Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Steam L4D2 Slow Loading

[UPDATE 2-14-12]
To the random Googler, the fix was getting more RAM. I can't guarantee that this will fix every instance of slow loading, but read on, and if your symptoms sound similar, you might just need more RAM.
[/UPDATE]

Basically, it's recently been taking me forever to load into a game in L4D2. Like when I'm infected, the survivors will be out of the safe room and shooting crap up before I get in. It's weird. Since I got my second monitor, I've been keeping windows open while I play, specifically HWMonitor, the Task Manager, and occasionally the Wireless status window. I noticed something peculiar about when I join games.

When in the menu or lobby, Left4Dead2.exe will sit around 400MB of RAM. When we start a game, it will climb up to about 1GB of RAM, and when it gets to 1GB, I load in. The problem is that it only loads about 40MB every second, so it literally takes a minute to load in. My connection is fine: it's at 4 bars (or about 80%, when I have the sidebar running). My temps are fine: about 50C for the highest. And no other process is running that is resource intensive (I've been closing Firefox, Dropbox, and uTorrent just to be sure. My ping is usually fine, recently even the best in the game (around 65, which for me is unprecedented.) When I load in, it's usually fine. No lag at all. Just loading screens.

It's pissing me off. I keep getting bumpged to the other team and missing my first infected spawn all because it is taking me longer to load in. My theories are:
  1. My hard drive is too slow. I heard someone say that a hard drive (not SSD) is slower than RAM by far so it is the limiting factor. Since I know that Steam is loading the map into RAM, I'm guessing my HDD is taking too long to read. The weird part about this is that it's been fine on XP, and even on 7 recently. (If you don't feel like looking up my build, my HDD is a WD Caviar Black, which is supposed to be fast, for non-SSD.)
  2. Windows 7 is screwing it up. Since I never experienced this on XP. This could have something to do with memory amount....but I've never capped out on memory. I realized I'm running at about 80%, but would that really matter? I guess the best way I can test this is to get more RAM.
In any case, I'm insanely frustrated. Here are my current plans:
  • Turning off multi-core rendering
  • Defrag the steam files and disk, and verify integrity
  • Get more RAM (probably used, since I don't want to spend a ton for DDR2)
  • Get a SSD (reaaaaally don't want to do right now)
Ugh. Why can't things ever just work?
-Bry

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