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SSD & Stuttering/Jerkiness

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February 22, 2012 6:07:19 PM

Hi everyone,

Wow it's been a long time since I've been here! I was hoping you guys might be able to help get to the bottom of a problem that's been bugging me for a while.

I have a new PCSpecialist.com custom build PC, with an OCZ Agility 3 that I fitted myself.

The System:
Mobo: ASUS® P8H67-M LE
CPU: Intel® Core™i5-2500k Quad Core (3.30GHz, 6MB Cache)
RAM: 8GB SAMSUNG DDR3 DUAL-DDR3 1333MHz (2 X 4GB)
Storage 1: OCZ Agility 3 (Latest Firmware)
Storage 2: 1TB SERIAL ATA 3-Gb/s HARD DRIVE WITH 16MB CACHE (7,200rpm)

The Problem:
I'm experiencing "Stuttering" quite frequently - it's as if the frame rate of the computer has dropped. The mouse jerks around the screen, windows jut about and words are missed out when typing.

Sometimes it's fine - the system behaves as normal. Others it's almost unusable - like using a 5 year old PC bogged down with stuff, even on a clean install of windows.

This seems to happen a lot when streaming stuff off the internet (videos, music, etc) and when large files are downloading. Sometimes, disconnecting from the network and reconnecting sorts out the problem.

Additionally, benchmark tools seem to suggest that the SSD is performing significantly below advertised speeds (e.g. about 1/3 of the "read" speeds).

Troubleshooting So Far:
- Replaced wireless card
- Reinstalled windows (Twice)

Additional Info:
- Secondary HDD used for storing media and "users" folder.
- SSD contains most programs & windows, plus sample libraries

I have been logging problems as they happen and can provide a full list if anyone things it will help.
February 22, 2012 6:08:05 PM

P.S. Thanks in advance!
a c 353 G Storage
February 22, 2012 6:49:32 PM

The first thing is to download and run AS SSD. Do not need to run the benchmark.
Upper left. Verify driver. Should be iaSTor, 2nd best is msahci (uSofts default driver) and finally if it shows pcide = BAD well kind of says it.
You can also verify that the Partition is aligned (should be if you installed windows 7- with the HDD DISCONNECTED.

About your re-install of windows, my recommendation is to run a Secure erease prior to re-installing.

PS I bought 2 120 gig agility IIIs. One was the Boot drive and the 2nd was my "scratch" disk. I replaced the Agillity III OS drive with a Samsung 830 Gets about 65% higher overall score in AS SSD. NOTE: did Not have your problem with the Agillity III, Just prefered a better drive.
Related resources
February 22, 2012 6:59:37 PM

It probably is too full. I had a desktop that had a 50GB SSD and it was filled with like 49GB of data including the OS. When you view youtube videos or open lots of files, they program saves a file on the harddrive like a cache. If you don't have room, things start to freeze up. You can test this buy opening up my computer or resource monitor and looking at how much capacity is remaining on your SSD before and after you watch videos and open program.
February 22, 2012 7:00:47 PM

I also forgot to mention but always follow the %20 rule where you must leave %20 of your SSD space unused and you should never go beyond %10.
February 22, 2012 7:06:22 PM

Interesting - I've currently got about 10GB of 111GB free, so maybe that could be causing the problem. I'll move some stuff off and see how I get on.

Very annoying if that is the case - basically means a "120GB" hard drive only really offers you 90GB of usable storage.
February 22, 2012 7:13:21 PM

Brief test - watched a Youtube vid, kept an eye on the resource monitor. No change in the SSD, but the secondary HDD seemed be constantly active, with an active time of between 0 and 2.5%, even when the video had stopped. The computer was chugging dramatically while doing this.

I've yet to empty some room on the SSD, but could it potentially be the HDD at fault here somehow?
a c 353 G Storage
February 22, 2012 7:24:55 PM

Before you move stuff off:
.. Did you disable hibernation. Hibernation places a file equal to the size of Ram, so 8 gigs of Ram will reduce your Disk space by 8 gigs.
.. With 8 gigs of Ram. Did you take control of your Page file. You should set the min and max values both to 1024 mb. That can save up to about 5 gigs.
.. Have you limited the space that restore points can have. Restore space can grow to a large size over time. Myself I just turn restore off and rely on my back-up image of the C drive.

And YES if your down to 10 Gigs free space that will limit the ability of Trim/CG to "clean" the drive.

You can also (i've done) is to move the C drive My doc to your HDD and also set the IE temp files to the HDD
February 22, 2012 7:48:18 PM

Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I have now:
- Moved 20GB off the SSD
- Set the page file to 1024MB
- Hibernation and system restore were already off
- Checked the AS SSD tool - driver is msahci.

I ran the AS SSD Benchmark anyway, results were:



Still getting jerkiness... any more ideas fellows?
a c 353 G Storage
February 22, 2012 8:25:13 PM

Probably not it, but driver should be iaSTor (Intel's driver) as you should be on the Intel sata Port.
February 23, 2012 6:55:12 PM

Thankyou - is it possible to just download the iaSTor driver from somewhere?

Still having issues, and I realised that "Hybrid Sleep" was enabled. I left the computer and when I came back it appeared to be asleep - I woke it up, but the internet was being temperamental (slow loads, couldn't stream to xbox). Switched off Hybrid Sleep now, I wonder if that could have had an effect?

Additionally, any tips on speeding up the read/write speeds from the benchmark above? Does seem really slow compared to the advertised spec.

Thanks again!
February 24, 2012 5:24:24 AM

Hi,

I'd like to say that I've also still got the same problem as you jonnymartyr.
I have a brand new PC with 2 Agility III 60GB, and I'm having hugely long stutters almost more like freezes (stutters for 15 seconds, at 15 second intervals)...

To give you the background I've had several issues but always reset the PC when I fixed them (Cleared CMOS, loaded BIOS Optimized defaults, cleared drives and installed Win7)...
I've had this computer running fully well for 12 hours of gaming the first few days I got it, now having issues...

I did overclock my i5-2500k to 4.0-5 GHz at some point so I'm afraid I might have damaged it. How could I find out if thats the issue?

Thanks all!
February 24, 2012 7:56:09 AM

Thanks for that Chief - got the drivers updated (now running iaSTor) but no change in speeds. If anything it writes slightly slower now... weird!

Gef - It might be that our problems are related, but mine feels more like I'm working on a 10-year old PC (i.e. it's just generally slow to respond), rather than anything actually freezing for any length of time. Have you done the things others have suggested in this thread? Would be interested to see if you get a result from any of it.

February 24, 2012 4:30:43 PM

Thanks again Chief - the SteadyState software referenced in that article is only compatible with Windows XP or Vista, not 7 (so you're right, it's probably pretty old). Looked promising though...
February 25, 2012 2:06:56 PM

Thanks for all the info!

FYI, I have 2 Agility 3 60 Drives and 1 just died. The explanation (at least part of it): I did not enable AHCI so TRIM was not handling read/writes for 5 windows installs... ah I feel dumb. I also had almost less than 10% free space at one point... I feel dumber.
So yea after doing research and tests I've come to realise that I never enabled AHCI for either of my controllers. Big error...
So I enabled AHCI on my controllers and the drive that I still have I only wrote a limited amount of data to so I ran some benchmarks (ubuntu 11.10 Disk utility, running from a Live CD) and seems to be working good. Although I get quite a large discrepancy for the range of writes (230MB/s - 550MB/s), I hope that's normal? (Marvell controller seems to reduce that discrepancy but also lowers the average)

What I already tried:
- Re-installed Windows (5 times, different drivers or order of install each time)
- Had IRST installed but had issues with my first 2 installs because of it so I stopped using it
- Tried installing Win7 on Agility using Marvell SATAIII, Intel SATAIII and Intel SATAII, same result

What I did not do yet:
(All those I did not do as I didn't install windows back on my machine yet. I wanted to run some benchmarks to test my drives first).
- AS SSD to check drivers
- Set page file to 1024MB
- Disable Hibernation

Also, I did run windows fine for about 24 hours when I got it working... so I believe it must have been a combination of mistakes that damaged my SSD, now destroyed it. I will install again with all those lessons learned:
- Set AHCI in BIOS, before installing Win7
- Never have less than 20% free space
- Follow guides online regarding the order in which to install IRST with Chipset and controller drivers

I'll keep you posted (:

Edit: I also have the latest BIOS Drivers I flashed in recently...
February 26, 2012 9:37:37 AM

Latest troubleshooting:

Connected drive to SATA 3GB/s port on motherboard. No change at all - even the benchmarks were the same (possibly slightly quicker). Surely it should be slower on Sata 3 - could the bottleneck be elsewhere?
a c 353 G Storage
February 26, 2012 2:58:02 PM

Addressing benchmark, not your stuttering problem

For the Agility III, I don't think there is much difference runing Sata II or Sata III when running AS SSD.
Reason:
(A) The "advertized" benchmarks use readily compresable data. Just read an articale that specifically identified the Agility III suffered a realitively High decrease in sequencial performance - Dropping it below the BW of a sata II port. the Small file random read/writes do not saturate a sata II port.
(B) As I've mentioned, running Benchmarks without allowing trim/CG to return the drive to a"Trimmed" state will result in decreased performance.

I could not see Your posted AS SSD benchmarks for Your agillity III.

The Very low scores (using AS SSD) when compared to my M4's is why I Sh_t canned the aggility III and replaced it with a Samsung 830 (About a 67% increase in overall score).

Just popped over to my other System (i5-2500k which has the samsung 830 for OS and a Agility III for scrach disk). Using the As SSD bench mark the Agility III would not saturate a Sata II port and overall score was just 398 vs 718 for the Samsung 830..

You may be fighting a battle that is already lost. When asked about "which SSD to Buy", my general comment about the agility III (which is normally the lower cost one) is that it is LOW COST for a reason.

If Your overall score with AS SSD is above 400, I would ignore the benchmarks and go by "Feel" - dose it appear fast at (A) loading the operating system and (B) program loads super fast - Use your old HDD as a reference.

Editted/added Both are on installed in the same computer, both are on Intel Sata III port using iaSTor - Only diff is 830 is OS drive (45Gigs used (62% free) and Agility III is scrach/work drive, 16 Gigs used/85% Free:
a c 353 G Storage
February 26, 2012 3:54:28 PM

Also:
Here is My M4 which is installed in my Samsung RF711 Notebook:

February 26, 2012 4:04:53 PM

Yeh that knocks the socks off the Agility 3.



I'm annoyed that the Agility 3 doesn't perform better using Sata 6, as I purposefully bought it over a cheaper Sata 3 SSD. Oh well, do your research I suppose.

Still doesn't get to the bottom of the stutter - I'm leaning towards RMA'ing it and seeing if it's just fundamentally broken.

Weirdly it only seems to be prevalent when web browsing - I've been doing some heavy audio editing for the last 8 hours and it's worked like a dream.
a c 353 G Storage
February 26, 2012 4:58:32 PM

If it is only stuttering on web browsing, it my not be the SSD persay, It could be the web connection and,or a web page eating up resources.

?? the Audio files are the on your HDD or the SSD. If on The HDD than only the Program load is affected by the SSD, the editing is then more a function of the HDD.
February 26, 2012 5:05:09 PM

It seems to be during periods of heavy network activity (e.g. streaming to xbox, downloading, transferring files) but affects the whole system - it's not just the web page that stutters, but everything - moving the mouse, typing, moving windows around, etc.

I've checked the task manager and at no point is anything taking up more than about 5% CPU, and I've got absolutely tonnes of RAM to spare.

My first thoughts were the network card so I got a replacement but it didn't change anything.

The article you linked to referring to SSDs having write fails and causing Windows to jam momentarily seemed most likely - just a shame that it only applies to XP/Vista.
February 26, 2012 7:27:49 PM

In response to RetiredChief's response to SATA2 vs SATA3, its weird because I have very big changes of speed between the 2:

SATA3 on Intel:


SATA2 on Intel:


That was done with ubuntu 11.10 Disk utility.. is it only one side of the game (readily compresable data only)?
a c 353 G Storage
February 26, 2012 7:51:29 PM

Unless the Agility III has a defect, Proably not the drive.
One think is you might down load OCZs tool box and test the SSD - could ba PITA.
Also (Didn't look BacK) but might try a secure erease, if you have not yet, and a re-install.

Acouple of other things I found: (Note this problem does not seem to be confined to SF22xx based SSD, possibly just more prevalant.

.. You could also check in Device Manager and make sure the SSD has "Enable write caching on the device" option in the Policies tab selected.

.. Once I did disable the LPM from Intel in the Windows Registery my SSD got stable
Ref: http://communities.intel.com/thread/26374
Back of my mind I've seen this mentioned before (on the LPM).
February 26, 2012 7:56:49 PM

Weird that your speeds are so different from mine - would you be able to run the AS SSD Benchmark so we can compare directly?
a c 353 G Storage
February 26, 2012 8:47:17 PM

Here is a older review of the OCZ Agility 3 by Anadtech;
NOTE with AS SSD the Sequencial read and writes were the SAME for both Sata II and SATA III ports (203.3 MB/s, almost identical to what I got.)
Ref: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4421/the-2011-midrange-ss...
And a 2nd review:
http://www.hardwarelook.com/reviews/ocz-agility-3-120gb...

Note: My orignal run when I had the Agility 3 as an OS +program drive, the Over all score was 411, very close to the 413 Posted above (may be related to the Higher access time For mine., which could have been something runing that affected the pass).
March 3, 2012 11:54:25 PM

Hi all,

So I finally received my new SSD (Smsung 830 64Gb) and installed my system. It all seems to work great, no stutters or jerkyness, but my old SSD (2nd Agility 3) was also showing signs of weakness... turns out it was also dying...

I'm very pissed at myself for making that error of not turning AHCI mode in BIOS prior to using my first 2 SSDs as they are now both dead. Valuable lesson learned, the hard way...

It seems the only problem I had was that I damaged the SSDs too badly due to not enabling AHCI mode...

Thanks for all the help!
March 8, 2012 7:36:00 AM

I could understand that running an SSD in IDE mode (vs AHCI) could throttle performance, but I don't see how it could "kill" an SSD. Can somebody explain that to me, please?
March 8, 2012 12:18:01 PM

Is the stuttering side to side? This can also be caused by your video card drivers. It is at least worth while to cover all bases.
March 8, 2012 7:01:17 PM

wpcoe said:
I could understand that running an SSD in IDE mode (vs AHCI) could throttle performance, but I don't see how it could "kill" an SSD. Can somebody explain that to me, please?


Well from what I've read, TRIM and the few other tools that work/are enabled with AHCI mode improve drastically the lifespan of the SSD, not really the performance (well the end result is the performance change but that is an outcome of improving the lifespan).
The way it improves lifespan is by spreading out the writes between blocks so that the first blocks of the SSD are not the only one being written to.
See: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/octane-sata-indilin... --> Without any tools enabled, the performance of the SSD drops to ~7 MB/s writes!! Thats what I meant by dead... ha

There's alot of resources online, especially on Tom's so do some research (:

Thanks
a c 353 G Storage
March 9, 2012 1:51:02 AM

Don't think it's the absense of trim. Trim does help both interms of performance and spreading the write more evenly. However; moset SSDs have an enternal Garbage Collector (CG) algorthum and wear leveling algorthum, Trim improves on these functions.
Have to remember SSD manuf are selling these to NON windows 7 users also (95%, or more, of the regulars here are Windows 7, but Only recently has windows 7 exceeded XP users.
I have a Intel G1, which does not support Trim and still going great. Also I have a 8 gig SSD in a Pentium 133 running windows 3.11 that has been in use for almost 2, maybe 3 years with out a hitch.

I would say trim + some other contributing factor are the cause, but not solely the absence of Trim. Myself I do not consider the agility III SSD a "Good" SSD to begin with.
!