i just want to share my experience, thought it might be useful for someone else too.
i've been playing colin mcrae dirt on my pc for about a month now, and no matter what i did, i would get really jerky fps on events where multiple cars were on the track, but not on single events. i have a 8800gts video card and an amd 6000+ cpu, i could play the single events at 1280x1024, ultimate settings, 4xAA, 4xAF wit vsync on, and it was fluid, no lags, no nothing. but on the race events, when other cars were visible or even just audible, it started lagging to that point where it was impossible to drive anymore.. if i lost them, then all went fine, lots of fps just like in single events.
i tried lowering the settings, even to the point of 800x600 all low quality no AA no AF, but didn't make ANY difference..
so that means it's not a graphics issue.
i tried the on-board sound, i tried an audigy sound card, both in software and d3d mode, no difference.
no sound issue either..
then what? the game came out in 2006, my gear is supposed to be the very high-end of 2006, one would suppose it should run flawlessly, wouldn't one?
yesterday, after about 1 hour playing,i noticed that my pc case was really hot. i shut down the system, opened the case and it was like an oven in there (no surprise with that hardware). i left it open, fired up dirt, and hold on to your boxers: ne lagging, no jerky fps, it runs smooth in every mode, all the time.
i was a little like wtf.. i thought if a system overheated, then it would make mistakes and cause serious errors, and windows would die with a bsod.. but it seems everything operated normally, only at a very crippled performance level.
do with this what you will, i will certainly never close my case again..
What I recommend is that you install fans in your PC Case.
Install a fan to suck the air in front of your case and install 1 or 2 fans that shoots the air at the back of your case.
When I setup my system (see below), I knew that 4 cores CPU were going to get hot and I had heard the the 8800 GPUs were already pretty hot at idle. So I got a fan control system. I have a switch to control the air flow that comes in my PC and got another control for the air flow that goes out of my system.
This is very usefull because when you PC is at idle, you can lower your fans to make the least noise possible...but when you need the air flow, you boost everything at max and it'll keep you PC at a reasonably low temperature.
Here's a few tips before you begin your upgrade.
If your airflow is going to be from Front to Back, then check and make sure your Power Supply is NOT getting all the hot air coming out of your system. Otherwise, you may want to change strategy or put a mod on your case to have cool air flow to your PS.
Also, make sure that every component is getting cool air. That means your CPU as well as your GPU.
Finaly, make sure that your room has some air flow. This may sound silly but if you're gaming for hours at a time, then your room will jump in temperature. For instance, adding all these fans won't do a thing if your PC Case is in the corner of your room.
PS: If you really want to do a good job, you can add air filters before the front fan...which keeps the dust from flowing in your PC. That way, you don't have to clean your PC every few months.
i do have 2 case fan slots, both of them occupied. in the front there's a smaller one, sucking air from the outside, and there is a 12cm one on the back panel (i took it out of an older psu..), that blows air out of the case..
room temperature is a significant factor, i have a small room, usually with closed a door, and usually after 1-2 hours of gaming, the room temp rises 3-4 degrees...
my pc is under my desk that is up against the wall, but there is plenty of space behind the case.
it seems as the psu generates most of the heat, because it is in fact, the hottest object, by far in the case.. even when open! the gpu blows air out of the case directly (msi 8800gts oc), so thats a good thing.
i am so glad i didn't buy the other silentpipe card, like i was going to..
i know i should get a new case with a lot of fans and a much bigger psu..
but i have other priorities atm..
I'm sure it's fine but...your PSU's temperature should be relatively cool. Make sure your PSU fans are working.
it does, one huge 12cm fan. the psu is brand new btw, just installed it last week.
it's a shame it still isn't enough.. i replaced a 400W psu with a 430W, and it's still not enough, so it seems..
maybe i'll try to bring it back to the store and exchange it to a bigger one.. strange thing is, apart from the excessive heat, and the occasional performance drop, the system runs fine, without error..
I find PSUs are the hardest things to buy because a good 430W is better than a cheap 600W...yeah weird eh?.
Basically, a good PSU will provide a steady flow of electricity. However, cheaper PSUs will choke as soon as they need to provide more power. This is caused by heating. So if you have a PSU that heats up...it provide poor power...and as a result, your videocard, CPU and other devices will offer poor performance. That's what you experienced.
For my Q6600 & 8800GTX, I got a good PSU at 600W (I was planning on going SLI or overclocking). Investing in a good PSU might not be a bad idea...but many (including me) start swearing when you get a bill of 250$ for a freggin PSU. I recommend going on a few sites who make reviews on PSUs...that's what I did.