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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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RE: NVidia problem?
By GoodBytes on 8/3/2010 10:07:45 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, any laptop of good quality will provide great cooling. My laptop has a Quadro NVS 160M (equ: Geforce 9400M but with 256MB of memory instead of using the RAM) not a real gaming GPU, but hey StarCraft 2 runs fine on there. And also runs just as well when I overclocked my GPU at near double speed (except for the RAM as it doesn't have a heatsink on to them).

I have the Latitude E6400.

I think it all comes down too: you get what you paid for. If you buy a 600$ laptop, don't expect great cooling. But if you cash out on 1500$+ (Canadian), then it's a different story.

RE: NVidia problem?
By mindless1 on 8/3/2010 4:40:06 PM , Rating: 2
It depends on how you define "of good quality".

Many laptops use one fan that is RPM controlled based on the CPU temperature. In a scenario where the GPU is heavily loaded but the CPU is not, it can potentially make the GPU much hotter than it would otherwise be. Menus like the one Blizzard made would seem to be a scenario like this.

No matter what you pay for the product you can still end up with something that runs hot because they tried to make it smaller or quieter, although I will agree that if you pay the least amount possible then more corners may be cut in the product design, but the opposite is not always true.

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