Question Weird performance issue

Jun 1, 2019
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Recently my computer has been exhibiting a weird pattern of behavior regarding performance.

I would boot it up, and I would see significantly worse framerates in games, later discovering this also resulted in constantly high DPC latency. I restarted the computer and I would get good performance again that remained stable as long as I left the computer on.

This kept happening but with a seemingly random number of restarts required to get good performance and minimal DPC latency. Sometimes it would be fine on first boot, sometimes it would take several restarts.

I don’t really know where to begin troubleshooting this issue. Any ideas on what I could try to fix this?

My specs:
OS: Windows 7 64-Bit
Motherboard: ASUS Z97-A
CPU: Intel Core i7 4790-K
16GB Ram
GPU: Nvidia Geforce GTX980
PSU: Corsair RM850
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
For starters, it's time to leave Windows 7 behind. Hardware manufacturers are mostly no longer supporting Windows 7 anyhow, in preparation for the End of Life of that product and the end of any continued support from Microsoft which will happen this coming January. Lack of continued driver support is a big problem, as is the lack of continued security and compatibility updates.

I'd upgrade to Windows 10 while you still can, because once Windows 7 support ends, it's likely that the ability to still update to Windows 10 for free, is going to end as well.

Secondly, these.

Here are the first steps to take when trying to solve these kinds of hardware problems. If you have already tried these steps, all of them, exactly as outlined, we can move along to more advanced solutions.


If there are any you have NOT done, it would be advisable to do so if for no other reason than to be able to say you've already done it and eliminate that possibility.



First,

make sure your motherboard has the MOST recent BIOS version installed. If it does not, then update. This solves a high number of issues even in cases where the release that is newer than yours makes no mention of improving graphics card or other hardware compatibility. They do not list every change they have made when they post a new BIOS release.


Second,

go to the product page for your motherboard on the manufacturer website. Download and install the latest driver versions for the chipset, storage controllers, audio and network adapters. Do not skip installing a newer driver just because you think it is not relevant to the problem you are having. The drivers for one device can often affect ALL other devices and a questionable driver release can cause instability in the OS itself. They don't release new drivers just for fun. If there is a new driver release for a component, there is a good reason for it. The same goes for BIOS updates.


IF you have other hardware installed or attached to the system that are not a part of the systems covered by the motherboard drivers, then go to the support page for THAT component and check to see if there are newer drivers available for that as well. If there are, install them.


Third,

Make sure your memory is running at the correct advertised speed in the BIOS. This may require that you set the memory to run at the XMP profile settings. Also, make sure you have the memory installed in the correct slots and that they are running in dual channel which you can check by installing CPU-Z and checking the Memory tab. For all modern motherboards that are dual channel memory architectures, from the last ten years at least, if you have two sticks installed they should be in the A2 (Called DDR4_1 on some boards) or B2 (Called DDR4_2 on some boards) which are ALWAYS the SECOND and FOURTH slots over from the CPU socket, counting TOWARDS the edge of the motherboard EXCEPT on boards that only have two memory slots total. In that case, if you have two modules it's not rocket science, but if you have only one, then install it in the A1 or DDR4_1 slot.


Fourth,

Make sure the problem is not just a bad cable or the wrong cable IF this is a no display issue. If it is NOT related to a lack of display signal, then skip to the next step.

This happens a lot. Try a different cable or a different TYPE of cable. Sometimes there can be issues with the monitor or card not supporting a specific specification such as HDMI 1.4 vs HDMI 2.0, or even an HDMI output stops working but the Displayport or DVI output still works fine on the graphics card. Always worth checking the cable and trying other cables because cables get run over, bent, bent pins or simply were cheap quality to begin with and something as simple as trying a different cable or different monitor might be all that is required to solve your issue.


The last thing we want to look at,

for now anyhow, is the graphics card drivers. Regardless of whether you "already installed the newest drivers" for your graphics card or not, it is OFTEN a good idea to do a CLEAN install of the graphics card drivers. Just installing over the old drivers OR trying to use what Nvidia and AMD consider a clean install is not good enough and does not usually give the same result as using the Display Driver Uninstaller utility. This has a very high success rate and is always worth a shot.


If you have had both Nvidia and AMD cards installed at any point on that operating system then you will want to run the DDU twice. Once for the old card drivers (ie, Nvidia or AMD) and again for the currently installed graphics card drivers (ie, AMD or Nvidia). So if you had an Nvidia card at some point in the past, run it first for Nvidia and then after that is complete, run it again for AMD if you currently have an AMD card installed.


Here are the full instructions on running the Display driver uninstaller and CLEAN installing new drivers.

Graphics card clean install using the Wagnard tools Display driver uninstaller (DDU)
 
Jun 1, 2019
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Thanks for the response,

I've Installed the newest non-beta BIOS but not the very latest because I didn't feel comfortable installing a beta BIOS
Installed mentioned drivers from motherboard website (except for Storage because it kept failed on me twice saying it required .NET framework 4.5, I go to install said version and it doesn't let me because I have a newer version of .NET Framework)
Checked Memory and it's installed in the correct slots and at the right speed
Did a clean install to latest GPU Drivers

The problem still persists.

Should I consider upgrading to the very latest BIOS? And would those storage drivers I couldn't install make much of a difference?
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
There are much newer chipset drivers available than what is offered on the ASUS website. For chipset drivers, I always like to get them direct from Intel or AMD whenever possible.

You can download those here. I'd recommend you install them.

https://downloadcenter.intel.com/product/82012/Intel-Z97-Chipset


As for the BIOS update, it only says "Beta" because that BIOS release came after the warranty period for all Z97 boards was expired, so ASUS wants no responsibility if anything goes wrong. However, that BIOS update ONLY offers the Spectre and Meltdown microcode patches anyhow, so they are not related to compatibility or performance and I'd personally advise to not install that BETA BIOS version anyhow.

I think some of your issues are stemming from running Windows 7. I've seen a LOT of similar threads over the last two months, and upgrading to Windows 10 (Which is still currently free) has resolved all of the issues for those users and I assume they were a result of problems with driver compatibility on those systems.

If you decide to make the move to Windows 10 let me know and I'll show you exactly what you need to do to make it a smooth and easy process. You will however need to reinstall EVERYTHING except your game folders. Those can be saved elsewhere, or if they are already on a different drive, you'll just need to point your game loader at them after you reinstall it.
 
Jun 1, 2019
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Installed the newest chipset drivers from that site and it's made no difference.

I was planning on upgrading to Windows 10 soon but I wanted to fix this before doing so, but now I'm considering upgrading to 10 then troubleshooting from there if the problem persists.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
I think that's a good idea because even if you sort out the issue while still ON Windows 7, it wouldn't matter once you changed the OS, IF it was a driver or software problem. If it's a hardware issue, then the problem will obviously still be there, but it might actually make it an easier process to determine that or not this way.

I have a suspicion that it COULD be driver related and support for Win7 on new hardware has become practically non-existent.

Even though it is a pain to do a clean install and then reinstall all your apps, sometimes, often actually, it's the only thing that will work if something is incompatible OR something has become borked in the registry.



There are really two options. You can upgrade to Windows 10, and then it's advisable that you attach your Windows 10 entitlement to a MS account, and THEN do a clean install, or you can simply do a clean install using the Windows 10 installer and plug your Win 7 product key into the activation window.

If you have a retail version of Windows 7 that will work fine. If you have an OEM version of Windows 7 that came with a prebuilt system, you MIGHT have to do the upgrade first and THEN go back after attaching it to yourself by way of a Microsoft account, and do a clean install.

It's been a while since I moved a system from Windows 7 to 10, so I can't remember if upgrading FIRST is still required on OEM products or if you can simply clean install as long as you have the product key.

 
Jun 1, 2019
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I did a clean install to Windows 10 and the issue is still there, so at this point I'm assuming it's a hardware issue. I'm not really sure what could be causing the problem, what's the best way to diagnose something like this?

Also I got to admit I messed up slightly with the clean install, as I didn't follow the instruction to unplug the other hard drives I have on this system before doing the install. On startup the computer asks me if I want to boot into Windows 7 or 10 even though I have no working Windows 7 installation on any of the other drives. Not sure how much this matters to the issues I'm having though.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
It matters. So I'd try again. Disconnect all drives except the target drive for the OS and whatever drive contains the installer media whether that's a flash drive or optical disc.

After installation, run Windows update until no more updates are available.

After no more updates are available, go to your motherboards product page and download all of the most recently listed drivers for audio, network adapters (LAN and WiFi if your board has integrated WiFi, if not then just LAN adapter driver for Ethernet), storage controllers and also the chipset drivers at the link I posted earlier. Then install them all.

Next, download and install the latest Nvidia drivers for your graphics card model from the Nvidia website.

If after doing all of those things you still have a problem, then it's hardware and we'll need to figure out what exactly is on it's last legs.
 
Jun 1, 2019
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I did the clean install again with only the primary hard drive connected and installing the drivers as instructed, and I still have the same problem. Where should I start in diagnosing this?
 
Jun 1, 2019
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I have been using Latencymon these past few days.

Earlier I said that when the computer is giving me the low framerates I get High DPC latency and when It's performing well I get low DPC latency. Either DPC Latency Checker was inaccurate (I switched to Latencymon because DPC Latency Checker was giving me questionable results on Windows 10) or I'm getting worse DPC latency spikes on Windows 10, as no matter what the highest measured latency will always be high enough for it to throw that warning message after running it for a while.

The general pattern I'm noticing however is that if on the initial startup the computer is giving me lower framerates in games then the high DPC latency readings will be much more frequent and will usually be attributed to one of the gpu related drivers nvlddmkm.sys or dxgkrnl.sys.

Here's an example of results when the computer is underperforming in games



And here's an example of when it's performing well



Another pic from the same test a few minutes later



Extremely high DPC Latency I caught a few days ago, not sure how often this occurs

 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Have you tried uninstalling both the Nvidia drivers AND GeForce experience, and THEN running the DDU, and THEN downloading and running the stand alone Nvidia drivers WITHOUT the GeForce experience application? I know of a lot of users that always had problems with GFE on Maxwell cards. Actually, on Kepler too later in the cycle just before Maxwell was released.
 
Jun 1, 2019
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I don't have another card or system to try that out on, unfortunately, and I don't know anybody IRL close enough who has a PC I could try that with either.

The RM850 has been in use since January 2015.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
So, given the quality of that PSU line, not that long really. Plenty long enough for there to be a problem but this doesn't particularly seem like a PSU issue although ANY problem with any piece of hardware can ALWAYS be a PSU problem at the core.

Have you run any tests like Furmark or Heaven benchmark on the graphics card?

Visually checked the motherboard to see if there are any signs of bulging or leaking capacitors?

There are sample images of what to look for on the caps included here:


I would also run some storage device tests as well.

I'd run Crystaldiskmark and probably either Seatools for Windows or WD Lifeguard tools as well. For Seatools for Windows you'll want to run the short DST (Drive self test) and the Long generic. For WD lifeguard tools you'll run the quick test and the extended test. There are certainly many other health and performance utilities out there as well.
 
Jun 1, 2019
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I ran the furmark benchmark twice, once when the computer was giving me low framerates and one when the computer was giving me good framerates with the games I've been testing this with. Surprisingly the difference in results was only minor compared to the drastic difference in performance in games. Should I try the other benchmark you mentioned?

Results when game performance was poor

Results when game performance was good

That thread link was broken for me but from looking up examples of leaking/bulging caps my motherboard shows no signs of them.

Ran Crystaldiskmark on all my drives, the results for my C drive (SSD) seem fine but are the results for every read/write test after the first on the two HDDs supposed to be that slow?




Ran Seatools, all drives passed both the Short DST and Long Generic tests.
 

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