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I've been playing FTB (Direwolf20) Minecraft for a while. My system isn't like SUPER AWESOME by any stretch, but I thought it was a decent enough system for gaming. The framerate has never been satisfactory (I couldn't consistently get 30 FPS), but then I tried the Sphax texture mod (128x128) and ... I basically got back a slideshow. I've tweaked it, but I can't consistently get anything out of single digits. My laptop, of all things, does much better; it has 8GiB of RAM vs. my desktop's 6GiB and, indeed, the issue appears to be paging activity (see details below).

I want to run Sphax and have it be decently pretty. Sphax 128x128 is their recommended size. I'd therefore assumed that a person with a decent gaming system should be able to run it OK. I thought I had one of those. Clearly, I am making a mistake or a wrong assumption somewhere.

Please note, before you even go there, that setting my render distance to tiny makes no difference. Whatever's going on, it's not as reasonable or simple as that.

Let me present my questions before my giant piles of screenshots and data and evidence.

My questions are:

  1. Should Windows really be paging that hard with that much RAM available? Is there perhaps something wrong with my Windows itself? (because that behaviour doesn't seem very reasonable), or is this just how it works?

  2. Minecraft seems to be using a great deal more RAM, according to resmon, than it claims or that java was supposed to have allocated; is that normal?

  3. The obvious fix seems like more RAM, but as I said, even with the old texture pack (and thus much less RAM pressure, I assume?), it was never very good. Should I, in fact, upgrade my RAM, or is it likely there's something else going on? If I should upgrade my RAM, how much is enough without costing me the world?

  4. What else should I fix? What's likely to give me the most bang for my buck?

Thank you so much for your time; I know this is crazy long. Here we go with the details:

My system: http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/6597433 (also at sysinfo; Short version: Windows 7, 64-bit, 6GiB of RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 1GiB

Here's memory usage on my system just after startup; I've done nothing but turn off dropbox. Why is so much RAM in use when the processes add up to so little?? The kernel seems to only use like 300MiB, but if you take the "in use" value there and subtract all the running procs' commits, you get more like 1.5GiB in use that I can't account for! What's that about? desktop_just_started

Here's memory use once the world was loaded. Note that it's supposed to still have more than 1 GiB of RAM available. resmon_after_startup

Here's a graph of paging activity from before MC was started up to after the world loaded. As you can see, it paged like crazy. WHY? I had over a gig of RAM available, didn't I? WTH? perfmon_after_startup

Here's MC's idea of its RAM use once the game loaded. Note that it appears to be lying pretty dramatically. FPS_ram_during.png

Here's my lagometer; just standing in one small room and looking around. lagometer

Here's my graphics card options screens (why you can't resize that damned thing is beyond me). nvidia_options_1 nvidia_options_2

Here's my Minecraft/optifine options screens. options 1 options 2 options 3 options 4 options 5 options 6

As sort of a side comment, here's what happened when I clicked on the texture packs page in game; note the hard faults. I had to kill MC and restart. paging_after_texture_screen.png

That's all the information I could think of to provide. I'm happy to add more if people need something. This is freaking ridiculous.

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+1 for a really well written question. Sphax is great but yeah, it's a resources-hungry pack. –  shanodin May 20 '13 at 4:52
    
The biggest bang for the buck ($0) is just not using a high-res texture pack. I can't tell from your otherwise-extensive question why that's not an option? –  SevenSidedDie May 20 '13 at 6:33
    
Because that's the goal I have. Default is ugly to me, and I'm willing to spend some time, money and effort to have it be prettier. "I want to reach goal X for as little as possible" is not the same as "Money is the only criteria". The other issue is that even without the texture pack, I never got a consistent 30fps. That seems pretty ridiculous to me, so either I don't understand how my system specs relate to MC, or I've done something wrong, or...?, and I'd like to know what's going on. –  rlpowell May 20 '13 at 7:19
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@MarkKramer: It's not just Java, although that probably doesn't help, it's also that (if you'll forgive me for pointing this out) the author is known for, umm, not being the most efficient coder ever. –  rlpowell May 20 '13 at 17:10
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I think I found the problem: you're right, it's a mismatch of expectation. "…a decent gaming system should be able to run it OK. I thought I had one of those." A Core Duo 2.4GHz with 6GB RAM and a GeForce 560 GTX is actually pretty middle-of-the-road. The GPU is two years old and was mid-range when new, the processor is mid-range, and the RAM is low for a gaming PC today. It's a decent system, but not awesome, and sadly, Minecraft requires awesome to go much past a 32x32 texture pack. My system is slightly better (560 Ti, quad core, 2 more GB RAM) and I can't run 128x128 even with OptiFine. –  SevenSidedDie May 20 '13 at 17:38
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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Some quick and hopefully helpful answers.

1) Windows paging is trying to do what it thinks it needs to. I am not sure I can go into much detail in this area as to about why and when this is going to happen, but this article here gives some good information in this area. Honestly, as you mentioned above, this is a symptom of the problems you are having as pointed out by the information you gathered.

2) You are comparing numbers here that are related but not a direct 1 to 1 relationship here. When you see the javaw.exe running in your processes with a gig or 3 it does not mean that that is the amount of RAM you told minecraft to run with. This is the amount of memory that Java takes to provide and environment with the amount of RAM you told minecraft to run with. I hope this makes sense as I am not sure how else to do say it... You told it to set up 1775MB of RAM and the system had to allocate around 3GB to accomplish that.

3) This is a tough one. More RAM would certainly help but may only be delaying things. I noted that you are using two different sizes of RAM modules (something I have always been told to avoid actually but maybe it no longer matters). It may be that just upgrading the 1GB stick set to 2GB stick sets so your total RAM is 8GB may give you enough room to breath a bit easier.

4) This is more of a summary question so I will give a summary answer. Your hardware just appears to be just this side of being adequate for what you want to do with it. While your immediate need is RAM you may want to consider upgrading the CPU as well. When it comes to that that may mean a new motherboard. Try and reuse as much as you can but it may be time to consider finding ways to upgrade the motherboard (if needed), the CPU along with the RAM.

Just to give you some quick numbers of what you are doing with the texture pack change the original textures are 16x16 per item. Each of the pixels in that area are 4 bytes long giving each item in the game 1024 bytes of memory per texture that makes it up. (I say this because often the texture you see in your inventory for a block is different than the one when you place the block in the world... and some blocks can never be placed).

At 128x128 with 4 bytes again, you are at 65536 bytes per texture per item. That is 64 times the space it previously required because you are dealing with textures that are expanding in both directions at the same time.

This is the equal of trying to fit 64 times the bottles of water into a container that before was having trouble enough as it was. Try as you might, Optifine is not going to be able to help all that much with this. I personally never go above a 64x64 texture pack simply because of all the load times and overhead that go along with it. To me its just not worth it.

Anywho, TL;DR: You need more RAM and maybe a system upgrade in the CPU (Which may lead to Motherboard).

Hope this helps.

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I would concur. Minecraft is a deceptively resource-heavy game. My own machine is 8GB Ram, quad-core i5, HD 5670 with SSD and I can run a 256x256 texture pack on full graphics, but it grinds down to 15-20 FPS. –  mellamokb May 20 '13 at 14:57
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0.o I did not realize that 16x16 was the default; I thought I was maybe doubling the texture res. Oops. –  rlpowell May 20 '13 at 17:12
    
"Your hardware just appears to be just this side of being adequate for what you want to do with it." -- That was exactly the information I was looking for, thank you. I just want to double check: would you bother with looking at the video card in this particular case? –  rlpowell May 20 '13 at 17:12
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@rlpowell A 560 is a pretty nice video card. 1GB of RAM on it is pretty standard. I would say upgrading it would help but if you are going for best bang for your buck I would say RAM and CPU are the places you would see the best returns. –  James May 20 '13 at 17:26
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@James Yes, after a certain point, Minecraft is often not bottlenecked by the GPU so much as it is by the CPU and RAM. –  SevenSidedDie May 20 '13 at 23:00
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For anyone who finds this page in the future, some more information:

  1. http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Hardware_performance is very good place to get an idea of how your system is performing. Mine gets 70s and 80s on that test, which I'm fine with.

  2. Reducing Java's heap (i.e. -Xmx) helps significantly here; it performs far better with 512MiB than with 2GiB. A friend suggests that this is because there's less garbage to collect per pass.

  3. Running FTB with no mods (i.e. something close to a bare 1.4.7 MC) takes me down to 50s and 60s, which I'm still fine with.

  4. Turning all the mods on takes me down to 30s and 40s (eeeennnnhhh) but, more importantly, I get regular drops into the tens for brief periods, which is really freaking annoying.

That last appears to mostly be "wow that's a lot of mods", in as much as I can't seem to easily isolate any particular culprit. Having said that, I've had noticeable improvements by removing CoHCore and its dependents (thermalexpansion and omnitools) and XReliquary.

Having done all those things, and having painstakingly settled on 768MiB for the heap size, 64x Sphax (not 128) is actually quite playable. Not great, you understand, but playable.

Thanks for all the help!

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Oh, that's also with OptiFine. –  rlpowell May 22 '13 at 10:09
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