Hard drive causing game stutter?

hi guys

built a new rig recently and noticed i got some slight stuttering in a couple of games. for diablo 3, it happens when a big wave of mobs appear, and for deus ex human revolution it happens when my character is running forward into a more graphic intensive area. i noticed that when the stuttering occurs the hard drive light is blinking, and i can hear my hdd seeking loudly. when it stops, the stuttering stops. if i'm just standing there without moving, the hdd is quiet and does not seek. i'm guessing the hdd is loading the content when it stutters, but if that's the case then it is clearly underperforming. i have a wd caviar black 1 tb 7200 rpm 64 mb cache, 1 week old. i ran wd diagnostics and it passed every test.

could it still be my hdd causing me issues?

other specs: intel i5 3450 3.1, biostar tz77b, gigabyte radeon 6850, g skill 8gb 1600 mhz, corsair 500watt

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  1. I know you have 8 gig of ram, but do you have a pagefile set up or did you remove it? If you removed it, I'd try setting it back to default.

    Also, did these games work ok before or is this your first time using them? It almost sounds like your video card is under performing.
  2. I would say to try disabling your pagefile, most of the resources are likely loaded, but chached to the pagefile on the HDD, when you approach the graphics will need to be loaded from the pagefile on HDD at that point.

    Alternatively, get an SSD to put the pagefile on, or setup a ram drive for the pagefile (kinda weird, but it should help). All HDDs have seek time, you can't really avoid it, even a faster drive will need to spin up to access data, and if the game is waiting on that data then you will be hung until it's done.
  3. This is a known issue with D3. Google D3 asset loading and you will find a myriad of posts and some possible remedies. The summary of the issue is that they coded the game to stream content from the HDD to allow for short load times (instead of preloading everything at the load screen). Unfortunately in many set-ups it causes exactly what you are describing.

    I am unsure in regards to Deus Ex however, but I thought I would at least mention the D3 issue as it is possible that your HDD is fine.
  4. hi, thanks for the replies.

    Hawkeye - I actually didn't even think of pagefile, and didn't change anything about it. I will take a look at it later. And it's my first time running these 2 games. My first thought was my video card (gigabyte radeon 6850) but I am not experiencing any artifacts or any other signs of a malfunctioning gpu. The game cutscenes and movies all play flawlessly.

    DjScribbles - Going to take a look at the page files and see if I can find something to make it stop the stutter. It is more choppy gameplay than actual stop or lag in the game. I will definitely take a look at the ssd, but I have friends with the same hdd as me, and weaker cpu/graphics card and ran diablo 3 without any issues.

    tibbs01 - I actually did google that and read that both d3 and deus ex have results of people complaining about stuttering. But the thing that threw me off was that almost any game out there has people complaining about it. And seeing that whenever the games stuttered my hard drive was seeking, I suspected it to be faulty hdd.

    Thanks for all the help and suggestions, I'm going to try adjusting page file. At all worst, I'll have to use one of the warranty features. Thank goodness for wd 5 year warranty.
  5. If the issue is just GPU struggling, you should see the problem go away if you turn down (or disable) shadows and anti-aliasing, but leave textures at their current setting.

    This will reduce the load on the GPU while maintaining a similar amount of data needing to be loaded from cache. If your problem goes away, then your GPU can't handle your settings; if it stays, you can try tweaking settings some more, but it's likely due to caching.

    I very much doubt that it's a faulty HDD, what you described seems pretty normal for spontaneous small data fetching from an HDD; you could try searching for a way to tweak the idle time before the drive spins down.
    As an example, imagine if you encounter a new (cached or not-loaded) texture every 15 seconds, and your drive spins down if it has been idle for 10 seconds; every time a new texture gets loaded, your game will choke and wait for the drive to spin back up, find the data and put it in ram; however if your drive waits 20 seconds to spin down, you'll likely never notice.
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