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Help Needed Second Life is Getting Almost Unusable for me

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Can any one offer any advice on this, for about 6 months SL has been getting worse until it is almost unusable. When I go to a club the frame rate i get is between 2-3 and everything is jerky. The building rezzes OK but the people are just grey shapes no features or cloths and slowly rezz if at all, sometimes people stay grey shapes as long as I am in the club.

I live in Germany but have a fast cable net connection 25 Mbit rock solid. I get a speed of 10 Mbit even if I use a server in NYC.

In a club the ping time is 200 ms and the band width 50-150kbps but people just do not rez they stay grey.

I have the latest SL viewer, I have cle\ared the cache I have tried the lowest video setting in preferences and have a low draw distances 128m but to be honest it doesn't seen to make what I have these set at the frame rate is still poor and people still grey. I do not think my PC is too bad it certainly isn't an aged thing and the video card is a Geforce Nvidia 250. The rating by windows for the system is 3.7 which should be OK. Details of PC are here

CPU: AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5000+ (2599.97 MHz)
Memory: 2047 MB
OS Version: Microsoft Windows Vista 32-bit  (Build 6000)
Graphics Card Vendor: NVIDIA Corporation
Graphics Card: GeForce 210/PCI/SSE2/3DNOW!

Windows Graphics Driver Version: 8.17.0012.8562
OpenGL Version: 3.3.0

libcurl Version: libcurl/7.21.1 OpenSSL/0.9.8q zlib/1.2.5 c-ares/1.7.1
J2C Decoder Version: KDU v6.4.1
Audio Driver Version: FMOD version 3.750000
Qt Webkit Version: 4.7.1 (version number hard-coded)

SL did not used to be like this for me I would swear it is getting worse. Does anyone else have this problem or does anyone know how to cure it. Its driving me nuts and to be honest what was a great thing is becoming unusable.

Thanks In advance for help and advice




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Hi, I'm no expert at these things, and am fairly new to SL.  I also had similar issues with the SL veiwer.  Constantly crashing and continuous bake fails for my AV which rendered SL unplayable.  It was very frustrating.

I went ahead and got the Firestorm Beta 2.2 version veiwer, and also have the Phoenix/Firestorm 3.3 downloaded.  The 2.2 version solved my problems and I am able to play with it (not to mention that there are many more viable options in these veiwers which you can configure to the specifics of your PC setup).  I can use the Phoenix/Firestorm 3.3 veiwer as well, but it causes a bit too much lag for me to enjoy the club scene with it.  Hopefully if you try out one of these veiwers, you'll be able to enjoy the game again! 

You could give it a try any way, and see if one of these, or a different 3rd party veiwer will work for you.  Also, check your firewall and antivirus programs - try disabling them.  I changed my firewall/antivirus to one that was more SL friendly because they were causing me a lot of issues even though I configfured the ports. Another thing to check for is if you use a router these can block gaming experience..and make sure that any modem or routers are configured and you have firmware updates on them.

My PC is way worse than your's, and I do have to limit how much I look at large crowds of AVs at a time, or eventually I'll crash due to virtual memory loss.  I read a lot of help articles and found that rendering another AV (even just a starter noob one) is on average about 2.7k prims - this is why large crowds at clubs cause problems...

I'm sure others here know way more than I do, and can add helpful tips for you so you can once again enjoy the game!

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You say you have an nVidia 250 card but the copy/paste from the "About Second Life" under the help menu says it's a 210.  The 250 card is strong enough in the performance to give you pretty good frame rates in most places while in SL..........the 210 is not.  That could be part of your problem.  Another possible stumbing point is that you are running a 32 bit operating system which means the maximum system RAM that can be recognized (and used) is about 3.5 gigs.........you have 2 gigs.  I don't know what dedicated video RAM you 210 (or 250?) has.....if that VRAM is not at least 512 megs most of the RAM your video needs for smooth rendering is going to be coming from your system RAM.  Vista is somewhat of a resource hog.  Especially if you have much of the Windows Aero features enabled.  That system rating of 3.7 is just over midrange for the Vista Performance rating........but that rating tells you little about performance other than how well it will run your Aero features (for high end graphics programs, especailly 3D graphics programs, it tells you nothing useful ).  The in-world bandwidth of 50-150 kbps is really quite low but it could just be what you're seeing while idle which is pretty normal.........a good test would to go somewhere with lots of graphics in your draw distance (with the statistics bar open) and notice what it reads when you arrive at that location.  You should see spikes up to about 1000 kbps with your bandwidth setting at 1500 kbps and average somewhere around 500-600 until things rezz.  If you have your bandwidth set low, raise it (don't exceed what your computer and network can handle.........about 75% of your ISP's tested speed is a good rule of thumb.  Keeping in mind that the SL servers will never send more to any user than their bandwidth can comfortably afford.  I believe that is capped at about 1500 kbps).


As for advice right now I can only think of a couple things.  First reboot your router by unplugging it from it's electrical source for 3 to 5 minutes then plugging back in.  Restart your computer to re-establish your Internet connection and try SL again.  Adjust your bandwidth in your preferences to, at least, the default of 500 kbps (higher if your connection and computer can handle it).  And possibly getting another gig of system RAM (you can put 2 more gigs in so that you can used the maximum your 32 bit Vista can recognize).

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I run on multiple computers and have started trying to pay attention to what is going on.  Right now I am on a 2.1ghz Pentium with 3gb of RAM and SL runs, but only just barely.  I end up with a crashed viewer (both SL and Firestorm) every 40 - 50 minutes.  Even worse, it hangs so completely I have to reboot to get out of (and back into SL).  I think this is pretty close to what the OP is running and it is fairly painful, but it works.

In a machine with 4gb RAM and newer processor and modest video card I run acceptably well in low and okay in medium.  (This is a work computer and I'm not going into the office to look @ the specs, but it is spec'd out as an office work machine, not a gaming machine.)  Not great, mind you, but I can move around without too much jerkiness and I haven't had a viewer crash yet.

So far I have learned that SL immediately grabs about 700MB of RAM and can run up to 1GB...so OP's 2gb is going to be pretty marginal.  The suggestion of adding memory is a good one.  I'd go for 2gb rather than just one....but that's me.

I can't figure out the video card numbering system yet, but my local geeks have me shopping in the $70 - $100 range, assuring me that something in that price range will help (in my desktop...this laptop has no chance and is being replaced).

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The video card numbering system is not all that complicated but it can be confusing....mostly due to how the cards are marketed by both the card manufacturers and the retailers.  Both AMD/ATI and nVidia number pretty much the same (I'm more familar with nVidia since that's the manufacturer of my choice.........but I will say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with AMD/ATI cards.  For the most part you can ignore the first number in the model number.  I say "for the most part" because up to a point it's almost unimportant when deciding on performance of any card.  It's strickly the series number but over time the series do determine performance in that the series of any card is how the card is designed and as series are developed more and more graphics programs incorporate into their features what the design of the graphics cards are capable of.......a GT 6600 nVidia card will not perform like a GT260 nVidia card but will perform right with a GT8600 card as far as SL in concerned.  I guess I need to point out that about 3 years ago (maybe a little less.......if forget when the change took place exactly) nVidia hit the top of the 9000 series models for cards.  Instead of going to 5 digits they dropped back to the 100 series for the next series after the 9000 series......an nVidia GT160 is a higher series than an nVidia 9800GTX (the GT160 is a very much lower performing card than the 9800GTX)


It's the second number that tells you what the performance of the card you can expect.  The higher that number the higher performing card it is.  The letter designations also define minor performance improvements within that model........a GTX designation tells you that it will be better than a GTS or GT and a GTS will be better than a GT but not as good as a GTX (it's a pretty small performance increase though).  When shopping for a video card pay closer attention to the second number.  The first number will give an idea of how old the series is which will give you an idea of how long the lfie expectancy of the graphics are before it becomes outdated (that's good to know, of course but if you are looking at a card that is 3 or 4 series old it's not likely to make much difference......you still have a good couple years of life in that card).  Right now (unless nVidia sneaked a new series in on my in the last couple weeks) the newest series cards are 500 series.  Being the newest series those cards are going to be the most expensive and a comparable performing card in the 400 series can be purchased for quite a bit less.  The price drops for any series as new series cards are released.........you can easily pay near $500 USD for a GTX580 card and just as easily pay half that for a GTX480 card (for SL both cards will be equal in performance).


If your geek friends are shopping in the $75 to $100 range I think they are looking at cards 3 series back.  That's probably a good area if you are concerned with cost (aren't we all?  :) ).  But don't let them talk you into a GT210 when I know you can get the same card I run right now for around $80 USD...that card is GTS250.  The card is good but it struggles with shadows.  I would look for a card with the second number 7 or higher.............I'm sure you can find one in that range if you are looking at nVidia.

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The CPU will be an issue in crowded places.

The GPU will be an issue in crowded places.

Your bandwidth makes no difference. SL won't use much more than about 2mbit anyway. And that's on a good day, with all the stars aligning.

There's a few things you can do to improve your experience without going out and and buying new bits and pieces for your PC. Especially in busy venues the number of avis rendered makes a huuuuge difference. Reduce the number and your FPS will go up.

With your GPU in particular, render distance of 128m is pushing it a bit over the top. You could try reducing your graphics to the bare minimum to get halfway decent FPS and then crank up individual settings to see which one your card tolerates and which ones it doesn't.

Beyond that... if you have the money... "go get a better computer" is probably the most rude, but also in your case most accurate advice. Old CPU, not enough memory, insufficient GPU.

Looky here: http://www.gpureview.com/show_cards.php?card1=188&card2=621
(left side: MINIMUM required GPU for SL... right side: your GPU... your GPU pretty much barely makes the minimum requirement)

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Hi thanks to all for your replies

@ Verdue Thanks for the tip on changing viewer that as where I was going to go if  I couldn't get any further at least it would check a variable.

@ Peggy Paperdoll the hint on band width was really useful I had it set way too low so the spike when you go somewhere was cut off so people took a long time to appear that's made a difference. I have plugged and unplugged routers & modems quite a few times over the past 6 months and that has not made a difference. I have my draw and graphics options set as low as I can but as I said even if I change them the problem does not get better or worse really.

The bit on deciphering video cards will be useful for the future

@Thinkerer Thanks for the useful collection of hints I had been down that route already but the tracert stuff shows essentially what you see in SIM ping

@ Jenni Darkwatch I can not think my PC is that awful, SL recommends 2 GHz Vista 32 bit which is what I have and min 512MB memory and I have 2 Gig. The video card is not up to much I will admit Peggys GTS 250 looks a good one to buy. But I can not really think SL has designed SL only to work in a good way on top notch computers otherwise few people would play it.

Any way after putting up my bandwidth things were OK  I got 10fps not great but OK with only 1 person refusing to rez so my system could do that OK but later it just dropped away to 3-4 fps I went somewhere and came back and had lots of silver people again. Jenni you mentioned reducing the number of AVIs to rez/Bake how do you do that_

Is there anyway of making an avi/bake so that they are not a silver phantom that would be a useful thing to know.

Although my download speed in Germany is quite hi I checked it form a server in san francisco and it was quite a bit slower maybe not surprisingly but I would have thought it would be the same problem for everyone this side of the Atlantic.

But oddest thing like I said in my OP I never used to have this problem with silver people and low frame rates it is only of the past 6 months with the same PC and ISP which is why I was wondering if SL has been playing about and if anyone particularly in Europe has this problem.

Thanks for your replies Sparkle



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SLs system minimum requirements are really the bare minimum it'll even run on. That's on low settings, of course. :) Anyway. With Vista as your OS, 2GB is fairly... minimal.

As far as the network connection goes, your connection is more than adequate. 200ms ping time is quite tolerable, and from Europe not bad either. If you ever do suspect network problems look at the packet loss statistic in SL. If it's often anything but zero, there's a problem. Where that problem is, is a different matter. It might very well not be anything you can do anything about. There's however very little reason to reset router(s) if that stat is zero :)

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As pointed already, with nvidia cards, the first digit classifies the series, and the 2nd digit it's 'power' within that range.

For SL you likely want a card with at least a 5 for the second number, altho 6 would probably better.

IE.  8600, 9600, 260, 460, 560.

Anything lower than those are mainly made for desktop work and multimedia like playing dvds and videos but not much for gaming. They may still *run* games but what's the expectation here?

Gaming cards typically range from 6-8, ie 8600-8800, 9600-9800, 260-295, 460-480, 560-590.

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@Peggy Paperdoll:  Thanks for putting the pieces together for me.  It helps clarify the bits I didn't have fit together in my brain.  I've been especially confused by the change from thousands to hundreds.   In defense of my geeks, the advice they gave me came back in my pre-SL days when the most taxing graphics I used were home video and bejewled.

@ Aveline Stein:  The "50's" is what I have been looking at.  I don't do any other graphically intense gaming and my desktop handles SL medium settings pretty well with the onboard graphics.  (i5 processor)  I hope that with even a modest graphics card I'll get a noticable bump in performance at medium and may be able to run on high.  I am satisfied with any frame rate above 24fps.

@Sparkle Lytton  for a lot of things your computer is really quite good.  But as computers become more powerful software expands to make use of the extra power.  In my experience the "minimum" software configuration for all software is very liberally defined--yes, the software will run on that configuration, but only every-other tuesday between the hours of midnight and 3 am.)    My old desktop had 4gb of RAM, a 2.0Ghz processor, and a modest graphics card (HD 1750, perhaps) and that would lag with even simple games (bejeweled) if I had itunes playing music.  Your system isn't that much better than my old one and I expect that SL demands more of your computer than it did even a year or two ago. 

@whoever cares: I did find a good price on an i7 laptop with a 550m graphics processor over the weekend.  It should arrive by thursday.  It isn't a desktop with high end graphics, but it should be a big improvement over my pentium T4300 with no graphics to speak of.  I'm anxious to find out!


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Hi I guess just from the figures we can see that my video card is not that great. But can it explain why I have been in a club with 50 people and still many of them are just silver and only for a few I can see faces and cloths I know it takes a few minutes for sl people to rez but this is ridiculous as i said it never used to be like this thats for sure. You owuld think that after a while people would show details i can see all the club just not faces and cloths. Is there anyway to force an avatar to show details? At least then I could take my partner to a club and see her .

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I'm speculating, but I would expect that SL is a bigger program now than it was a couple of years ago resulting in a larger memory and computing load on your computer.   As CPU and GPU power grow and become more readily available software grows to fill the available capacity.  

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