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Skyrim runs worse than it used to on more-than-adequate machine

Last response: in Video Games
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November 10, 2013 1:14:58 PM

Computer: Asus G53sw-a1
CPU: Intel Core i7-2630QM @ 2.00 GHz
RAM: 8 GB ddr3
GPU: nVidia GeForce GTX 460M, 1.5GB
HDD: SATA @ 7200rpm
OS: Windows 7 64-bit

The computer was running games sluggishly before (Counterstrike: GO, Skyrim, even minecraft were all getting low fps on the lowest settings), so I've just completed a clean install of Windows 7. I have the latest video drivers from nVidia as well.
I decided Skyrim would be a good way to test whether or not the performance had improved compared to before the fresh install, so I downloaded it and booted it up, this time on medium settings. Again, however, after about 5 minutes of gameplay the performance drops harshly, to the point where I was probably getting about 15-25 fps. When I first purchased the notebook about 2 years ago, Skyrim had just come out and ran decently well on Ultra settings and almost flawlessly on high settings, with the HD textures once they were released. Now it's virtually unplayable, even on the lowest settings. I have yet to test any other games to see if their performance is still poor (I'm thinking Battlefield 3 next, as it also used to run well on high settings but was unplayable this past summer when I went back to it).

It's incredibly disappointing that a computer's performance could drop this much. For the record, back in August I disassembled the notebook and thoroughly dusted it (at least I think it was thorough); those who are familiar with the model know what a pain it is to dust.
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November 10, 2013 1:31:33 PM

performance doesn't just drop (i.e. the actual hardware cannot become slower). Most likely, you have some software issues. did you install ALL the drivers?
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November 10, 2013 1:36:28 PM

Installed all drivers (and keep in mind the situation was the same before I reinstalled Windows 7 when the drivers were all there and all up-to-date), I can't see where there would be a software issue. As I said in the post, the last time I cleaned inside was near the end of August, which I suppose is a decent while ago. However, since then it's been used very lightly and I don't smoke/have pets so I don't know how much of an issue dust/debris build up could be. I'm not opposed to doing another dusting of fans/interior, but if anyone has experience with cleaning this Asus model or one constructed similarly I would appreciate some tips (it's a pain to have to disassemble just about the whole notebook to access the fans).
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November 10, 2013 8:25:57 PM

If it starts off ok, then starts dropping in performance, there is a good chance you have a heat issue, or it goes into a low power mode due to lack of plugging in.

With laptops, you have to have them on a flat surface with good air flow. You may also need to be plugged in. You might also need to open up the laptop and clear out any dust bunnies that have formed over time.
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November 10, 2013 11:23:22 PM

download GPU Temp and CPU-Z and take a look at how your system is performing, personally (XPS 17 here i7 2670QM @2.2Ghz, GT 550M) I was playing games fine last year, getting smooth enough frames at low/medium settings at 1080p with Skyrim, then when I played intensive MMORPGs (GW2 and TERA) my PC started throttling, I was really frustrated since I didn't know the cause, then one day it just shut down while playing TERA.

Turns out my 550M was overheating, I monitored my system's temperatures with the aforementioned programs and saw that my GPU was reaching 95 degrees Celcius, and my CPU was about 7 degrees away from meltdown temperatures, the temperature was causing my CPU to underclock itself to under 1.3Ghz also, severely throttling my performance.

So I suggest you use those programs and see what's up, if it's overheating, you may need to get a cooling base for it, I got a $25 cooler master laptop cooling base and it's running fine now, GPU temps are still high (can reach 80s) but it's enough for a temporary solution before I build a new one. If you plan on using your laptop long term then I do recommend learning the ins and outs of the hardware on it and applying new thermal paste.
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November 11, 2013 3:14:43 PM

Got fraps and used the fps counter; played Skyrim and after about 3 minutes the framerate had dropped from a perfect 60 (medium settings, no hd textures) to around 30fps and proceeded to drop to about 10 fps. Used GPU Temp and HW Monitor from CPUID: GPU peaked at ~95 Celsius, was about 93 Celsius as soon as I started the game. CPU Cores averaged about 80 Celsius, one of them peaking at 83 degrees. Suggestions? I'm looking into getting a cooling base and I'm almost definitely going to disassemble completely and remove all dust. It occured to me that the last time I dusted I didn't remove the panel holding the motherboard to get at the fans, I just went in with compressed air from under the mobo and behind the fans, so I may have just pushed the dust tighter into the fans.

Edit: HWMonitor shows peak GPU temperature at 99 degrees Celsius.
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November 11, 2013 3:50:12 PM

That is definitely your problem. You may have to reattach the HSF as well, if the TMI has broken free or gone bad.
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November 11, 2013 3:50:52 PM

HSF = heatsink fan?
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November 11, 2013 3:53:06 PM

Yes. Well, it's more "heat sink and fan". It's the heat sink that needs to be reattached, possibly.
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November 11, 2013 3:58:14 PM

Well i'll repaste anyway and the heatsink kinda needs to be removed to clean the fans.
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November 11, 2013 5:04:11 PM

Yes repasting is a good thing to do, many good pastes are inexpensive and will last a few times before running out, as for the process itself I'll have to direct you towards Google, I've never actually done it myself
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