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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:

frameratecapglue=30

frameratecap=60

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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RE: So who's fault is this?
By afkrotch on 8/1/2010 10:26:13 PM , Rating: 3
Last time I checked, you are wrong about FPS's not having limited frame rates. A huge amount of FPS's will have their framerates capped at 60 fps or 100 fps. It's done not for frying hardware, it's to provide a smoother gameplay.

That way your fps rates around jumping around so much. Like going from 60 fps to 100 fps, to 150 fps, to 40 fps, to etc.


RE: So who's fault is this?
By Reclaimer77 on 8/2/2010 12:55:50 PM , Rating: 2
Capping FPS is to 60 is to prevent "tearing". Not making your game smoother. Higher FPS never makes a game "less smooth", I have no idea what you are talking about.

Read closer, this is about unlimited FPS in the menu's, not the playable game field itself. I doubt uncapped menu's are that rare in PC gaming. Which is what he was saying.

I did some personal testing and using the in-game FPS meter (ctrl+alt+F) my FPS in the playable gamefield was 60, as it should be. But, for example, on the bridge when I clicked on the Mission Archive console, my FPS was a steady 450 FPS. Because it's just a static image, no animations no nothing, being rendered as fast as it could be by my machine.

Just to tempt fate and brag about my self built system cooling, I left it on that screen for about an hour. No heat issues whatsoever, woot :)

I'm going to issue the commands to cap the menu FPS, but from what I can tell this is no more stressful on a well cooled system than any other type of hard gaming or system benchmarking torture test. I feel bad for those who had to learn lessons the hard way, but I hope they learned them at least.


RE: So who's fault is this?
By afkrotch on 8/2/2010 9:19:32 PM , Rating: 2
vsync is for tearing.

Higher fps rates give you a smooter game, having your fps rates jump all over the place does not. If your framerates are jumping around from like 60 fps, to 100 fps, to 400 fps, to 50 fps, to 70 fps, guess what? There is going to be a noticeable choppiness to the game. To minimize this you just cap the fps rates at 60/100 fps.

If you have crap hardware and it has trouble even hitting the fps cap, then an fps cap isn't going to do much for you.

SC2, doesn't bother me that it has uncapped menus. I have a quad 120mm heatercore watercooling system. Bring it on.


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