PDA

View Full Version : Guide to Getting The Sims 3 to Run Well(er)


Princess Garnet
01-27-2011, 02:40 PM
I've had this game since it came out on day one, as well as all of the expansion and stuff packs. This game is a wonderful game, but it suffers from both bugs and in some cases, stability. This thread will deal with the latter. The bugs are something beyond this thread, so please keep posts for those in their own thread.

The game crashing has been a problem plaguing many people. Some have it worse than others, but most have had it happen at least once. I have, but I have pretty much eliminated them entirely, so if your game is crashing, you can read this and see if anything in it helps. I will highlight a few of the staple things I, and the general The Sims 3 community, has found helpful with aiding in the game's stability over the years.

So, without further ado...


1. Make sure your system is "fresh".
By this, I mean make sure the game itself, and your video drivers especially, are up to date. Having your hard drive defragmented will help as well. Having Windows itself up to date isn't a bad idea either.


2. Speaking of your system, make sure you have "ideal" specifications for running this game.
Sure, the game calls for a Pentium 4, 1GB RAM, and will work with some IGPs, but you want more than that, try about twice that, and that's still what I'd call minimum. More so than ever for this series, this isn't a "play it any PC" game. The engine powering this game is tough, and add potential stability issues atop that, and you don't want to be scraping the minimum.

Here's what I'd call the "ideal minimum" specifications for this game (meaning they're still minimum, but at least okay enough). Also keep in mind that this is for the base game. If you have expansions packs, stuff packs, and/or lots of custom content added, you want more RAM.

CPU: You want a dual core CPU. Frequency isn't TOO important, but higher is better. The game doesn't need quad core CPUs, but the two cores over the two a dual core CPU has can net you ~500MHz worth of boost sometimes (this was going on the results of one site's benchmarks, so it can swing either way, but in their results, a Core 2 Quad Q6600 performs similar to a Core 2 Duo E8400 in this game, for example). Overall though, give it two fast cores and your set.

RAM: You want 2GB RAM minimum, and this is with a dedicated GPU. If you have an IGP, the game calls for an additional 0.5GB (512MB) RAM, so make it 2.5GB then. With Windows Vista/7 needing more memory than Windows XP, 64-bit, and all of the expansions and such, I would recommend 3GB or more (4GB for the more common dual channel systems). Remember, that's a recommendation. Less is possible. You don't "need" 4GB. Different systems act differently too depending on many variables.

Video: IGPs work, but I would NOT recommend them. I'd stick to desktops too (most laptops have IGPs, plus the heat issues are more pronounced on laptops, and the heat concerns because of this game are not to be taken lightly).

A GeForce 8800GT (or equivalent) or higher is generally enough to get high settings at all but the highest resolutions, but of course (much) less will run the game. A GeForce 8600GTS/GeForce 9500GT or equivalent even suffices if you use a lower resolution and don't mind turning things down a hair, but still maintains higher settings. The game isn't too demanding on the video unless you want high settings, resolutions, and consistent smooth frame rates all in one.

Generally, ATi/AMD and nVidia both are fine for this game, but most, if not all, ATi/AMD hardware has shadow quality issues (a user workaround is out there somewhere), and adaptive anti-aliasing has caused some issues too, so try turning that off ATi/AMD users if you're having issues.


3. Disable DEP.
Okay, your system is easily enough to run the game, is well maintained, but is still crashing? Try disabling DEP. This one usually does it. This is the big one. This is nearly a staple and global recommendation among the community. I, personally, have forced it off across the board, but since that's probably not recommended, here are instructions on exempting something from DEP. The default DEP settings SHOULD exempt everything and only apply it to Windows I thought, meaning it should already be disabled for The Sims 3, but whatever, this seems to work.

http://help.thesims.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/3697/kw/sims%203%20dep

I am not sure if it an issue in Windows XP or not, since that article does not include it, but here are instructions on that for reference.

http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/566/xp-sp2-how-to-turn-off-the-data-execution-prevention-feature-dep/


4. Make sure V-sync is on.
The game lacks any setting for v-sync, and the game runs with it off by default. Believe it or not, this has led to many overheated and/or failed GPUs. Spiky polygon syndrome shows up (but may not necessarily mean hardware failure has occurred).

Force V-sync on in your video card's control panel.

For users with a PC with an nVidia GPU, right click on on your desktop and choose "NVIDIA Control Panel". You'll see a frame panel along the left side of the window that appears. There will be a list of options in tree format. Under the first one titled "3D Settings", click on one called "Manage 3D settings". In the main pane, a list of options will appear. Within the pane is a scroll bar. Scroll all the way to the bottom and find the option called "Vertical sync". Change it from "Use the 3D application setting" to "Force on". Click "Apply" and you're done.

For ATi/AMD users, I don't know offhand, but if someone adds to this thread with how, I'll edit this post with that information and credit you.

The game runs at 30FPS. As long as it runs at 30FPS, it will be running full speed and not skipping frames. Extra frames are just duplicated and ones that add to the smoothness. If you find your GPU running warm, and it is running at over 30FPS (should be unless you're either using a GPU too weak for the game or settings too high for your GPU), then it is rendering those extra frames needlessly, causing it to work harder and run warmer. Again, this has been known to "cook" video cards/GPUs, so I'd recommend you enable it.

While we're on the subject of video cards and performance in The Sims 3, this game has an odd behavior where it literally needs like ~80FPS-85FPS or more to run entirely, 100% smoothly and stutter free. See this article.

http://www.legionhardware.com/articles_pages/the_sims_3__high_end_vga_performance,6.html

Less is playable, but this is simply a note to those who seek extra smooth consistent play, and wonder why their high end card is stuttering.

5. If you're running with "CC", custom content, try without it.
Custom content, which can be downloaded Sims, houses, objects, clothing, or any MODs to the game, can have adverse affects. Just as with overclocking, one of the basics is set it to stock state, so try removing it temporarily to see if the problem persists. Sometimes, removing it isn't enough, so the problem may remain while the cause was indeed the custom content. I don't know the details of this (I don't use custom content), but generally, with most custom content these days, removing it should fix it if it is the cause, and most custom content shouldn't be causing it.

6. Set the "High Detail Lots" setting to 4 or lower.
When the game first came out, this setting was adjustable from 1 up to 16, in certain intervals. Now it goes up to 12. When it's set too high (above 4 for most), crashing can occur, especially when saving. People with 8GB RAM and 12GB RAM found their systems crashing when saving upon release. This setting forces lots around the active one to render ALL of it's contents and texture level as though you were on it, but since you aren't, it's alot of waste. There's no reason to risk it and lose all your hard work to have it crash when saving, believe me. Unless you have THAT much RAM and GPU to spare, it's best set really low anyway.

7. Consider the "Large Address Aware" options.
This game appears to have memory issues. I'm not sure if it's a leak, per se, as others mention, as my usage never gets too high (it doesn't crash either), but regardless, it is a step to try. The game is a 32-bit application, and by default, can address up to 2GB RAM. Some have found that by adding a flag to the .exe, making it able to address up to 4GB RAM, it helped. Of course, this means you need at least over 2GB RAM for this to even change anything for you. If you have 2GB RAM or less, don't bother.

Also note that it's been said that the latest expansion pack, The Sims 3 Night Life, and the base game since patch 1.17 and later, have had large address aware applied from EA, but for some reason, maybe not the other expansions packs, so it may or may not be not needed (even regardless of your latest addition). I, personally, don't know all of the details on this one. I'm including this as reference and an additional thing to try after all else fails, but if you have Late Night (or newer), or only the base game, this is most likely unneeded.

You can download a program to do this here. This leads to another forum where FordGT90Concept, a respectable/trusted member of that forum and The Sims 3 community, has created and hosted a program to do this (for this game and others).

http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/showthread.php?t=112556

8. Look beyond this thread and at EA's The Sims 3 website/community/forums.
If you're still having trouble, check the official website/forums (they're known to give many error pages, so bear with it).

http://forum.thesims3.com/jforum/forums/list.page

Try this thread in particular, also for further reading. It's an F.A.Q. of sorts.

http://forum.thesims3.com/jforum/posts/list/86670.page

If you're still having problems, you can try posting here (although i personally can't guarantee a fix for it from myself). I hope this thread proves useful for anyone.

dontbyvista
01-27-2011, 02:58 PM
Whoa, that's a great guide! (Should be stickied)

Also, if I may, can I add more depth about the Intel GPU's?

You can play the game at playable speeds with a GMA 3 series or higher, and with 2GB of Ram. You would just have to set the settings lower than usual, and you're good to go. Not lowest of course, but in between "low" and "medium" (High is unplayable on intel gpu's) Raising the resolution to something above 1024x768 while on lowest settings makes the game look less "ugly" on bad hardware. No external emulation software is required either. The engine is quite optimized.

mbc
01-27-2011, 03:07 PM
On the topic of video cards, I find that this game really isn't too demanding. I have an nVidia GeForce GT 240, which is pretty average by todays standards, and I can run Sims 3 at 1680x1050 resolution with all graphical settings on highest, and still get a decent framerate.

Princess Garnet
01-27-2011, 03:15 PM
True, it's not very demanding graphically at all. My GeForce 8800GT OC 512MB can run the game maximum, and then some (with Anisotropic Filtering) at 1600x1200, but running it consistently smooth (of which needs like 80FPS+ all the time) at those settings is another story. In general, yes, most recent GPUs will run this game at medium-high or maximum settings okay, but the stuttering does bother some, and I'm one of them, so I added that. Even the condition of "maximum settings" has alot of variables, like resolution, what type of frame rate you want, etc.

Princess Garnet
01-27-2011, 03:24 PM
You can play the game at playable speeds with a GMA 3 series or higher, and with 2GB of Ram. You would just have to set the settings lower than usual, and you're good to go. Not lowest of course, but in between "low" and "medium" (High is unplayable on intel gpu's) Raising the resolution to something above 1024x768 while on lowest settings makes the game look less "ugly" on bad hardware. No external emulation software is required either. The engine is quite optimized.Well, 2GB of RAM with an IGP is actually the game's listed minimum requirements (for Windows Vista/7 anyway, it calls for 1.5GB on those operating systems and then another 0.5GB if using an IGP), so I'd say 2.0GB with a dedicated card is a good place to start, and perhaps want more with an IGP. Realistically, when using the lower settings that you'll have to with an IGP, you probably won't actually need another half a GB of RAM, so it might work with an IGP too.

It really depends. There's always exceptions. I mean, someone came into The Sims 3 forums a while back saying she had a latop with 512MB RAM (and probably an IGP) running the base game, she left for the bathroom, came back and it had crashed to the desktop. I was shocked she had it running for those some months at all to begin with. That was an exception though. My "ideal minimum" would be 2GB for this game, and a real GPU of course.

dontbyvista
01-27-2011, 03:38 PM
Odd, I ran the game just fine with 2GB of RAM, and an Intel GPU 3 series without it crashing to desktop, ever. I just had to set the settings to lower values. I forget all the options you could change, so I can't go into detail :/

Princess Garnet
01-27-2011, 03:46 PM
Well, remember, 2GB RAM with an IGP is supported (albeit minimum). I wasn't saying don't do it or that it can't be done. I was just suggesting that, due to how common memory issues can be for some, that if someone comes here having those issues, I'd personally recommend they make sure the system isn't either below or right on the line, as I'd personally recommend a little buffer.

Anach
01-27-2011, 09:01 PM
Large Address Aware is supported by default now. You do not need a 3rd party patch to apply it. However, you still need to edit your sims3.ini MemoryUsageLimit = It should be around half your available RAM. So if you have 4gig, leave it at 20000000, for 8gig, set it to 40000000, etc.

Princess Garnet
01-28-2011, 08:38 AM
I have heard that the base game and the then latest additions (Late Night, perhaps Fast Lane Stuff too) were modified to include this change to their .exe files but that the older ones like World Adventures, High End Loft, and Ambitions did not. Since the game only uses the latest executable, if you have the later additions (or none), you're good, but for people with those, that MAY still be an issue. I don't know firsthand, so I included it.

Also, I never had to edit any .ini values (I have 8GB RAM). Can you shed some more information on that? I may want to add it to my original post.

Anach
01-28-2011, 09:47 AM
I have heard that the base game and the then latest additions (Late Night, perhaps Fast Lane Stuff too) were modified to include this change to their .exe files but that the older ones like World Adventures, High End Loft, and Ambitions did not. Since the game only uses the latest executable, if you have the later additions (or none), you're good, but for people with those, that MAY still be an issue. I don't know firsthand, so I included it.

Also, I never had to edit any .ini values (I have 8GB RAM). Can you shed some more information on that? I may want to add it to my original post.

Have you noticed Sims 3 using more than 2gig of RAM without an ini edit? It will rarely use more than that anyway unless you have a very large lot, in a long lived town.

Princess Garnet
01-28-2011, 12:11 PM
My 64x64 lot (or whatever size the largest one is) with a very large house on it, three sims living in it, and a somewhat medium-long running save, with all of the expansion packs and a decent bit of store content (no unofficial custom content) usually runs ~1GB-1.25GB or so from whenever I've checked it.