FINAL EDIT: Turns out heat was the issue! Slapped on (properly) some new thermal paste on the CPU and GPU tonight and the idle temp is now topped out at 44 or 45C. Did some heavier Borderlands 2 gaming and the FPS stayed at a very cool, very calm 35+ the entire time! It dipped to 31 once during a heavy scene right after using the menus (FPS does drop with the menu system, for some reason), but outside of that the lowest it got even in heavy action was about 35. Most of the time it averaged 40+! I even turned the last two settings to high and still maintained it The operating temp ended up leveling at 75C, which is average from what I've read. So I'd say I'm in the clear again!
EDIT: I should mention that this isn't the "throttling" problem normally listed with these computers. Once the FPS drops it doesn't seem to come back.
When I first got this computer not quite two years ago, it was working great. I ran games like Borderlands on full without issue (I know, not a high intensity game. You'll understand why in a minute.), and could run things like Battlefield 3 on adjusted settings at a smooth framerate. But about 6 months ago, I noticed that my framerate was suddenly dropping. Even Borderlands has issues now.
Finally, I recently picked up Borderlands 2 on sale, cranked it to mostly high, and started playing. Ran beautifully, thought I was home free. But after about 20 minutes, it started to lag pretty badly. Playable, but only because I've had practice, haha. I ran some cleaners and such, no issues. I also tried out GameBooster 3.5 (before Razer) to suppress other programs and monitor FPS and such. I found that when I first started Borderlands 2, I was running a very consistent and clean 37-45 FPS, easily, even on places that were dogging when I stopped last time. So I got into it a bit to see what would happen. After about 10 minutes, it was dropping consistently and bottomed out to about 20-26 average. It stayed there, no matter how desolate the area. I checked temperature on the CPU through GameBooster and it read 67C! Pretty sure that's high...
What do you guys think? Am I overheating already, after less than two years? It's not like I've had good luck with Lenovo so far, but this seems extreme. I've thrown thermal paste on a CPU before (not this one, a friend's Asus) and it helped his. Maybe that's what I need. But if there are other options first, I'd appreciate it!
It shouldn't be, as I just recently got it back from Lenovo who installed a new lower and upper case (I've had hinge troubles. By the way, this issue started long before I had to send it back in for repair, just to clarify.). I don't remember seeing much when I had to open it up to hook up the GPU switch correctly, but I'll give it another look tonight. Could be the heatsink is bottlenecked or something. Definitely couldn't hurt to check.
I do believe heat is the problem. I tried out some Skyrim just now, since that is another game I've noticed issues on (and I felt like playing it ). When I started, I was keeping a very easy 60 fps, even in towns. It would "dip" to about 45 now and then, but rarely. After about 10 minutes, I was doing a mission and got into it with a dragon and a few bandits. Within a few minutes into the fight, the FPS had dropped to 35 or less. Once I got through and warped back to the same city I started in, the FPS would sometimes raise to 40 for a few seconds, but generally stayed at 30 or below. I checked the operating temp... 80C! Seems rather hot to me.
Just to test, I tried Borderlands 2 again. Started out with FPS in the 20's, rather than starting out in the upper 30's and 40's like when cold.
Yeah, I've had a couple laptops with heat issues. Granted, they were 4+ years old, so I was hoping otherwise with this one. I think I'll snag some thermal paste and air and just do some new paste at the same time as cleaning. If it's not the problem, then oh well, can't hurt anyway, haha.