Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've been playing Crysis 2 and Skyrim on my Retina MacBookPro (10,1) for months now. The two games used to run super smoothly even on nearly maxed out settings. This laptop has an Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics card inside, it runs great.

But I recently replaced my Windows 8 consumer preview with the retail copy, and since then, 3D games lag in this odd way, no matter what the graphics settings. Every second Skyrim and Crysis alternates between running smoothly and lagging. It's a cyclical lag that comes and goes like clockwork. I can turn the graphics down to 800x600 with no antialiasing and low texture quality, and it runs much smoother on the "up" motion of the cycle, but every second it moves back into this lag spike.

I've tried installing beta graphics drivers, re installing the operating system, re installing the bootcamp support software, and freeing up space (I have about 20 GB free). I can't figure out what suddenly caused this other than some obscure difference between the consumer preview and the retail version.

What can I try? Is my video card failing? Are there some other drivers I can install? This isn't normal lag from maxing out the card, it


New info on the lag. Everything starts fine, but gets progressiveness worse after about 10 minutes of play, and I left it go for an hour once, and it was REALLY bad. This is bizarre.

So I've reformatted and installed Windows 7 Ultimate. Only thing on this machine is the OS, Steam, Chrome, Bootcamp Support and beta drivers. I don't get it, literally everything runs like shit. Every 3D thing has the same cyclical lag. Even CSS 3D transformations in browsers do it, I'm beginning to think it's a hardware failure. Does anyone have any other suggestions I could try? I've been at this for almost a week, it's deteriorating my state of mind.

ETA 2:

So I did some further snooping around, and it would appear others have my same problem:

It came from a fairly recent EFI update for the rMBP that dramatically lowered the threshold for CPU down-throttling as the internals heat up during gameplay. Basically when I games are played, the laptop heats up and the EFI upgrade forces the CPU to slow down to save the MacBOok from hardware failure, despite the fact that no users complained for overheating prior to the EFI update.

Some have said resetting the SMC and PRAM solve the problem on the OS X side of things but not the Windows side. I experienced this when I tried that fix. Downgrading to 10.8.1 worked for one person, but it could've been a flook.

The verdict is people aren't sure if Apple is working on it or not. Generally is seems intentional to save Apple form replacing lots of expensive laptops if parts fail, but Apple store employees have said Apple is aware of the issue and working on it.

Until that time, the solution needed is an EFI downgrade, which is possible but extremely risky. Does anyone have any suggestions as how to proceed? This basically disabled my computer for all Windows gaming.


share|improve this question
According to this apple support article one cannot return an Intel-based Macintosh computer's firmware to a previous version if a successful update has been performed. – harrymc Nov 27 '12 at 8:41
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Everything starts fine, but gets progressiveness worse after about 10 minutes of play, and I left it go for an hour once, and it was REALLY bad. This is bizarre.

You pretty much nailed it down as a heat/throttling issue right here.

When performance drops off over time but isn't associated with a crash it's very commonly related to heat build-up in the system and the components throttling themselves to prevent overheating. Software possibilities were pretty much eliminated with the re-install you did.

It might be worth looking into cleaning the cooling fins if it's not been done recently. I don't know how easy or difficult the MBP is to work on but with other hardware I might even suggest re-applying the thermal paste with some high-quality material but how much difference that can make will depend entirely on how good the existing material is.

share|improve this answer
He has the retina MBP which isn't easy to open and clean. iFixit gave it a very poor score – pratnala Dec 2 '12 at 10:00
I looked at their article on it. It didn't look too crazy to clean. New TIM might be a pain though. – Nathan V Dec 2 '12 at 10:50

Have you installed direct x 9, 10 and 11 ? Try that. Did you install win 8 pro or just 8, I would try the other of what you have, you can find it on the internet, and if it works buy a upgrade. Your graph drivers are up to 310.61 in Beta, try that. Make sure you pick which bit, 32 or 64.

If you are a big gamer, 90 percent of games work better on win 7 then 8, Microsoft flight works better on 8.

You can try Furmark, and run a stability test and check your scores with other 650m.

share|improve this answer
With Crysis I had to disable directx 11, and this is on a top asrock lga 2011 board with PCI-e 3.0. – welis Nov 24 '12 at 10:49
Why would windows 8 work better than windows 8 pro? – alt Nov 25 '12 at 8:09
That's the only thing I have yet to try. I've already tried Windows 8 Pro, Enterprise, and Windows RT, so I can't imagine a different copy would offer different results. Since I've tried so much, I'm beginning to imagine that my graphics card has just deteriorated in performance over time, possibly form overheat? – alt Nov 25 '12 at 8:09
@welis - Where do you get your facts when you say "games work better on windows 7 then windows 8" because a recent article on this very subject ( it was actually on poor performance with the best AMD card ) showed that both AMD and Nvidia both had better performance ( 1FPS in the case of AMD ) when it was ran on Windows 8. – Ramhound Dec 14 '12 at 13:21

The best solution for now which will be safe for you is wait till apple updates its reviews for this issue.Dont downgrade and be safe!!

share|improve this answer

I had same problem and I fixed it with a simple trick: just reset the non-volatile memory.

Shut down your mac and press Option-Command-P-R until you hear startup sound a second time.

My 650M started to work well again after that!

share|improve this answer
Tried it, but thanks! – alt Dec 15 '12 at 9:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .