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Spike Lag, not sure about the root of the issue

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July 23, 2012 6:40:33 AM

Alright Tom's Hardware... I got a bit of a doozy going on over here :( 

Let me start off with the problem: When playing a starcraft 2 game, I will experience 1/2 to 2/3 second lag spikes every 5 seconds or so. This usually occurs just in normal 1v1 games and I am not really taxing my computer (skype and spotify are the only 2 background programs). Fun Fact, the other night I was playing team games with my friends while simultaneously in a call on skype. The spikes drastically shot up to 1 - 2 second delays every 5 seconds, making it virtually unplayable. Note: Nobody else in the games are lagging, so it is definitely something on my end.
Also, when I am browsing on the internet in general or using anything with adobe flash player, I get some pretty bad lag as well (mouse slow/unresponsive, video/stream choppy, etc).

Now a bit of history: I originally was getting very bad lag a few weeks ago (like the 1 - 2 second delays even without skype and just on my own). I reformatted my computer a little over a week ago, and now this problem arose. We also just got a new router in our house (Sonicwall TZ-105) to add to the equation.

I am thinking it could be 1 of 3 things (or a combination). It could be our new router's firewall blocking the data from easily flowing through to my computer; could be my CPU is busto and cannot handle running background programs and starcraft, or it could be my HDD.

My HDD has always been running pretty slow and groggy (slow start up time, loading new programs takes forever), but it also has a sound very much like this video's (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9obzgmWrlM) coming out of it whenever I try to open a program or browse a page on the internet that may be traffic-heavy. It is similar sound to the video except slightly deeper in tone and much louder.

Specs:

i5-2400 @ 3.10GHz
8.00 gb ddr3 ram
1 tb samsung spinpoint 7200 rpm 32mb cache sata 3.0gb/s hdd
amd radeon hd6800 series gpu
520watt power supply
GIGABYTE GA-H61M-USB3-B3 LGA 1155 Intel H61 USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
2 monitors

Those are just my ideas on what the problems could be. Any ideas?

More about : spike lag root issue

July 23, 2012 8:39:04 AM

Most probably the HDD is the culprit, looks (sounds) like its failing.

Simple test, try to copy anything from the hard drive and look for speed drops.

One last thing, even if the hard is not the problem, I'd strongly recommend a backup because clicking noise usually suggest its at the end of its days.

Good Luck
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July 23, 2012 10:25:06 PM

Thank you, I will definitely look into getting a new hdd.

As far as copying my data (I don't really want to reinstall everything AGAIN, took forever last time)... can I just follow one of these styles I found online?

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-ways-to-clone-and-copy-y...

or perhaps there is a more recent and easier way/guide to go about doing it? This article is 3 years old :/ 
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July 25, 2012 8:00:29 AM

I'd strongly advice against cloning your old HDD for 3 reasons

1) it will take literally forever since these go bit by bit, and your hard can barely work.

2)if there is actually a bad sector on your hard drive (could one of the reasons its slowing down), you'll copy corrupted data over to your new HDD.

3)if your hard is about to fail, cloning it might be the straw that broke the camel's back and it might fail, so I recommend backing up the crucial data and start fresh.

Reinstalling everything on a new, healthy drive shouldn't take long at all, ofcourse assuming "everything" are from DVDs or external harddrives, since using the old HDD as the source will still be as slow as hell.

Good Luck
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July 26, 2012 1:37:20 AM

Bit of an update... Been a hectic day

Started off with installing new hdd yesterday, got a bsod when i was trying to activate my webcam in skype. Still got the lag as well.

Today, I forward the ports... and Starcraft 2 crashes on me twice. So, I run GPU, CPU, and Memory tests, all came back with 0 errors.

Started playing again after testing everything I could think of and am still getting the lag. I'm just praying that sc2 (or my computer) doesn't crash anymore because I cannot think of anything.

Could it possibly be the motherboard? That is pretty much the last piece of the puzzle...
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July 26, 2012 8:28:31 AM

hm... I'd start looking at the PSU actually, if you can download hwmontior
http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html
and monitor your voltages, try to look for relatively large fluctuations, could be the reason.

also any more info about the PSU would help (Brand, model number..)

I also believe 520W for a 6800 card would push the PSU to its limits.

Something that you can try is, remove the GPU and try to use the integrated one in your CPU just for quick testing. The lower power requirement should be easier on the PSU.

One cool thing to do is to run SC2 on one monitor and the hwmonitor on the second one (once with the GPU and one without, tho not sure if the HD2000 can handle SC2, maybe @ 640x480 low details :D  )

This should give us pretty good idea of whats going on

Good Luck
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July 26, 2012 9:25:55 PM

_Brute_Force_ said:
hm... I'd start looking at the PSU actually, if you can download hwmontior
http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html
and monitor your voltages, try to look for relatively large fluctuations, could be the reason.

also any more info about the PSU would help (Brand, model number..)

I also believe 520W for a 6800 card would push the PSU to its limits.

Something that you can try is, remove the GPU and try to use the integrated one in your CPU just for quick testing. The lower power requirement should be easier on the PSU.

One cool thing to do is to run SC2 on one monitor and the hwmonitor on the second one (once with the GPU and one without, tho not sure if the HD2000 can handle SC2, maybe @ 640x480 low details :D  )

This should give us pretty good idea of whats going on

Good Luck


currently running the hwmonitor test like you mentioned. What kind of numbers should I be seeing if there is/is not an issue?

Also just got off the phone with router tech support and successfully forwarded the ports, seeing if that was an issue as well.

EDIT: I think I neglected to mention one other issue I have. Often times I get what I've been calling "Faux FPS Lag". It imitates what FPS lag looks like (low framerate, choppy movement, etc), yet I maintain over 100 frames. Usually I have to alt+tab, close a window (usually google chrome), then it will sometimes fix.
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July 26, 2012 9:58:38 PM

That issue is usually driver related, are you running the latest drivers?

about hwmonitor, the value of the voltage should match the ones on the left (like the screen shot on the website, the minimum and maximum should also help identifying large fluctuations (which is what we are looking for here)

still if you can find out the brand and the model of the PSU that would help.

Good Luck
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July 26, 2012 11:22:33 PM

_Brute_Force_ said:
That issue is usually driver related, are you running the latest drivers?

about hwmonitor, the value of the voltage should match the ones on the left (like the screen shot on the website, the minimum and maximum should also help identifying large fluctuations (which is what we are looking for here)

still if you can find out the brand and the model of the PSU that would help.

Good Luck


I believe I have the most updated drivers... How do I go about checking them?

oh yeah forgot to post the psu :/  here it is: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I'm not sure how to read the hwmonitor to tell you if it's bad or good, so I just took a screenshot of it:

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July 27, 2012 5:28:25 PM

wow, that must be a glitch, there is no way the computer can be running with these voltages (1v on the 12v rail :o ). Also the PSU looks nice, but it still could be the problem, have you tried running the computer of the HD2000 chip on your processor after removing the 6870 from the motherboard?
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July 27, 2012 6:06:44 PM

_Brute_Force_ said:
wow, that must be a glitch, there is no way the computer can be running with these voltages (1v on the 12v rail :o ). Also the PSU looks nice, but it still could be the problem, have you tried running the computer of the HD2000 chip on your processor after removing the 6870 from the motherboard?


not yet, will do that today. Am I gonna be using hwmonitor while doing that?

Also, how do I check to make sure my drivers are up to date?
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July 28, 2012 10:01:43 PM

_Brute_Force_ said:
http://support.amd.com/us/gpudownload/windows/Pages/aut...
This should detect the current version and install any updates if there are any.

As for hwmonitor, why not, nothing to lose.

Good Luck


all my drivers are up to date. what should I be looking for when i run this test w/o graph card? just to see if lag continues?
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August 14, 2012 7:29:37 PM

update:

Been a while since I had this issue. it just went away for a while, but is back now and the lag is still pretty bad :/ 
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August 18, 2012 11:54:46 AM

I still think its the PSU, but I'm kind of out of ideas how to check for it (not sure if you tried to remove the GPU).

I suggest you start a new thread while leaning towards PSU as the culprit, I'm sure more people who are more experienced than me will be willing to help.

Good luck, sorry that I can't help more than this :( 
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August 18, 2012 5:53:38 PM

No Problem thank you ^.^

I'm starting to believe it could also be my internet connection. I am connected on a 50 foot ethernet cable that may or may not be tangled or broken somewhere along the way. I'm going to switch the cable and if that doesn't work then I gess I'll buy a new PSU

edit: similar to this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnQWFdbHFNg
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August 28, 2012 4:21:14 AM

in Starcraft 2's latest patch, they added on a "Network Spikes/min" meter that you can use while in game...

Most (but not all)of the lag spikes correlate to that ratio going up, reaching 13 - 20 network spikes/minute.

So does that mean it's a network issue? If so, I have no idea how to fix it.. Starcraft 2's ports are forwarded on our new router, no firewall blocks, 28 mb dl/2.8 up
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