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PC running much slower than usual

My PC is several years old and I'm concerned that one (or more?) of its components is dying.

The problem:
My system's been running significantly slower than normal. STartup doesn't really take too long, but I've noticed that some of my games are running very slowly now, when before they'd run perfectly. League of Legends used to run at a very high FPS (I think it was around 100 FPS, though I might have it confused with another game - either way, it was high enough that I never bothered checking), but now it runs at between 20 and 33 FPS (though it looks and feels much worse than the FPS counter says - more like 5 FPS). World of Tanks frequently crashes on me and often I get artifacts in game; grey shapes over the screen and sometimes textures turning bright yellow. It also takes much longer to load than previously. I even tried out Battlefield 1942, just to see how bad my computer had gotten. With 20 bots it was stuttering awfully and I probably had an FPS of around 10-20.

Furthermore, even just having several tabs open in Google Chrome is enough to cause my computer to lag noticeably, when, just a few days ago I could have a huge number open (I never managed to have so many open that my computer noticeably slowed).

However, Fallout: New Vegas seems to work OK for me (it always ran at between 20 and 30 FPS for me) if I just walk around. As soon as I start fighting, it slows down just like the other games.

So, my system seems to be slowing down quite significantly when it never would have before (especially on games like BF1942, which I was able to run at over 60 FPS about 3 computer systems ago!).

My specs:
GeForce 9800GT (driver is a month or two old, but I can't imagine that not updating my driver caused a 2003 game to suddenly lag)
Intel Core2Duo E7300 2.66GHz
4 GB generic RAM
Seagate 500 GB (Barracuda 7200.12 SATA 3Gb/s)
I have 70 GB of space on the drive (which actually has 466 GB, not 500 GB) and it's reasonably fragmented - though not any more than it was a few days ago. Still, I'm working through the slow process of defragging.
Windows XP SP3
Nothing overclocked

What I've tried:
- I've run scans on SUPERAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes (making sure that they're fully up to date) and they came up with nothing.
- I ran Intel's diagnostic tool and it said that my processor passed.
- I tried to run Seagate's SeaTools and my HDD passed the SMART test and the Short Generic Test, but the Short Drive Self Test wouldn't complete - it got right to the very end with only a small part of the bar left incomplete, but wouldn't finish for an hour. I'm worried that my HDD will fail - my first HDD was the same model as this one and it died a while back, so I sent it to Seagate and they replaced it with the one I currently have.
Edit: I spoke to soon - I ran the Short DST again and it passed fine.
- I've run some graphics card testers, but the only ones I've seen seem to be more about testing GPU temps for overclocking purposes. They run fine, but after a few minutes nothing seemed to changed (temperature peaked at around 70 C), so I turned them off. I'm also worried that it could be my GPU, since there's been artifacts in WoT (though, haven't seen any in other games).
- I've ensured that my page file is set reasonably high (it's at 4 GB and has been for the past few years).
- I've checked to make sure no programs have suddenly started running in the background.

Would anyone happen to have an idea of what could be wrong with my system? Would a dying HDD really affect my computer like this (when my other one was dying, everything loaded REALLY slow, but I don't remember lagging in games)? Would a dying GPU affect how many Google Chrome tabs I can have open?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I don't have the money to replace everything, so I'm hoping that it's just one component that's dying (really hope it's not my HDD again :( ).

Thanks very much,
5 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    When you see this "...even just having several tabs open in Google Chrome is enough to cause my computer to lag noticeably, .." Is the hard disk doing a lot of activity? You are Xp SP3. Vista and win7 have nice performance monitor, but you can make do with task manager.

    Open task manager, goto process tab. click view. click select columns, put check makes in 'page fault delta', 'IO read bytes' 'IO write bytes'. Save.

    In the process page you should now see the new columns. When you hit a problem look at the processes that are hitting problems. If your games are getting large page fault delta check who is using lots of memory. If something else is gettign either large amounts of IO read/write or page fault delta google that. If something is using a lot of CPU google that. You are looking for some (possibly broken) software that is running in the background and using teh disk or the CPU or the memory.

    Good luck.
  2. Awesome, thanks very much! I did what you said and found that vsmon.exe (apparently a component of ZoneAlarm) had the second highest I/O read and the highest I/O write on my whole system (this is while I had many Google Chrome tabs open and was playing League of Legends). Oddly, the thing using more I/O read was Java (jqs.exe), which had more than 4 times the I/O read of vsmon.exe - and I wasn't even running a Java application.

    So, I've shut of ZoneAlarm and everything seems to be working like it used to. I think loading times are still a little long for World of Tanks, but that might be because of the latest patch for it. I haven't been getting any lag at all in my games and their FPS has returned to normal. If it comes back again (I'm a little concerned that it may all be a coincidence and something else is wrong) I'll check Task Manager again and I'll post here to update with what happened and if I fixed it (just in case others stumble across this thread and have the same problem). If everything keeps working well, then I'll just leave this thread be.

    Thank you so much for helping - you saved me from doing something drastic like buying a whole new mobo and GFX card in the hopes of fixing it. I really appreciate it :)
  3. Best answer selected by Mattressi.
  4. Super news. Glad you were able to get back to normal from the sketchy post. If you see me on WOT don't shoot me (or say hi first) TSnor
  5. Ok, the slow-down's come back now. ZoneAlarm absolutely destroys my computer now when it's on and even when I completely shut it down my computer is still reasonably slow (though my web browser doesn't lag like it used to - it's really just some games that are slow). I don't have any more processes running in the background than I did before. I thought I'd go back and try to play some of the games that I used to play to see what happened. I loaded up Battlefield Bad Company 2 and joined a server. It loaded the map fully, I got to the kit selection screen and it froze after about 3 seconds, then crashed to the desktop after having been frozen for a few seconds. I play it at 1280x960 resolution and have my desktop at 1152x864 - but after the crash it stayed at 1280x960 (usually if a game crashes that doesn't happen). I tried loading all the other maps (in case it was just some that crashed) and all of them froze and crashed. I turned off Windows Firewall and all other programs and still the same happened. I used to play with maximum graphics except AA, so I turned it down to the lowest graphics I could and it still crashed.

    Borderlands runs reasonably OK for a minute or two and then starts to get slower and slower to the point that it's simply unplayable. Changing the graphics from highest to lowest has absolutely no affect on this.

    Mount and Blade: Warband (one of the least intensive games I own) has a constant 100 FPS now (it used to be at the 120 FPS cap). However, despite being apparently at 100 FPS, I'm noticing definite stuttering and delayed visual response (I click to block someone's swing and it blocks slower, but it also blocks their swing when their weapon is nowhere near mine - it hasn't even connected with the block!). I have a constant 20 ms ping.

    I really think that it's a graphics card issue - back when WoT was crashing I'd get DirectX errors coming up and all of this seems to be graphics issues. WoT works well enough still, btw - I can't remember how fast it used to run, but it's certainly running significantly better with ZoneAlarm turned off. I think that ZoneAlarm slowing my computer might just be a symptom of a larger problem.

    As I said, I've checked through all the programs running. The only one that occasionally uses a small amount of CPU (maximum of 3 - whatever the units are :??: ) and which has a large I/O read (around 3 billion bytes) is jqs.exe (a Java program, which apparently should have a large I/O read anyway). I've completely defragged my HDD, updated the graphics driver to the latest version, scanned for viruses and spyware, cleaned out every component in my tower (some dust, but not much). CPU is still apparently fine (according to Intel's CPU test), HDD is fine (according to Seagate's HDD test) and I'm not sure how to test my GFX card - everything out seems to be there to benchmark it; but I've got no idea what kind of numbers it should be getting. The fans aren't making any more or less noise than they used to and appear to be running fine.

    Any chance anyone would happen to know what's wrong? I'd really rather not buy a new GFX card until I'm pretty certain that that's the issue here. Is there any way to test if my graphics card is running as it should be?

    Also, should I start a new thread for this?

    Thanks very much, again :)
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