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[WIndows 7 Guide] How To Increase SWTOR Performance

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion
[WIndows 7 Guide] How To Increase SWTOR Performance

Lunez's Avatar

06.02.2012 , 03:08 AM | #1
Version 1.0
Updated: 6-2-12

I've seen a few people ask around for ways to help boost your performance while playing the game, specifically for laptop users, or users with lower-end machine. That said, I have a high-end machine, and I too, follow these simple rules, and notice a significant increase to not only my SWTOR gaming experience, but to Windows operations in general.

NOTE: These adjustments to your PC have nothing to do with the coding and/or performance of SWTOR, the game. These are all very common adjustments that people use to crank up the performance of their system in order to enjoy performance-intensive software (including video games). You should also note up front that there is no silver bullet, and sometimes your system limitations simply cannot push you beyond a certain threshold.

The following is a link that shows you how to use the Performance Info Tool built into your Windows 7. The Windows Experience Index rates your computer on five key components and gives you a number for each, as well as an overall base score. This base score is only as good as your worst-performing component subscore. Base scores currently range from 1 to 7.9. If your PC is rated lower than 2 or 3, it might be time to consider a new PC, depending on what tasks you want to do with your computer.

Check Your Computer's Speed

1) The Basic Checklist
  1. Try the Performance troubleshooter
  2. Delete programs you never use
  3. Limit how many programs run at startup
  4. Defragment your hard disk (Note: Never defrag a SSD)
  5. Clean up your hard disk
  6. Run fewer programs at the same time
  7. Restart regularly
  8. Remove all Adware, Spyware, and Viruses

2) Advanced Checklist
  1. Turn off visual effects
  2. Changing your Theme to "WIndows Classic"
  3. Disabling the Search Indexing Feature
  4. Change the Power Plan To Maximum Performance
  5. Monitoring your internet activity
  6. Managing your Registry
  7. Overclocking your CPU and GPU

1) The Basic Checklist

Before reading any further, I strongly suggest updating all of your hardware drivers, and your Windows Opperating System, especially any Runtime/Framework updates. This section outlines what many of us already know and do as a means of general maintenance for our machines. Even if you feel you are confident that the following items are satisfied, I strongly advise reading the Basic Checklists regardless, as they contain helpful details about things that you may have forgotten or overlooked.

Try the Performance troubleshooter

The first thing that you can try is the Performance troubleshooter, which can automatically find and fix problems. The Performance troubleshooter checks issues that might slow down your computer's performance, such as how many users are currently logged on to the computer and whether multiple programs are running at the same time.

Open the Performance troubleshooter by clicking the Start button , and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type troubleshooter, and then click Troubleshooting. Under System and Security, click Check for performance issues.

You can also troubleshoot your SWTOR Launcher.exe file directly and it will tell you what your recommended comparability mode to run SWTOR as. It is very common for WIndows 7 users to be recommended to play SWTOR with the comparability mode "WIndows XP, SP2" or "Windows XP, SP3". Right click the Launcher.exe file located in your SWTOR game directory to see what compatibility your system recommends you run SWTOR under.

Delete programs you never use

Many PC manufacturers pack new computers with programs you didn't order and might not want. These often include trial editions and limited-edition versions of programs that software companies hope you'll try, find useful, and then pay to upgrade to full versions or newer versions. If you decide you don't want them, keeping the software on your computer might slow it down by using precious memory, disk space, and processing power.

It's a good idea to uninstall all the programs you don't plan to use. This should include both manufacturer-installed software and software you installed yourself but don't want any more—especially utility programs designed to help manage and tune your computer's hardware and software. Utility programs such as virus scanners, disk cleaners, and backup tools often run automatically at startup, quietly chugging along in the background where you can't see them. Many people have no idea they're even running.

Even if your PC is older, it might contain manufacturer-installed programs that you never noticed or have since forgotten about. It's never too late to remove these and get rid of the clutter and wasted system resources. Maybe you thought you might use the software someday, but never did. Uninstall it and see if your PC runs faster.

For instructions, see Uninstall or change a program.

Limit how many programs run at startup

Many programs are designed to start automatically when Windows starts. Software manufacturers often set their programs to open in the background, where you can't see them running, so they'll open right away when you click their icons. That's helpful for programs you use a lot, but for programs you rarely or never use, this wastes precious memory and slows down the time it takes Windows to finish starting up.

Decide for yourself if you want a program to run at startup.

But how can you tell what programs run automatically at startup? Sometimes this is obvious, because the program adds an icon to the notification area on the taskbar, where you can see it running. Look there to see if there are any programs running that you don’t want to start automatically. Point to each icon to see the program name. Be sure to click the Show hidden icons button so you don't miss any icons.

Picture of "Show Hidden Icons"

Even after you check the notification area, you might still miss some programs that run automatically at startup. AutoRuns for Windows, a free tool that you can download from the Microsoft website, shows you all of the programs and processes that run when you start Windows. You can stop a program from running automatically when Windows starts by opening the AutoRuns for Windows program, and then by clearing the check box next to the name of the program you want to stop. AutoRuns for Windows is designed for advanced users.

NOTE: Some people prefer to manage which programs run at startup using the System Configuration tool. For more information, see Start System Configuration..

Defragment your hard disk

(Note: Never defrag a SSD). If you use a SSD (Solid State Drive) then you do not have to defragment your hard-drive. In fact, doing so will most certainly degenerate and decrease the lifespan of your hard-drive through a process known as "thrashing".

Fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that can slow down your computer. Disk Defragmenter rearranges fragmented data so your hard disk can work more efficiently. Disk Defragmenter runs on a schedule, but you can also defragment your hard disk manually. Another interesting tip you can try is defragment just your SWTOR game folder instead of your entire drive altogether.

For more information, see Improve performance by defragmenting your hard disk.
Improve performance by defragmenting your hard disk

Clean up your hard disk

Unnecessary files on your hard disk take up disk space and can slow down your computer. Disk Cleanup removes temporary files, empties the Recycle Bin, and removes a variety of system files and other items that you no longer need. For step-by-step instructions on how to do this, see Delete files using Disk Cleanup.

Delete files using Disk Cleanup

A very useful piece of software that I use to clean up my system is DiskMax. It's an incredible powerful, lightweight tool that helps you step-by-step, remove unwanted junk that is left over after installing large programs such as Microsoft Office, and other programs that you might not know even left installation files around years after being replaced by updated versions years later.

Run fewer programs at the same time

Sometimes changing your computing behavior can have a big impact on your PC's performance. If you're the type of computer user who likes to keep eight programs and a dozen browser windows open at once—all while sending instant messages to your friends—don't be surprised if your PC bogs down. Keeping a lot of e‑mail messages open can also use up memory.

If you find your PC slowing down, ask yourself if you really need to keep all your programs and windows open at once. Find a better way to remind yourself to reply to e‑mail messages rather than keeping all of them open.

Make sure you're only running one antivirus program. Running more than one antivirus program can also slow down your computer.

Restart regularly

This tip is simple. Restart your PC at least once every couple of days, especially if you use it a lot. Restarting a PC is a good way to clear out its memory and ensure that any errant processes and services that started running get shut down. It often allows your system to install important drivers and updates that you don't even know about until after your system has rebooted.

Restarting closes all the software running on your PC—not only the programs you see running on the taskbar, but also dozens of services that might have been started by various programs and never stopped. Restarting can fix mysterious performance problems when the exact cause is hard to pinpoint.

If you keep so many programs, e‑mail messages, and websites open that you think restarting is a hassle, that's probably a sign you should restart your PC. The more things you have open and the longer you keep them running, the greater the chances your PC will bog down and eventually run low on memory.

Remove all Adware, Spyware, and Viruses

Truth be told, the average unchecked machine is riddled with what is called Adware and Spyware. Despite popular belief, these are not all necessarily malicious, nor are they targeted at stealing your credit card numbers or other financial data. What they are geared at is data-mining. They come in the form of cookies from your favorite websites, search engines, software you download, etc.

The problem is, while they're collecting your data to find out which advertisements are best tailored just for you, they're also taking up valuable resources and often give themselves higher priority than the software you want to run, causing decreased performance. I suggest running your favorite Adware cleaning software on a regular basis, but make sure you don't use too many at the same time, as this too will bog you down to undesirable performance levels.

2) The Advanced Checklist

Turn off visual effects

Translucent glass windows and live previews for your open windows are all pretty cool, and while the Windows Aero desktop experience is visually appealing, it does exact a significant toll on your graphics card. If you're using an older laptop or PC that is struggling to keep up, it may be the wiser choice to turn off the eye candy.

To do so, open Control Panel and select Performance Information and Tools. Click Adjust visual effects on the left sidebar and you'll get the dialog box shown below:
Adjust visual effects window

I recommend that you choose "Adjust for best performance", which will uncheck all the Aero options.

Changing your Theme to "WIndows Classic"

Changing your Windows Theme to Classic gives Windows the look and behavior of earlier versions. This effects areas such as the Start menu and Control Panel. More importantly, it affects the way you view folder windows, by turning off the Navigation pane, Preview pane, and toolbar in all folders. This setting gives you more room to display files because it hides panes you might not need.

What this also does, is give you an extremely noticeable increase to the overall performance of your machine in just about all areas, including CPU and GPU processing. I cannot begin to explain how much this will improve the performance and overall smoothness of not only your operating system, but the software you use, such as SWTOR. The downside? No more fancy wallpapers. It now uses a basic solid color background. At first, I was bummed... but then the performance boost... oh the boost... safe to say, I forgot really quickly about my killer apocalypse wallpaper scene.

To change the theme to Windows Classic:
  1. Right-click on the desktop and select Personalize.
  2. Scroll down and select Windows Classic

Disabling the Search Indexing Feature

Most of the Windows 7 users do less searches in there system. The Search Indexing service in Windows 7 will index keeps track of the files so that they can be found quickly when asked at some other time. This feature is useful only if you perform frequent searches on your system.

For occasional file searchers the Search Indexing service in Windows 7 is a total resource hog. It unknowingly eats up your system resources. What you need from windows 7 is maximum performance from it then i would certainly recommend you to disable this resource hogging Windows 7 Search Indexing Feature.

To Disable the Search Indexing Feature, follow these simple steps:
  1. Right Click the “Computer” Icon in the desktop and select “Manage”.
  2. Click “Services and Applications” in the “Computer Management” window.
  3. Click on “Services”.
  4. You can see a lot of services listed there. Look for “Windows Search”.
  5. Right Click on “Windows Search” from the list and choose “Properties”.
  6. The “Windows Search Properties Window” will open up. From “Startup type” click on the drop down menu and choose “Disabled”.
  7. Click “Apply” then “OK” and that’s it. The Windows 7 Search Indexing Feature is now disabled.

Change the Power Plan To Maximum Performance

The Power settings in Windows 7 is not automatically set for maximum performance. By default the power plan in Windows 7 is set for a balanced performance with energy consumption on hardware. So you may not get the optimal performance from windows 7 if this is the case. So we need to change the power plan to High Performance Mode.
  1. Double click the ” Power Options ” in the Control panel.
  2. Click the down arrow showing ”Show Additional Plans” to see the ”High Performance” power plan
  3. Now just activate the ”High Performance” plan and that’s it.

NOTE: You may go for the advanced settings for further tweaking if you want.

Monitoring your internet activity

If you're concerned that your internet connection isn't being used to it's full potential, one way is to learn how to monitor what data is allowed to be exchanged from your computer. One of the best ways to increase the latency performance of an MMO, (and often increase CPU performance of your machine at the same time) is to single out the software you want to give full access to, and block everything else.

We do this by using software that essentially blocks all access via IP addresses, then allows you to either import, or create lists to either allow, or block. This sounds complicated, but really its not at all, and there are organizations out there dedicated to generating and upkeeping IP lists of various kinds.

Your objective here is to block internet access to all of your programs so that they do not generate activity that would be otherwise used by SWTOR. I highly recommend using PeerBlock v1.1 as your monitoring software, and obtaining the Electronic Arts ip list from (among other lists that they provide if you so choose). I will write a guide dedicated just to how to make PeerBlock work to your advantage for playing SWTOR, and provide a link to that post here at a later date.

Managing your Registry

The registry is one of those mysterious things that the majority of users have no idea what it does, where it is, or why it exists. Unfortunately, not knowing what it is, or how it gets bogged down with junk every time you install, uninstall, move, copy, etc, anything on your computer. It stores pathways and keys to software that you may have very well uninstalled years ago. Often, a registry can go an entire lifetime without being cleaned up, and this is a problem because an unhealthy registry is like an unheathy heart-- a stroke waiting to happen.

This is why you should clean your registry of outdated entries that have no purpose anymore, however you can't just go into your registry folders and start deleting stuff because its possible to completely fubar your system, causing you to reinstall your Windows opperating system and possibly losing important data. That's why some friendly people out there have created registry cleaning software for the average user that is relatively risk free.

There are tons of so called "free" registry programs out there promising amazing results but don't let this fool you, most of them are garbage and will often attempt to convince you to buy their licensed version. Forget this. I recommend one of the best registry cleaners I have ever used, and it's completely free, and lightweight. It's called iEusing Free Registry Cleaner.

Overclocking your CPU and GPU

I'm not going to tell you how to overclock your CUP or your GPU because this is basically a really easy way for you to completely fry your graphics card and if you're unlucky enough, fry your processor and/or motherboard. What I can tell you is that Overclocking (or Underclocking, depending on your objective) is an incredibly easy, and straight-forward process, and is used by many people to boost the overall performance of their PC, including gaming.

If you have an ATI graphics card, then you probably already have the iCatalyst Control Center software that came with your Radeon graphics card. If not, I suggest downloading the lastest version for your series of graphics card, and using it to update your graphics drivers while you're at it. CCC has a built in overclocking mechanism that allows you to safety test overclocking settings automatically by using the "AutoTune" function.

As always, a rule of thumb for modifying the clocking speeds of your CPU's or GPU's, you are doing so at your own risk, and by doing so, invalidates any warentees you may have with your hardware device. It is also recommended that whatever setting it tells you is the max allowable setting, always set it two notches or more, below that setting, so as to not push your luck, or the limits of your machines capabilities.

Lunez's Avatar

06.02.2012 , 05:21 PM | #3
I'm curious if anyone has tried any of these tips yet. Just changing your theme to Windows Classic for instance helps increase SWTOR running efficiency drastically. I use all of the listed tips and my game runs beautifully with the highest game settings. I've tested it on my laptop, and my friend used it on his laptop as well, and he claims his performance is drastically improved.

mreid's Avatar

06.03.2012 , 07:11 PM | #4
Thank you so much. I am running through the steps now and I'll let you know if I got a lot of improvement.

Dafpants's Avatar

06.03.2012 , 07:19 PM | #5
Hum. I only upgraded from XP to W7 late last year, and have been enjoying the pretty, but I'll try it in classic theme and see how much it helps.
Duct tape is like The Force; it has a light said and a dark side and it holds the universe together.
While I always try to provide correct and meaningful information I have been known to make mistakes, from time to time.

Grayseven's Avatar

06.03.2012 , 07:49 PM | #6
I've used most of these tips myself to great effect, the most telling was getting rid of the Aero features. These features eat an amazing 1.5 Gigs of memory when active and the only thing they do is make Windows look...for lack of a better term...fancy.

If you run regular scans and checks you can keep your system running smoothly. If you are a layman when it comes to Windows, various companies make software to automate the processes found here. AVG makes a PC Tuner in addition to their security suite and it works very well, just don't try to run scans while playing because most of these things are hardware intensive.

Follow the suggestions given in the OPs post and you'll solve a number of common issues with your hardware.
"50 Grades of Shae", a heart-warming novel about a Mandalorian that delivers beat-downs and assigns grades to her victims.

Rikeryo's Avatar

06.03.2012 , 07:52 PM | #7
op should mention that most performance problems are a result of bad coding and general optimization and cannot be fixed by user.
5% club member

Grayseven's Avatar

06.03.2012 , 08:03 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by Rikeryo View Post
op should mention that most performance problems are a result of bad coding and general optimization and cannot be fixed by user.
Some maybe, but I have an off the shelf HP toaster that is a year and a half old and I only upgraded the graphics card and power supply and run the game at max settings with no difficulties.

It's easy to complain about something you don't understand and regurgitate from other posters saying the same thing but if my computer can run this game at max, its probably not the game.
"50 Grades of Shae", a heart-warming novel about a Mandalorian that delivers beat-downs and assigns grades to her victims.

ChaosKirin's Avatar

06.03.2012 , 08:37 PM | #9
My SWTOR wasn't running BADLY, but I always thought it could be better. I'm trying your tips now. Will let you know if they work.

Talarchy's Avatar

06.03.2012 , 08:40 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by Rikeryo View Post
op should mention that most performance problems are a result of bad coding and general optimization and cannot be fixed by user.
Yes, I agree. I feel if you have to go to this much effort to get the game to run you should look at upgrading (games)
Re-subscribed SWTOR.. my server is empty and I can't pay for a transfer. Woo hoo, thanks bioware.