The laptop is an Asus A53SV, i5 @ 2.4 ghz, GT540M 1GB, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, 6GB memory. These games used to run, but I removed the laptop's battery, otherwise it takes up too much power and causes huge framerate drops. But now that I've removed the battery, they freeze at the title screen. Done with both Saints Row The Third and Red Faction Armageddon. I just updated Windows, didn't help. That was in DX11 mode. I tried DX9 mode, but it causes terrible performance in Saints Row, and just loads infinitely in Red Faction. Furthermore, trying to verify the cache in Steam causes them to redownload files every single time. Red Faction even tried to redownload the entire game. I've tried launching them without the Steam shortcut, but they still freeze. Video was updated fairly recently too.
have you tried puting on power profile high performance mode. Also taking the battery only saves your battery for a while as in its state. If the battery was in and 100% charged you would not be saving much power as it will just be outputting the power needed for the game and staying at 100% battery.
The reason for huge frame rate drop could be background processes, heck removing windows 7 theme will give you more fps.