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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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Same Story Different Day
By mindless1 on 8/1/2010 10:50:06 PM , Rating: 2
Someone likes their video card, they can overclock it even/maybe, and if it stays stable over 70C they think to themselves, "video cards are ok running hotter than other chips".

NO! GPUs are soldered to the PCB making them LESS capable of large repetitive thermal swings.

While a GPU manufacturer may spec a high temp to increase yields and allow use of a smaller heatsink because we're already stretched to limits using single-height 'sinks for cost reasons or double-height with limited airflow from one or two low profile fans, if you have a CPU wearing a heatsink twice the size and capacity of your video card but the video card is not only 1/2 the max TDP, something has to give!

Blizzard does have a bug in their game to needlessly run a menu at max FPS with no purpose in doing so, BUT to claim they are to blame for melted cards is just wrong. The video card has to be designed to withstand any commands sent to it, that it officially supports. Otherwise we are being tricked as to the true safe performance of a product, if it can't run at max load it is under-engineered and as such defective by design. A replacement of the same card is NOT a solution, rather the buyer is entitled to a redesigned product or their money back.




RE: Same Story Different Day
By Kurz on 8/2/2010 10:55:43 AM , Rating: 2
I always thought they should have a Spring retension system.

The fact the GPU goes over 70C is the main reason I water cool my system. I want my components to last as long as possible.


RE: Same Story Different Day
By afkrotch on 8/2/2010 9:24:12 PM , Rating: 2
GPU heatsinks do have springs. Usually a bolt with a spring.


RE: Same Story Different Day
By Kurz on 8/3/2010 10:04:15 AM , Rating: 2
I am talking about the actual GPU.

I want a system just like AMD and Intel Cpu chips. CPU's attach to the motherboard with a spring retention system.
Then the Heatsink goes on top of the chip to cool it.

That way there is less risk of the PCB and the Solder getting too hot and weakening the connections.


RE: Same Story Different Day
By SlyNine on 8/4/2010 2:37:11 PM , Rating: 2
I ask for proof of this. How do you know the PCB makes this less capable??


RE: Same Story Different Day
By mindless1 on 8/10/2010 11:37:32 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, proof? Study physics and electronics engineering for a few years THEN we will talk.

... I already stated the reason.


RE: Same Story Different Day
By mindless1 on 8/11/2010 6:01:21 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, I should be more patient. Sorry.

The materials have different coefficients of expansion. Each thermal cycle this puts stress on the junctions causing eventual cracking or delamination and oxidation. This is compounded by the fact that cards now have heatsinks massive enough that the card PCB itself bends being only supported by the slot and rear bracket.

In some instances you see the card manufacturer used a reinforcement frame or attempted to secure the heatsink nearer the perimeter of the card instead of only the 4 holes adjacent the GPU and this helps with the latter problem, but not the former.


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