I've had this laptop for about a year and a half. I never intended to use it for more than minor gaming, I expected to move the desktop to college at some point. But I haven't gotten that done, so I'm doing what I can with a laptop. The laptop is VPCEE23FX. Stock specs are ATi Radeon Mobility HD 4250, AMD Athlon II P320 (2.10 GHz). Pretty ugly, but I feel like even this is underperforming. It's a complete pushover in basically every aspect.
Used to run Max Payne 2 at native (1366 x 768), now it doesn't want to. Huge slowdown on explosions/ heavy dust effects. Even an incredibly undemanding game like Freedom Fighters, which I first played just fine on a Dell from 2004 or so, has issues. Get close to any smoke effects, single digit framerates. 2d based games, even these are a problem. Bastion needs to be run at a custom resolution. Capsized, the mouse is too laggy to even be playable. And even though TF2 is becoming an unoptimized monstrosity, should I really need fps configs, minimum resolution and DX8 to maintain framerate? I feel like I could just get any laptop off of newegg and it would put this computer to shame.
I turn off unnecessary programs at startup, uninstalled all the bloatware I could find, keep it plugged in and have tried setting high performance, not much of a significant difference.
I've checked video drivers and only got one result, so that doesn't sound like an upgrade. I guess the easy answer is that the hardware is really that pathetic, but I'm not going to write it off myself because I don't know anything about laptops.
I've done multiple reinstalls in the past, those have never caused any improvement.
My friend's laptop specs say "Mobility 4200 series," but that completely outperforms this one. I always figured mine was just weak, but frankly it feels defective, given how inconsistent or pitiful performance is.
You should always have a few GB free on you promary hard disk. If it gets too full and doesn't have enough space to work with the pagefile, you could see slowdowns. Also if it's almost full and very fragmented, it could cause you performance to degrade.
Laptops are prone to overheating over time. The cpu cooler can gather dust between the fan and the cooler itself, resulting in almost zero airflow. That happened to me with an old hp with a 1,5 celeron and a measly 915 GML as a gpu. The normal temp was about 60 for the cpu but overtime it went up to 90 - 100! needless to say everything slowed down and started occasionaly freezing. After I opened the case and removed the dust, everything returned to normal.
3) Graphics settings
Check your driver settings. Maybe you accidentaly enabled something like AA that severely impacts performance (especially in 2d effects like smoke, explosions etc).
Excluding any actual hardware problems and according to what you said about removing bloatware and reinstalling the OS, it could very well be 2). Though it wouldnt hurt to run some hardware tests like memtest to see if everything is ok.
Video settings are all set to use application settings. There's no VSync or AA on. All sliders are set to "use application settings or "Performance." I've had the hard drive replaced once, so it's not a hard drive error. It still detects the proper 4GB of RAM as well.
All I have left to try is checking for dust, but seeing as performance was always pitiful and never "normal," I don't really have high hopes. There are no signs of overheating and there never were. The best part, really the only good part I can say right now is that it's been pretty stable. Never turned off of its own accord, deleted my files, really done anything wrong. It's just painful when it comes to video performance. Performance has basically always been this bad, so if it were an overheating issue, I should have been seeking a refund 18 months ago. Perhaps most troubling is its refusal to even play videos at optimal framerate in fullscreen. Windows Media Player takes a couple seconds to load when I skip ahead, any videos online (youtube, blip, whatever) runs at sub-par framerate when at full screen.
Basically, the game I test the most is TF2. DX9 is nearly unplayable at anything but absolutely minimum settings, and even that drops into yellow on maps or in certain situations. I have to use DX8 and tweaks that make the game look like it's on PS1 to run consistently 30-60 fps. This computer should be capable of more.
Meanwhile, it continues to struggle with smoke effects in particular in older games (Max Payne, Freedom Fighters), and just hates 2d games. Super Meat Boy, while not quite a hugely scaleable game, should not be very demanding. It doesn't even list a minimum video card. But as usual, low resolution, reduced settings to make it run. Capsized does not even list a specified video card and is entirely 2d, yet causes unplayable mouse lag. Similar problem with Machinarium, a game made to run for the absolute lowest spec. Mouse lag. Noticeable and inexplicable mouse lag.
I don't even have anything to adequately describe the bizarre and inconsistent performance of this hardware.