I play games from my laptop, and about 6 months ago added a secondary hard drive to store my games. Playing games from it, I've pretty consistently had minor issues with stuttering and freezing since putting it in.
What happens is that whenever something has to be loaded into memory, such as a new sound, model, or animation, the game locks up for a few moments and then plays it. It's also common for new sounds to not lock up the game, but to play long after they should have.
Example: Playing Killing Floor, throwing a grenade for the first time will freeze it for about a second, throwing a grenade for the second time will not affect performance at all.
It's a 500GB WD Scorpio Blue, Internal Notebook HD. (WDC WD5000BPVT-16HXZT3 ATA Device)
I have defragged it with the windows tool and Piriform's Defraggler. I have adjusted the power settings to spin down my hard drive after 120 minutes. The drive checks out as being in good health. I'm not hearing any strange sounds from it.
I have not done anything with the BIOS.
If anybody could help me out, I would really appreciate it. This problem is generally tolerable, but after a freeze at the wrong time got my guy killed and ruined a game, I decided it's time to do something about it.
I honestly don't think its your hard drive. unless your running it through usb2.0 or something .. but sounds more like graphic quality issues. seeing as how your running it on a laptop you might want to lower your settings and see if that makes any difference. alternatively invest in an ssd drive for a secondary drive and go that route. depending on how full your drive is you may want to remove some stuff and make some free space the performance of those drives drops as they approach full capacity.