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I have an AMD FX-6200 (3.8GHz, six cores) with a Radeon HD 6870 (1GB VRAM) and 8GB RAM. Playing Oblivion on maxed details I get around 10 FPS when standing in the middle of Niben Bay and looking across the water. In the Elsweyr/Anequina desert I get even less, so it's not just a weird problem with reflection or something.

I know that Oblivion is pretty heavy on the CPU and not really optimized for multiple cores. However, it doesn't even seem that Oblivion taxes any core to its fullest. I monitored the total system load on the hardware over a few minutes of playing and these were the results:

CPU: 80%, 75%, and 40%; the load on the other 3 cores was negligible. Those are the peak values, so at least 20% headroom there.

RAM: 4GB usage, with another 4GB headroom. I have enabled LAA for Oblivion, and when I play for longer it goes up to 5GB. So this doesn't seem to be the bottleneck either.

GPU usage: 10% peak; clearly this isn't the problem.

GPU memory: 800MB used, with 200MB headroom.

So what's the bottleneck? It can't be the HDD since then I would get stuttering while loading areas, but once they are loaded into the RAM it should run fine, right?

I should probably mention that I have a ton of mods installed (no ENB though) but while I am aware that this slows the game down, considering that this is a comparatively new machine 10 FPS still seems far too little. Especially since I can run maxed Skyrim just fine and I can't find a bottleneck anywhere.

So what's wrong and how can I fix it?

  • I can't say for sure, but in TES series games, every mod adds a significant load on the cpu. Judging by the CPU usage you said, Oblivion might only be using two of your cores, since back then more then 2 cores was a luxury and your cpu's per-core performance isn't top notch either. It's possible that it's one or two mods that's the issue though, so you could try disabling mods one by one until your performance improves noticeably. If it improves gradually with each mod then I don't think there's much you can do, besides getting rid of mods. – Elise Nov 22 '14 at 18:57
  • If the CPU load is the problem, then why do I have 20% headroom on the most taxed core? – And G Nov 22 '14 at 19:01
  • Might be worth loading it up with no mods just to check whether it's the game itself or just mod conflicts/issues. – DBS Nov 22 '14 at 19:12
  • Is there a way to do that without manually disabling all eps/esm files in OMM and clearing the data folder? Because I have found in the past that this messes with things like terrain LODs and can permanently alter the game even after you re-enable all mods. If there's a startup parameter to ignore all plugin files and only load data from the original bsa files then I could try that. – And G Nov 22 '14 at 19:35
  • Can you edit in your mod list in the question? Like other commenters have suggested, I'd try disabling all mods first. Oblivion is not as optimized as Skyrim, and script-heavy mods can be additional performance hogs. After you've troubleshooted or removed mods that are possibly causing the issue, use BOSS to optimally sort their load order. Also try the performance optimizations mods, Streamline and Oblivion Stutter Remover. – galacticninja Nov 23 '14 at 5:43
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This problem happens inevitably when running lots of newer, more performance intensive mods. Oblivion's engine was simply not designed for the level of modification and extensions that are frequently used today. Certain aspects such as how it manages it's memory are hard coded and do not take full advantage of modern hardware. There are several technical limitations to it that prevent it from fully benefiting from modern hardware.

That being said, in the last couple years I've seen some insane community effort to extend Oblivion's engine capabilities: Oblivion Stutter Remover (OSR) replaces the vanilla memory manager with one that scales appropriate on larger hardware and allows for greater script performance (more actors on screen, extra global scripts (i.e additional ambient sounds, window light mods, etc). ENBSeries for Oblivion offers a lot of neat graphics effects (I personally prefer Oblivion Graphics Extender V3 as it offers more enhancements), but interestingly in the latest version it offers the ability to create a second, 64-bit exectuable to act as an additional "memory bank", hooking into and extending the size of Oblivion's heap. This is really helpful for some graphics mods such as highly detailed distant buildings, ultra high-res textures, etc.

You can also tweak Oblivion's config file (Oblivion.ini, in your MyGames folder) to increase some of it's vanilla engine perameters (reserving more memory ahead of time, loading more into RAM at once, etc).

Ultimately though, you have to reduce your mod count. Boil it down to whatever small amount of mods improve the game the most for you.

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