Games inexplicably start running slowly

June 21, 2009 at 22:06:35
Specs: Windows XP
Some games (mostly more recent releases) seem to run fine, then at some point seem to run at a snail's pace. Why?

For starters, I DO NOT want anyone suggesting my hardware might not be up to it. Two examples on my computer are NFS Pro Street and Assassin's Creed. These games, for months after having installed them, ran fine at fairly high settings (everything except resolution and anti-aliasing turned up to max, and resolution generally around the 1024x768 mark). They ran quite smoothly - at these settings I never saw a drop in framerate. However, after not playing these games for a long time, and deciding to try them again, I found that they ran at an absolute snail's pace - even upon turning everything down to the minimum, it still runs VERY poorly - even the sounds actually get stretched - it's not just like the *normal* type of a game running slowly. Because it's been a long time since playing them, its hard to point at any particular point at which this happened.

I just can't help but figure that there must be a very specific cause for there to be such a marked difference, rather than the usual "viruses clogging up computer, etc." Otherwise, I haven't really noticed a difference in my computer's performance. What could have changed to make games run so poorly when they previously ran fine on the very same system? Any suggestions?

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June 22, 2009 at 07:58:29
Your graphics card is probably getting hot and dropping into a less stressful way of rendering.

Clean out the dust bunnies.

"Doin' right ain't got no end." Cap'n Red Legs

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June 22, 2009 at 09:03:24
"I DO NOT want anyone suggesting my hardware might not be up to it"

How can we make that comment when we don't know your hardware configuration? Actually, how do you expect to get any help without posting that info? or the games you're having problems with?

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June 22, 2009 at 17:53:04
1. I say that I do not want anyone questioning whether my hardware is up to it because the important point is that these games ran perfectly on moderate-high settings, repeatedly for over a month in each case. Then, all of a sudden, next time I try to play them (after a long break where I did not use them at all), they run incredibly slowly on minimum settings.

2. I did mention the games that I was having problems with - Assassin's Creed and NFS Pro Street.

3. Just so no-one complains, I shall now list my hardware anyway:

ASUS P5KPL Motherboard
2.2Ghz Dualcore CPU
NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT (Sorry, I can't remember how much RAM this has... I think it's 512...)

4. I will try giving the computer a blow out to get rid of the dust. It would be just my luck if it were something that stupid.

5. According to PC Wizard, my GPU is running at 48 degrees Celcius. I was under the impression that that was not particularly high...

6. I have recently updated my anti-virus and run a scan - in theory my system should be somewhere near clean.

7. I was wondering if it could have something to do with my Direct X version? It's version 9.0c from October 2007. I thought it might be possible that I've installed an older game and accidentally overwritten a newer version of it.

8. I probably come across as rather rude. Sorry...

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June 22, 2009 at 18:05:20
9. Oh, I should probably mention that this is on Windows XP Professional SP2.

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June 22, 2009 at 18:24:54
Ok, the DirectX version explanation can be struck from the list - I've installed the most recent version (March 2009) and there has been no change in performance.

I think that I shall take this chance to mention again that not only does the game run slowly, but the sound actually kind of stretches. I think that it is worth noticing that this does not seem to be the usual type of a game running slowly - its not just that the framerate drops - which it does quite significantly - but the game actually runs like it was in slow motion (this effect is only slightly noticeable, but I'm pretty sure it's there). This in particular strikes me as strange - most of the time my experience with trying to run games on hardware not up to the task has the framerate drop incredibly low, but the pacing of the game itself does not slow down. That, and the sounds usually don't get stretched like they are here.

Also, another couple of games which I have seen exhibit this behavior (although in these two cases not on my computer); COD 4 and Halo (Yes, the original (for PC). This strikes me as particularly odd, seeing as it's ancient compared to the others (Please note that I cannot say for absolute certain that this is the same case as the previous examples - I'm not sure if I remember the sound stretching)).

I'm tempted to update my drivers, but in theory, that shouldn't make a difference, should it? I mean, when they were already running fine on the same drivers, and they haven't changed... I would think that this couldn't be part of the problem.

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June 22, 2009 at 18:30:18
I'll note that in the COD 4 case, the 'slow motion' effect was extremely noticeable - the game's pacing seemed to be at half speed.

At this point I have blown out my computer (which resulted in my GPU temperature dropping by 4 degrees C to 44), updated my version of Direct X, updated my video drivers, and run virus, spyware, etc. scans. I think that kind of covers most of the 'traditional' fixes.

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June 23, 2009 at 15:59:18
How many apps does task manager say you got running in the background?

PowerMac 9600(1 ghz G4)
512mb RAM
50gb SCSI
ATi 9200 PCI

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June 24, 2009 at 06:06:49
According to my task manager, I have 35 processes running in the backdrop. This is increased by 3 while playing the game (NFS Pro Street in this example), being the game itself, PnkBstrA and PnkBstrB, which I believe are the games anti-cheating monitors (for online play (...which I never use)).

However, turning off all superfluous processes (I went and checked which should be legitimate, etc.) Leaves me with 25 processes running. This, however, makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. Not entirely surprising, seeing as both when idling and when in game, none of the other processes are taking very much memory in any case.

At the moment, firefox.exe is taking up the most Mem Usage at 87 120K. I don't know about you, but I'd be severely disturbed if accidentally leaving an internet browser's worth of memory whilst playing could make this much of a difference. When I check the mem usage while in game (admittedly it's hard to know whether the amount it uses while minimised is any indication of the amount used while in play) it says it's using 50% CPU and 654 704K of memory usage.

Oh, and for curiosity's sake, I tried putting the graphics options right up. Perhaps it's not totally unexpected that this made it run even more slowly. It made the 'slow motion' effect I mentioned before more noticeable, though. It's strange, it seems to run in slow motion (hell, even the music gets stretched), but at a fairly regular (however low) framerate. My experience with the typical type of a game running slowly is that the framerate fluctuates depending on how intensive the current scene is, but unless the framerate drops below, like, 10 fps, the actual pacing of the game itself remains constant.

I'm not sure if this is quite concurrent with anybody's else experience in games which push the hardware too far, but I hope that I have put across the fact that this specific 'type' of game running slowly strikes me as being something out of the ordinary.

That is of course, if anybody's bothering to read my rather long comments.

Last of all, I'll mention that other games that I would have though would be comparably high draw (for example, CS: Source with everything maxed out) run as smoothly as they have ever done. Why just some of the games? I wish I could say for certain what these games had in common.

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June 30, 2009 at 08:27:07
Our systems are comparable and XP Pro was an excellent choice.

We in the N Hemishere have moved into the warmer months so check your operating temperatures. A 20" fan for $20 USD (a furnace filter attached) blowing directly into the machine helps me during the summer (no AC here in the mountains).

Also a defrag of your system may be helpful, daily when I play a lot. Auslogic has a very fast free defrag. Some will defrag specfic folders before you play.

I always seperate my page file disk from my game storage disk and of course shutting down any unnecessary apps.

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July 1, 2009 at 07:22:05
Thankyou for your suggestion of Auslogic defrag. It worked quite quickly. Unfortunately, although not entirely surprisingly, this had no effect whatsoever on the game's performance.

I have also heard the suggestion that, because the affliction seems moderately game-specific, it may be due to corrupted files or a corrupted directory. However, this does not seem to be the case as I have uninstalled and reinstalled the game in a different directory, with no effect on performance. This might be more worthwhile if I could do it on a different disk, however I have only the one unpartitioned hard drive.

I think I'll mention that, just in relation to the comment above, that I in fact live in the Southern Hemisphere, so we're going into the colder months. That aside, I can't imagine the graphics card overheating having this major an effect - not so consistently and directly after getting into the game. And not in a game which ran so well in (our) the warmer months of the year (I got this for Christmas - which means it was hot while I was first playing it (and running smoothly on high settings)).

I don't believe I've tried any registry cleaners, etc. Anyone know where I can download one for free? That'll work?

Although I'm still heavily doubtful that this would make any difference whatsoever. No offence intended, but this strikes me as a very specific problem, with a very specific cause and thereby a very specific solution. I think it unlikely that any of the 'generic' fixes are really going to do it (except for maybe reinstalling Windows - and I don't like the game(s) enough to be bothered to do that).

I'm not sure I'm entirely getting my point across of just how big a change in performance we're talking, so I'll now list the graphics options of when the game (NFS Pro Street) ran smoothly and now:

Then: (Game ran smoothly; could've possibly put the settings up higher)
Resolution: 1024 x 768 x 60Hz
Antialiasing: 2x
Texture Filtering: Trilinear
World Detail: High
World Lighting: On
World Shadows: High
World FX: High
Car Detail: High
Car Effects: High
Car Damage: High
Smoke: On

Now: (Game runs with very poor frame rate and in slow motion)
Resolution: 640 x 480 x 60Hz
Antialiasing: Off
Texture Filtering: Anisotropic
World Detail: Off
World Lighting: Off
World Shadows: Off
World FX: Off
Car Detail: Low
Car Effects: Off
Car Damage: Off
Smoke: Off

Just in case you didn't see how big a change we're talking...

And in both cases, the performance mentioned was consistent. Then, the game consistently ran smoothly every time I played it, and now, the game consistently runs slowly right from the point where I get into it.

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July 1, 2009 at 21:15:05
c cleaner is a good reg cleaning program for free go to do not get reg cure its crap and wont do anything for you even though it is the first one on the list if you goggle it

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