Question Gaming Laptop suffers from random FPS drops

Nov 30, 2019
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Hi guys, recently my gaming laptop suffers from random FPS drops, it will drop from 100ish FPS (Assetto Corsa as an example) to around 20 FPS for about 30 seconds, and then back to normal.

The weird thing is not every game suffers from this problem, but as for now, Assetto Corsa, Ace Combat 7, Mordhau and H3VR suffer from FPS drops. The game I cared the most about is Assetto Corsa as I play it quite a lot.

The Specs are as below:
Asus Zephyrus M GU502
i7-9750H
RTX 2060 6GB (Laptop)
32 GB Ram
1TB + 2TB Intel 660p SSD

All my drivers and Windows are up to date, and I do use Throttlestop to undervolt the CPU. However I tried turning it off but the problem's still there.

Does anyone have any idea how to fix the problem? Thank you!
 

Phaaze88

Dignified
Herald
I'd suggest trying Msi Afterburner and monitoring cpu and gpu temps... cpu(each core) and gpu usage. You will need to enable some of the extra graphs in the options, under the Monitoring tab.
Your combination of hardware probably runs rather toasty.

Are all your drivers up to date? You should be able to find them on Asus' product support website.
 
Nov 30, 2019
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After numerous testing, I suspect it's the CPU that is overheating, causing the drop in FPS. The CPU utilization drops to ~10% when the FPS drops. I tried lowering the settings in game and limiting the framerate, but it only delayed the lag spike.
 
Nov 30, 2019
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No I didn't. I did prop up the laptop for more airflow though. I was kinda expecting not to use a cooling pad as a gaming laptop should provide a good enough thermal solution.
 

Phaaze88

Dignified
Herald
No I didn't. I did prop up the laptop for more airflow though. I was kinda expecting not to use a cooling pad as a gaming laptop should provide a good enough thermal solution.
That's a misconception. The concept of gaming laptops is bad to begin with.
I'll try not to go into a wall of text about it.
The primary function of laptops is their portability for work-related tasks; work on the go.
Then some 'genius' came up with the idea that you could game(not just minesweeper and solitaire) on them as well...

Gaming laptops defeat the original purpose of the laptop. The higher end hardware contained within them requires stronger cooling.
A decent gaming laptop is going to be bulky and heavy compared to a normal laptop running off just an igpu or one with a low power card like a GT 1030.
Those 'compact gaming laptops'? Straight up, their cooling is going to be ass.
The cooling solutions embedded within can only cool so well due to size and space constraints.
Manufacturers are now hitting - or perhaps have already hit, the thermal wall for high end gaming laptops; models with even stronger cpus and gpus than your current model can only get bigger and heavier to keep the heat under control.
There's a limit to how many people are going to mind lugging such a thing around; may as well just stick with a desktop.

Can you just imagine the size of a gaming laptop with 8, or 10-cores, and equipped with something like a Geforce 3070 or RX 5800?
-to keep temps down, those kinds of models will have even slower base and boost clocks than their lower core count siblings. Even if you account for IPC improvements, the drop in clock speeds will offset the benefits from IPC uplift.
-same with gpus, but with power restrictions of like 100w, maybe 150w... doesn't take much to hit that ceiling.
 
Nov 30, 2019
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I see. I will start looking for a laptop cooling pad then. Tbh the only reason I bought a gaming laptop is because I'm studying abroad and I have to move to different accommodation every year, if not I'll definitely buy a desktop PC. Thank you so much for your help!
 

Phaaze88

Dignified
Herald
Gotcha.

Another method you can try is undervolting the cpu. There are guides online on how to do this.
 
Nov 30, 2019
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As you can see below, the two indentations on the CPU usage is when the FPS drop happens. The weird thing is the clock speed actually goes up a little bit when the FPS drop happens, and the usage drop doesn't happen when I use the AIDA64 stress test.
AIDA 64 Screenshots
 

Phaaze88

Dignified
Herald
As you can see below, the two indentations on the CPU usage is when the FPS drop happens. The weird thing is the clock speed actually goes up a little bit when the FPS drop happens, and the usage drop doesn't happen when I use the AIDA64 stress test.
AIDA 64 Screenshots
Yikes! A few too many!
You can bring a liquid cooled setup to it's knees running that many of AIDA's stress tests at once.
Just try cpu + gpu stress tests for now - an alternative is 15-30mins of Asus Realbench.
 
Nov 30, 2019
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Oh I didn't run any stress test in that graph. The graph I showed is recorded when I was playing Assetto Corsa. When it ran the stress test it actually didn't have any CPU usage drop, but there's a lot of thermal throttling though.
 
laptop cooling is bound to be weak to fit in a small space.
One thing to do is verify that your cooling pathway is clear of dust.

In windows power management, see how your gaming is impacted if you limit your maximum cpu usage from 100% down to 80%
 
Nov 30, 2019
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I tried limiting the CPU to 80%, it barely made any impact on the ingame FPS, but the FPS drop and CPU usage drop still occur. I just bought a laptop cooling pad today, it does make the temperature drop a little bit, but again the FPS drop is still happening...
 
Nov 30, 2019
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I used GPU-Z to measure the performance of the GPU, and you can see that there's a sudden drop in GPU clock speed, memory controller load, bus interface load and VDDC. The PerfCap reason also turns to idle during the drop.
The weird thing is the value is STABLE during the drop, like it is capped or something. E.g. GPU clock speed dropping from ~1500 MHz to steady 960 MHz.
 
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Phaaze88

Dignified
Herald
...


I used GPU-Z to measure the performance of the GPU, and you can see that there's a sudden drop in GPU clock speed, memory controller load, bus interface load and VDDC. The PerfCap reason also turns to idle during the drop.
The weird thing is the value is STABLE during the drop, like it is capped or something. E.g. GPU clock speed dropping from ~1500 MHz to steady 960 MHz.
What's happening on the cpu end? If the temps are under control, are any threads sitting at high usage? The gpu doesn't need to work as hard if the cpu's hung up somewhere.
If you alt-tabbed out of the game to view Gpu-Z, that'll put the gpu in idle too.
 
Nov 30, 2019
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The CPU was acting exactly the same as in the AIDA 64 graphs. So in summary, when the FPS drop happens, the CPU usage dropped, the CPU clock speed weirdly goes up a little, GPU clock dropped to a steady level, among other things. Also I didn't alt-tab out the game when recording any of the graphs above.
 

Phaaze88

Dignified
Herald
So in summary, when the FPS drop happens, the CPU usage dropped
Drops in usage can be caused by throttling, or the application code backing off for a bit.

the CPU clock speed weirdly goes up a little
It's far from weird, it's normal for them.
Something most non-enthusiasts won't be aware of is the behavior of cpu and gpu boost algorithms. Ya'll just see the base and turbo clocks, and that's it - but that's not everything.
https://en.wikichip.org/wiki/intel/core_i7/i7-9750h#Frequencies [In Contents, click on Frequencies]
That right there, shows your cpu's boost behavior depending on how many cores are loaded.

GPU clock dropped to a steady level
Normal behavior for Nvidia's 10, 16, and 20-series gpus - but unlike the 9750H, which could run to 90C and not yet throttle, these gpus are temperature sensitive; they have a number of Temperature Thresholds, which determine how high the card will boost - bar power limits.
Of course, they too, will drop clocks hard if they reach their designated throttle temp - to check this, open Gpu-Z and click on the Advanced tab.
 
Nov 30, 2019
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One thing I found it interesting, this graph is recorded when I was playing Human : Fall Flat which is a less graphically intense game, and you can see the GPU temperature is actually higher than the graph where I play Assetto Corsa. However, it didn't suffer from any FPS drop, it was playing very smoothly with around 130 fps.
 

Phaaze88

Dignified
Herald
Yep, 87C would be the gpu's temperature limit.

Human : Fall Flat which is a less graphically intense game...
You sure about that?
The 2 images you've linked say otherwise...

...you can see the GPU temperature is actually higher than the graph where I play Assetto Corsa.
To me, that would mean Assetto Corsa isn't as graphically demanding as HFF. Crazy, huh, considering how primitive the latter looks...

Gpu-Z's PerfCap Reasons are color coded:
-Green is Pwr: Power. Indicating performance is limited by total power limit.
-Blue is VRel: Reliability. Indicating performance is limited by voltage reliability.
-Orange is VOp: Operating. Indicating performance is limited by max operating voltage(Hardware Limit).
-Pink is Thrm: Thermal. Indicating performance is limited by temperature limit.
-Grey is Idle.
-Util also appears as grey, I think: Utilization. Indicating performance is limited by GPU utilization.


The issue may just lie with the game itself. Poor/bad optimization... sometimes the devs do break their own games from time to time. Check the game's forums for others experiencing similar issues.
The fact that you don't experience this in all your games leads me to think it's not your hardware, at least.
 
Nov 30, 2019
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You sure about that?
The 2 images you've linked say otherwise...
Haha I mean it supposed to be a lighter game, it actually kind of is in some way, like the GPU load and VRAM usage in HFF is actually lower than Assetto.

Check the game's forums for others experiencing similar issues
I've found a lot of posts regarding FPS drops in Assetto, but none of them seems to be similar to my situation...
 

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