Question Strange, inconsistent gaming behavior

May 13, 2019
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I recently built this workstation ~5 months ago, and since then I've been having some bizarre issues with certain games, which have been extremely difficult to effectively troubleshoot.

Specs:

  • Asus ROG Maximus XI Code motherboard
  • Intel Core i9-9900K (Originally at 3.6 MHz, overclocked to ~4.700 MHz /33% with ~47x multiplier according to Aida64)
  • 4x G-Skill TridentZ RGB F4-4133C17-8GTZR memory modules
  • EVGA RTX 2080 Ti FTW3
  • Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
  • Windows 10 Home 64 bit (10.0.17763.475)
The original issue started with DCS World. The application would run, and then hang for a period of time (usually 5 minutes), before resuming again. I recorded this video demonstrating the problem which I posted on Reddit, and sent to Eagle Dynamics' support. I wasn't able to get a straight answer from anybody as to what the issue was, and very little search results are produced when you look up this behavior. The threads you do find are inconsistent in their answers, each one suggesting a fix that is completely unrelated to another search result.

I tried a few different methodologies to troubleshoot:

  1. I started by treating it as a potential GPU issue, either hardware related or driver related. I did an uninstall / reinstall of the drivers using DDU, but it did not mitigate the issue
  2. I followed suggestions that it may be page file related, and manually set my page file to around 16 GB, which did not mitigate the issue
  3. I thought it might be storage related, so I changed the operating mode on my M.2 slot from SATA x2 to x4, but did not see any improvement. I did experience some IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL crashes that I guessed were related, unfortunately Windows never generated a crash dump for any of these BSODs nor did it generate an event in event viewer, so I was never able to troubleshoot. I've since set the mode back to x2 (I also did benchmarking before and after the change using CrystalDiskMark, here are the results before, and after)
  4. I originally built the workstation and installed Windows 10 LTSB / LTSC, which I started to suspect was somehow causing an issue. I've since re-installed a regular version of Windows 10 Home, which did not mitigate the issue
  5. Suspecting an issue with VR, I've tried launching DCS in non-VR mode, only to still encounter the issue
The strange part here, is that other games do not exhibit this behavior. rFactor 2, Squad, GTA V, Kerbal Space Program, Warhammer 2: Total War and X-Plane 11 all run fine. Still thinking it was somehow VR-related, I tried other VR titles like VTOL VR, Google Earth VR, X-Plane 11 in SteamVR, rFactor 2 in SteamVR, and the VR demo for Unigine Superposition, but never encountered any issues. I also considered that it could be hardware related with my Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS, however I use it with X-Plane 11 with no issues.

The only other game that exhibits identical behavior so far is Dark Souls 3, so the issue does not appear to be isolated to just DCS, VR-enabled titles, or flight simulators.

I've run system stress tests with Aida64 to rule out faulty hardware and / or temperature issues, and I haven't encountered any instability. I've also stress-tested my GPU using MSI Kombuster, and I never saw temperatures get anywhere alarming. I benchmarked my system using Unigine Superposition and scored where I would have expected (9058 was the score if I remember correctly), with no observable performance issues, weird behavior with the application itself, or even system instability or application hanging / crashing like DCS and Dark Souls 3.

I've honestly run out of avenues to approach when it comes to troubleshooting this behavior. There are little to no logical patterns that I can observe here that I can investigate, because everything about the issue is inconsistent. The fact that it seems to affect different games on almost a lottery basis is frustrating, because there's no commonality between the games it's happening to. I'm hoping somebody here can offer me suggestions on where to look next, because I'd really like to get to the bottom of this. All things considered, this workstation is about the last configuration that should ever experience any of these issues.
 
May 13, 2019
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remove all your overclocks and retest. it's either hardware or software.
This is one of the other things I meant to try. The BIOS for my motherboard is a bit confusing, everything is set to "AUTO" which I guess just means it's auto-overclocking up to 5000 MHz, or at least trying to
 

Mandark

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Sep 13, 2002
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so, you are just auto overclocking and having this issue? then indeed we have an issue, but it may be with those few games as everything else is checking out ok and temps are all good during gaming.
 
May 13, 2019
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so, you are just auto overclocking and having this issue? then indeed we have an issue, but it may be with those few games as everything else is checking out ok and temps are all good during gaming.
It would appear to be the case. I need to figure out how to disable any overclocking all together in my BIOS and report back. The search results I've seen are just people suggesting to load defaults and restart, which just sets everything back to "AUTO" which isn't actually disabling anything.

I would like if this solves my issue because it'll mean not having to deal with this anymore, but it's still strange that it's only these two games so far out of the handful that I've tested.
 
May 13, 2019
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so, you are just auto overclocking and having this issue? then indeed we have an issue, but it may be with those few games as everything else is checking out ok and temps are all good during gaming.
I set the XMP profile to Intel stock (3.6 GHz) and still encountered the issue. It may be placebo because I didn't actually measure it, but it seemed like DCS World ran longer before it hung.

EDIT: Here are HWMonitor screenshots from while the application is hung: CPU | GPU
 

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