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Starcraft II is overheating some users GPUs, but Blizzard has released a temporary fix.  (Source: Doupe)
Starcraft II fans beware, your graphics card may get Zerg rushed

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, the first game in Blizzard's highly anticipated real-time strategy sequel trilogy launched on Tuesday.  Unfortunately, the blockbuster PC title -- which is expected to sell 10 million copies or more -- had some bumps during its launch.

There were a number of minor bugs, but nothing show stopping at first.  Then the reports of melting GPUs hit.

Among those affected was Adam Biessener of Game Informer whose card melted while he was live blogging about his game experience.  He bemoaned, "Three hours of cursing later, I'm posting this from my wife's laptop because both my graphics card and my work laptop appear to be fried."

The problem appears to be located in the main menu, where an uncapped frame rate maxes out the GPU, in some cases pushing it to overheating and potentially permanent failure.

Blizzard has issued a response on its support site, acknowledging that it was aware of the issue, and offering a quick fix.  The company writes:

Certain screens make your hardware work pretty hard

Screens that are light on detail may make your system overheat if cooling is overall insufficient. This is because the game has nothing to do so it is primarily just working on drawing the screen very quickly. A temporary workaround is to go to your Documents\StarCraft II Beta\variables.txt file and add these lines:



You may replace these numbers if you want to.

For eager customers who already lost a graphics card, though, that fix may prove too late.  Blizzard has not announced any plans to replace the lost hardware of victims who experienced the bug.

Many customers are outraged at this.  Writes one victim Lorsaire:

Why was this not addressed already before release, and why were there no breaking news warnings or updates to fix this before people started having damage done to their hardware?  My Nvidia GeForce cost me more than $300 to get a good card that was great for gaming...  Blizzard are you doing anything or have plans to compensate people for the damage you've created?

Of course some of the cards may be covered by manufacturer warranties.  And while it does appear a bug (uncapped framerates) is partially to blame for killing off the cards, a card pushed to the max would generally not die instantly were it not for poorly engineered and/or defective cooling.  It appears that the cards ultimately were done in by the double blow of both a software bug (in SC II) and hardware issues.

The game features intensely addictive multiplayer gaming between three diverse races -- the Zerg, the Protoss, and the Terrans.  It also features a single player campaign in which you play a Terran rebel.  Future titles -- Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void will included Protoss and Zerg campaigns, and possibly deliver new multiplayer features as well.  Just beware the uncapped framerates.

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Seems odd
By Earthmonger on 8/1/2010 1:38:22 PM , Rating: 3
That nobody received hardware warnings from their cards as they overheated. That's just weird. And couldn't they hear the fans revving like jet engines?

Something more heinous must have been at play to negate those two issues.

RE: Seems odd
By StevoLincolnite on 8/1/2010 1:57:37 PM , Rating: 2
I have an Overclocked, passively cooled Radeon 4670... I heard about this issue yesterday, and since then zip-tied an 80mm case fan to the card (I play StarCraft 2 allot!). - So no... Not everyone can hear there GPU fan spinning up.

RE: Seems odd
By imaheadcase on 8/1/2010 2:06:11 PM , Rating: 2
Most video cards don't have a GPU warning sound. Esp in consumer PCs that you just buy off the shelf.

RE: Seems odd
By Etsp on 8/2/2010 12:13:28 AM , Rating: 2
I have a Sapphire Radeon 4850, and I did have a game that caused it to overheat a couple times. Aion Online. Turns out dust was clogging up the heatsink, so after some canned air, the game ran fine.

Negative effects/warnings: My PC would shut down instantly once the temp hit a certain threshold. That's all.

Wasn't sure what was happening at first, so I thought it was the games fault. Didn't take too long to figure out the real problem though.

That was almost a year ago, and I'm still running fine on that card.

If these people have their cards melting on them, it's pretty obvious that something wasn't stock, whether it was clock speeds, or something else.

RE: Seems odd
By keith524 on 8/2/2010 10:58:00 AM , Rating: 2
that was my thought as well. My ATI graphics card warns me when it is overheating. Actually I get a noise and a pop-up quickly followed by a uncontrollable system shutdown

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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