Saturday, May 23, 2009

WoW on Vista and Win7

I’ve been using Win7 and Vista to play wow for a couple of years now.  Along the way, I’ve learned a few tricks that may help other folks out.  For those that have been following my blog a while, or who were pointed here by a friend that plays WoW, you will probably know about my previous entry on this subject,  It’s time for an update, and some additions.

So, here are the steps I take to get the most out of WoW on Vista and Win7, while running in windowed mode.

  1. Update all your drivers, using the latest Vista drivers.  We particularly care about sound, video, and network drivers here.  If you are running Win7, avoid the beta network drivers.  I’m using the beta NVidia drivers for Win7, and those are pretty good. 
  2. Disable Aero while WoW is running.  Right click on wow.exe, select properties, and click on Compatibility.  On that tab, check the box that says ‘Disable Desktop Composition’.  This will cause windows to disable Aero while you have WoW running, which should result in less contention for your video card’s resources, and therefore higher framerates.
  3. The next time you run wow, be ready for a ‘toast’ message in the bottom right of the screen.  Click that message!  Once you click the message, you’ll be able to tell windows to stop alerting you that it has disabled Aero (after all, you just told it to do so).
  4. There’s a little known setting that can, generally, cut your latency in half.  WoW makes heavy use of TCP traffic (which is rare among games, most use UDP).  Windows, by default, sends an acknowledgement (ACK) every 2nd TCP packet.  We are going to modify the registry so that windows sends the ACK every packet, instead.  I’ve seen this, almost without exception, cut everyone’s latency literally in half (mine went from ~120ms to ~60ms).  There’s a catch to this tip, though.  You have to be running XP SP3, Vista SP1 or Win7 for it to work.  There was a hotfix because Vista was ignoring the setting.  Anyway, here’s an article about how to change the setting:  As with all registry changes, you should backup your registry before you do this.

Of course, all this stuff is provided with no warranty, don’t complain if your computer blows up, etc.  This has worked well for me so far, but I make no guarantee that these steps will help you.