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Sub-par performance from store bought laptop.

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April 29, 2012 2:36:09 PM

I recently bought an Acer Aspire 7750G-6645 from Circuit City. The specs are:

CPU: 2.5 GHz Core i5-2450M
GPU: AMD Radeon HD 7670M, 1 GB DDR5 VRAM
Screen: 17.3" 1600x900 LED LCD
RAM: 1x4 GB DDR3

I did a good bit of research before buying it, and when it went on sale from $650 down to $550+$50 rebate I decided to grab it. From benchmarks of the GPU that I saw on notebookcheck.net I expected it to run WoW and other various games very smoothly. Notebookcheck had the card listed as running SWtoR on Ultra settings at 23-24 FPS with the same CPU that I have.

Once I got the laptop and got my games installed I was disappointed in the FPS that I was getting (Especially in WoW). Seeing as SWtoR is much more graphically intense than WoW I expected it to hold 30 FPS+ on Ultra easily. Instead I'm lucky to hold 30 FPS on High settings and when I turn the settings up all the way, the screen begins to stutter, even though I still get 20-30 FPS. I have talked to several people that know their way around more than me but no one has any good ideas.

One other theory I had was that WoW wasn't fully utilizing my CPU. My CPU usage generally sits around 25% and I have never seen it go over 50% for WoW. I know that the game doesn't use more than 2 cores at a time, and my processor is only a dual core, but it has 4 threads active.

Any suggestions are appreciated, thanks.
April 29, 2012 3:22:05 PM

1. Verify it is slower than others. Is your screen size the same? Are your graphic details the same? Anything unexpected when you run the windows experience benchmark then compare results to others?
2. Check your POWER policy. Make sure it is on max performance and that you are plugged into the wall. Most laptops ship with default energy saving profiles enabled, especially on battery.
3.Have you tried a few graphic driver upgrades? Done your windows updates?

FYI, CPU utilization is very misleading. You have 2 real cores and 2 hyperthreads for a total of four apparent CPUs. When the system reports 25% CPU it could mean a single-thread game is running at 100%. When the system reports %50 it could mean two threads each running at 100%. Games make this worse by looping while waiting for something to happen -- a CPU loafing along doing something once in a while but continually checking for new work looks the same as a CPU straining to keep up. If set at full frequency, your I5-2450 is a monster and will not be the problem.

"I have never seen it go over 50% for WoW. I know that the game doesn't use more than 2 cores at a time" Yes, this is how a two threaded application would show up, never using more than 50% of the available four hardware threads.

Video naming drives everyone crazy. Make sure you are comparing to exactly the same video, sounds like you are.
April 29, 2012 3:34:26 PM

tsnor said:
1. Verify it is slower than others. Is your screen size the same? Are your graphic details the same? Anything unexpected when you run the windows experience benchmark then compare results to others?
2. Check your POWER policy. Make sure it is on max performance and that you are plugged into the wall. Most laptops ship with default energy saving profiles enabled, especially on battery.
3.Have you tried a few graphic driver upgrades? Done your windows updates?

FYI, CPU utilization is very misleading. You have 2 real cores and 2 hyperthreads for a total of four apparent CPUs. When the system reports 25% CPU it could mean a single-thread game is running at 100%. When the system reports %50 it could mean two threads each running at 100%. Games make this worse by looping while waiting for something to happen -- a CPU loafing along doing something once in a while but continually checking for new work looks the same as a CPU straining to keep up. If set at full frequency, your I5-2450 is a monster and will not be the problem.

"I have never seen it go over 50% for WoW. I know that the game doesn't use more than 2 cores at a time" Yes, this is how a two threaded application would show up, never using more than 50% of the available four hardware threads.

Video naming drives everyone crazy. Make sure you are comparing to exactly the same video, sounds like you are.


The power policy is definitely on High Performance. I can't find any WoW specific benchmarks, I can hardly find anything about this card at all. I'm having trouble with checking drivers because this laptop has "AMD Dynamic Switchable Graphics" and sets the HD 3000 graphics as the default, so I can't auto detect the drivers from the AMD site, and I can't find the drivers manually.

I forgot to mention that last night while playing WoW my laptop locked up, blue screened, and restarted because the display driver stopped working. Keep in mind this is a brand new laptop.

About the CPU, since WoW can use 2 Cores, but is apparently only using 2 threads, is there a way to get rid of the threads? I'd rather have it 100% dedicated to the game while I'm playing.

I'll keep looking for some more benchmarks.
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April 29, 2012 4:24:48 PM

volzear418 said:
....About the CPU, since WoW can use 2 Cores, but is apparently only using 2 threads, is there a way to get rid of the threads? I'd rather have it 100% dedicated to the game while I'm playing......


Yes. I have two PCs with hyperthreading and set them up differently.

An older i7-920 (four cores x 2 threads/core = 8 threads). I use the BIOS to turn off hyperthreading, it's an option. The work I run very rarely uses 4 threads, if I was transcoding a lot or doing video editing I'd leave hyperthreading on.

A thinkpad T420 with the same CPU as you have. (two cores x 2 threads/core = 4 threads) I leave hyperthreading on with the laptop. Enough things need more than two threads that this seems a good idea. (e.g. I'm working, adobe is checking for updates in the background and my e-mail client is checking for new mail)

You can try it with HT off by getting into your BIOS and finding the option. Try it both ways. I think HT is helping you, but maybe not.

--

Try going to Acer's web site and see if there is a video driver you can download. Sometimes notebooks are fussy on driver so they set them up no to detect/load standard drivers. Switchable graphics is good, but is one of the reasons why a standard driver may not work.

--

Try downloading a temp monitor. The people who make CPUz have a hardware monitor I like. See if you are getting into any thermal issues. Unlikely with a new PC, but possible. In a year or two wyou'll have a ton of dust in your heatsink and the odds of thermal throttling go up.

April 29, 2012 4:59:36 PM

tsnor said:
Yes. I have two PCs with hyperthreading and set them up differently.

An older i7-920 (four cores x 2 threads/core = 8 threads). I use the BIOS to turn off hyperthreading, it's an option. The work I run very rarely uses 4 threads, if I was transcoding a lot or doing video editing I'd leave hyperthreading on.

A thinkpad T420 with the same CPU as you have. (two cores x 2 threads/core = 4 threads) I leave hyperthreading on with the laptop. Enough things need more than two threads that this seems a good idea. (e.g. I'm working, adobe is checking for updates in the background and my e-mail client is checking for new mail)

You can try it with HT off by getting into your BIOS and finding the option. Try it both ways. I think HT is helping you, but maybe not.

--

Try going to Acer's web site and see if there is a video driver you can download. Sometimes notebooks are fussy on driver so they set them up no to detect/load standard drivers. Switchable graphics is good, but is one of the reasons why a standard driver may not work.

--

Try downloading a temp monitor. The people who make CPUz have a hardware monitor I like. See if you are getting into any thermal issues. Unlikely with a new PC, but possible. In a year or two wyou'll have a ton of dust in your heatsink and the odds of thermal throttling go up.


Turns out you can't disable HT through the BIOS. But I managed to reduce the number of cores to 2, so I assume it's 2 Cores at 2.5 GHz instead of 4 at 1.25 now.

I'm looking through Acer for drivers right now.
April 29, 2012 5:15:58 PM

"Turns out you can't disable HT through the BIOS. But I managed to reduce the number of cores to 2, so I assume it's 2 Cores at 2.5 GHz instead of 4 at 1.25 now."

That not how HT works. HT send two work streams through the same CPU. If the work streams have tiny cache footprints then you get almost 2X the throughput. If both just barely fit in the CPU's L1 cache then you get less than 1X the throughput. On average intel gets about 1.2X throughput improvement so on average each virtual CPU acts as a 0.6 CPU but you have twice as many so you get 1.2X on throughput.

With or without Ht, the CPU runs at the same speed (baring thermal throttling, etc). When you turn off HT you tend to get slightly better latency at low utilizations because you do not have two task accidentally sharing the same CPU when there is another CPU free. Windows dispatcher tries to emulate this by 'parking' phyperthreads when they are not needed.
April 29, 2012 5:23:58 PM

You need to set the default graphics for gaming to the AMD chip. Also, look into Throttlestop because SB mobile CPUs are plagued with throttling issues (I thought I got away with one that wasn't but it sure does get hit with them now and again).

Your laptop, properly configured, should run WoW the way you expect. Mine's a i5-2450m with a NVIDIA GT540M (approximate equivalent of yours) and plows through WoW (and SWTOR) FPS. SWTOR, in particular, hovers around 30fps in populated areas.
April 29, 2012 5:46:15 PM

nbelote said:
You need to set the default graphics for gaming to the AMD chip. Also, look into Throttlestop because SB mobile CPUs are plagued with throttling issues (I thought I got away with one that wasn't but it sure does get hit with them now and again).

Your laptop, properly configured, should run WoW the way you expect. Mine's a i5-2450m with a NVIDIA GT540M (approximate equivalent of yours) and plows through WoW (and SWTOR) FPS. SWTOR, in particular, hovers around 30fps in populated areas.


I have WoW set to run with the AMD Chip. I'm downloading ThrottleStop 4.0 right now.
April 29, 2012 5:54:34 PM

tsnor said:
"Turns out you can't disable HT through the BIOS. But I managed to reduce the number of cores to 2, so I assume it's 2 Cores at 2.5 GHz instead of 4 at 1.25 now."

That not how HT works. HT send two work streams through the same CPU. If the work streams have tiny cache footprints then you get almost 2X the throughput. If both just barely fit in the CPU's L1 cache then you get less than 1X the throughput. On average intel gets about 1.2X throughput improvement so on average each virtual CPU acts as a 0.6 CPU but you have twice as many so you get 1.2X on throughput.

With or without Ht, the CPU runs at the same speed (baring thermal throttling, etc). When you turn off HT you tend to get slightly better latency at low utilizations because you do not have two task accidentally sharing the same CPU when there is another CPU free. Windows dispatcher tries to emulate this by 'parking' phyperthreads when they are not needed.


Ok, well I re enabled HT. I'm looking at Throttlestop now. I downloaded the AMD Video Driver from Acer. But I'm not sure where to put the file, or if I need to remove the old one.
April 29, 2012 8:15:13 PM

tsnor said:
"Turns out you can't disable HT through the BIOS. But I managed to reduce the number of cores to 2, so I assume it's 2 Cores at 2.5 GHz instead of 4 at 1.25 now."

That not how HT works. HT send two work streams through the same CPU. If the work streams have tiny cache footprints then you get almost 2X the throughput. If both just barely fit in the CPU's L1 cache then you get less than 1X the throughput. On average intel gets about 1.2X throughput improvement so on average each virtual CPU acts as a 0.6 CPU but you have twice as many so you get 1.2X on throughput.

With or without Ht, the CPU runs at the same speed (baring thermal throttling, etc). When you turn off HT you tend to get slightly better latency at low utilizations because you do not have two task accidentally sharing the same CPU when there is another CPU free. Windows dispatcher tries to emulate this by 'parking' phyperthreads when they are not needed.


Do you have any suggestions for the blue screening? It says that it is because it failed to restart the display driver after it timed out.

Best solution

April 29, 2012 10:28:20 PM
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Start with the video driver itself. Download a new driver from ACER;s web site. It'll be in support downloads under your laptop. Uninstall current video driver (normally you don't need to do this, but you are getting blue screens). Install new driver. Reboot (i do this twice, no clue why.) Then try games. Hopefully the blue screen will go away. If not post.
April 29, 2012 10:38:51 PM

If problems keep occurring after trying to re install drivers, and doing everything that tsnor is suggesting, the best bet would be to format, but only as a final option.
April 30, 2012 10:11:55 AM

tsnor said:
Start with the video driver itself. Download a new driver from ACER;s web site. It'll be in support downloads under your laptop. Uninstall current video driver (normally you don't need to do this, but you are getting blue screens). Install new driver. Reboot (i do this twice, no clue why.) Then try games. Hopefully the blue screen will go away. If not post.


I did all of this and I haven't gotten a blue screen yet, but my driver did stop responding, although it recovered this time. Before that it had always crashed.
May 7, 2012 8:01:56 PM

Best answer selected by Volzear418.
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