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Low FPS spike on old homebuilt system

Last response: in Systems
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September 7, 2009 5:40:43 PM

Hey all,
I've looked into this problem extensively but havn't been able to solve it. My rig is a bit over 5 years old, but the games I'm running aren't that demanding. I have been getting random low fps spikes (from 70fps down to 10 or 15) that last about 5 seconds. The problem just started happening a couple weeks ago, and I didn't change a single thing. It is happening in team fortress 2, counterstrike source, and oddly enough, starcraft, which leads me to believe it's my cpu.. Running any of these 3 games brings my CPU load up to 100%. I have monitored through task manager and there seems to be no weird spikes in cpu usage during those 5 seconds, the load stays constant at 100%. Drivers are all updated, system is not overclocked, videocard not overclocked, and prime95 is stable. I am running windows XP 32bit. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Here are some specs:

Processor
Model : AMD Athlon(tm) XP 2500+
Speed : 1.83GHz
Cores per Processor : 1 Unit(s)
Threads per Core : 1 Unit(s)
Integrated Data Cache : 64kB, Synchronous, Write-Back, 2-way, 64 byte line size
L2 On-board Cache : 512kB, ECC, Synchronous, Write-Back, 16-way, 64 byte line size

Computer
Bus(es) : ISA AGP PCI USB i2c/SMBus
Multi-Processor (MP) Support : No
Multi-Processor Advanced PIC (APIC) : No
Total Memory : 2GB DDR

Chipset
Model : nVidia nForce2 AGP Controller
Front Side Bus Speed : 2x 166MHz (332MHz)
Total Memory : 2GB DDR
Memory Bus Speed : 2x 199MHz (398MHz)

Memory Module(s)
Memory Module : OCZ OCZ4001024ELPE 1GB DDR PC3200U DDR-200 (2.5-3-2-5 2-11-0-0)
Memory Module : OCZ OCZ4001024ELPE 1GB DDR PC3200U DDR-200 (2.5-3-2-5 2-11-0-0)

Video System
Video Adapter : RADEON 9800 PRO (PS2.0, VS2.0 378MHz, 128MB 337MHz, AGP 3.00)

Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
September 7, 2009 9:44:11 PM

Are all the games being played online? Have you tried monitoring your temps at all?
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September 7, 2009 9:55:05 PM

counterstrike single player, and starcraft single player are both offline. My temps are consistent with the past couple years .. 41C case, 44C cpu normal usage, and 44 / 48 C under load during these games. I don't see any spikes in temperature, I don't see any weird voltage spikes either.
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Related resources
Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
September 7, 2009 9:59:33 PM

Have you ran any hdd test? Have you had any extended load times? Long boot up times/applications take longer to load at times?
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September 7, 2009 10:31:54 PM

i havn't noticed anything unusual as far as load times or other applications. I don't experience any kind of lag spikes in windows. I've run prime95 overnight with no errors. i'm running HDDLife and it says my hdd is at 50% health (sometimes this varies, from 50 - 75%)
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
September 8, 2009 1:25:54 AM

Do you know your m/b temps?
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September 8, 2009 1:40:49 AM

i'm not sure .. motherboard monitor just has those two temperatures - case and cpu; speedfan is showing temp1 which looks like case, temp2 which looks like cpu, and temp3 which is the same temperature as CPU, under idle and load.

btw thanks for the replies
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 8, 2009 2:22:02 AM

It's not your CPU.

CPU's work or they don't. A bad CPU crashes your sytem, but doesn't degrade performance.

It's almost certainly a software issue like an Antivirus program or other utility kicking in to do something. Consider getting the AMD Fusion utility (free) which stops many processes from running prior to a game.

http://game.amd.com/us-en/drivers_fusion.aspx?p=1

I don't know what hard drive you have, but if it's several years old I'd consider getting a new one. If you can, reinstall Windows otherwise just CLONE it. Unfortunately you may not have SATA which severely limits your options. I don't recommend SATA addon cards; at that point I'd be upgrading. If you do have SATA, something like a WD 640GB drive is a great idea. Get a 500GB + modern drive with the best MB/second. Read a few reviews and look for online sales (such as NCIX, newegg etc).

I recommend you do this:
1) Buy a new WD hard drive
2) Reinstall Windows if possible (slow/downs and issues occur over time)
3) Run the AMD Fusion utility prior to running your game
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September 8, 2009 2:34:17 AM

thanks. im in the process of a new rig once i get some money. Still going to be a budget rig but much better than now. You're right, I don't have the option for SATA. I'm running a really old 80gb western digital IDE for my OS and put my media on other devices. I thought about the possibility of my antivirus, so I uninstalled all things norton and symantec, leaving just spybot S&D, but didn't do anything. I'll try AMD Fusion.
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
September 8, 2009 6:43:19 AM

Give till later today... Looking into a couple of things. ;) 
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September 8, 2009 8:21:44 PM

update: running AMD fusion did not help. In fact, it slowed it down just a tad. lag spikes still there.
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!