Question HDD spikes to 100% and CPU usage decreases for a second while gaming

Streamer123

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Hello everyone.

I just bought a new laptop (Acer Nitro 7; i5-9300h, 8GB RAM, GTX 1650, 256 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD), and it runs fine except for one thing: my games occasionally freeze for about a second. It doesn't matter which game - this happened while playing more demanding titles like Monster Hunter World to less demanding titles such as Terraria or Team Fortress 2. These games are all installed on my HDD, while Windows is installed on my SSD.

So, I went on Task Manager and continued playing, and noticed that my HDD spiked to 100% for that split second when the game froze. Here's an image of that (the post didn't allow me to add an image directly, sorry):
View: https://imgur.com/a/9t285v1


At that same time when the HDD spiked to 100%, I think that my CPU usage went down a lot... at least that's what the screenshot suggests.

Is this possible because of undervolting? I'm using a ThrottleStop preset for an i5-8300h from here: https://community.acer.com/en/discussion/577183/throttlestop-undervolt-profiles-pre-made/p1?new=1

I ran CrystalDisk and it told me that both my HDD (32 degrees celsius) and my SSD (38 degrees celsius) have a health status of 'Good'.

Is there anything I can do? I don't really want to return this laptop as everything else works fine... the game freezes and continues immediately, and with the whole COVID situation, it would be a pain to get a replacement.

Any help is appreciated, thank you :)

EDIT: Sorry, I forgot to mention that I ran Terraria without ThrottleStop active (because it's not demanding), and this issue still arose - doesn't seem like undervolting has anything to do with this.
 
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boju

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Usually when there's heavy hdd usage, especially maxed, it tends to cause the whole system to halt or delay other components, ie cpu. There wouldn't be anything wrong with the cpu itself but do check cpu temps under load though, not that temps would cause hdd spikes but more for piece of mind.

What rpm speed is the hdd? A slow hdd, ie 5400rpm, can cause performance issues. Have you tried running a game on the ssd to test?

Other possibilities could be software/ programs running, diagnostic apps, utilities, mouse software etc. Inspect anything you may have installed. Laptops usually ship with junkware, aka bloatware, mostly useless utilities.
 

Streamer123

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Thanks for the reply! It's a 7200 RPM HDD, and I'm pretty sure I uninstalled all the bloatware, at least what was shown on the Start Menu and under the Control Panel (Programs). I haven't installed anything besides game launchers, Chrome, and 7zip

I ran Terraria and Team Fortress 2 (the less demanding games) on my older laptop which were installed on an SSD and it played just fine, so I'm sure it's got to be the hard drive... I don't think it's heavy HDD usage in general because this randomly happens for a split second while I'm playing - like clicking on an item in my hotbar or equipping something (in Terraria), and my CPU temps are around 60 degrees Celsius because, well, it's not a demanding game.

You have anything in mind? Thanks again!
 
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Streamer123

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Hmm. Try reinstall sata/storage driver from the laptop's support page.

Did the Hdd come with the laptop? If it's an added addition, how old is it?
It came with it. It's a Seagate 1 TB HDD(ST1000LM049). I'll just be a bit installing all of this though.

Thanks again for your help!
 

Streamer123

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No luck... I installed a bunch of drivers, even Intel's Rapid Storage thing? But, I just checked and the CPU usage still dips, and the HDD still spikes to 100%.

View: https://imgur.com/a/qrNb2j5


@sizzling it is a single channel 8 GB stick but I mean I'm playing Terraria and this happens - it's a game who's min specs require 2.5 GB of RAM. And according to Task Manager, my memory seems stable; it's just my CPU usage dipping and my HDD spiking to 100% for a split second.
 

Streamer123

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Might be trivial suggestion but when was the last time ya done a defrag?
Yeah, I figured it might be an issue so I just did that but it was to no avail. I even tried setting its priority to high in the task manager but it still happens, though it might be less frequent now. Not really sure, it could just be me imagining things...
 

boju

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@boju If he tries playing without that HDD, thinking it might be showing weaknesses and hanging the system?
Worth a shot?
Yes i think it's worth a shot. Streamer123, ya mentioned these games played fine on an older laptop with an ssd. How about your new laptop, do games play fine on the ssd?

You haven't moved the pagefile to the Hdd by any chance to save space?
 

Streamer123

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Yes i think it's worth a shot. Streamer123, ya mentioned these games played fine on an older laptop with an ssd. How about your new laptop, do games play fine on the ssd?

You haven't moved the pagefile to the Hdd by any chance to save space?
I haven't tried on the new laptop's SSD yet. I'll be just a second.

I got this laptop the day before. I don't even know what a pagefile is except for hearing the word around for memory leaks or something hahaha. I don't think I managed to move it.

Thanks for your help again :)
 
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Streamer123

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@boju Okay, I been running the game on my SSD and I haven't experienced any split second freezes; my CPU usage has not dipped and my SSD hasn't spiked. Seems like the HDD is the culprit, yeah?

Weirdly enough, I been trying out the more demanding games like COD: Warzone, GTA 5 and Monster Hunter World and I barely experienced this issue, if at all, whereas with Terraria, I experience it within the first minute of playing. Does that info help in anyway?
 

Streamer123

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Just makes it even more weird lol :) So you're saying other games run fine off the hdd, no spiking?

Sorry for the late replies, I'm sorta busy atm, chiming in when i get a chance. When i have more time i'll look into it further specific to the games having trouble on a hdd, if this is the case.
Oh okay. Thanks for the help regardless :)
 
Just makes it even more weird lol :) So you're saying other games run fine off the hdd, no spiking?
Not really,newer games are designed for consoles so they fill up the unified memory of 16Gb with the most important stuff and use all the rest as a cache basically to hide the slow data rate from the slow HDD they have,if they are not running the game straight from the bluray that is.

Older or just simpler games don't do that,they just ask for what they need when they need it,like the OP said "like clicking on an item in my hotbar or equipping something (in Terraria) " whenever the game has to load in a new asset because it doesn't have it cached already.So if your drive isn't up to it you will get a freeze,
 
No luck... I installed a bunch of drivers, even Intel's Rapid Storage thing? But, I just checked and the CPU usage still dips, and the HDD still spikes to 100%.

View: https://imgur.com/a/qrNb2j5


@sizzling it is a single channel 8 GB stick but I mean I'm playing Terraria and this happens - it's a game who's min specs require 2.5 GB of RAM. And according to Task Manager, my memory seems stable; it's just my CPU usage dipping and my HDD spiking to 100% for a split second.
It is a guess but the symptoms are similar to those caused by both running single channel RAM and when the system is caching to the drive due to lower amounts of RAM.
 

boju

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Not really,newer games are designed for consoles so they fill up the unified memory of 16Gb with the most important stuff and use all the rest as a cache basically to hide the slow data rate from the slow HDD they have,if they are not running the game straight from the bluray that is.

Older or just simpler games don't do that,they just ask for what they need when they need it,like the OP said "like clicking on an item in my hotbar or equipping something (in Terraria) " whenever the game has to load in a new asset because it doesn't have it cached already.So if your drive isn't up to it you will get a freeze,
Possibly. He's playing games designed for consoles fine though, ie GTA5. Maybe newer titles use the hdd differently now, i don't know.

TF2 isn't designed for consoles afaik, so don't know why it's spiking too. Terraria could be freaking out about being on another drive, possibly hdd related like you said Terry or even ram amount sizzling pointed out. Even if ram is running low, the pagefile is on an ssd, that should help a little, not cause hdd to spike?

Terraria specifically, a guy had a similar problem. Solved by installing it on an ssd, just like here. But he did remember not having such problems on a previous system with a hdd. The game possibly doesn't run well separate from the OS.


--

Is it just Terraria playing up or other games too? Original post mentions pretty much all games are affected but post #14 tells a different story.
 

Streamer123

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@TerryLaze @boju Yeah, sorry I was mistaken... It's not really present in newer games. I thought I noticed it in Monster Hunter World but that wasn't related to this issue. Seems like it's just how older games run, huh. Thanks everyone!
 

Streamer123

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Hey, an update. I was mistaken again. It happened while I was playing Monster Hunter World, so clearly it's not just old less demanding games.

View: https://imgur.com/a/ZlB8vv8


Jeez. Any idea what's wrong? I have played Monster Hunter World on an HDD in my old desktop - an i3 550 with a GTX 750 ti, and though the game looked like garbage with those specs, I never faced THIS issue...

@TerryLaze @boju @sizzling
 

Streamer123

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GUYS! I fixed it by disabling Windows Defender through regedit because I saw that somebody else years ago had the same issue and fixed it by doing that. Thanks for everything!
 

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