TechSpot

Half Life 2, speed issues

By shavedfish
Jan 31, 2007
  1. Hi
    Had Half Life 2 for some time now, and, whilst I've been fairly patient with the choppiness and slow loading times up until now, I think I'd quite like to play it without.
    I have XP, 512MB ram, 2.5GHZ, GeForce 5200 AGP 128, and a crappy Sound Blaster 24-Bit sound card.
    Since the Half Life people have put the minimum system requirements as less than this, I think the choppiness, even with graphics settings at minimum, is less than satisfactory. They can't have meant people to play it when it's this slow, so all I can assume is that my computer is having issues in other areas.
    I reallise a dual core uber computer would have no trouble, I just don't have the money to buy a new PC.

    I have the latest drivers, anti-virus software, anti-spyware and anti-adware.
    Perhaps Norton could be slowing it down? But I can't work out how to turn it off. It seems impossible.

    Any ideas as to how to improve the situation would be gratefully received, thanks!
    Rob.
     
  2. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,916   +9

    Define "slow". If you've enabled console (in advanced keyboard settings), type cl_showfps 2 to see the frames per second.

    Are other games "slow" as well?
     
  3. kirock

    kirock TS Rookie Posts: 1,598

    Also turn off all the AV, AS, AA ware you have running when playing the game. Your two biggest prob here is the 5200@128N (hmm I thought they were only 64M), as HFL2 is very GPU dependant and the 512Mb system RAM.

    I'll suggest you try to increase the RAM volume to the game by forcing HeapMegs. Use half of your system RAM size, so in your case you add this command to your HL2 short-cut icon properties box. You type "-HeapMeg 256000" (without quotes after all the stuff that's already there).
     
  4. shavedfish

    shavedfish TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks Mictlantecuhtli & kirock.

    The frame rate varies from around 10-25, unless there's nothing much going on on the screen when it goes up to around 40-50.
    Rather than it being continually slow, the game hangs for varying amounts of time, usually just seconds, but a lot. Whenever there's something going on, like shooting or driving a vehicle or objects moving.
    My computer is slow on other games too. It can handle Fallout Tactics which is probably why I play it so much. It's fairly rubbish at GTA San Andreas, and that new Might & Magic (although that doesn't surprise me), Splinter Cell, and so on.

    Ah, my mistake. It's a GeForce 4 Ti 4200 128 AGP

    I tried that HeapMegs - first time my computer froze. So I restarted it and tried it again, but the choppiness and loading times are just as bad unfortunately
     
  5. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,916   +9

    Hmm, I don't think shavedfish has 256 terabytes of memory (256000 megabytes). The parameter should be -heapsize, value in kilobytes.

    Anyway, maybe adding -dxlevel 70 could speed it up at the cost of image quality.

    That said, GeForce4 cards are old and there's only so much you can do to make newish games run smoothly with them.
     
  6. shavedfish

    shavedfish TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yeh I guess I bought it a while ago, but back when it a decent video card. Spent a bit of money on that.
    Still, my PC IS above minimum requirements, why is the performance still so poor?
     
  7. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,916   +9

    You have only 512 MB of RAM, how many background applications / services do you have running when you play? Real-time virus protection etc. can slow computers down a lot.
     
  8. shavedfish

    shavedfish TS Rookie Topic Starter

    According to the box HL2 only requires 256MB ram...
    I have AOL, which probably causes problems with their stupid browser having to run for me to be connected. That takes up 63,776K.
    Then Norton Antivirus, which, although it can be disabled, cannot be exited. Which is weird. That uses around 16,000K average.
    In the taskbar there's only volume control and DSL status.
    Apart from that just system tasks and things like explorer. It takes an average of 2% of the CPU to run them all.
    Steam is taking up around 17,000K average just to run and not do anything like updating. CPU usage averages then at around 5%.
    The other tasks that take up lots of memory are svchost.exe (27,088K), MsMpEng.exe (15,904K), and wmpnetwk.exe, CCSETMGR.EXE, explorer.exe, msmsgs.exe, spoolsv.exe, svchost.exe again which all use between 5,000 & 8,000K average.
     
  9. N3051M

    N3051M TS Rookie Posts: 2,800

    you can never disable norton unless you stop it from starting up in the first place. Either way i'm guessing you've probably used up about 180mb of ram total from adding up your list..

    Have a go with the guide in my signature and see if it helps you in any way. In particular, the usual stuff of updating/finding stable drivers, closing down extra apps, pc clean up etc..

    I would have agreed on bumping the ram up to 1gb (but i'm guessing you don't have the funds to do so right now?) but it should still be able to play decently on low-everything..

    what CPU are you running? you did not mention it on your specs..
     
  10. shavedfish

    shavedfish TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yeh, I'm having to remove it from the list of startup programs when I want to play HL2.

    Everest says I have an Intel Pentium 4, 2500 MHz (25 x 100), Northwood, A80532.

    I've had a go with that list in your signature. Had a bit of trouble finding my TDP for that website... where would that be found?
     
  11. N3051M

    N3051M TS Rookie Posts: 2,800

    TDP.. ahh.. you mean for the PSU calculator? i wouldn't have a clue, so i just leave it on the default 85%.. Although this article may help..

    http://www.silentpcreview.com/article169-page3.html

    hmm.. i forgot to add on my faq to check the HDD(s) is on DMA mode, not PIO.
     
     
  12. shavedfish

    shavedfish TS Rookie Topic Starter

    It seems that my PSU is indeed under-performing.

    I should probably just burn the whole computer and start again.
     
  13. N3051M

    N3051M TS Rookie Posts: 2,800

    haha.. if you wish.. :D

    Good quality PSUs aren't that hard to come by.. you'd probably get ones as good as $60 for a decent 400W one.. just read their reviews...
     
  14. pcnthuziast

    pcnthuziast TS Rookie Posts: 313

    It's often overlooked, but hdd performance has a big impact on games. Games access the hard disk alot, especially games like HL2. HL2 autosaves alot, way too much in my oppinion. To disable autosaving(which accounts for alot of framerate issues)open the console and type sv_autosave 0. You'll need to do this every time you start a new game/level/load.

    FYI:Even with my powerful system HL2 stutters every once in awhile. When I disable autosaving it eliminates 90-95% of the framerate issues!

    If you want to try a "clean boot" to minimize startup proccesses, go to start menu>run and type msconfig. On the general tab choose selective startup then uncheck the 1st, 2nd and fourth boxes. Now go to the services tab, check the box that says hide all microsoft services and then check disable all. Click apply and you'll be prompted to restart. To undo these changes simply run msconfig again. On the general tab select normal startup then click apply and reboot when prompted!
     
  15. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,916   +9

    Not if you write it to autoexec.cfg in HL2's cfg subdirectory (the same where config.cfg is).
     
  16. shavedfish

    shavedfish TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks. That autosave thing seems to be helping.

    What makes the biggest difference though, is leaving off the side of computer and directing a desktop fan inside. It's much smoother when I do that.
     
  17. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,916   +9

    Ah, that explains a lot more. I guess you have an Intel P4 processor? You should check if there's dust in its heatsink. P4s slow themselves down if they get too hot.

    The same with the graphics card - I know some GeForce models have thermal monitoring and they slow the core down, but I'm not sure if 5200 is one of them.
     
  18. shavedfish

    shavedfish TS Rookie Topic Starter

    P4, indeed. I see. How might I find my way into a heatsink? I didn't even know there was one...
     
  19. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,916   +9

    Well, the heatsink should be the biggest block on the mainboard, with a large-ish fan attached to it.

    Here's a tutorial about it, although it's not for P4.
     
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