October - last edited February
PLEASE NOTE THAT, IN THIS POST, I WILL GO OVER FIXES THAT WORKED FOR ME AND LET ME PLAY THE SIMS 3 WITH LITTLE TO NO LAG! I OWN ALL PACKS AND ALMOST ALL STORE CONTENT, ALONG WITH A DECENT AMOUNT OF CC/MODS, AND MY GAME ALMOST NEVER LAGS, EVEN ON HIGH SETTINGS.
PLEASE, BACK UP EVERYTHING THAT YOU MODIFY, SO YOU CAN ROLL BACK IN CASE AN ISSUE POPS UP!
We all love The Sims 3; the gameplay, the customization, the amount of content is so massive that everyone has something to do. However, another reocurring feature is lag, freezing and generally unstable performance. There's a lot of different guides, fixes and options scattered around the Internet, I also made one (on Twitter, of all places!), but these forums seem like a logical option, especially since many players come here anyway to look for help with issues that they experience. I hope that this helps players shave off at least some lag, so we can all enjoy a more stable Sims 3.
The main reason I'm writing this now is the release of The Sims 3 (64-Bit & Metal) for Mac, which has left many Windows users wondering if Windows version is getting the same treatment. This thread has been the main source of information about 64-Bit release for Mac players, but many Windows users have recently expressed concern about a Windows version of the update. As of writing this post, NO UPDATE FOR WINDOWS VERSION OF TS3 HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED. Please, don't go there asking developers about it. Let Mac users enjoy playing the game that they could never play without issues before.
Now that that is out of the way, I want to state and repeat several things:
1. INSTALL THE BASE GAME, ALL YOUR PACKS & UPDATE THE GAME IF NEEDED!
2. RUN THE GAME ONCE AND UPDATE YOUR GRAPHICS RULES AND GRAPHICS CARDS FILE SO THE GAME RECOGNIZES YOUR CARDS
If you have just installed the game, run it once to create user files in Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3 (or another location, if your Documents folder is somewhere else), since you will need some info from there; specifically from DeviceConfig.log file. If you've already played the game and have those files, you don't have to run it.
Default locations for your GraphicsRules.sgr and GraphicsCards.sgr file are:
This is a good, detailed tutorial which can guide you in adding your graphics card info into your game's database. They also have an attached .zip file which contains GraphicsRules.sgr and GraphicsCards.sgr files that already contain many recent cards. Download them from that thread and check if your card is included there; if it is, you can use those files. As I've said before, BACK UP those files before you modify them.
3. LIMIT YOUR FRAME RATE!
The Sims 3, by default, runs without frame rate limitations. On any decent card, it is likely to go past 100 FPS. While that might seem desirable, the game doesn't actually display that many frames per second, but it still puts more strain on your graphics card than needed. Over time, it might damage your hardware, so it is necessary that you cap the frame rate. 60 FPS is enough for The Sims 3.
At the moment, I'm only able to provide step-by-step instructions for players with Nvidia cards, as I don't own an AMD card. I believe there are guides for AMD cards available, though.
4. NRAAS MODS (aka LIFESAVERS)
Nraas mods allow players to customize their game even more than an unmodded game allows. Some of them are very helpful with errors, and can improve performance and help with routing issues and other errors that the game produces no matter what. Only three are necessary: MasterController (base and MC Integration), Overwatch and ErrorTrap.
Nraas mods mentioned here can be found on the list of the common game fixing mods.
5. ELLACHARMED'S FIXED WORLDS
As you might have noticed, EA worlds are filled with routing issues, which can contribute to lag more than any other error. As more Sims are generated, there are more ways they can get stuck and slow the game down.
By default, worlds that come with packs are installed into:
First, BACK UP original .world files, then place the fixed files in their appropriate locations.
Store worlds, by default, go to: Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3\InstalledWorlds\. Of course, back up the original ones and place the new ones in there.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE WORLD FIXES WILL ONLY WORK FOR NEW SAVES, NOT FOR THE EXISTING ONES. YOU MIGHT NOTICE THAT SOME FEATURES IN PRE-FIXED SAVES MIGHT LOOK WEIRD. CONSIDER MOVING YOUR SIMS TO NEW SAVES IF YOU DECIDE TO INSTALL THESE FIXES.
6. DISABLE BLOOM EFFECT
Ok, this might not be the biggest performance boost, but it removes the obnoxious shine that some objects have. So might as well recommend it.
7. DISABLE ONLINE FEATURES
If you don't use Shop Mode, disable it in game Options. Log out of your Sims 3 account if you don't use it. Also, it's a good idea to disable interactive loading screens, as they might prolong loading times for worlds.
8. INSTALL STORE CONTENT THE SMART WAY
For years, I installed my Store content by dropping everything in Downloads folder and installing everything all at once. As you might expect, that sometimes didn't work really well. Now, I use this guide to organize and install my Store content in manageable batches and I know what each one contains. I only installed it once and backed it up. Now, if I ever need to reinstall, I just copy and paste it into my user folder and it's all there.
9. DELETE CACHE FILES
It is a good idea to delete cache files every once in a while. They will regenerate when needed, and that can help in case they ever get corrupted.
Cache files are located in Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3\ :
10. SAVE AS INSTEAD OF SAVE
Whenever possible, use option Save As instead of just Save. This will create a brand new save file for your world, instead of overwriting the same one over and over, which might lead to issues in the future. With Save As, you'll always get the cleanest save file possible, and you will have backups to go back to in case something goes wrong.
I hope that this guide helps players with lag in their games. These fixes have helped me run my game on High settings with no issues, and I hope they help others experience The Sims 3 in its full, lag free glory. I might update this if I use something new for my game, but for now, I hope that this is enough.
Stay safe and Happy Simming!