The Lich King Hates My Video Card

When I bought my new ASUS made ATi 4850 video card, the last thing I expected was to have problems with World of Warcraft.

I was worried that Lord of the Rings Online would overheat it, but I seem okay there.

I was worried that the graphics tweaks that came with Apocypha in EVE Online might slow it down, but I was covered.

But no, it is World of Warcraft, the game that runs on a toaster, that has issues.

And it isn’t even all of WoW.  I have been playing in old Azeroth quite a bit with my mom and daughter since the new video card showed up.  Every once in a while I noticed a stutter, a second or three of being frozen, but then things moved on.

No, it is Northrend that is killing me.

I figured this out when it looked like the instance group would return from its hiatus.  I had to get Vikund out to make sure I remembered how to play him.  He was parked in Northrend.  In Dalaran.

Log in.  Move several feet.  Freeze up.  Hrmm.

Log in.  Move several feet.  Freeze up.  Maybe one of those addons?

Turn off addons.

Log in.  Just Freeze up.  Okay.


Log in.  Move a few more feet.  Freeze up.

Okay, I know Dalaran is the new Ironforge lag city.  Maybe if I can just get out of the place.


Log in.  Don’t touch anything for a minute.  Move half way to the flight point.  Freeze up.  Scream.

Eventually I gave up.

I went over to our iMac.  Logged in.  Ran around Dalaran just fine.

I got out my laptop with its tiny ATi x300 mobile video card.  Logged in.  Ran around Dalaran with a lot of lag, but never froze.

I put Vikund in Stormwind and started looking into the problem.

I searched Google with the phrase “4850 WoW Crash.”  Lots of results.  I do not appear to be alone.  Of course, theories vary on the cause.  It could be the ATi drivers, the firmware, my motherboard, the anti-aliasing settings, Blizzard’s bad code, sun spots, or the Illuminati.

I found a couple of unhelpful threads in the Blizzard forums.  Well, a lot, actually.  Welcome to game forums.  I did find their system performance guide though, and it has a few things I can try fiddling with.

And ATi put out a new set of drivers last week.  I can give that a try.

But I have to get this figured out by Saturday night or I’ll be playing on the iMac.  Not that playing on the iMac is a bad thing, but it is out in the family room, close enough to the TV that I will probably annoy my wife.

I probably should have run that Google search BEFORE I bought the card.  Ah well.

21 thoughts on “The Lich King Hates My Video Card

  1. Mark

    I run a NVidia 295GT, one of the fastest cards in world I think. Dalaran, 11 FPS. iMac with 8800GS – Dalaran, 35 fps. Go figure.


  2. Genda

    It’s the Illuminati.

    Trust me dude.

    Sorry to hear that though. I know on my 9800GT I have some hiccups in Northrend, but nothing like that has happened to me. Hope you get it sorted. :/


  3. Eric

    The card also doesn’t like Dalaran. I have frequent lockups using a 4850 and previously 3850. Every other game runs fine, I think Blizzard did something wrong in Northrend / Dalaran, but can’t seem to fix it !


  4. Graktar

    Sounds like bad blizzard programming to me :p

    I don’t know how they manage to frequently have such terrible performance in a game with nearly nonexistant system requirements. But don’t mind me, I’m just a burned ex-WoW player turned WoW-hater . . .


  5. syncaine

    It’s a new MMO guys, cut Blizzard some slack. They will fix this minor issue ‘soon’, unless no other MMO has had this problem and found a fix. If that’s the case, abandon all hope!

    I’m a bit surprised Google was not more help though, anytime I run into any error, it seems the first link from Google is generally the solution. It was for DarkFall. Maybe WoW needs some of that DF problem solution polish?

    In this case, I guess it points toward the fact that you might just be screwed until Bliz or ATI fix the issue. I’m assuming you already tried older drivers?


  6. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Graktar – The kicker is I ran through Dalaran with an old ATi x800XL card like I used to have, and it runs great.

    At least Dalaran seems to be the extreme end of the problems. Once I get out of there I have been able to run pretty well. Of course my hearth stone is set there. I might have to base in Shat again and just take the boat to Northrend at need.


  7. Snafzg

    It isn’t much better in Warhammer. My friend runs an 8600 and I’m running a 9800… He gets noticeably better performance. Laaaameness!


  8. smakendahed

    I have the same issue in Dalaran. I’ve got a 3850. I’m fine it all other places. I adjusted the settings up and down to no avail.

    @syncaine – was the solution to your Darkfall issue, “cancel subscription and uninstall”? Just checking. ;)


  9. dave

    I had an almost identical situation. I bought a new game that my onboard graphic chipset wasn’t good enough for so I bought a mid grade NVidia card that the price had dropped down to an ultra cheap $50 because it was 5-6 levels below bleeding edge.

    It played the new game, but Wow was reduced to a stuttering mess. What resolved my situation was to completely disable the onboard graphic card.

    I believe that Wow since it supports multi monitor output, was trying to feed both graphic cards but since I was only running a single monitor off the new card it became confused.


  10. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Robert Schultz – Well, I went with ATi this time around because I have already had a pair of nVidia 8800GTs crap out on me. In the 4850 price range nVidia is now offering the 9800GT which, it turns out, is just an 8800GT with a new sticker. Not going there for a third try.

    @Dave – I’ll have to look into that. A setting in the BIOS?


  11. Random Poster

    Have you fiddled with the Shadow settings?

    For whatever reason Shadows in WoW bring my SLI 8800GT’s to a relative crawl, whereas I can run Crysis at max settings with no porblems, so I just tend to turn them down.


  12. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Random Poster: I actually turned the shadows way down back when I was running the 8800GT, not so much for performance as for aesthetics. The high quality shadows are such crisp, clear outlines that they look totally unrealistic most of the time. I prefer the blurry blotch shadows.


  13. syncaine

    @smakendahed: Worse actually. After you download and install DF (icon on desktop and everything), you have to go into the games folder and actually install a second part, which looks nothing like an install launcher. Easily fixed with a Google search (DF gives you a cryptic error message which you just copy/paste into Google), but head scratching in it’s execution. I chalked it up to one final hurdle for WoW tourists to get stuck on.


  14. PTD

    Yes AGN, you should be able to disable onboard video in the BIOS. The laptop only has one video solution in it, I’m sure, which would explain it not having issues.


  15. Randy

    I played the trial WoW with no problem. When I bought the game and started playing I started to smell ozone and my monitor started blacking out. EVE, AO and other games never had this effect. I’m looking at adding more fans at the moment.


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