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Another VRAM Thread

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Hey guys, I've been lurking S.T.E.P for a while now in order to Mod Skyrim. I've yet to actually play the game beyond Whiterun, so I decided I was gonna mod the hell out of it and get the full experience now that I want to pick it up again. Unfortunately, when I was testing out different mods in preparation for my new save I kept having stuttering issues, especially when turning in a circle really fast. I figured it was due to VRAM since I was running Skyrim with GTX 580s in SLI with only 1.5 GB of Ram in a 1920x1080 Resolution.

 

Two weeks ago I decided to upgrade my monitor to a 2560x1440 PLS Monitor and figured I'd never be able to play Skyrim the way I wanted unless I upgrade my video card so I bought a GTX 780 with 3GB of Ram. My initial plan was to buy another one for an SLI setup but now I'm not sure if I should do that or Step-up and buy a Titan 6GB card. Reason being that when I decided to test my new card by installed every Hi-Res Texture I could find (Just Landscape/Body Textures mind you, haven't installed any of the Gameplay mods or Armor/Weapon Textures) along with an ENB to stress test the card, I'd experience frequent CTDs. Now my problem is that I'm not sure if it's VRAM related or not because I'm not experiencing any stuttering that I got with my 1.5 GB card. Even with ENB and SMAA set to ultra I get a constant 50 FPS. I also experience missing textures, sometimes I get black bodies or purple armor. My VRAM usage is usually around 2.6 - 2.8 GB and the highest I've reached was 3064 out of 3072 MB. What makes me question whether it's the VRAM or not is that I get the CTDs at Random times, sometimes I'd get while running across an empty field while fighting 20+ NPCs in Riften doesn't cause a hiccup. At the same time I wonder what else it could possibly be because other than Texture packs I only have few other mods installed that I got from S.T.E.P./Nexus and I've verified worked on my previous setup.

 

Relevant Specs:

- Intel i7-2600K - Overclocked to 4.7 GHz

- Asus Maximus IV Extreme Motherboard

- EVGA GTX 780

- 16GB DDR3 1600 RAM

- OCZ Vertex 3 Solid State Drive (OS)

- Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200 RPM Internal Hard Drive (Skyrim Directory)

- Windows 7 64Bit Ultimate Edition

 

Game Settings:

- 2560 x 1440

- AF 16x and SMAA Ultra Enabled through ENB (Disabled in Skyrim and nVIDIA Control Panel)

- Vertical Sync Disabled through Skyrim Pref and FPS Limited at 60 in ENB

- uExterior Cell Buffer=64

- uGridsToLoad=7

 

Load Order:

GameMode=Skyrim

 

Skyrim.esm=1

Update.esm=1

HearthFires.esm=1

ApachiiHair.esm=1

ApachiiHairFemales.esm=1

ApachiiHairMales.esm=1

AzarHair.esm=1

RaceCompatibility.esm=1

ClimatesOfTamriel.esm=1

HighResTexturePack01.esp=1

HighResTexturePack02.esp=1

HighResTexturePack03.esp=1

Brawl Bugs CE.esp=1

Unofficial Skyrim Patch.esp=1

Unofficial High Resolution Patch.esp=1

Delphine Makeover.esp=1

DW Enemies and Wanderers.esp=1

Better Dynamic Snow.esp=1

Morning Fogs.esp=1

Rainbows.esp=1

StaticMeshImprovementMod.esp=1

83Willows_101BUGS_V4_HighRes.esp=1

ApachiiHelmetWigs.esp=1

AV1Dragon_Lords.esp=1

BellyachesNewDragonSpecies.esp=1

Birdsofskyrim.esp=1

Dead Body Collision.esp=1

MVABasic.esp=1

Moss Rocks.esp=1

RabbitsPlus.esp=1

Radiant and Unique Potions Poisons and Booze.esp=1

ShootingStars.esp=1

Skyrim Flora Overhaul.esp=1

SkyrimImprovedPuddles.esp=1

Footprints.esp=1

RaceMenu.esp=1

RaceMenuPlugin.esp=1

WetandCold.esp=1

SkyUI.esp=1

ERSO 03.5 - New Dragon Loots.esp=1

ERSO 04 - Mighty Odahviing.esp=1

ERSO 05 - Dovah Holy Book.esp=1

SkyrimCoinReplacer.esp=1

Acquisitive Soul Gems.esp=1

Appropriately Attired Jarls Redux.esp=1

Headtracking.esp=1

SkyTEST-RealisticAnimals&Predators.esp=1

dD - Enhanced Blood Main.esp=1

AIMP - Antz in my Pantz.esp=1

dD - Realistic Ragdoll Force - Reduced.esp=1

Enhanced Soul Trap.esp=1

Soul Gems Differ - E.esp=1

Beards.esp=1

Brows.esp=1

SGHairPack04.esp=1

SGHairPack02.esp=1

SGHairPack01.esp=1

SGHairPack05.esp=1

SGHairPack03.esp=1

SGHairPack06.esp=1

Iridum Eyes NRT.esp=1

TheEyesOfBeauty.esp=1

Alexina.esp=1

Amanda.esp=1

Lyla.esp=1

malecompilationv1.esp=1

mayatola UFF.esp=1

mayatola miria.esp=1

Michelle.esp=1

Misha.esp=1

SRIlta.esp=1

SRIsaka.esp=1

SRKirsikka.esp=1

SRMaisa.esp=1

SRSarasta.esp=1

Stella.esp=1

WOME_Galadriel.esp=1

WOME_Eowyn.esp=1

WOME_Arwen.esp=1

CharacterMakingExtender.esp=1

EnhancedCharacterEdit.esp=1

SPTConsistentOlderPeople.esp=1

ethereal_elven_overhaul.esp=1

getSnowy.esp=1

WATER.esp=1

WATER Plants.esp=1

mayatola ADEC.esp=1

 

Like I've mentioned earlier, I've tried to keep the Gameplay Mods to a minimum and focus on Texture Mods for the purpose of testing VRAM and not having to deal with stability issues, so I didn't really expect such a complicated problem like this. I ran BOSS before I started the game and I'm using SKSE. I've also installed a lot of NPCs because I figured it would help me test VRAM by having to load a bunch of different body textures at once and I still don't CTD if I walk into some place like the tavern in Whiterun that is the location of 6 of them.

 

Sorry for the long post, but I figure it'd be better to give you guys all the information I can up front. I really want to get the sorted out asap, because if it does turn out to be VRAM I still have time to get a Titan instead. However, if I do get a Titan I wouldn't be able to SLI it and I'll be limited that way. It's a tough decision for me so maybe you guys can help me out!

 

- P.S.

 

Forgot to mention that I've also experienced a few infinite load screens and It's impossible for my to run Open Cities Skyrim because as soon as I try to enter or leave a city it would cause me to crash so I just removed it.

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Black meshes etc are due to you hitting the RAM limit of the game. There is simply not enough memory to load all the textures you are asking the game to load. (Textures are essentially mirrored in both RAM and VRAM to keep it simple)

You can have 6Gb of VRAM and it would not help you in any way what so ever. The game will never use more then 3.X Gb of VRAM and that is only if ALL memory goes into textures and the game lets you get away with it... but then you would most likely CTD because there would be nothing left to run scripts etc.

 

You have 4 Gb of memory to play with in total. Having more RAM lets all cache be in the RAM for minimum stuttering, and perhaps some freeze protection, but that is about it.

 

All in all no point in buying any card with more then 3Gb of VRAM if your only intention is to play Skyrim. If you go higher then it is to gamble that there will be games you want to play in the next few years that actually benefit from the extra memory.

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Hmm, I thought the game not using more than 3.x GB of VRAM was only for Gameplay Mods and that it'll still use all the VRAM you have for Texture Loading. Though I guess that's what your saying about having more VRAM giving you less stuttering, but since I don't get stuttering a Titan would be a waste?

 

What's a good place to test VRAM limitations in Skyrim? I usually spin around in circles in Riften and don't get stuttering, but is there a more VRAM intense location I could go through? Also, when would someone actually risk CTD for VRAM? For instance, I have 3072 MB of VRAM. Would my monitoring programs actually have to show me hitting PAST that or is being anywhere close such as 3056 MB / 3072 MB a risk of CTD?

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Due to the way DirectX9 works then textures need to be in both RAM and VRAM. Also there is an upper limit of 4Gb VRAM as well in DirectX9... however due to the former you would never get this high anyways. This is becasue there is no split of "gameplay memory" and "Graphics memory" in Dx9, this is only the case in dx11 (and dx10 as I recall). You have to make everything fit within a 4Gb limit.

 

So what I am saying is... do not buy a Titan for the sake of Skyrim since it would be a waste of money. Only do it if you plan on making it as a future investment in next generation games that will actually benefit from more VRAM. If you have 3Gb of VRAM then that would be enough for Skyrim.

 

As for intensive areas, then Falkreath, Riverwood/Whiterun etc. are good. In general any areas where you have both winter and non winter cells close to each other since this forces the highest amount of textures to be loaded in.

In general if you hit 3Gb of VRAM, then you most likely are also using about that in RAM, which means that you have dangerously little memory room left for scripts, so if you use alot of script intensive mods then you might experience more freezes and CTD´s because scripts do not perform as they should. Also in your case then there simply is not enough room left for all textures, in which case stuff will be black and texture-less and a CTD will follow soon after, since the game cannot run for long with missing resources.

 

There is however no "special" figure of VRAM or RAM use that says "now the game will stop working"... other then the 4Gb hard limit. But none of the monitoring programs can read this value, they only read what the Windows Memory Manager says which is a lower figure. The finer technical points of this I cannot answer though. We have a debate and investigations going on however, but they are ultimately limited by the fact that we cannot access the soruce code of the game to see how its memory is managed and cleaned.

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Also, you have raised ugrids to 7, which would be suspect number one, IMO.

 

With vanilla Skyrim, you can get away with ugrids at 7 for a long time, but with a heavy mod load you are very likely to get CTDs. In particular, since you mention it, raised ugrids + STEP + Open Cities almost guarantees a crash for me, when approaching a city.

 

People tend to assume that ugrids are only constrained by GPU power, but they also load much larger chunks of the world to be processed by the engine - AI, spawns, geometry, physics, scripts, the lot. The engine just wasn't expected to handle this.

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Windhelm (near the stables) is a good location to test for crashes. The road from Dragon Bridge to Solitude (after Meridia's Temple when going up north) used be a place of choice for CTD when I was using ugrids at 7.

If you want to avoid a lot of frustration and hair pulling, get back to ugrids 5 (use the distant details mod), try to stay with 1K textures packs (maybe 2K for armor & weapons, 4K for character skins if you like to look at your toon) and get a good ENB. And avoid using every ini tweak floating around, a lot of them do more harm than good, IMO.

Also, be paranoid about what you download. Small animals skin textures weighting 5 MB each, when you can barely see the thing moving, or 22 MB for clothes textures, everything is eating at your memory. Slap them with the ddsopt stick, you won't notice any difference.

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+1

 

We've got some more investigation to do on what we can get away with in terms of maximum recommended textures, (as we've only relatively recently started hitting the ceiling) but this is good advice.

 

EDIT: Yikes! Typo-tastic!

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I thought I'd jump in on the end of this rather than start yet another :happy:

 

I'm about to buy a GTX670 card, in fact I'm going to buy a second in a month's time and crossfire them. There are 2GB and 4GB versions and for me, in the UK, the difference in price is £37 (maybe $55) per card.

 

Obviously I want to get the best results properly so do you guys think it's worth paying extra for the 4GB versions? Because otherwise I won't be able to use so many HQ texture mods right?

 

Wish there was a 3GB version in the middle!

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As a matter of fact, modded, Skyrim VRAM usage can easily exceed 2 GB. You should get the 4 GB model of your card, or, if you are willing to compromise a little, get a 3 GB 660 (Titanium or regular). That runs Skyrim just as fine as a 670, as I found.

 

Sent from my LG-E970 using Tapatalk 2

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If you're going to compromise at least compromise right and get a 4GB GTX 760 it's basically a GTX 670 with higher clocks and one or two blocks of CUDA cores disabled.

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Thanks for the replies! I'm getting the 670s as opposed to the 760s as they're superior from what I've read, they're also the Asus CUII version and cheaper! I think I will plump for the 4GB otherwise I know I'll regret it. Thanks again always helpful on this forum :)

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As a matter of fact, modded, Skyrim VRAM usage can easily exceed 2 GB. You should get the 4 GB model of your card, or, if you are willing to compromise a little, get a 3 GB 660 (Titanium or regular). That runs Skyrim just as fine as a 670, as I found.

 

Sent from my LG-E970 using Tapatalk 2

 

William can I ask you if someone has a 2GB card and they have too many texture mods installed what happens when the 2GB gets filled exactly? CTD? or horrible slowdown while it gets swapped? or? Thanks just out of interest.

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When you run out of memory you get increased stuttering when loading in new resources. Or it just fails entirely to load in new hence you will get black models running around.

The line between when it is bad stutter, and a CTD is very vague, and depends on many other factors ingame. But most certainly if you are at that point then you need to reduce memory use.

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