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Very persistent XP stuttering

By Problem Jack · 24 replies
Oct 25, 2010
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  1. Hi there, this is my first post so forgive me if anything is out of place.

    I am getting periodic patterns of lag across my whole computer that consistently affect me every 2-3 seconds for a second or 2 (so all the time) and it's really starting to get on my nerves.
    When starting up a game like World of Warcraft for instance, the login screen will remain smooth for about 12.5 seconds (yes, i've timed it) and then the fps will drop dramatically for 2-3 seconds before catching itself up, and it does this consistantly every few seconds. I then found it affected numerous other programs such as internet windows, other games and general control panel windows... the only thing that doesn't seem affected is sound - music does not stutter with the rest of the system.

    My specs:
    System model: dell Inc. Precision WorkStation 470

    OS:Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3 (build 2600)

    Processor:2.80GHz Intel Xeon (2 installed)

    Hard-drive:ST3400832AS [Hard drive] (400.09 GB), s/n 4NF2GHDX (SATA)

    Motherboard: Dell Inc. 0T0820 , CN1374049H00YJ, bus Clock: 800 megahertz

    BIOS: Dell Inc. A07 03/15/2006

    Memory: 3GB (2x512MB & 2x1024MB) DDR2

    Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GT

    Now I've tried many, many things so far to correct this issue such as, you may laugh at some of them:
    Re-installing drives...
    Cleaning the inside of the computer...
    Flashing the BIOS...
    Removing the PCI Bus and re-installing each hard-ware device...

    ...many more I can't think of right now but I know it's nothing to do with application sharing or the internet as it still persists with the modem off. I've inspected the temperatures of both the graphics card and processors but there seems to be nothing out of the ordinary there either.

    Any, and I mean any suggestions at all would be most welcome, thanks for staying with me if you got this far! ;)
  2. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    One thing that could cause your "stuttering" is "down-clocking".
    This is sometimes a safety feature for components that may be overheating.
    Have you tried Everest to see how your system temps are running?
    There is a free version available here.

    Something else to explore would be "Running Processes".
    Ctrl-Alt_Del will bring up windows task manager, where you can see what processes are eating your cpu clock cycles, and determine if they are needed while you are running WoW.
  3. Problem Jack

    Problem Jack TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for your reply. :)

    I've downloaded Everest and it tells me my Hard-drive temperature is 46C (115F) That isn't too high is it? Doesn't tell me anything else. :(

    As for my CPU's i've tried various methods to bring the usage down but nothing is out of the ordinary. In the processes, when it slows down, I have noticed the usage is generally between 20-30% and when running smoothly it's averaging under 20%
  4. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    Hmmm, Everest did not give your CPU or GPU temps?
    That is where down-clocking due to elevated temps would show up.
    If Everest fails to report these temps, then give Speedfan a try.
    I do not like it as well, because I think it can report temps that are incorrect by 10-20 degrees.
    But it may be better than nothing.

    Another item to consider might be drive fragmentation, including pagefile fragmentation.
    Either of these might contribute to stuttering.

    Meanwhile, let me see if I can come up with an easy way for you to generate a report, so I can look over your running processes.
    I have a couple of ideas, but I want to check them out for ease of use and desired result.

    No Freezes, or BSODs?

    As for your Drive Temp Question, that temperature should be no problem.
    Another tool to try would be CrystalDiskInfo, available at CNET. This will give you a quick check on drive health.
    BUT... it does nothing in terms of fragmentation.
    If you need help with the fragmentation question, let me know, and I can step you through it.
  5. Problem Jack

    Problem Jack TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok i'll give Speed Fan a try. :)

    No, Everest only gave me my hard-drive temperature :( I use Norton Utilities often to defragment my drive and registry but I havn't thus far experienced any blue-screens, although if I attempt to open a new internet window or program during it's "laggy period", it will freeze briefly and be slow to respond... but never crashes.

    I did notice Everest has the option to create a report, would you like me to use it and post the report here or would it be useless without the other temperatures?
  6. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    Since it didn't have what I was looking for, for now, I would say skip the Everest report.
  7. Problem Jack

    Problem Jack TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok, I downloaded and ran speed-fan and I'm quite shocked by the results.
    GPU temperature is at 103C which I'm hoping is off by a fair amount.
    Results are:
    GPU: 103C
    Remote 1: 58C
    Remote 2: 53C
    Remote 3: 52C
    Remote 4: 44C
    Remote 5: 51C
    Ambient: 48C
    HD0: 46C
    Core: 102C :( :(

    According to Speedfan I have 8 fans but I'm pretty sure it's less than that and it also states only 3 of them are working. :(
  8. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    Re: GPU temp - It is said that if you reach 90 C or highter to start worrying.
    Your cpu temp should be lower still ...

    Guess #1 - Fans are not working properly?
    Guess #2 - There is inadequate circulation for the fans do to their job?
    Try opening the case, and running with a fan blowing into the case.
    See how the temps are affected.
  9. Problem Jack

    Problem Jack TS Rookie Topic Starter

    After about an hour of leaving the fans to cool the computer I did see a considerable drop in the temperatures shown on speed fan.
    GPU dropped from 105C to 68C
    The rest have all dropped to below 45 which is great.

    This does seem to solve the problem more or less but as soon as I go to start a gaming program or complex graphic the GPU temp shoots back up to 100+C within a couple of seconds, which is probably why before it took the time it did before it started to periodically slow.

    Edit: With a game running smoothly while fans are constantly cooling GPU temperature averages at 100C :( As soon as fans are removed the problem repeats.
  10. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,481   +44

    100C for that gpu is really hot. Down load evga precision(doesn't matter if you dont have an evga card) and see what the fan speed is on your vga. Crank that sucker up to 100%(uncheck auto of course) and see if that helps. If this is the issue you can set the gpu monitoring solution to keep your settings when you start up windows.
  11. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    Those temps are acceptable, but as soon as you start using them, they start to spike again.
    SO... a thought... are you overclocking?
    If so, reset to specs and see if your conditions improve.

    If not, then did you upgrade your psu when you added the NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GT ?
    Or was the NVIDIA GeForce9500 GT part of the original system?
    Your system data sheet says
    Sometimes heat can be caused by over-amperage, which in turn is caused by inadequate power supply. (I know it sounds odd, unless you know electronics theory, but it does work that way.) It would be more likely that you would see different problems if the PSU was underpowered, but thought I would ask.

    Your card specs...
    Meanwhile, I am going to look for other good cooling options for you,
    though someone in the modding forum may be better suited to answer this question.
  12. Problem Jack

    Problem Jack TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Knocked it up to 100% and the GPU averages at 70-73C without the external fans. Still shoots up to 100C when I start to make it work though... speed fan doesn't detect any changes in the RPM when I maximise the fan from EVGA either. :(

    No this computer was a refurbished office machine from the internet that came with a built-in old PCI card that wouldn't run a thing in the modern world, I bought my current card for compatibility, is it too advanced for the rest of my computer? :O

    I can't actually say much about my PSU, it came with the refurbished machine but theres nothing on Windows or on the inside to say what Amps and Watts it uses. :(
  13. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,481   +44

    Ehh I'm looking up 9500Gts and most of them are heat pipe cooled, not with an active fan. I'm assuming yours has a fan right? Do you know the make of the 9500gt?
  14. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,481   +44


    check this thread out, similar issue with even lower temps. Although 105C is the max accepted you shouldn't be anywhere near it. Both issues here and there seem to be caused by heat.
  15. Problem Jack

    Problem Jack TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yes it's fan powered and it's an NVIDIA made card.

    In respone the over-clocking: this EVGA program allows me to down-clock my core, shader and memory clock by a reasonable amount but doesn't make a difference according to SpeedFan. :(

    The past thread has the same make as my card but with a different cooling system, like him despite the high heat readings they havn't crashed yet. I'll admit though the air-current to my GPU is pretty poor considering the 2 bulky processor coolers take up most of the room, I can't move them and it seems it's little fan can't cope with it.
    My only concern about getting a more complex cooling system is that I won't have much room to put it, If you see a picture of the 9500 GT it's a pretty small card compared to most, and it's a tight fit next to my processors.
  16. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    I have checked your documentation, and I see no way to add case cooling, unless you have space in the pci slot area next to your graphics card.
    Also, your psu should be adequate (Dell Precision 470 computer: 550 W).

    The modders forum should be helpful for your next steps.

    Glad that Supermashbrada has offered insights!
  17. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,481   +44

  18. Problem Jack

    Problem Jack TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I very much appreciate what you and supersmash have done, thank you both for your tips!

    Just one last question: Is it clocking or alternative cards/cooling methods I should now look into? :)
  19. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,481   +44

    If you dont want to buy a new case the best solution may be to buy a fan that will input more ambient air into the case. I looked up the case for the model number but get multiple pictures. If you can point out a link to your exact case it would be a bit easier for me to refine an answer.
  20. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    @ Supermashbrada - I found a pretty good picture/diagram at Dell Support.

    @ P Jack - Looks like you are in good hands with Supermashbrada.
    So I will stop posting... cross posts give you duplicate information, mostly, rather than more.

    Another thought... Did you open the shrouds and thoroughly blow them out?
    This might help the cpu temps, but the gpu is (I believe) your main issue.

    I agree with Supermashbrada's eval on the air flow issue.
    And the possibility of the PCI cooler... but its help might only be marginal.

    I do not believe you will be happy with trying to downclock the graphics card.
    And, for "modern" gaming, you might not be happy with any less graphics card.

    An option (mentioned by Supermashbrada) might be to migrate your components to a gamer case, where you actually have room to do something about cooling.
    I do not know if the motherboard will be especially comfortable in another case. Again... ask the modders for advice.
  21. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,481   +44

    If you decide to upgrade your case there are many options in the 40-50 dollar range that arent bad at all.
  22. Problem Jack

    Problem Jack TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hmm, I'm still having the slowing problem with the GPU temperature at 70-75C which isn't too extraordinary (thought not as bas as it was). Could there be something else effecting it?
  23. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    Sorry... I've been off line for a bit.
    Have you investigated manual settings for your graphics card?

    I suspect it is automatically downclocking as the temperature rises, in order to protect itself.
    I do not know if you can override this.

    I believe speedfan allows some tweaking. Other third party aps may as well.
    Be aware that as the temp threshold is approached, the danger of gpu failure increases rapidly.
  24. Problem Jack

    Problem Jack TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hi all, sorry for such a late a reply. The 9500GT actually broke down upon inspection so I've since bought a new RadeonHD card and everything is back up and running well, thanks to all who posted here.
  25. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Good of you to report the conclusion. Wish everyone would do that, and not leave us with no idea if we have helped, found the solution or what....

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