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PC runs slower the longer it is powered on.. (~3 hours)

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Last response: in Systems
November 4, 2006 1:56:18 PM

Built this rig about two months ago, and it's incredibly fast. However, the longer it's been powered on, the slower it runs games. Video and desktop functionality seem fine, but when I load up games, the sound, movies, and 3D eventually become choppy and slow.

So, after a fresh reboot, games are normal and run smoothly. Then, 3 hours later, loading up the same games, the intro movies are choppy, the sound clicks and pops, and my in-game FPS is about half of normal.

I'm using the latest Catalyst drivers. The 3D preview on the ATI settings panel runs fine after a reboot, then after a few hours, it becomes choppy. After leaving the PC on overnight, it's just as choppy as after a few hours, so it doesn't seem to just get progressively worse. It seems to just reach a certain point where it performs poorly and stays that way until reboot.

Nothing is getting hot. CPU stays around 22-25 C, and the video card temperature seems to have no bearing on it (generally stays cool as well).

Nothing is being overclocked, to my knowledge. My BIOS settings were detecting my memory at 5-5-5-18, so I tried switching it to 5-5-5-12. This didn't fix anything. It was also incorrectly clocking my memory at 600, so I changed it to 800. This didn't fix anything, either.

I've heard this motherboard might need BIOS updates out of the box, but it doesn't seem to have any real problems detecting my hardware or anything. I also don't have a floppy drive with which to flash the CMOS.

Here's my rig:
Using Windows XP Home.

Motherboard: BIOSTAR TFORCE 550 Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce 550 MCP ATX AMD Motherboard
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Windsor 2.2GHz Socket AM2 Dual Core Processor
Memory: CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
Video Card: MSI Radeon X1900XT 512MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 4 SB0610 7.1
Power Supply: BFG Tech (ATX 12v 2.0 / EPS 12V) 650Watts Power Supply
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 80GB SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

Any suggestions? This is really getting on my nerves.

More about : runs slower longer powered hours

November 4, 2006 2:24:35 PM

Malware/Heat first 2 things to look at. Next check your PS see if the voltages are fluxuating or not. Those would be the first things I would look into.
November 4, 2006 2:27:41 PM

That sound like a heat problem. Check temps while gaming.
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November 4, 2006 2:30:35 PM

It can be many reasons. More often than not, when you load on multiple games onto a computer, it becomes a little slower in the beginning, because it has to process those configurations, and bring up your games onto the screen. Same thing happened with my computer. Very speedy, until i loaded about 5 games, then I saw a gradual decrease in speed. But nonetheless, it still works right? As long as the performance is satsifactory, you should have no reason to doubt your computer. Also, like k2 said, Malware and cookie viruses can easily slow down a computer, and connection rate. Sometimes its heat as well.
November 4, 2006 2:37:11 PM

Why would a heat problem persist until a reset? The temps are fine after being on standby overnight, but the game performance is still poor in the morning. So I just reset and the PC runs fine for another two hours or so. Doesn't seem like a heat problem to me.

It's not malware or viruses, I've checked. There isn't a memory leak, as far as I can tell. This PC is only about two months old.

Someone told me it could be a problem with memory timings, and that seems most logical to me. But I really have no idea how to test that. memtest86 found no problems.

And BTW, game performance is not satisfactory. After a reboot, it's great.. 100 FPS in most games. After 3 hours or so, it drops to 40 FPS or lower, no matter the temperature or what's running in the background.

How do I check the PSU voltages to see if they're fluctuating?
November 4, 2006 2:46:27 PM

You sir, really are experiencing some sort of "memory leak". One or more of your installations is causing this. Try excluding all unnecessary software from your startup options and close anything in your system tray that you don't actively use or need. A memory leak is caused by buggy software that writes information to your Ramm or page file but "forgets" to delete it, and then your memory slowly fills up with random bits and bytes until your system bogs down.

For starters, get rid of Quicktime, Real, an IM clients, printer status icons, webcam icons, etc. The system tray is a legacy option built into Windows when "preloading" various parts of programs would actually save noticeable time by having them on "standby" in the system tray. Nowadays with our uber-leet procs and loads of Ramm, we don't really need that anymore.

Anyway, I've heard there are reports of a pretty serious memory leak in FireFox 2 so if you leave that running that might be a prime suspect (until they fix it).

So there ya go. Also you might benefit from a defrag and regular house-cleaning. Another thing to try is a complete uninstall/reinstall of all your hardware drivers. You never know. GL :) 
November 4, 2006 2:52:29 PM

testbenchdude, this was my initial thought, but - is there any way to find what's causing this memory leak, short of just closing every program possible and waiting several hours to see if the problem persists?

Surely there's some program that will track memory and pagefile usage?

Task Manager says:

Physical Memory
Total: 2096620
Available: 1436556
System Cache: 1411680

Kernal Memory
Total: 219788
Paged: 162940
Nonpaged: 56776

I should also mention that I'm running the 3D test in ATI-Tool, and it's getting like 500 FPS, but it's choppy as all hell. It looks like it's rendering very very quickly, but then trying to go back and re-render frames, etc. VSync is turned off.
November 4, 2006 2:58:03 PM

I'm thinking your best bet would be to eliminate anything questionable. What do you have listed in your systray when you open a game? And do you leave anything running in the background? Also, have you done a complete adware/spyware/trojan sweep?

I also have tons (and I mean TONS) of games loaded on my PC (two game disks in the dirves and 4 more ISO's loaded in Daemon Tools, plus about two dozen with nocd cracks, but I'm not familiar with ATI and their drivers so maybe start there?

November 4, 2006 3:22:51 PM

Try running the computer with the case off and in a relatively open area to see if the problem goes away. May something else such as HD, chipset, psu is overheating.

Maybe you need more case fans in front of the Harddrive, or maybe your harddrive is showing early signs of death.

hope this helps
November 4, 2006 4:26:57 PM


Surely there's some program that will track memory and pagefile usage?

Takmanager will do a pretty good job...
keep track of rmeory resources when you first boot up and then after 3 hours.. and see what has changed..
to store the ramusage of ech program... screenshot(<ALT><PRTSCN>) and tehn store it will give you a nice way to track each program's memory usage..

my 2¢
November 5, 2006 12:08:36 AM

Many games has memory leaks. Try to exit to windows and then restart the game, without restarting the computer.