PC runs games smoothly, then frame rate drops drastically

By Ramzi3412
Jul 1, 2011
Post New Reply
  1. I got an HP in 2009 and it ran perfectly back then. I don't expect it to run the way it did at the time, but I've tried several things to get it to run games faster.

    Specs:
    AMD Phenom Quad-Core Processor 2.40 GHz
    8GB of RAM
    NVidia GeForce 9100 Graphics Card
    64-Bit
    Running Windows Vista

    When I run Halo CE, Guild Wars, or Oblivion they run perfectly fine for a few minutes then the frame-rate drops drastically. They become pretty much unplayable and when I check my memory usage it goes up to about 3 GB. I probably should have mentioned when I have no windows open the usage will stay at around 2.3 to 2.6 GB without running anything! The CPU usage will vary from anywhere between 20% to 90% and it keeps jumping back and forth.

    This happened a few months ago and so I thought it could be some type of virus so I backed up all of my important files, and restored the computer fully. When I reinstalled the games and ran them the same thing happened. Could this be caused by dust building up in my computer? I don't know much about computers, but 8gb of RAM should be able to handle the games I play.

    There is nothing other than Norton running in the background and maybe iTunes. My Internet runs smoothly and programs and videos are fine, only games. I'm new to forums so I'm not sure if I posted in the right place but I would appreciate any and all help I could get. :) Thanks
  2. ComputerGuy55

    ComputerGuy55 TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 529

    Does the FPS drop really low for awhile but then clear up, start to play good for awhile, then drop low again?

    If this happens frequently then yes it could be an issue with dust/overheating.. I use to play CnC: Renegade and had this issue when playing, I would hit huge and sudden Frame Rate lag after a few minutes of play, then it would fix itself, then do it again and continue.

    However if the FPS drops dramatically and never returns, it could be an over heating issue, could be another hardware issue where the computer for some reason cant keep up with what's trying to be processed.. Norton could be doing something in the background, or some other program. Virus Scans tend to slow games down a lot...

    But with 8GB of RAM you should easily handle games. Although the nVidia GeFore 9100 could cause issues as this is a newer generation of video card yes, but the processing power behind it is very low..

    its a 9 Series card but a 100 model which is the lowest of that 9 Series.

    a nVidia GeForce 8800 card will outplay an nVidia GeForce 9600, even though the 9 Series is newer, the processing power is lower.. I think you get the idea.. But you said it use to play the games fine, and Halo CE does not require much.. a 5400 would run it I'm pretty sure (or 6400?) and the 9100 beats out those cards easily.
  3. Ramzi3412

    Ramzi3412 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thanks for replying, I thought this post was dead. The fps will stay low and it wont go back to normal at all. Any ideas on what I could do to fix this? I've never had any problems running Norton in the background before with any games. Thanks
  4. Shiney

    Shiney TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 223

    Try this

    http://www.iobit.com/gamebooster.html
    Turn everything off and see how it goes.
    If its better, select one at a time to turn back on until you find the culprit.
    Check the drive light for activity when the slowdowns occur. A lot of activity could mean the system is getting a low activity sign and doing maintenance in the background.
    If no improvement do a clean install, update all your drivers including bios. Then install nothing else apart from your game.If things are oki after this, install one program at a time and test the game.
    Good Luck
  5. Arris

    Arris TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,534   +92

    To check to see if the CPU is overheating (can be due to dust build up in the heatsinks fins or fan slowed down by dust/wear) you can monitor it temperature with CoreTemp (http://www.alcpu.com/CoreTemp/). Haven't owned a Nvidia video card for a while since my 8800 GTX died so can't remember offhand what monitoring is available, but there should be a Nvidia compatible version of MSI's Afterburner overclocking/tuning application (http://event.msi.com/vga/afterburner/download.htm) that you can install to check the temps of your card.

    If you have had the computer since 2009 then there is a good chance a lot of dust has entered the system. If you do find that the temperatures of CPU and/or graphics card are running high then it might be worth buying a can of compressed air (http://www.amazon.co.uk/LINDY-4002888404006-Compressed-Air-Cleaner/dp/B0000934G1 or similar), opening up the PC and blowing all the dust out of the case, CPU heatsink, Fans, Graphics card fans and heatsink.

    If this does not fix any possible overheating problem then the next thing I would suggest is buying some new thermal compound and remounting the heatsink on the CPU. Often after years of use the thermal compound can dry out and drastically reduce the efficiency of heat transfer between CPU and heatsink. I've used Arctic Silver 5 for years (http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=AC-000-AC) and would recommend that or something around a similar price level if you do have to try this step to resolve your problem.
    If it is the graphics card overheating and the cleaning/clearing of dust doesn't fix it then a thermal epoxy will most likely be required as graphics card heatsink solutions are usually "glued" to the gpu and memory.

    Also I find a citrus based cleaner (http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=OA-001-AK&groupid=701&catid=57&subcat=27) is the best thing for cleaning off previous thermal compounds.
  6. ComputerGuy55

    ComputerGuy55 TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 529

    Cleaning out the computer is never a bad idea anyways. It's probably best to dust out the computer and see if the problem is fixed, if not, then it's one less job that needs to be done and it is a benefit anyways..

    for other things causing the FPS to drop I would suggest as the people above did, you can also try downloading and installing the newest driver for your video card.

    FPS can also be affected by Sound Audio Quality weirdly enough, it's a far stretch but if the game has Audio Quality settings try turning them to Medium or Low (if it's on high) see if this helps any, however I've only experienced this problem with Steam Games (Counter Strike Source, Day of Defeat) and World of Warcraft, most games only have volume control not quality..

    The CPU can have effects on it by a lot, if the thermal paste between the CPU and the Cooling Unit (Heat Sink+Fan) is old and needs replacing this can cause the CPU to over heat under high usage (like any device)..

    RAM is more then likely not the issue, RAM would cause a slow game over all, not an FPS drop, but a Memory Leak could cause it to happen, but your computer would continue to run slow and get slower over time, not just in a game..

    If your comfortable cleaning the computer out and want to do a good job, get a can of compressed air to clean it, take out the video card (off of the motherboard) and blow air into the PCI slots, as well as into the Fan of the video card if it has one.. Also make sure to keep the can Upright, as tipping it too much or holding it outside can cause a bit of liquid to spray out and onto components..

    That's all the suggestions I could think of ATM, reply back with any results or changes in whats happening. More then likely an over heating issue though..
  7. Ramzi3412

    Ramzi3412 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I downloaded NVIDIA MonitorView and my GPU temp is usually at 90 to 119 celsius. Something must be wrong with that. I read that it can damage the motherboards so I'll probably try cleaning out the dust like you guys had suggested. Also my fan is running at 171 RPM which I'm pretty sure is too low. So I'm guessing it is just dust build up that's slowing me down. Thanks again.
  8. ComputerGuy55

    ComputerGuy55 TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 529

    Hey Ramzi, if you find that cleaning it out still isn't helping cool it down you may need to look into buying a new fan/heatsink for the video card. Hopefully you don't have too. But if it comes to that, make sure you either bring the video card with you or measure the distance between the holes for the fan, there are many different sizes and you don't want to get the wrong one.
  9. Arris

    Arris TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,534   +92

    Given the age of the card the cost of a heatsink and fan for it might be around 50% of the cost of a new card that would probably give superior performance (low end GT430 is available for about £40-45 GBP in the UK). If the machine has PCI express slot and the HP PSU is of high enough power I'd say it would probably be a better investment to buy a replacement modern card rather than buy and replace the heatsink and fan on the old card.
  10. ComputerGuy55

    ComputerGuy55 TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 529

    yeah it would definitely be better to just get a new card, just make sure your power supply will handle the extra load as well.


Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...


Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.