I recently performed a hard drive wipe on my laptop and did a fresh install of Windows 7 (Home Premium, 64 bit) and now my graphics card (Nvidia GTX 260m) is severely lacking in performance. There were no problems with my laptop before the reinstall, it was just routine maintenance. Before the reinstall I could play Crysis with most settings on high and the rest on very high with no issues. Now I am getting about 10 FPS with all settings on low. I have also noticed my Windows Experience Index has dropped in both the "Graphics" and "Gaming Graphics" to 5.1 and 5.5 respectively (they used to both be at 5.8). I never paid much attention to the Experience Index since I prefer more in depth benchmarking programs, but I noticed this while trying to trouble shoot the problem and I find it very worrisome.
I am confident I have all the latest and proper drivers (that was my first step), but nonetheless I have tried updating/reinstalling drivers, tweaking the Nvidia control panel utility, overclocking the card (none of the programs even worked with my computer, so that was a fail), and even doing another hard drive wipe/reinstall of Windows. I am also fairly confident that problem isn't stemming from a different piece of hardware, such as my CPU. Nothing seemed to be working. Then while playing Crysis (with the depressingly low settings/performance) today I noticed the fan for my GPU wasn't even running, which was strange because it always ran at 100% before the reinstall. Worried that my GPU might explode or something I shut down the game and immediately checked the GPU's temperature, but found it was flat lining at 41 degrees Celsius. Curious I started up Crysis and started monitoring GPU-Z during game play and discovered my graphics card has become depressingly lethargic. It was only running at 25% of its maximum load. Also, the core clock wasn't elevating to the proper levels either (it was at about 275 MHz when it typically went up to about 380 MHz or sometimes even 550 MHz), but I assume the low core clock is a byproduct of the GPU not giving me 100% effort. This is when I realized when the issue is beyond my level of limited experience. The solution will probably be a simple setting change or something, but I am out of ideas. I apologize for the long winded nature of my question, but I prefer to give most of the relevant information in one installation. I will gladly provide any extra information to anyone that feels they need it to troubleshoot the issue.
NOTE: I have noticed a few similar threads, but I am not sure if these people have the exact same problem as me, and I thought it might help if I provided a very detailed description of the issue, because the other threads did not seem to be having much luck.
Thanks for your suggestions, but I have already tried uninstalling/reinstalling all of the drivers related to the graphics card/display, and I have tried both installing the original drivers and the latest available. My computer isn't even a year old, and I know that's a long time in terms of the progression of computer technology, but most of the original drivers are still the latest available. I'll consider MSI Afterburner as a last resort if no other solution surfaces. The main problem I see with overclocking my graphics card is that from what I understand, most overclocking programs simply raise the maximum core/shader/memory speed, but it's still up to the card to go to that level when it sees fit. Judging by what I've already tried I could (hypothetically) raise the clock(s) of my GPU all the way to 1300 MHz but it would still lazily chug along at 275 (core) MHz. I could be wrong about that though, I don't claim to be an overclocking expert by any stretch of the imagination. Even if I could overclock the card properly, I still don't see how I could make the card run at 100% of it's maximum load.
The only thing I recall was bumping the corner of my notebook on the doorframe the night before. I had system restored back a few days when I seen the downclock was permanent and could be due to a software or update conflict, but of course, if a full reformat (not quick) didn't fix it then the problem is a lot more embedded than I had anticipated.
I believe I have resolved this issue. I finally spoke to a friend of mine, who until recently had a M17x Alienware laptop (he sold it so he could make his own rig) who said the dumbest, smartest, and possibly the most beautiful thing I've ever heard:
"Are you sure you don't have stealth mode on?"
Sure enough, I came home today, pressed the stealth mode button, it turned off, and my computer is once again operating at peak performance. I consider myself a fairly intelligent individual, and I also like to consider myself very knowledgeable about computers for a 16 year old who goes to a school that has "Learning Microsoft Office" for it's best and only computer class, but this problem seemed to be so far outside of my reach and experience, and the way it was solved made me feel so dumb I almost regret fixing the problem. In my defense, I haven't used the stealth mode feature since October 2009 and I had basically forgot it even existed but the simplicity of the resolution perturbs me, although I do prefer to appear dumb and have a good computer than to not appear dumb and have a crummy one.
Thank you borisof007 for your suggestions, your answer probably would have been the best course of action should no perfect and immediate solution have presented itself.
deph3ct: I suggest checking your stealth mode button if you haven't already, could be a simple fix, if that isn't the issue and you have an actual hardware/software problem that the press of a button cannot fix, best of luck to you. Thanks for the help.