Slow computer, please help!

Hey, I would very much appreciate some input here from knowledgeable people :]

Last year I put together a gaming computer at a reasonable price, specs:

MSI K8N Neo4 (nforce4) pci-e mainboard
2gb geil ddr ram
Gainward GeForce 6600gt 256mb
Athlon-64 3500+ S-939 2.2GHz 512kB
250gb sata-2 16mb disk

(OS: WinXP pro)

I was upgrading from an xp1800+ with an old geforce 3 ti200 128mb.

I noticed that the new PC was decently fast, but on the 3dmark tests it scored really low. Lame fps on all the tests. I had to seriously turn down graphics on games like Need For Speed Underground 2, Doom3, Everquest, World of Warcraft, etc. Which I thought was weird, but anyway I didn't think more about it after that since I spent most my time in Counter-Strike 1.6 which does not demand alot at all.

So what I did now was burn my tax refunds on an XFX GeForce 7900GT (originally clocked to 520/1500mhz). I was ready for some hardcore gaming with new games at maximum graphics, but bahh. To my big surprise I got -crap- fps on the Doom 3 test in 3DMark06, and ALL the other tests as well! It varied from 10-29 fps (avg about 17, and no frameliimiters were on). Everquest still has low fps, Elder Scrolls 3: Oblivion still lags. It really blows, and I can't seem to figure out why it's not running smoother. Pretty please help me try and figure out why.

My troubleshooting observations so far:

- CPU tests on 3DMark06 went at <1 fps at all times (under 1 fps)

- Benchmarked the CPU versus my old XP1800+ and it performed about twice as well on all tests, so that looks normal

- It doesn't look like the games lag more when I switch between 0x, 2x and 4x anti aliasing, same fps. However when I turned on character shadows in Everquest, I noticed a significant lag increase.

- The screen resolution does not appear to make a difference when it comes to FPS either

- The computer seems to perform fine in Windows tasks, running videos, copying files, compress files, extract files etc. It's just the FPS rate in games that sucks alot more than it should


Here is what I have tried so far, without noteworthy results:at:

- Formatted drive, clean WinXP Pro install

- Newest NVidia drivers for nforce4 and geforce

- Ate tortilla chips with dip

- All windows updates

- Flashed BIOS to latest version

- Tested another set of DDR RAM

- Crushed an old keyboard in my frustration

- Checked system temperatures, all well there

- Double checked that the PSU (480W) was delivering enough power.


I feel relatively safe that it is not the new gfx card that is the problem, since the computer seems to have been slower than it's potential all along, but I do not at all understand why it's not giving better test results in 3DMark06 -or- performs well in games.

Please, if you think you can identify a problem here somewhere, let me know! I would greatly appreciate any help.
10 answers Last reply
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  1. That's very odd. You shouldn't be having those performance problems.

    Since it's a new install, defragging won't do anything.

    It's possible that either your motherboard is bad, or it could be your CPU or video card.

    Have you checked your full load temps? Your system could be throttling itself back due to heat.

    See if there are any settings in the BIOS that could be causing problems.

    If you have a PCI sound card laying around to put in the computer, try it. See if that does anything.
  2. Call MSI or Geil find out if memory is
    a. compatible/tested with your NEO4
    b. voltage and timing settings adjustments if suggested.

    Also I believe your chipset does not support SATA II only sata. You could see if there's a jumper on the HDD to enable SATA only. If it's a Maxtor drive then you're in for problems, seems they don't like NForce 4 chipsets. I've had three different drives fail to be recognized by the system, pull them out put them in a external case and they're fine, put them back in and they're found, then a couple days later poof it's gone again. Was even given new firmware for one and the problem persisted even after flashing. Also check your HDD cables for failure and compatiblility.
  3. Due to a recent experience I had, carefully do a visual inspection of the MB and look for any corrosion on capacitors. . . I have seen this recently on an MSI board. It seemed to be fine aside from being slow, but who wants a slow computer?
  4. If you don't mind telling us what exactly your score on 3Dmark06? I do know that 3DMark06 puts a lot more emphasis on dual core cpu's Maybe your cpu is the limiting factor at this point? (I don't really think so but..)
  5. I would say that your system was 80% there already.
    Going from 6600GT to 7900GT gives that last 20% - it's not going to double your frames or whatever...
    But still, you could be in nVidia ForceWare hell if your drivers were not proper. But no, you said you did clean-install...?
    Difficult to comment without going over your rig's setup from top to bottom starting in hardware, then into BIOS, finally OS.
    I can recommend you uninstall all vidcard overclockers (Powerstrip/RivaTuner/ATI tool etc.) and run that 7900GT stock. Wanna make it better? Buy it a VF-900Cu.
    Set your nVidia controls to meek/mild, everything default, application-controlled.
    Enable AA and AF either from within the game OR from nVidia panel - not both.
    This guy is full of excellent info (and I thought of mentioning him when I first read your post):

    Otherwise, perhaps your coolers and/or powersupply are sick, or your memory poorly configured - it's really a slow process of elimination.
    Hey, personally I get ~7000 3DMarks on '03, ~4000 3DMarks on '05 and I have never run '06 (but I have it here somewhere...)
    '06 is really nasty! Don't be too hard on your rig - maybe it's not so bad :^)
    As Waylander asked, what are you getting? How about '03/'05?
  6. YourMothersAnAstronaut:

    I checked full load temperatures, nothing passed 65+c, which should be perfectly acceptable.

    The BIOS settings should be fine, kept checking them and tried to vary with some settings. I discovered one thing though, that it seems I can't seem to change any voltage settings or fsb clock frequency without the computer refusing to boot up. It doesn't give any error message, it just locks up. I talked to a dutch retailer about this, and he said that was a known problem for the 3500+ of the Newcastle series (I believe it was the Newcastle series, or it was the other one, but in any case I know it's the one I have because I checked my order). So supposedly they can't be tuned. It could be that my problems may come from a complication of this of some sort. But it's weird since the CPU doesn't fail any kind of diagnostic test, other than perform terribly in 3DMark06

    Regarding the PCI soundcard, even though there are onboard ac97 crapola I decided to put in a real soundcard. Also tried to take this out and disable sound completely, but no effect.



    Tested different kinds of PC3200 400mhz ddr ram on the MB, no difference there. They all seem to work perfectly.

    Voltage I can't do anything about, when I do the computer won't work. The timing was set to the safe standard on these chips, so that shouldn't be the problem.

    Regarding the SATA II support, I checked out the manual, turns out it's a NForce4 ULTRA chipset (I knew that when I ordered!), and SATA II runs smooth as a baby's bottom on it. No problems there.



    Good tip, I took a careful look at it, didn't see any traces of corrosion


    Waylander & The_OGS:

    My 3DMark06 score is:

    SM2.0 Score: 2031
    HDR/SM3.0 Score: 2043
    CPU Score: 857
    4221 3DMarks

    It would certainly seem the CPU is a bottleneck in 3dmark, but what about in older games like Everquest, Doom3 etc. My friends with lesser setups than me run them more smoothly, and I have no clue why. Still.

    Thank you all for good input so far though, very much appreciated. But I'm no closer to figuring this out yet :(
  7. 3DMark03 Score:

    7759 3DMarks
  8. Quote:
    3DMark03 Score:

    7759 3DMarks

    I don't understand the point to the above... This is not a performance comparison thread... 03 is an old test as well... (fyi I get 8250 on 3DMark06, over 30,000 on 3DMark03) I also only get 1-2 fps on the cpu tests so it's really demanding, be interesting to see how core2duo does on those.

    I'm starting to get the feeling this is a motherboard issue with the PCI-e bus.

    Can you try taking the 7900GT into another computer and seeing how it performs in it? Then we can rule it out.

    Ram can also affect the performance of everything, try different ram if possible (Ram is almost always the first thing that I check).

    This probably isn't the issue either but what PSU do you have? The 7900 is a lot more power hungry than the 6600 and the 6600 is a lot more power hungry than the GF3.
  9. Waylander:

    Could you please post your system specs, so I have something to compare to?

    I will see if I can find some other computer to test my 7900gt in just to rule it out.

    The PSU is a Thermaltake 480w, it should in theory have more than enough power for this machinery.

    -- What I noticed on 3dmark03 also was that during the CPU testing, fps sometimes dropped below 10, as low as 5 for the duration of entire scenes.

    -- The non-cpu tests went down as low as 30 during the close encounter doom3 scenes, and the nature scenes with the turtle. But everything else ran at a stable 90+ fps, sometimes over 170.


    I guess it does start to sound like a screwy mainboard, though I have no clue on the engineering of this so it's just an assumption. Visually everything looks fine. Temperatures are fine. Everything fits, gets detected in bios, no error messages anywhere.
  10. Look at my sig at the bottom of every post I make....

    I agree that it's not the PSU but you never know....

    BTW, sorry about that comment in my last post, I forgot you started the thread and thought you were some guy just dropping in to boast about a low score.... heehee
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