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Nvidia 260 stutter (not your usual post regarding bad framerates)

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May 10, 2010 6:37:27 AM

Hey guys,

Been a while since ive visited toms. Last time I built a projector. Anyway, on to my issue.

Basically I have deduced the core issue to be intermittent hiccups on the output of the graphics card. Most notably, this is seen in Empire total war, where on the campaign map only (think lots of textures and objects, but relatively low detail), the entire screen hitches when i scroll every few seconds. This happens regardless of LOD. The framerate is very high. I thought that perhaps it was gpu memory load. However, the card was only utilizing 384 mb of 896 (according to gpuz). The game, drivers etc are all patched up nicely.

Were it just empire total war that had the issue, i would toss it off as bad code. However, I also notice the issue cropping up in XBMC (Xbox media center). There is a little text bar at the bottem that scrolls across, and it just isnt entirely smooth. Its smooth for a good 1.5-2 seconds but it will 'jump' every so often, or almost hiccup. The more I think the more i realize Ive seen this issue in several areas, but these are the two most prominent. The xbmc hiccup is almost unnoticeable, but the ETW hiccups make it nearly unplayable. However, oddly enough everything else plays just as expected (battlefield 2, crysis, command and conquer). 3d mark vantage score is about 7000-9000. Also, i had this issue in both win7 and vista. However, the win7 install was just an over the top install.

Voltages came back stable in msi afterburner. Temps below 65, usually 40-55.

Finally, my system:

550W Rocketfish Power Supply
Intel Core 2 Qaud q8200 (2.33ghz)
nvidia geforce gtx 260 (192 core version, 65nm, made by bfg)
4 gb ram ddr2 (pc2-800 mhz)
some crappy foxconn motherboard that came with the pc (sad i know, but too poor to fix that just yet)
320 gb main drive, 500gb secodary drive, both 7200 rpm

I think that should suffice for details.

Any Ideas? I would LOVE to hear them because I am out. Also, you can assume ive tried the obvious stuff, but feel free to offer anything i havent mentioned.
May 10, 2010 6:40:38 AM

Other quick details I thought of:

Gpu-z reported back 82 percent cpu load during atitool stress test, and it would not allow it to get above that number. In fact, it kept knocking it down to 79 and then back up, never getting above 82-83 percent load. Also worth noting, the card is slightly over clocked. However, these issues have appeared way before it ever was (Tried to play Empire Total War when it came out).
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a c 169 U Graphics card
May 10, 2010 7:16:45 AM

Hello and welcome to the forums :) 
First of all revert back your OC.
Second,is about MSI afterburner.
When i installed it on my rig,i had FPS drops which is really strange,so i did a google search and found that many users have this problem.so if you leave it running and then you go to a game,disable it and check the results.
Also,i have seen many threads about problems "Upgrading from Vista to 7",rather than doing a clean install.
I had problems with this too,so i did a clean install and i recommend you to do so
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May 10, 2010 7:21:01 AM

Hey Maziar,

Thanks for the quick response. Yea, i did revert the OC. Didnt fix it (nor did I expect it to).
The MSI i just installed literally a few minutes ago. However, I think your advice about win7 is sound. This baby has been due for a clean install for a long time. I just haven't had the gumption to go ahead and perform one. If anyway else has any thoughts I would gladly welcome them; although a clean install isnt a bad idea, Im not totally certain thats the issue. Definately worth a try though.
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a c 169 U Graphics card
May 10, 2010 8:10:02 AM

Yes its worth the try,let us know how it goes
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May 10, 2010 6:23:49 PM

A few more ideas before you pull the trigger on that clean install (although that is never a bad idea).

1) do you run any personal firewall software?
2) do you run AV software?
3) Do you have your games on a separate partition than your OS?

If 1 or 2, then its worth looking into an exception rule for where your game & apps that experience this hiccup store their data. This can occur because the game/application periodically writes data to the drive and the AV/FW is scanning the data before its written every time. Since you trust the game, in this case you can try adding an exception.

#3 is more related to performance, but its possible even with a 7200 rpm drive thats large enough that its having trouble reading from different parts of the disk, rather, hopping around from one end to the other to grab the data that the OS and then the game/application is requesting. This would be made more prominent if either #1 or 2 are true.

One last thing about AV and writing of cache to disk as described above, its possible that the game/app code is just bad still and only utilizes a single processor -- meaning its not using more than 1 of your 4 cores for these duties and thus the first core is getting loaded heavily which can lead to this kind of stutter. Sometimes forcing the affinity of a service or application to a different core can alleviate the problem. e.g. after you open your game, alt-tab out, find the process in task manager, right click, Set affinity, and force it to cores 3 & 4 only, then go back in and see what the behavior is. Another way to alleviate this is to OC your processor. Its likely that with the 2.33 speed, it would benefit greatly from a modest boost to 2.66 or so, especially if the above is true.

So, lots of things to try still, but possible that its just due to fragmentation or the OS being finicky due to it being an upgrade install.
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May 10, 2010 11:09:28 PM

Hmm...Very interesting bit about the processor affinity. Never knew about that. However, none of the processors were even near full load so I doubt that was the issue. That being said I did notice my drive has a bit of fragmentation, so I am working on taking care of that (auslogics software). I do run antivirus (avast free), but I have disabled that while testing ETW. I think the ETW issue is separate at this point. However, i also believe the graphics card has some issues as well. So ill start with a defrag. If that fails, then im on to a clean install.
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May 11, 2010 3:53:22 AM

so it would seem the files are MASSIVELY fragmented. They are being a serious pain in the rear to defrag though, probably because I only have about 12 percent space free. Anyway, i think this is the issue. Will post back if this fixes things.
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May 13, 2010 3:46:06 AM

Just an update, unfortunately i performed a clean install and total war still has issues. However, it did clean up a view issues with video playback which was rather pleasing, so worth it in the end. Xbmc seems quite a bit smoother. I cant decide if this is a card issue or an ETW. I suppose ill have to hold off until its time to buy a new card.
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a c 169 U Graphics card
May 13, 2010 9:21:53 AM

Well your card performs well in games like BF2,Crysis so it maybe a problem with TotalWar.
Aren't there any patches for it ?
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