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Question Audio latency issues

May 31, 2020
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For a few months now, my PC has been experiencing latency spikes. Audio dropouts are exceedingly common, and I can't seem to properly diagnose what is causing this problem.
This all started when I installed a new HDD, a WD Blue. Of note is that it spun at 5400rpm, which I initially deduced to be the source of my problem. I have since replaced the WD Blue with a WD Black that spins at 7200rpm, yet the problem persists.
This problem is very inconsistent. Normally, my computer's latency is fine when I boot it up in the morning. The longer it stays on, the worse the spikes get. Sometimes, restarting the system provides a temporary fix.

Here are things that I've already tried:
  • Defragmenting my HDD with Defraggler.
  • Installing and routinely using CCleaner.
  • Lowering the number of startup programs.
  • Updating all my drivers.
  • Updating my BIOS (currently American Megatrends Inc. R01-A4, 5/19/2016).
  • Installing exhaust fans in my tower. These definitely do their job when it comes to cooling the system.
  • Disabling CPU throttling for all programs.
  • Moving the system pagefile to my SSD boot drive, as opposed to my HDD data drive. I also tried disabling it entirely.
  • Replacing my Realtek HD Audio driver with Microsoft's generic HD Audio driver. When this didn't work, I disabled the motherboard's onboard audio entirely, via the BIOS menu. To be thorough, I even uninstalled the Realtek HD Audio driver with Display Driver Uninstaller.
  • Disabling ALL audio drivers. I technically have three: a speaker system connected to my motherboard's onboard audio (as mentioned above), my monitor's internal speaker, with a driver handled by my GPU (since it has an HDMI connection), and my wireless headphones that connect via a USB adapter.
  • Disabling my network drivers (both my WiFi card and my Ethernet port).
  • Resetting my PC via wiping my boot drive and reinstalling Windows.
Here is a LatencyMon report:

and in text: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1WvgF3pWvXAUwVcdG8Hng-2d1LLxepfPT/view?usp=sharing
Here's a summary of my desktop via Speccy: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Hj3aQVuB_SC4k-8rT5waenGOmvh2HvNe/view?usp=sharing

I posted a thread like this a few weeks ago, but as I couldn't get any help I resorted to resetting my PC. That fixed the problem for a while, but it's back now. Hopefully I can get it fixed for good this time.
Let me know if you need any more information from me.
 
May 31, 2020
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Sorry, it seems you already have taken all troubleshooting steps I would have done.
Reading this I just have one question: where is your OS installed? On which disk?
The OS is installed on my 238GB Liteon SSD, since the whole thing obviously runs much faster that way. My WD HDD doesn't have any system files on it, so theoretically it could be removed and the OS could run just fine. This doesn't seem to fix the problem, though.
 

Tommaso De Portu

Honorable
Oct 7, 2013
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According to Speccy, my CPU runs at around 40°C or so. I haven't checked up on that last bit, I'll make sure to do that.
Is that also true under load?
That is, as the longer the PC stays on, the higher the temperature if cooling is not working properly and you mentioned spikes get worse with time.
Check your temps when under load or after one hour of usage too just to be sure.
And this is just because you have already taken a lot of troubleshooting steps.

Regarding your HDD, you have then tried to disconnect it completely and the problem persists?
If you have a spare HDD try installing Windows there and set it up as your boot drive. Does this change anything?
 
May 31, 2020
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Is that also true under load?
That is, as the longer the PC stays on, the higher the temperature if cooling is not working properly and you mentioned spikes get worse with time.
Check your temps when under load or after one hour of usage too just to be sure.
And this is just because you have already taken a lot of troubleshooting steps.

Regarding your HDD, you have then tried to disconnect it completely and the problem persists?
If you have a spare HDD try installing Windows there and set it up as your boot drive. Does this change anything?
Even under load, such as when playing games and the like, my CPU temp generally seems to hover around 40°C.
I'll take your advice with the HDD and see what happens. Though it might be hard to tell, since restarting generally provides a temporary fix to my problem.
Also, I wanted to check the CPU and see if there was anything visibly wrong with it, but I can't get a look at it because of the fan in the way. I know this is a bit unrelated, but how do you unscrew this thing? I swear, I keep at it for so long, but it never comes out. The screws have this weird springy things around them.
 
May 31, 2020
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An update:
Running my PC with the HDD unplugged doesn't seem to affect its performance in any noticeable way, as the lag spikes are still there. I'm running out of ideas here, not sure what else to do. It seems most likely to me that this is a hardware problem, but I'm still not entirely sure; and if it is a hardware problem, I'm still not sure what's causing it. Well, it's not the HDD, and I did run Windows Memory Diagnostic, so I'm pretty sure it's not the RAM.
 
May 31, 2020
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Final update:
I solved the issue in a rather frustratingly simple way. Turns out it was nothing more than one of my background programs. I never suspected it was a problem because nothing suspicious was showing up in Task Manager. But when I shut the program down, the problem seems to go away. Thanks for all the help, anyway!
 

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