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Problem with low frame rate and CPU usage.

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December 12, 2010 8:25:34 AM

Hopefully I'm posting this in the correct forum.

Basically, this all started happening about three days ago. I booted up WoW and noticed that my frame rate was considerably lower than usual (around 20 FPS on average, and as low as 2 FPS.) I generally get a steady 60 FPS when playing games. For the past few days, I figured it was a problem with the specific game. Earlier tonight, I started up another game and my FPS was about the same. This has got me wondering if something in my computer is failing. When running a game, my frame rate is not only low, but my CPU usage is 100% and my system is very laggy. Before this started, I had no problems. I would run a game like WoW, Firefox, Media Player, Instant Messaging programs and Winamp at the same time with no issues. I put all of the game's settings as low as possible and it didn't change anything. I've closed everything running in the background except for system processes and there is no change.

As far as I know, all of my drivers are up to date and DirectX is up to date.


Here are my specs:

OS: Windows 7 64-bit

AMD Phenom II X2 550 3.1ghz

Radeon HD 4800 1024MB

6 gigs of RAM



Any ideas?
December 12, 2010 8:53:48 AM

It fluctuates, but it's low. As I type this, it's 5%.
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December 12, 2010 5:55:42 PM

What games did you test for low FPS?
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December 13, 2010 2:00:09 AM

I tested my FPS with the only two games I had installed at the time, which were WoW and Crysis. I ended up re-formatting, doing a clean install of Windows 7 and another clean install of WoW and it hasn't changed anything.
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December 13, 2010 8:19:11 AM

As an update to this:

I reformatted my drive and did a clean install of Windows 7 and the problem still persists. I also noticed tonight that my CPU usage spiked really high while trying to watch a movie in Media Player. Could this be a video card problem? A Processor issue? If something is failing, what is it likely to be?

I still have really bad frame rate. I actually checked with a friend of mine who has almost the exact same setup as I do (only difference being how much memory. Exact vid card, motherboard, cpu, etc.), and playing the same game at the same settings, his performance was ideal while mine certainly was not. I also ran a performance test (PassMark Performance Test) and it clocked my average FPS at 19. During the 3D video tests, it was very noticeably laggy and choppy.

Any thoughts?
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December 13, 2010 8:25:55 AM

You have to figure out what is draining the ressources of ouf your CPU.
When your problem happens, press Ctr-Alt-Del ->Taskmanager->show Process of all user-> and sort all process by CPU usage.

Is it really your game thats spiking or another process like svchost.exe or somethig like that.

And download MemTest to make sure part of your ram isn't causing this
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December 13, 2010 9:40:18 AM

Has the overall responsiveness of the system degraded? Do you have a IDE hard disk?
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December 13, 2010 10:07:15 AM

i'am sure that the problem is deeper
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December 13, 2010 11:33:51 AM

Which process is using up your CPU?
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December 13, 2010 8:38:17 PM

I let MemTest run for 4+ hours and it came back with 0 errors. This may end up being a long read, but I've got some updates to the situation.

Basically, last night I had a friend of mine hop on MSN. He has the same exact system as me, except he has 2 gigs LESS ram. We used PassMark Performance Test and while my overall score was 521, his was 1242, so something is very obviously wrong. Here is an image of the results (compared to the average of an AMD Phenom II): http://img96.imageshack.us/img96/4170/perfres.gif The only things that seem to be on track are 3D graphics and CD Mark. Then we both ran the PassMark Multiple Process Test. These are my results:


Prime Number Search - 660285 Primes Found
Sorting Random Strings - 375.57

His numbers were doubled.

One of my biggest questions is, if the CPU is failing, would it be causing other hardware to bottle neck?

I ran the Windows Experience Index assessment after PassMark and got a score of 3.1. For those that don't know, it's graded on a scale of 1.0 to 7.9. These are the results:

Processor: 3.1 (I ran it a few times. It came up as 2.9, 3.1 and 3.0)
Memory: 6.5
Graphics: 7.5
Gaming Graphics: 7.5
Primary Hard Disk: 5.5

Everything seems pretty normal here except for processor. My processor is under warranty still, so that's a plus. But I'd like to be more sure that the CPU is actually the issue before I go through the trouble of dealing with the warranty. Could it be the motherboard? I would assume that if it was the board, I'd be getting memory errors too. But I have no idea. Are there more tests I should run that can help really narrow it down?

Something else to note: When I'm not doing anything, my CPU usage is pretty normal. But, if I try and watch a movie or play a game, the usage gets pretty high (higher than normal anyway) and my frame rate is low as well. If I try and run a few programs at the same time, it's the same story. But I never had trouble with that in the past
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December 13, 2010 10:11:29 PM

Might want to run CPU-Z to detect any anomaly. For some reason the MB might have reverted to a lower FSB and therefore a slower CPU clock (happened to me once on an old Athlon XP, don't know if that kind of stuff still happens). Show us screenshots of the results to see if we detect anything wrong. Don't worry if the CPU multiplier or clock isn't right, it might be some energy saving feature (CPU downclock themselves when not being heavily used to save power and keep from heating).
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December 13, 2010 11:21:53 PM

Can you try making the CPU test while some benchmark is running, like Prime95, just to make sure the multiplier increases correctly?

One thing I notice from this screen is that PCI-E seems to be running at x8 and not x16. Do you have 2 cards in CrossFire or did you just put the card in the orange slot to give the CPU "room to breathe" (would have done the same if I didn't think of checking if both slots were x16, so this no attempt to mock you in any way)?


Has your friend OCed his PC in any way?
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December 13, 2010 11:28:37 PM

Mmmm, I also noticed you are still using BIOS version F5, but on Gigabyte's support page is says your CPU was only supported from F8, you might want to give that a try as well.
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December 13, 2010 11:51:24 PM

I tried to update to F8, but it says my OS isn't compatible.
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December 14, 2010 1:36:02 AM

Raiv said:
It also jumped up to 15.5x. It kept going back and forth between that and 4x while it was running.
That is normal, it's the Cool'n Quiet at work ;) . I just wanted to make sure it wasn't stuck at 4x.

As for your videocard, have you plugged it in the blue (upper-most) PCI-E slot or the orange one under it?

As for the BIOS, the usual way to do it is from the boot screen using a USB key, look at your MB's manual and see how it's done. The .exe for the BIOS update is actually a self-extracting archive, once extracted you cannot just execute it from, it needs to be done through Gigabyte's @BIOS utility or through the boot-time flash utility (if your MB has one, but I guess so since my Gigabyte MB is older than yours and it has the feature).
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December 14, 2010 1:36:43 AM

Oh and you might as well go for the latest BIOS, not just the "minimum required".
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December 14, 2010 1:51:03 AM

Ok, I'll try that in a little bit.

I'm curious though, would that have an impact all of a sudden when everything ran just fine for over a year? I mean, I've been using the same BIOS and my video card has been in the same slot the whole time.
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December 14, 2010 4:04:35 AM

Flashing the bios made no improvement unfortunately.
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December 14, 2010 8:04:30 AM

Raiv said:
Flashing the bios made no improvement unfortunately.

As I was asking earlier, do you have an IDE HDD?
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December 14, 2010 9:03:36 AM

Sorry, yes I do. I have two IDE drives and one SATA drive.
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December 14, 2010 9:12:57 AM

Whoops, that might be the problem. Check with device manager and see if it is working in DMA mode.
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December 14, 2010 9:25:36 AM

I'll check first thing in the morning. Not at my computer currently. Just curious, I've had the same drives in there for over a year already. Is this something that could just happen all of a sudden?
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December 14, 2010 9:49:40 AM

Yes, it can happen. It has happened to me twice.DMA can revert to PIO, which means that the CPU is involved in every I/O operation and that could be an explanation for your high CPU activity.
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December 14, 2010 6:27:34 PM

Well, DMA is enabled on my IDE drives.
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December 14, 2010 6:35:03 PM

What are your idle and load CPU temp? Maybe some thermal throttling???
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December 14, 2010 6:42:09 PM

CPU overheating maybe? Sure LOOKS like a CPU problem, so it could be heat related...
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December 14, 2010 7:24:09 PM

For idle temps, those seems high to me. What is your room temp? What tower are you using and with how many fans (+size)? What is your CPU cooler? Applied any thermal paste or used the thermal pad that came with the cooler?
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December 14, 2010 7:33:19 PM

Yeah, a few people have said that those seem high for idle temps. Room temp is actually pretty cool right now.. 55-60 degrees F.

Three fans, although according to SIW, only one is running currently.

I'm using a Lian Li tower. This one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Stock cooler. I used the thermal pad that came with it. I haven't applied any extra paste, although I do have some if need be.
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December 14, 2010 7:53:21 PM

What are the temps under load?

From there I wouldn't know exactly what to suggest. You can try removing the HSF and installing it back to make sure it has proper contact with the CPU. If that doesn't work you can try re replace the generic thermal pad with some good thermal paste. Last resort you can always try changing the HSF for something better.
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December 14, 2010 9:01:21 PM

Think I found the issue. When I opened my case, I noticed that the heat sink fan wasn't starting properly. It just sort of stuttered. I'm assuming this would cause the issues that I'm having?
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December 14, 2010 10:11:28 PM

The fan could be a possible suspect. CPUs generate so much heat, that even the tiniest space between the HSF surface the and the CPU's could probably cause a 5C temp difference if not more. To test CPU temp under load, run things that are CPU intensive like Prime95. You can also ask your friend with similar setup to do the same and compare temps.

A long time ago, with my old Athlon XP, I was using a shim (back then CPUs didn't come with heat spreaders and you could crush the core if you were using big HSF and didn't apply pressure evenly, a shim prevented that) and I didn't install it properly, my CPU ran a around 90C under load for a few months before I realized it. Reinstalled the thing and my temps dropped about 25C.
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December 14, 2010 10:19:04 PM

Well I'm in the process of putting a new fan on the heat sink because the other one is not working at all. Once I get it on there and start my system back up, I'll find out what the temp is under load.
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December 14, 2010 10:39:11 PM

What power supply do you have?
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December 15, 2010 12:39:38 AM

My power supply is a Corsair TX650w.
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December 15, 2010 3:57:15 AM

Well, you seem to have identified the problem.Good luck with the new heatsink.
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December 15, 2010 11:24:12 PM

I put the new heatsink in and things seem to be back to normal. Getting good frame rate now and my CPU temp is better. Thanks everyone for the help.
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December 16, 2010 12:08:44 AM

Glad it worked.

BTW, I would also look at the possible issue of PCI-E running at 8x. Might not have a big impact, but still curious.
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December 16, 2010 4:03:26 AM

How would I go about looking into that? Is there a setting in the BIOS perhaps?
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December 16, 2010 7:45:56 AM

You can check it with GPU-Z
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December 16, 2010 12:23:33 PM

And check if the video card isn't just in the x8 slot of your MB ;) 
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