "Present Interval" in EVE Online) intends to synchronize the rendering speed against your monitor's refresh rate. When multiboxing, disabling V-Sync may significantly improve your framerate.
- Favor high performance over high quality where possible for all other settings
- As a last resort, lowering the game resolution may significantly improve framerate as well. If selecting a game resolution in-game does not affect the actual resolution, your actual resolution can likely be adjusted through your Window Layout (see "Window Layout" section below).
CPU Strategy and FPS Limiting
- FPS Limiting can be adjusted any time through the CPU Strategy Wizard. Selecting a low number for the Background FPS limit can improve overall performance for both CPU and GPU bottlenecks. For some games, notably EverQuest 1, this will also negatively affect your characters' ability to auto-follow each other. (Although for EverQuest 1, EQPlayNice can be used to improve auto-follow performance while rendering a low FPS.)
- For multi-CPU or multi-core CPUs, as are quite popular among multiboxers, the CPU Strategy Wizard offers a few different settings you can try. In some cases, having ISBoxer assign all CPU cores to all game instances may improve framerates. Round-robin balancing (default) is generally recommended, particularly when there are enough CPU cores to go around.
- Your game resolution can easily be significantly reduced through your Window Layout, by disabling Instant swapping during the Window Layout Wizard (with a layout that uses small windows)
- If you have multiple Video cards (GPUs), your Window Layout is extra important; see GPU Management for details. In a nutshell, you may need to avoid letting ISBoxer swap windows from one monitor (powered by one GPU) onto another monitor (powered by the another GPU). This can be done using the Cross-monitor swapping option in the Window Layout Wizard, or by manually configuring a layout.
- If you are on Windows XP (as opposed to Vista or later) and have multiple monitors, you will need to avoid letting ISBoxer swap windows from one monitor onto another, using the Cross-monitor swapping option in the Window Layout Wizard.
Other running software
Some other software that you may have running can significantly impact your framerate, especially those that provide in-game overlay functionality.
Some known offenders:
- Mumble: Disable the in-game (overlay) features while multiboxing.
- Steam: The in-game Steam overlay may not work correctly.
- X-Fire: Disable the in-game features while multiboxing.
Identifying framerate bottlenecks
The limiting factor for your performance is referred to as a bottleneck, meaning that if this bottleneck were replaced then the system as a whole could possibly perform much faster.
Framerate bottlenecks are usually either GPU (video card), Processor (CPU) or Memory (system RAM and video RAM). Bottlenecks of these sorts can easily be identified at the time of the performance problem, by checking the load % (e.g. from 0% in use to 100% in use) of each of these pieces of hardware. Your bottleneck will be "maxed out" at the time of your performance problems (e.g. "lag"), while the load of the others may be significantly lower due to waiting on the bottleneck.
Open Hardware Monitor is a free, open source program that can pull information from many sensors on your computer, including GPU and VRAM, CPU and RAM loads. To use it, just download and run the program (as Administrator, or it may not be able to access all of the sensors), and it will provide a relatively simple list of sensor data such as temperatures, speed, and load. Once the hardware monitor is running, get to multiboxing and do whatever it is that you do when it goes too slow for your liking. When it is performing poorly, check the sensor data, particularly the GPU Load, CPU Load, and Memory Load! If you want help figuring it out, open the File menu and select "Save report...", which will save a report that you can share with us via e-mail or on the forums.
The closer to "maxed out" (100% in use) any of these three resources (CPU, GPU, RAM) are, the more likely it is to be your bottleneck. For example if RAM is 100% (or nearly 100%) in use, things that should be readily accessible may be placed in storage instead. If your GPU is 100%, then it's pumping out frames as fast as it can and either changing settings to reduce quality and/or resolution, or a GPU upgrade, can probably improve framerates. If your CPU is 100%, then settings related to your CPU rather than GPU will have more of an impact.
If none of these three are near maxed, then a Power Profile (Windows), CPU Strategy (in ISBoxer), FPS Limiting (in ISBoxer, and in some games), or Vertical Sync (in-game) change may be just what the doctor has ordered; see the sections above for these configuration tips.
As a last resort, or if you'd rather just upgrade your old hunk o' junk, there is always the Fancy New Hardware option.
There are three main pieces of hardware that can affect overall framerate (see the bottlenecks section), here's some general advice:
- Video card (GPU): Video card upgrades will have a more significant impact when upgrading by more than one generation of GPU, or when upgrading from a low-end to high end video card. If you're thinking about getting multiple GPUs, tread carefully as there are significant related performance hits you will want to avoid (see GPU Management). More Video RAM (VRAM) is good, but will not usually have a significant performance impact except in the case where your VRAM is 100% in use and resources are placed in the slower System RAM.
- Processor (CPU): Processor upgrades will have a more significant impact when the number of CPU Cores per game instance will be increased closer to 1 per instance. Surpassing 1 per instance will not usually be beneficial, for most current games. A higher speed rating is always nice, but may not be significant when multiboxing.
- Memory (RAM): Memory upgrades will not usually have a significant impact on your framerate, except in the case where you are running out of memory -- so make sure you have at least enough RAM to not run out. Faster memory clocks, or additional memory channels, may help to some degree.
Additionally, Storage (HDD or SSD) affects loading times which are sometimes related to framerate. For example, how fast the game initially loads, and how fast the game can load additional textures from Storage into Memory while playing. Upgrading your Storage will only help your framerate during these loading times.