Logitech Gaming Software, meet nVidia GeForce hardware

Posted by Shivoa (679 posts) -

This may also affect AMD and even Intel users (if this affects integrated graphics which is sharing a power budget with your CPU then it'll be making your desktop less responsive rather than just wasting power making your PC louder and hotter than it needs to be) but I'm describing it as it happens on my system. My Google-fu didn't throw up someone complaining about it so hopefully this'll get search engine tagged for other to find (as the chances of bug reports sent to the companies involved ever getting acted upon is ~0%); if you use Logitech Gaming Software (currently version 8.46.27) with a modern nVidia GeForce GPU (current drivers are 320.49) then your computer may be running too hot when at the desktop and so wasting power and generating unwanted heat.

Default: on, seems broken.

With modern GPUs the dynamic clock speed and power use of the card can vary quite dramatically. The GTX760 I have here clocks down to 135MHz core and 650MHz RAM when idle at the desktop. The base GPU clock (before it uses boost bins to get to 1.2GHz when extra power and thermals allow) is 1072MHz and the RAM clocks to 7GHz when called to offer fast 3D performance. As you can imagine, that extra power comes with extra energy use and that means the fans crank up to make the system louder, the electricity bills go up ever so slightly, and everything runs warmer than it maybe needs to be in desktop mode.

The problem with using the Logitech mouse drivers (to set fast updates down the USB cable, sensor DPI, and assign extra buttons to what you want if a game can't see the buttons with their default assignment) is the default setting to the right (which starts out selected) to hardware accelerate the interface. At least with my more recent nVidia GPU and the current GeForce drivers then this option to use hardware acceleration seems to always bind and request resources to render the UI, even when the window is closed and only the notification icon remains. To render the picture of a mouse, the Logitech software seems to hook into the nVidia driver (possibly asking for an OpenGL accelerated surface, maybe it is Direct3D) and this fools the driver into thinking it is being asked to render something for a game. That nice low idle rate (more than enough grunt to render the Aero Windows interface with the limited GPU acceleration Windows asks of a card for this mainly 2D work) is disabled as the card clocks up to full RAM speed and full base clock on the GPU, North of 1GHz. Possibly the Logitech software is failing to put a framerate cap on the surface it calls so is actually thrashing the card to redraw the mouse over and over or maybe the nVidia setting for idling at low power only gets maintained when the only work it is being asked to do is things it knows Windows asks for. Either way, this is not software, drivers, and hardware working together as intended.

Disabling this option seems to fix everything. The Logitech driver falls back on drawing a few textures to the window with standard Windows UI API calls and the nVidia driver goes back to thinking it is just sitting at the desktop and no games are asking for an accelerated surface that means it need to clock up and render as many frames as possible. The GPU and RAM are clocked down at almost 10% frequency and the fan goes back to the lowest speed (an almost inaudible 30%).

If you're running a graphics card from the last few years (even a 4 year old card will clock down somewhat but in recent years AMD and nVidia have really pushed to get lower idling speeds which use very little power on the desktop) and have some Logitech peripherals that mean you run their Logitech Gaming Software then I strongly recommend you disable this hardware acceleration setting for peace of mind.

This post was cross-posted from my blog, where you can find more 'gaming adjacent' posts not normally syndicated to this GiantBomb blog.

#1 Posted by VACkillers (1089 posts) -

So does this just affect Logitech mouses? or is this any PC peripherals? Logitech make a lot of different hardware, like game controllers, steering wheels, flight sticks, web cams...... so I'm wondering if this is just limited to the cursor?

#2 Posted by Shivoa (679 posts) -

It seems to be limited to the software (so any Logitech peripheral that asks you to install the Logitech Gaming Software) as I've tried it without the peripheral being connected and it was the same (hardware acceleration kills the low power mode on the desktop just as surely as running a game does). Of course, with component reuse then it could be that other Logitech software also uses this method of accelerating the UI and so has exactly the same issue but I only have the software that provides drivers/options for my peripherals.

#3 Posted by JJWeatherman (14591 posts) -

Interesting. I have a G9x, but don't believe I actually have this software installed for whatever reason. I seem to remember different software when I first setup my mouse like a year ago. And my monitored GPU speeds are nice and low at idle, but I'll keep an eye out should I ever be forced to download this software.

#4 Posted by SomeJerk (3498 posts) -

The framerate cap thing is Nvidias massive failure of a fault to still not have implemented into their hardware. Nvidia cards have fried themselves since forever thanks to it, Star Craft II testing was a somewhat recent occasion, GTA4 another where framerates regularly go beyond 3000 in loading screens, many more examples exist. AMD cards draw at these framerates and survive because they have an internal limiter that isn't patented, it's free and open to integrate. What's Nvidia's excuse, besides making more money on customers that get hit by this?

#5 Posted by Nictel (2542 posts) -

Yeah the Logitech software is pretty bad. Their hardware is great though. But I might blow your mind on this one: You don't have to use their Logitech Gaming Software most of the times. For instance my G500 mouse works perfectly fine without it, that includes all the buttons and the dynamic DPI settings.

#6 Edited by Shivoa (679 posts) -

@somejerk: Note that I'm talking about a card that changes boost bins (dynamic overclocking with overvolting) based on both maximum power draw and thermal limits (which is how the card exposes overclocking, via targets for power and thermals and an optional extra voltage level above that unlocks a top bin). So it isn't a driver issue that a card asked to render 1000 fps actually does what it is asked rather than having a limiter in place and more importantly these modern designs with very rapid monitoring of the power and thermal situation are not capable of being broken by what you describe (and both nVidia and AMD talked about things like FurMark as 'power viruses' when they came to prominence and pushed parts of GPUs in ways they had not expected, forcing this more advanced regulating mechanism on GPUs).

The current nVidia drivers expose an adaptive v-sync option to allow people who prefer the responsiveness of a tearing scene (where they get partial frames) to get a v-sync off option that also caps out at the refresh rate of the connected monitor (so in this mode the thermal regulation can cut in and idle the card once it has saturated the monitor connection rather than redrawing extra frames that can't be used once you hit the refresh rate of the screen). Obviously having v-sync on (as I prefer) means this protection is on all the time. This does not change the issue of requesting a surface (not the final buffer exported to the screen) and running an endless loop requesting it be refreshed and it is totally normal to update such a buffer beyond the rate at which frames are being exported to the screen.

Edit: as most GPUs come with very nice warranties and people can easily switch brand if their card caught fire when it wasn't them overclocking and messing to get round the power/thermal regulation then it wouldn't be in nVidia's interest to try and sabotage their customers cards. 'Making more money on customers that get hit by this' is pure chemtrails talk.

#7 Edited by Shivoa (679 posts) -

@nictel: Thanks, I found that too with my old G5 (which was SetPoint, their old software, I think) but the G400 doesn't seem to remember even DPI/USB rate settings when the software isn't loaded (and I've had left shift/ctrl on the thumb buttons and other keys for the DPI changing buttons forever so I can use them in games without the game needing to be aware of mouse 4/5 or custom DPI buttons being bindable and I think x-mouse type rebinders can only see mouse 4/5 and not the DPI buttons around the wheel).

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