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I'm running a BFG 8800GTS 640MB graphics card on my Intel Quad Core Q9550 desktop, 4GB RAM. Recently I've noticed performance degrading in gaming intensive sessions where the game starts off with a 60 FPS but then once I get 20-30 mins into the game, the graphics start getting a little choppy and frame rate drops to between 19 and 40 FPS. The games are still playable but not as smooth as when I first launched it.

What could be the possible reasons for this? One reason I've thought of is the heat buildup - the card often gets as hot as 110 Deg C. Are there any other reasons and what can I do to fix this?

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A few thoughts: Does a reboot cure the problem? Does it happen with all games or just one? Is the card overclocked? Do you have the latest drivers? –  Chris Feb 5 '11 at 18:02
    
To answer - Reboot helps, but only to the extent that the graphics card is not under load and therefore cools down in the interim, Happens with all games, Card is stock BFG frequency (no OC), 266.58 installed (latest as of this writing). –  kpax Feb 6 '11 at 12:48

4 Answers 4

Temperature is one possible reason.

Another (perhaps less likely) reason could be poorly implemented memory management. As you play the game for longer and longer more and more textures have to be loaded into the video memory. These will eventually fill up the available memory and the card will have to start discarding some images to make way for the newer ones.

If the algorithm that decides which ones to get rid of has problems it could be discarding an image only to have to load it back into memory again very soon after. This will cause performance issues. However, this should be the exception - unless the game is texture heavy - as most (if not all) card manufacturers will be aware of this problem.

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110 deg C is quite hot(if not very close to TjMax), even for a oven stove like the 8800GTS. I recommend you clean up the thermal paste and apply a fresh coat of it.

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I don't think the card would cool down significantly during the reboot; I think it's more likely clearing the video ram or reloading the driver that's helping. Try running Process Explorer in the background while playing the game and see if memory is being consumed, especially by the driver. Also, I'd try downgrading the driver a version or two and see if that makes a difference.

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I had the same problem some time ago.

I have an nVidia GP that suffered an increment of heat when any intensive 3D game was running, after a couple of minutes the frame rate drop incredibly to the point that the game was unplayable.

I recorded those temperatures and compare with other PCs with the same card running the same applications, and with that information, I went to the technical service and with the warranty, I received a new computer.

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