Testing an SMG and a Thumper and Spark and a Tormentor (Thumpers need love thread)

Disclaimer: This is not my thread. All credit goes to @Scottes

I decided to finally run some tests on elemental SMGs and decided to throw in Thumpers to see just how fail they are. Along the way I wanted to do some testing around Lilith’s Spark skills and any of her COMs which increase her Elemental Effect Chance.

Tech Pool and ActiveRegenRate

Every elemental weapon’s Tech Pool varies and is based on the weapon’s tech Level which is based on the weapon’s components. Every time a weapon procs - fires an elemental projectile - the tech pool is drained by an amount that varies with the weapon and proc size (x1, x2, etc.). Well, this isn’t always true - all Rocket Launchers procs, Revolver x1 procs and Explosive Sniper x1 procs do not drain the tech pool. To the best of my knowledge, all other procs drain the tech pool by some amount.

When the tech pool gets too low - lower than the cost of a proc - the weapon can no longer proc so it can’t fire an elemental projectile. This is where the ActiveRegenRate comes in. With all characters, the ActiveRegenRate defaults to 4.000, or 4 points of Tech_Pool regenerated per second. Once the tech pool is high enough again, the weapon may proc.

Note that the weapon must be in-hand for it to regenerate Tech Pool. If you switch to another weapon, Tech Pool regen will stop on the original weapon, and it’s Tech Pool will remain steady as long as it’s in one of your 4 equip slots. If you put the weapon back into your backpack inventory, the Tech Pool will reset to 0.

This last bit is slightly important for people who grab weapons out of their backpacks during battle. If you do this, it would be wise to grab a proc-every-shot weapon like a revolver, explosive sniper, or some Legendary that procs on every shot.

Lilith Bonuses - Spark and COMs

Each point added to Lilith’s Spark skill increases the weapon’s Tech_Pool by 2%, and the ActiveRegenRate by 5.5%. This is a bit different from Spark’s stated “+4% Elemental Chance” per point.

Furthermore, Lilith has some COMs which can increase her Spark skill as well as her ActiveRegenRate. Her FireFly COM can list a bonus + x% Elemental Effect Chance, which increases the ActiveRegenRate of an Incendiary weapons equipped. Her Tempest COM can list the same bonus which helps Shock weapons, PlagueBearer COMs can help Corrosive weapons, and her Tormentor COM can increase the ActiveRegenRate for any elemental weapon.

Her Tormentor, FireFly and Specialist COMs can also add points to Spark.

An Example Calculation

In typical Borderlands fashion, these ActiveRegenRate bonuses are cumulative. The base rate of 4.000 is added to the bonus provided by Spark which is added to the bonus provided by a COM’s +Elemental Effect Chance.

As an example, one of the test SMGs below has a Tech_Pool of 60. My Lilith has 5/5 in Spark, and a Tormentor COM which has +4 Spark. This COM also lists a bonus of +45% Elemental Effect Chance.

The Tech_Pool increase is simple - 9 points of Sparks adds 18% more Tech_Pool, bringing it to 70.800 points.

The ActiveRegenRate calculation is a little more complex because we have to consider the total points in Spark and the COM’s increase to the Elemental Effect Chance. Spark adds 1.980 (9 * 5.5% * 4.000) and the COM adds 1.800 (45% * 4.000). With these two bonuses added to the base of 4.000, the final ActiveRegenRate is 7.780.

In the end, my Lilith recharges the Tech_Pool at almost twice the original rate. This allows her more procs, and more large procs*, as we’ll see in the following tests.

  • Generally this higher ActiveRegenRate would allow more x2 and x3 and x4 procs, but SMGs don’t prove this very well.

The Test Weapons and COM

I assembled a bunch of SMGs and Thumpers. For now, I’m just going to concentrate on the Incendiary versions of the Thumper and Stinger. Maybe another day I’ll put the others through some paces, but just testing these two is taking quite a bit of time. And it’s becoming a very long post.



I also wanted to do some tests without any elemental bonuses, and compare them against the highest possible elemental bonuses that Lilith can attain. I used a Level 61 Lilith with a 50 proficiency in SMG, but sometimes had her at 0/5 Spark, and other times I spec’d her at 5/5 Spark and wearing a Tormentor COM.


Test Setup

As usual, I’ll be using Fraps to record some movies, and VirtualDub to review them frame-by-frame. I’ll also enable Borderlands’ Debug Mode from time to time. I have created a test map that allows me to do a variety of tests as described below.

I’ll be using my test map since it allows me to control many things to eliminate as many variables as possible. This map automatically heals my character (100 points ten times a second) so I don’t have to worry about shields or dying. I have added objects and meshes that let me test stuff like how often a weapon procs, and how COMs and Spark effect the proc rate.

I will test DPS by killing a level 61 Motorhead over and over. My map will time how long it takes to kill him, and I’ll do this with each weapon. I already know that this Motorhead has 410,000 health, so the elapsed time will allow me to calculate DPS.

I’ll also throw Lilith at a bunch of Corrosive Lance, since they’re not susceptible to Incendiary damage like Motorhead is.

Proc Rate

One thing I’ve always been curious about is the frequency of procs with non-legendary SMGs and Thumpers. The proc cost is rather high, the tech pool is rather low, and the weapons never seem to proc often in a long, heated battle.

In order to calculate the base statistics of the weapons, I re-spec’d and left all skills at 0/5, and I removed my COM. This eliminates all bonuses to the Tech Pool and leaves ActiveRegenRate at 4.000. For these initial tests I’ve enabled Debug Mode so that I can see a bunch of statistics including Tech Pool and ActiveRegenRate. I recorded the action in Fraps at 30 frames per second, and VirtualDub lets me view the movie frame-by-frame. At this rate, the Tech Pool is regenerating at 0.1333 per frame, and I’ve taken this into account in the reports below.

Burning Stinger - No Skills or COM

First up is the Burning Stinger, with a base Tech Pool of 60. The first two rounds fired proc’d - the first proc cost 25.31 points and the next cost 23.70. At this point the Tech Pool was left with 10.93 points.

After 26 frames - almost 1 second - the Tech Pool had charged back up to 14.378. The next frame shows a proc - the 12th round out of the SMG. This proc cost 14.02, leaving the Tech Pool at 0.4928. There were no more procs for the rest of this short recording session.

18 rounds were fired, with 3 procs. The procs apparently came in 2 different sizes - 2 cost approximately 24 points, and another cost 14 points. The impacts of all 3 procs appeared to be the same size, though it was a bit hard to tell this time.

In his “Elements, Multipliers, and YOU” thread, instant karma states that SMGs can only do x2 procs, and drain between 16-22 points from the Tech Pool. I’m seeing slightly different results, so I’ll keep testing a bit.

For the next little round of testing, I blew through 156 rounds - 4 full clips. The list below shows the number of the round that proc’d and the proc cost:

3 - 14.94
5 - 11.98
8 - 11.96
14 - 11.51
41 - 11.79
72 - 11.86
90 - 11.86
123 - 11.89
148 - 11.78

9 procs in 156 rounds in 15.4 seconds.
That’s an average of 17.3 rounds per proc, 1.71 seconds per proc.

I didn’t see any of the larger-cost procs in this test. The Tech Pool was fully charged before I started firing. I’m curious about that.

Burning Stinger - Max Skills and COM

I kept the same weapon, but assigned 5 points to Spark to get the Tech Pool and ActiveRegenRate increases. I then equipped the Tormentor COM with its +4 Spark and +45% Elemental Effect Chance. This brought the Stinger’s Tech Pool from 60 to 70.8, and the ActiveRegenRate went from 4.000 to 7.780.

I did the same 156-round test as above. The rounds that proc’d were:

8, 10, 11, 15, 18, 19, 29, 41, 58, 73, 82, 101, 118, 127, 147

15 procs in 156 rounds in 15.4 seconds.
That’s an average of 10.4 rounds per proc, 1 second per proc.

In this test, all procs cost ~12 points - the most expensive proc was the first one, which cost 12.01 points. I’m a bit curious about the fact that both long tests had such low proc costs, whereas my very first recording showed the first two procs cost approximately 24 each.

One thing I noticed during this test was that the weapon proc’d as soon as it could. That is, once the Tech Pool had 12 points the very next round would proc, and after the first clip the Tech Pool never hit 13. On the first test, the Tech Pool would usually hit 14 before a proc occurred, and occasionally hit 15

The first test showed 3 procs in 18 rounds, and at that point the Tech Pool had 3.810 remaining. The second test showed 6 procs in 19 rounds, and at that point the Tech Pool had 6.639 remaining.

Burning Thumper - No Skills or COM

Next up is the Burning Thumper, which also has a base Tech Pool of 60. I’m very curious how its rate of fire might affect the proc rate. The stinger has a 12.5 RoF, but the Thumper is almost 1/4 the speed with a 3.6 RoF. Again, I re-spec’d Lilith to remove her Spark skill points, and put the COM into her backpack.

I fired four clips again - though the Thumper has an 18-round clip so it fired only 72 rounds total. The number of each round that proc’d, and the cost:

2 - 13.94
3 - 13.96
5 - 23.83
9 - 15.60
21 - 11.86
33 - 11.81
38 - 15.87
48 - 11.86
55 - 11.78
64 - 11.77

10 procs in 72 rounds in 23.2 seconds.
That’s an average of 7.2 rounds per proc, 2.3 seconds per proc.

It’s interesting to note that some of the procs cost more than 12, but again none of them came close to the high cost of 24 from the very first test.

Burning Thumper - Max Skills and COM

Once again I spec’d Lilith with 5/5 Spark and equipped her Tormentor COM. This put the Thumper’s Tech Pool at 70.8, with an ActiveRegenRate of 7.780 - same as the tests above.

Four clips of the Thumper resulted in the following rounds that proc’d:

1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 20, 23, 30, 32, 37, 42, 46, 50, 57, 67, 69

18 Procs in 72 round in 23.2 seconds.
That’s an average of 4 rounds per proc, 1.29 seconds per proc.

Many of these procs were high-cost procs. I saw a 23, a 22, and several 15s. I’m still baffled about the proc costs - but this is Borderlands, and random is random.

Proc Results Recap

Stinger, no skills: 17.3 rounds per proc, 1.71 seconds per proc.
Stinger, max skills and Tormentor: 10.4 rounds per proc, 1 second per proc.

Thumper, no skills: 7.2 rounds per proc, 2.3 seconds per proc.
Thumper, max skills and Tormentor: 4 rounds per proc, 1.29 seconds per proc.

Timed Kills: Motorhead

As usual I killed Motorhead 3 times per weapon per skill setting, and took the lowest time for each set.

Again, note that “max skills” means 5/5 in Spark and the Tormentor equipped. Lilith is not spec’d with any RoF, damage, or on-kill buffs other than the 50 SMG proficiency.

Stinger, no skills: 25.63 seconds
Stinger, max skills: 13.55 seconds

Thumper, no skills: 30.20 seconds
Thumper, max skills: 13.53 seconds

Spark and the COM gave some excellent improvements in the kill time.

I am utterly amazed at the results of the Thumper with max skills. It actually beat the Stinger! This number was actually quite consistent, with the Thumper averaging 13.62 seconds. The Stinger, on the other hand, fluctuated quite a bit and yielded an average time of 15.38 seconds. This is probably due to the Stinger’s recoil, and its high RoF which means more misses when Motorhead twists and turns.

I do have couple things to mention about these results, due to another thread. These results are purely concentrated on Incendiary DPS on a target that is weak to Incendiary weapons. Motorhead does not have a critical spot, so base bullet damage is just about meaningless. With most enemies, the Stinger’s high RoF will cause a great number of criticals, which makes for a lot of instantaneous damage.

Timed Kills: Corrosive Lance

I set the map to time how long it would take to kill some level 61 Corrosive Lance. I set it spawn a total of 4, but 1 at a time and 2 second between a death and the next enemy spawned. I did this 3 times for each set and took the lowest time.

The results were interesting, but not nearly as good as the Motorhead test. So I tried again but swapped the Tormentor COM for a Merc COM and tried for more criticals to make use of the extra SMG damage done by the Merc.


Stinger, no skills: 25.73 seconds
Stinger, max skills, Tormentor: 23.44 seconds
Stinger, max skills, Merc: 21.78

Thumper, no skills: 36.85 seconds
Thumper, max skills, Tormentor: 28.64 seconds
Thumper, max skills, Merc: 25.73

Well, quite a difference from the tests against Motorhead. The extra skill points and Tormentor COM helped, but the improvement was much less. Swapping to the Merc and going for headshots improved a little bit more.


Here’s the loot you get from killing 72 Corrosive Lance in one spot.


TWO PURPLES! Two measly purples. Corrosive Lance Loot Sucks.


Ok this is stouty22 talking again.

What I make of all of this is perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to throw elemental thumpers in the trash (See item fail of the day thread) They seem to be able to keep up relatively well with the normal stinger version of smg’s despite their lack of fire rate, and they use far less ammo than their stinger counterparts.


Thumpers are seriously underrated. They just don’t suit all situations, whereas a Stinger could be considered a weapon that does.

Thumper precision at medium distances convinced me. Hold the trigger down and all the bullets hit the same spot. In a way they’re one of the most accurate of the fast-firing weapons. Get an x4 and the proc rate is excellent and things melt.

Granted, I haven’t fired one in 4+ years, but that’s what I remember.


Meh, I don’t like them because they have terribly low DPS, which isn’t something you can easily get away with on Lilith (because Lilith isn’t a DPS character and doesn’t have any skills that boost her damage enough for a Thumper to be worth using). This is especially the case with me being Level 69 and all that, where enemies scale with me and that means they are pretty tough. Sure, you could get away with them on a character like Roland who is a DPS character and has the skills to boost Fire Rate and Damage enough to justify using a Thumper. But Lilith and Mordecai? No way is using a Thumper worth it on non-DPS characters in BL1.

I think you may have missed the point - it’s not that they are better, but that they are usable because DOT is so powerful. They can be accurate and are good at applying DOT.