Neverwinter Nights 2 Hardware Performance Guide

If you're having trouble running Neverwinter Nights 2 at its best, this guide might solve your woes.

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By: Sarju Shah - Posted on Friday, December 15, 2006.

Neverwinter Nights 2 will enthrall you with a compelling storyline and addictive gameplay, but trying to enable all the best settings could hinder your gaming experience. Neverwinter Nights 2 is a performance-guzzling monster. Quite a few game settings brought our powerful test system to a screeching halt. If you crank up all the options, you will smother your player and enemy character models in an excessive amount of lighting and shadowing effects. Combat effects and those five torches stuck on the wall add even more performance demands. We had to break out the very best PC components to run the game well, and we still had a tough time keeping frame rates up when we increased the game settings.

We tested Neverwinter Nights 2 using FRAPs and a 25-second demo in the Blacklake district of the city of Neverwinter. We couldn't test in combat situations because fight sequences are very difficult to reproduce, but we believe that the Blacklake district is a fairly challenging area of the game. The game has a built-in V-sync frame rate cap that we couldn't disable. Most frame rates sat below the cap, but we did hit the limit in certain tests. Unlike first-person shooters, where you might need in excess of 60 frames per second for great gameplay, role-playing games like Neverwinter Nights 2 still play very well at a consistent 30 to 40 frames per second.

Game Settings

Neverwinter Nights 2 has quite a few settings you can disable to improve frame rate performance. We tested all the options to find out how much each setting affected frame rate performance.

Graphics

Most games require powerful video cards, and Neverwinter Nights 2 is no exception. We have performance results for nearly 20 video cards to help you determine how much performance is enough.

CPU

Neverwinter Nights 2 loves CPU power. If you give the game more processing power, it'll reward you with better performance. We tested the game up and down the clock-speed ladder on our Intel Core 2 Duo and AMD Athlon 64 X2 CPU-based systems.

Memory

A game that feeds on powerful CPUs and video cards usually also likes RAM. We tested Neverwinter Nights 2 with 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB of RAM to see what kind of impact memory has on performance.

Settings

Even if you have a powerful system, you might want to disable or lower quite a few settings in Neverwinter Nights 2 to improve performance because some effects just aren't worth the frame rate hit. The settings that deal with shadows in particular affect performance greatly. We managed to improve performance by almost 60 percent when we disabled point light shadows. You can do away with shadows altogether to double frame rates. If adjusting the lighting doesn't completely solve your performance woes, consider decreasing the texture sizes or lowering the resolution to squeeze out a few more frames.

Do not lower any of the texture-filtering settings (texture minification, magnification, and mipmap). Your performance will, in all likelihood, not increase by very much, and the game will get sinfully ugly. We have image comparisons of the texture filtering settings on the next page; however, still images fail to capture how horrible the game looks with reduced filtering.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB. Graphics Drivers: Nvidia Forceware 97.02.

Texture Settings

Lowering texture quality reduces the amount of detail in the image. If you lower texture-filtering settings that deal with minification, magnification, and mipmaps, the game will get ugly. High- and low-texture filtering are a combination of all these settings.

Move your mouse over the default image to see the comparison image.

High-Resolution Textures vs. Medium-Resolution Textures

Medium-Resolution Textures vs. Low-Resolution Textures

High-Resolution Textures vs. Low-Resolution Textures

High Texture Filtering vs. Low Texture Filtering

Shadow Settings

The shadow settings control the number of onscreen objects capable of generating shadows and the type of shadows they create. The shadow map sizes setting determines how detailed the shadows look. Pay particular attention to the shadows cast by the tree leaves.

Turning off point light shadows improves performance considerably, but it also removes much of the shadowing in the game.

Move your mouse over the default image to see the comparison shot.

High Shadows vs. Medium Shadows

Medium Shadows vs. Low Shadows

Low Shadows vs. Disabled Shadows

Shadow Maps High vs. Shadows Maps Low

Point Light Shadows Enabled vs. Point Light Shadows Disabled

Other Image Quality Settings

We recommend leaving bloom enabled because it adds a lot of life to the game. Draw distances don't seem to affect performance too much, but high settings do improve image quality. Normal maps typically give simple surfaces added depth.

Move the mouse over the default image to see the comparison shot.

Bloom Enabled vs. Bloom Disabled

Draw Distance 300 vs. Draw Distance 50

Normal Maps Enabled vs. Normal Maps Disabled

Water Reflections/Refractions Enabled vs. Water Reflections/Refractions Disabled

Graphics

A better video card will help boost performance in Neverwinter Nights 2, but stick with the single-card solutions for now. We had trouble with our SLI and CrossFire dual video card setups. We couldn't get CrossFire mode to work at all, and performance with SLI and the GX2 was less than stellar. We've noticed that games often require a new patch or a graphics-driver revision to play nicely with dual video card configurations.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Cards: Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB, GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB, GeForce 7950 GX2 512MB, GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB, GeForce 7900 GT 256MB, GeForce 7600 GT 256MB, GeForce 6800 256MB, GeForce 6600GT 128MB, Radeon X1950 XTX 512MB, Radeon X1950 Pro 256MB, Radeon X1900 XT 256MB, Radeon X1800 XT 512MB, Radeon X1600 XT 256MB, Radeon X800 XT 256MB. Graphics Drivers: Nvidia Forceware 97.02, Nvidia Forceware 93.71, ATI Catalyst 6.11.

Memory and CPU

CPU

Most games benefit more from a video card upgrade than a CPU upgrade, but we found that Neverwinter Nights 2 scales well with CPU performance. Note that the game doesn't take advantage of multiple cores--you can get great performance out of a fast single-core chip.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800, AMD Athlon 64 X2 FX-60, Intel 975XBX2, Asus A8R32 MVP Deluxe, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Cards: Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB. Graphics Drivers: Nvidia Forceware 97.02.

Memory

Don't even think about playing the game with 512B of RAM. The 512MB system gave us absolutely atrocious load times, and we experienced some hitching while playing. Load times dropped dramatically once we jumped up to 1GB, but moving up to 2GB didn't seem to provide any huge improvements.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 Intel 975XBX2, 512MB Corsair XMS Memory, 1GB (512MB x 2) Corsair XMS Memory, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Cards: Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB. Graphics Drivers: Nvidia Forceware 97.02.

Discussion

181 comments
takezosunfire
takezosunfire

Update for multi-core users! I just gained 10-15 Fps using this method direct quote from Koroush Ghazi @ Tweek guides: "first launch the game, then ALT+TAB back to the desktop, press CTRL+ALT+DEL to open the Task Manager, go to the Processes tab and right-click on the game's process name (usually nwn2main.exe), select 'Set Affinity' and then untick CPU1, so that only CPU0 is ticked." Also, You might want to disable VSync via your video card's control panel, and enable Triple buffering on your OGL settings as well, Hope this helps! Cheers!

takezosunfire
takezosunfire

It's 2010, and I have a AMD Phenom II X6 1055 2.8 Ghz Win7 HP 4Gb DDR3 1600 Ram ATI Radeon HD 5770 1Gb and I STILL get massive slowdown at Clifftop! This game's more than a beast..It's a bloody BEHEMOTH! I have this puppy fully maxed yet FO3, Oblivion,Mass Effect 1&2 absolutely glides at a constant 60-50 FPS with all sliders/Resolutions up! I guess it would take the IBM roadrunner to run this game.. - 6,480 dual-core Opterons with 51.8 TB RAM (in 3,240 LS21 blades) - 12,960 Cell cores with 51.8 TB RAM (in 6,480 QS22 blades) - 216 System x3655 I/O nodes - 26 288-port ISR2012 Infiniband 4x DDR switches - 296 racks THIS should have been NWNII's Sys req! (9_9)

elessarGObonzo
elessarGObonzo

Radeon 4890 1gb, Phenom II 955 @3.6ghz, DDR2 4gb. All settings maxed out @ 1920x1080 everything runs good most of the time, still random stuttering. 1440x900 everything runs great most of the time, still with random stuttering. I believe its just this game engine that makes it run bad some of the time, not our hardware. Doesn't look all that great no matter what settings I put it at. They're lucky it's still pretty fun to play so far.

malachi_27
malachi_27

Lol, wow, this game STILL won't run 60 FPS constant on my GTX 260, and it's a 2009 graphics card, with 1200x1920 resolution. This game is beast -- literally.

zaphod_b
zaphod_b

Just upgraded to an HD4870 because my 4850 can't run this game at max settings, 1680x1050, 8x AA. Hopefully the 1GB 4870 will be able to handle it with minimal lag outdoors. Here is this 2.5 year old game that won't run at max on a pretty sweet video card, although I will say the game still looks great by today's standards when maxed, especially in the dungeons.

Horrux
Horrux

Welcome to 2009. Within a few years, we will have hardware that can run this thing on high settings... Looks like a great game though.

Tagwyn
Tagwyn

I have a state of the art computer system with lots of ram and rom, yet I cannot advance past Ch 2.. When AJ attempts to leave the area I get a consistent CTD. Is there a solution to this problem, please?!! Thanks. L33

lucebuce
lucebuce

hey The Stinky Hindu go easy on Poshkidney , hes just retarded . he doesnt even know what VRAM is

frankmondana
frankmondana

Everyone needs to stop checking frame rates. If it looks goos to you then it's good. Human vision tops out at 60fps (give or take a couple of frames). Many of my clients (I maintain machines for the film and TV industry) will run benchmarks and "only" get 100fps. They call me, I "fix" their machines, they play the game and are amazed at how much better it runs. When I tell them that I did nothing other than to make sure nothing was wrong, they are usually embarrased since many of them went out and bought some high end card (or 2) because the benchmarks were too low at 80-90 fps. I don't charge them (after all they just blew a grand on new hardware)and give them the speech about persistance of vision. I've been doing this since 1991 and have not had a single client "see" any difference between 70-120fps (with all settings topped). Hardware makers love benchmarks. I should love them too, as they give me more work as my clients want to upgrade. However it turns into a pain in the butt to try and squeeze in display adapter "upgrades" in between real hardware issues. This is why I have been showing my clients reality. Funny thing is that I have very loyal customers because of this. You don't have to believe a word I've just said. Look into it on your own.

Poshkidney
Poshkidney

dosen't matter its still an ugly game. Look the first game looked better than this. I'm sorry but its true the morale of this story is don't give obsidan anything.

belfador
belfador

QuadCore Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600, 2400 MHz (9 x 267) Asus P5B 2048 MB (DDR2-800 DDR2 SDRAM) NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT (512 MB) Microsoft Windows XP Professional In medium and high details the fps are the same for me: around 30 in the nw area. Technically this game sucks... ;(

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

None_of_your, do you have FRAPS? What kind of framerate do you get on average?

None_of_your
None_of_your

I've got a P4 3.06, 1GB, and a 256mb x1550 PCI (Yes PCI not PCI-E) I can run at 1024 x 768 with nearly everything on high but with shadows off

AnnoyedDragon
AnnoyedDragon

The games problem is the shadows, set them on low/medium with the shadow quality enhancement options turned off and you can bump up all the other settings. With the exception of the shadow options and AA, I have everything else maxed at 1680x1050 with no major performance problems on my 256mb 7900GT. If you have a decent 8 series card then you shouldn't have anything to complain about; used to just maxing everything with AA from the get go, that's your problem. This is just one of those games that has a settings that unusually bogs down performance, get over it. If the jaggies in the shadows is that much of a deterrent then you probably wouldn't have valued what the game has to offer anyway.

mpoy70
mpoy70

8800gtx and you have to lower settings for graphics that are not that impressive...No thanks! I guess I'll stick to WoW (50-60fps at 1440x900, 4xAA, everything maxed, ATHLON X2 3800+, 7600GT)

matt168
matt168

dam how demanding is this game. 8800GTX only 40frames woo. could a 7900GS pull this off at high settings at 10x7?

Xeuton_Mojukai
Xeuton_Mojukai

Cheap Computer - Fast Framerate - Good Graphics Choose 2. ~ David

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

If gamers have to make the game look ugly just to get it to play decently, you have done something wrong, especially when their systems meet the recommended requirements...

Negative_Sun
Negative_Sun

lolz it says the game doesn't benefit from multiple core CPUs but all the benchmarks were done with that, and the ad at the top says "unlocked by Core2 Extreme" Everyone knows or should know that graphics intensive games will only benefit from a better GPU and more RAM, a CPU upgrade is just stupid...I could probably still run it with my 2600+ Barton chip if I had more memory and a high-end GPU.

Recharger
Recharger

Hmm. maybe they will port it to the 360 or PS3, this the problem with Pc games, the quality of the game has to be compromised for so many players. And with that the experience is not what the developers intended.

alecsman_16
alecsman_16

System Setup:AMD Sempron 2600+,Abit KT880,256 MB Kingmax,80GB Maxtor 7200 rpm SATA Hard Disk Drive,Windows XP Professional SP2,Graphic Card:FX 5500 256MB.Graphic Driver: Nvidia Forceware 93.71. This is my system configuration.With all the settings at low i still can play the game.So stop complaing about the game.You have high-end comp and still not pleased about the game.You should prey to good not to make something bad to your computers.

eric-2-2-er
eric-2-2-er

[quote] What an idiotic game. Was this coded by baboons? I enjoyed NWN1, and I'd like to try this, but I'm not quite sure. My system has a core 2 duo and an 8800 GTS, but why does this game run so poorly on high-end systems? Also, these graphics aren't even impressive. [/quote] The effort that these guys put forth is very noticeable. Any video game these days require a lot of people power in order to stay competitive with other games. You should be ashamed that you could call a video game programmer a baboon. I'm sure you don't have 10% of the educator that these programmers do. Maybe you could show everyone a demo of what you can do in DirectX??

sc0rchedst0rm
sc0rchedst0rm

The memory performance tests say they experienced no difference in a jump from 1gb to 2gb of RAM. Well, I just upgraded to 2gb, and my loading times are probably less than a tenth what they were before, aswell as a 5 or 6 frames increase in performance.

zergrushfapfap
zergrushfapfap

Mezzanne, while yes, it's dumb that the optimal settings are so demanding, my game works perfectly on mediums settings, and my comp is just within reach of _minimal_ system reqs.... Just so you know...

Ultimate_offer
Ultimate_offer

Im getting a comp with all these requirements....only thing is im getting a (Socket AM2) AMD Athlon™64 X2 5600+ Dual-Core CPU w/ HyperTransport Technology. it clocks at 2.8GHz i think, but NWN2 doesnt use dual cores. think that processor will work well?

Ultimate_offer
Ultimate_offer

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Mezzanne
Mezzanne

What an idiotic game. Was this coded by baboons? I enjoyed NWN1, and I'd like to try this, but I'm not quite sure. My system has a core 2 duo and an 8800 GTS, but why does this game run so poorly on high-end systems? Also, these graphics aren't even impressive. Just out of principle, I want to boycott this game. This kind of thing makes me wish I owned a console sometimes, since developers just ignore the fact that high-end PCs are expensive and we can't upgrade every bloody 6 months. sheesh :(

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

Man I'm going to have to upgrade once more games get DX10. Games are getting ahead of my hardware now. I could probably run this mid settings most of the time if I wanted a good framerate.

Daelena
Daelena

any tests for 1440x900 ?

xurxsper
xurxsper

I tweak my settings from time to time when the framerates suffer a bit. My pc is Athlon 64 3200, 1GB RAM, GeForce 6600. Performance improves at 800 x 600. Funny though, when I check my task manager for memory usage, NWN2 hogs a whopping 400+ MB of memory. When you get past those performance tweaks, you can enjoy the game, as I have. Patience I guess.

Lord__Tyranuss
Lord__Tyranuss

I have a problem with the graphic card ATI Radeon 9250 series the driver is ATI Catalyst 6.11it said direct 3D not found what could I do?

Spaceoffz
Spaceoffz

I have an agreement with totalgridlock, with one addition. When i borrowed this game for a while, it worked perfectly, and my specs are slightly lower... 0.8g ram with a 1280x800... New comp now though and its a little wierd... is worse...

totalgridlock
totalgridlock

You know, I don't know why so many people have problems with this game. I've got a 2.8 Duo Core, 1gb RAM and a GeForce 7600 GS, running at 1024x768 and the only thing I turned down was the shadows to medium. Everything else on full whack. Now my system isn't exactly the highest spec around here and yet the game ran like a dream. No slow down. But then again, I know people with practically identical systems having shockingly differing performances with NWN2. 'Tis odd. I'm guessing the game eats processors for breakfast, seems to be the issue here rather than fancy graphics cards.

mysterrockstar
mysterrockstar

360gamerz: That should be enough. I run a 2.4 core duo with a ati x1300 a gig of ram and it runs fine, not completely maxed out but close. Try systemrequirementslab.com if unsure though.

G-on
G-on

iam ran on AMD 2.0 ghz (3200) RAM 512 DDR (3200) VGA Nforce6100 and not bad to play it even low/med resolution but still look nice

360gamerz
360gamerz

i hav a intel core duo but not extreme is tht gd enough i mean thts pretty top of the range

ninnea
ninnea

ahh- keep getting card issue messages- its pci express and process is 2.8 so maybe it the ram- only have 512- thinking of going to 1 gb thought it was driver issues with the card

Ibitmyeyeoff
Ibitmyeyeoff

OgreB, I've had that problem before...but never really that bad since mine stays at about 200 but it drops to about 25. You can still upgrade your system, but with a game like this, the only thing you really need to upgrade is your processor...which could also mean your motherboard. Just wanted to let you know the specifics of FPS. And ninnea, it would work fine if it's not AGP 4x, then it would just work slightly lower than rcommended. But as I typed to OgreB, the processor is what will account for most of the game. RAM and GPU (video card) are important to have, but they are for raising your visual game quality. All in all, your card would work good if you've got about 1g of RAM and probably 2ghz processor.

ninnea
ninnea

how does the ATi Radeon x 9250 x 256mb card work with the game

dmastor
dmastor

rpg's (turn base) are terrible games and lazy

OgreB
OgreB

My problem is that the frame rates jump around too much. It ran better with V1 than it does now.. No matter what resolution or settings it just pogos. Sometimes I can get 40+ and then just turning the camera plunges it below 10. Sometimes I can fight a dozen enemies and maintain 20+ and other times just a NPC walking by will drop it to 4. While in V1 I could set it to pretty high and maintain 20 FPS ( shadows full etc) Must be the maasive memory leaks...or it sould be because it was a D2D version ( which I will never do again) P4 3.06 1 gig ram PNY 6800 gs 256 New rig ( be here by next friday) Dual core 2.6 2gigs ddr2 ram 7950 1 gig card ( upgrade to 8800 this summer) I'll give it another go...but for the system requirments...it's not a very good looking game. With my current rig I can play Oblivion on very high at 2AA and fake HDR and maintain very high FPS ( at 12x10 res...with all shadow options on and set to medium to full) It's just not that good looking of a game considering the specs required...

shpreentenul
shpreentenul

I ran it on my Athlon 64 3200+ (2GHz), 6600GT and 1 GB RAM, in 1024x768, at medium settings (medium shadows too) and it ran smoothly.

das_Spoot
das_Spoot

That motherboard isn't the best. You should try an MSI 965 platnum instead. The drivers need time to mature too. ICH8 as a chipset offers very few benifits over ICH7, and the Nvidia chipset scales best anyhow. Try using an Nvidia chipset and a Raptor. I'd say framerates will improve as drivers come out. RAM doesn't often make that big a difference, but perhaps using Ballistix would help? Even 2 or 3 extra FPS counts with RPGs, which don't need 60FPS to play. But how bummed out would you be if you'd spent the odd €600 on the 8800GTX (and a rig worthy of it) only to find that NWN2 stutters along? Pretty annoyed I'd reckon! @gueycaan: It's obviously that rare 'Raiden' card that's giving you the edge. I wish my computer had the graphics card of a mythical Thunder God!

riggsie
riggsie

I have a nearly for year old pc that i havn't changed except for a DVD rom and my Ram is 512 and i think my card is a nividia geforce 5700. I can run the game on the lowest settings and although slow it does not freeze up. I am getting an extra 512 ram to bring it up to 1Gb. If it wasn't for this game i wouldn't be doing this esental upgrade. And although i think this game rocks i would prefer a game that runs smothly than looks good like the original.

gueycaan
gueycaan

Well you don't really need a strong computer to play the game. Most of the "specs" on side label (which says that my pc cannot play this game) of the game in the stores are just like advertisments. They say this is what you need to play the game, but if you noticed on the pics above there are low rez pics as well. For instance my pc is 3 YEARS old and I my cpu runs at, no lie, 800Mhz (AMD 64 2800+) and i can run NWN2 at Mediem to almost high. I can also play Oblivion 4 at the HIGHEST setting in HDR!!! If you know how to tweek your pc then forget what the specs are. I laugh at people when I am at the store and they talk about how they spent 1000.00 on some new card or computer just to play a game. Oh yeah and NEVER let the application deceide how to use your card or Automatic setting, THATS A nono!!! AND BEFORE YOU PLAY YOUR GAME SET YOUR WINDOWS TO RUN AT BEST PREFORMANCE, FORGET HOW NICE IT LOOKS, AND WHEN THATS DONE, HIT CTRL+ALT+DEL and close down ALL your crazy progams that are running that don't need to be running! But don't close anything run by the system. If you are not sure which ones your pc needs just click on search and type that file or that program name and if you don't need it close it. YOU WILL SEE A VERY BIG DIFFERENCE. The worst that can happen is your PC will restart or tell you that it is shutting down and you'll get an error upon reboot, but thats no biggie. These are My PC Specs AMD 64 2800+ (and i can still update it) Soltek k8 ( i don't even have a pc express) 1GB RAM (2 512MB) 512MB ATI Raiden X1600 (i got if for only 150.00 on newegg.com which i bought last year!) 160GB hdd

MajinBuXL
MajinBuXL

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

jamlomar90210
jamlomar90210

This test was a great help to me, i was trying to think if my 1.8ghz athlond, 1.5mb ram, and 256 video card (its a ati family express 200, no shaders :(...) sum1 mail me if u know anything bout my card cuz the 256mb doesnt even seem to do all that great. but since i seen what the 2.0ghz athlond got on this, i was like yeah i definatly cant play it, i might just go with titan quest, and im still skeptical bout that being how 1.8ghz is the min, and idk if my graphics card will let me down like it did in battlefield 2142, and fear :(