Best System Specs for Recording Gameplay with Fraps

Gary Simmons writes:

If I wanted to play games like Team Fortress 2 and record them with a program like Fraps and still have a high frame rate, what would be a good amount of RAM to have installed? I already have 8 GB, but I still experience a drop in frame rate, even on medium settings with no anti-aliasing. My current specs are:

Processor: AMD Athalon 64 X2 dual core processor 5400+ 2.81 GHz
RAM: 8 GB
System type: 64-bit OS
Video Card: ATi Radeon HD5770″

Team Fortress 2It would be hard to pinpoint exactly where your problem is coming from, but RAM may not be your issue. If you have no other programs running than Team Fortress 2 and Fraps, then I doubt your system is actively utilizing 8 GB of RAM. Even Windows Vista isn’t that demanding, and Team Fortress 2 is efficient enough to run smoothly on just about any modern hardware.

The first step I would take to attempt to correct the problem is to make sure all the drivers in my system are updated. Often, poor optimization can be corrected this way as manufacturers identify and resolve performance problems at the driver level.

If there is a hardware bottleneck here, then your processor might be the likely candidate. It’s a relatively older processor and it might have a hard time keeping up with the amount of information required for Fraps to build a large video file while the game is going on. Your video card is responsible for generating the image in the first place, and Fraps is more CPU intensive than anything.

Another important consideration for Fraps recording is your hard drive. Are you using a 5400 RPM drive? Slower hard drives can cause some lag between the initial capture and writing to the drive. Fraps records massive amounts of largely uncompressed data directly to your drive. Any delay there can cause lag. Consider getting a second internal drive. This will allow you to write to a drive that isn’t being used to load data the game itself needs to operate. You only really have one read head on a hard drive, and it’ll be skipping back and forth between reading and writing when it’s being used for both of these at the same time.

There are so many different areas where a bottleneck can happen to consider. Your motherboard might even be slowing you down. Make sure the RAM, CPU, and motherboard are all operating along the same speed. A slow motherboard will cause problems for you when you’re doing especially intensive tasks.

If you can find a command prompt command that enables you to display CPU, RAM, and hard drive activity in an overlay while playing your game, this could be a useful tool for you as well. It’ll let you know where the problem is happening. If Team Fortress 2 is eating 80% of your available CPU without Fraps actively recording, you can bet it’s going to hit its limit when you hit the record button.

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.