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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 Proxes on 8/2/2010 2:28:09 PM , Rating: 3
I agree. Saying a game is burning out video cards is retarded. Almost every game out there will max a video card.

When I first started playing WotLK my computer would lock up and crash. I noticed the fan on my video card (8800 GT) was freezing. So I bought a 3rd party fan/heat sink. Temps dropped almost 10c and my video card doesn't go over 55c while playing any game, including hours of SC2.

If it was the games' fault then Crysis would be eating video cards left and right.


RE: So who's fault is this?
By Alpha4 on 8/2/2010 7:22:05 PM , Rating: 5
World of Warcraft crashed your GPU?? Windows Aero Glass looks more demanding than that motley collection of jagged edges. Crysis would have set your house on fire.


RE: So who's fault is this?
By walk2k on 8/5/2010 2:03:30 PM , Rating: 2
Actually most games will not max out the GPU, the bottleneck for most games is the CPU or other subsystem (or the code itself.. believe it or not most game code just isn't very efficient). It's only when the game was doing nothing and basically running the video refresh system in a tiny tight little loop that is stressed out the video card. Just normally playing the game does not.

It's the same with CPU (or any other PU) try playing a game and monitoring the temps. Now run a stress-test like prime95 or orthos and watch the temps climb another 5-10c, maybe more with poor cooling. These programs run tight little loops that max out the CPU. This is a situation you almost never find in a real-world application. Even the most intensive number-crunching apps don't run in small loops like that.


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