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Why does my Framerate drop in the middle of a game? (Laptop)?

Last response: in Video Games
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December 17, 2011 7:59:40 AM

Hi,
Basically I'll be playing a game on my laptop and the framerate will suddenly dip from a smooth fps to a low frame rate and the gameplay will become laggy/choppy.
I play Skyrim a lot on my laptop and I have not noticed this problem on any other games which leads me to believe Skyrim is asking a lot of my laptop.

However I think my laptop has the specs to cope with it comfortably:
-Dell XPS 17
-CPU: Intel i7 Processor i72630qm @2.00ghz quad core (Automatically overclocks to around 2.6ghz while gaming)
-6.00 GB RAM
-GPU: Nvidia GT 555M 3GB
-Screen: 17 inch
-Resolution: 1920x1080

On Skyrim it will play well for the majority of the time at a good 30-60 fps and the gameplay is near perfect.
But every so often, the framerate will drop to 10-20 fps and it becomes very choppy and not smooth at all.
My settings on Skyrim are:
Antialiasing: 4 samples
Anistropic Filtering: 8 samples
Detail: High (Might be the problem)

Here is a screenshot of my CPU and GPU temperatures after gaming for a good hour or two playing Skyrim just in case this is related to the problem: http://i44.tinypic.com/op0krl.jpg

Thanks for any help,. Any ideas will be appreciated.
December 17, 2011 8:09:34 AM

Its due to the bugs and glitches in the game.Download the latest patch.
a b D Laptop
December 17, 2011 9:01:04 AM

553 doesnt have enough grunt to run games at 1080p and have 4xfsaa the best you should go for is x2 but in reality you should play without it. if you want higher settings overall. so reducing it will free up some gpu to help balance your fps issue. the 555m has roughly the same grunt as an old 88gt its bigger ram will help with the screen size but overall the gpu is a little on the weak side so will only be able to run medium quality with some high quality options enabled.

i guess your objective is to get 60fps... then medium settings all day... sorry.

also upgrading your gfx drivers may help. but remember not all oem.s update theres as quickly as nvidia do...


Related resources
a b D Laptop
December 17, 2011 9:57:00 AM

i'd also suggest heat, use something like speedfan to monitor gpu and cpu temps, let us know what they are peaking at when it gets laggy, use the graphs to look at the peaks.
December 17, 2011 7:37:31 PM

Well I've been monitoring over the past few times I've been playing and have some results.
First off, does anyone know what temperature my CPU should be running at, because According to SpeedFan, my cores are always too hot even when I am not doing anything.
Secondly I have tried medium graphics settings on Skyrim and that didn't seem to solve the problem and doesn't really ever reach 60 fps.
I tried low graphics settings and it seemed smoother and hit 60 fps a lot more often (stayed in 30-60 fps most of the time) but I don't believe that my pc can only handle low settings :??: 

However, I have tried all the settings and there is this one room that consistently makes the frame rate drop to about 15. It does it on all settings which leads me to believe that its only certain places... But I'm not sure.

Here is a screenshot of my temperatures after a long gaming session. They seem to hit 90 degrees which is a bit worrying. : http://i42.tinypic.com/335cxle.jpg

I installed speedfan which gives me some useful readings here. Seems like my laptop is burning up :(  : http://i42.tinypic.com/spx66w.jpg

Here is a chart from Speedfan just in case it is any use: http://i44.tinypic.com/11hqclk.jpg

Also, sometimes while I play, the game will suddenly shut itself down, I don't know if this is because the CPU and/or GPU is overloaded but I hope not.

I have some more screenshots of temperature and core info, so ask if needed.

Thanks a lot.
December 17, 2011 7:43:14 PM

Moreover, I have noticed that when the fan speed rises, the fps lowers. I don't know if this is consistent or not (fan noise changes a lot) but there seems to be a correlation.
a b D Laptop
December 17, 2011 8:01:29 PM

Speedfan puts the little flame symbol whenever it is hotter than your desired temp, which is a manually set thing, and bears no relation to the hardware in use. (unless you have set it)

However those CPU temps are in my opinion too hot. If Intel-dude is about he may be able to confirm. The GPU temps i'm not sure about, could you run the graph again but ensuring that GPU is on, if it was on and it peaks at 55ish then thats fine.

December 18, 2011 8:59:04 AM

13thmonkey said:
Speedfan puts the little flame symbol whenever it is hotter than your desired temp, which is a manually set thing, and bears no relation to the hardware in use. (unless you have set it)

However those CPU temps are in my opinion too hot. If Intel-dude is about he may be able to confirm. The GPU temps i'm not sure about, could you run the graph again but ensuring that GPU is on, if it was on and it peaks at 55ish then thats fine.


Okay I'll try that. Do you think I should consider a cooling pad?
a b D Laptop
December 18, 2011 9:11:50 AM

Look for reveiws of them, some of the ones I've heard about only give 1-2C difference.
The problem with laptops is that typically the gpu and the cpu share a heat pipe that goes off to the radiator, so as the gpu gets hotter this heats the cpu up and vice versa. So when you are gaming the gpu and the cpu are both trying to dump heat into a single pipe and then off to a single rad.

Is it on your lap or on a hard flat surface (like a tray).
December 18, 2011 12:23:14 PM

I see. That makes sense.
Its on my desk so a hard surface and it is also raised a couple of cm because it has the 9 cell battery which lifts it up a bit. This probably helps a lot.
a b D Laptop
December 18, 2011 2:53:07 PM

not much you can do really, other than complain that it is getting too warm, the cooling solution should be able to dump all of the heat that it can make, after all you shouldn't know about this kind of stuff, that's their job.
December 19, 2011 2:41:14 PM

13thmonkey said:
not much you can do really, other than complain that it is getting too warm, the cooling solution should be able to dump all of the heat that it can make, after all you shouldn't know about this kind of stuff, that's their job.


The really problem with OEM laptops is that the OEMs have to walk a fine line between the size, performance, cost and cooling. A lot of times they are running the bare minimum on the cooling needed for the processor in question. So while the temperatures are a little higher than I personally would like they aren't in a danger area on the short term. For the long term there are a couple things that we can do that may help.

There are a couple laptop cooler pads that you might try to help with the cooling. Here is a cooler from Cooler Master that may help a bit. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... If you can't find this one I am sure that you can find something like it in England.

Even having a small fan on your desktop blowing towards the vents on the laptop may help keep it cool. Also it is important to make sure that the laptop is kept clean of dust. If you have a problem with this check to see if you can find a local repair shop that deals in laptop that may even be able to upgrade the fans on the on the laptop case.

Christian Wood
Intel Enthusiast Team
December 19, 2011 8:12:02 PM

IntelEnthusiast said:
The really problem with OEM laptops is that the OEMs have to walk a fine line between the size, performance, cost and cooling. A lot of times they are running the bare minimum on the cooling needed for the processor in question. So while the temperatures are a little higher than I personally would like they aren't in a danger area on the short term. For the long term there are a couple things that we can do that may help.

There are a couple laptop cooler pads that you might try to help with the cooling. Here is a cooler from Cooler Master that may help a bit. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... If you can't find this one I am sure that you can find something like it in England.

Even having a small fan on your desktop blowing towards the vents on the laptop may help keep it cool. Also it is important to make sure that the laptop is kept clean of dust. If you have a problem with this check to see if you can find a local repair shop that deals in laptop that may even be able to upgrade the fans on the on the laptop case.

Christian Wood
Intel Enthusiast Team


Thanks for the info. Do you know of any good cooling pads which will work well with my 17 inch 9 cell battery laptop (battery raises it)
a b D Laptop
December 20, 2011 9:38:36 AM

Thanks christian, good to see suppliers looking after us little people :) 
December 20, 2011 6:48:29 PM

13thmonkey said:
Thanks christian, good to see suppliers looking after us little people :) 


I've done some more tests and it seems that if I turn off antialiasing and anisotropic filtering, but still stay on high graphics settings, the performance is much better and I hit 60 fps a lot more. This is also with a fan right next to my laptop blowing underneath it which seems to make a difference to temperatures by at least 10 degrees which is quite good I think.
My problem is that it will only ever stay on 60fps for a couple of seconds (completely randomly as well, but it may depend on the room/area I am in) and then drop to 30-40 where the gameplay is okay but its not ideal, for instance it jerks around a lot if I look around.
I don't even hit 60fps on low graphics settings although the gameplay is a lot smoother..
!