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This has been bugging me for a while. Every once in a while, I find my computer to be sort of laggy and I thought it was because it was busy or something. However, I recently noticed that it wasn't any performance issue...I thought my computer was laggy because the frame rate slowed from 75fps right down to ~40 fps and caused very visible tearing. This is not rare. It happens many, many times a day.

I have no idea what is happening...I have an AMD 5670 on Windows 7 32-bit by the way, and I've heard bad things about AMD's driver support. Could this be the problem?

P.S. The frame rate slowdown is not just for games (I rarely play games, and have not played games in the time since I noticed this problem), it seems it's an issue for the entirety of Windows. I first noticed the tearing when I was moving around tabs in Google Chrome.

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Have you enabled any power consumption saving methods in your graphics card driver options? Is the GPU overheating when this occurs (and thus throttles it down)? –  Breakthrough May 28 '13 at 16:01

3 Answers 3

How do you know it's slowed down to 40 FPS? I am asking because it's normally just games that have a facility to show frame rates, the only type of applications that I can think of were frame rate is an issue would be media players and games.
In media players, you have to have a steady frame rate to be able to watch stuff so I am guessing it would just be games were you have an issue.

Having said all that, 40 FPS is still well more than you need to give the illusion of movement full motion animation is normally 29 FPS, but obviously none of this helps you out.

CPU intensive tasks

When I get lagginess the first thing I nornmally do is get up task manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc), go to the processes tab, and click on CPU, so that the most CPU heavy processes are at the top, that usually give a fair idea of what is hogging resources. Things like your anti virus doing a scan or an update usually impacts quite heavily on system responsiveness, in addition system stuff like windows indexer are notorious hogs.

Drivers

You mention drivers, I have passed experience of drivers heavily impacting frame rates. My previous graphics card was a Nvidia 260, and I was having terrible trouble with lagginess and extremely slow frame rates, even with the setting down low, just dragging a bar on the side of a window slowed the system down.

It eventually turned out to be a driver issue, but not the graphics driver like you'd thing, it was the audio driver. Windows had just installed the generic MS audio driver, when I eventually installed the proper driver from the manufacturers web site it was like magic, everything was a lot freer and smoother. So maybe make sure all your drivers are up to date.

Cache

Another thing maybe to look at if you are getting issue while using applications, like you say with Chrome, is that your cache is set up correctly. Go on-line and check out a how-to on cache set up, the reason why I say this is because you get 'tearing' when moving around applications sound like a disc access thing, maybe windows is trying to load stuff from disc when it should come from cache.

Memory

How much memory do you have? If you only have a limited amount of RAM then windows would need to resort to using disc storage when it got low on RAM, paging stuff out to disc is a lot slower than using RAM, and would result in performance issues. If the worst comes to the worst, you could just back all your important stuff and re-install windows, but that's being defeatist.

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I know it's 40fps because I was developing with DirectX and showed an fps counter. DirectX normally syncs the fps of your application to the refresh rate of your monitor (75Hz for me), but sometimes it would randomly go to 40fps for no apparent reason. –  Joshua Apr 21 '12 at 14:38
    
I have checked Process Explorer - a much more verbose version of Task Manager - and I found nothing that could account for the strange fps drops. My AMD drivers are up to date. I use a Logitech G35 which bypasses generic audio. My RAM is not full or too close to full. –  Joshua Apr 21 '12 at 14:41
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P.S. You should break your answer into paragraphs, it helps readability =) Thanks. –  Joshua Apr 21 '12 at 14:42

I also suffer from the frame rate drops in Windows UI. It happens both in my home pc (with Radeon 4850) and my work pc (GeForce mobile).

One solution is to "shake" a window around a bit so that the GPU gets some "work" to be done. After a while the fps returns back to normal.

Maybe it's some kind of power saving feature for GPU in Window, but I haven't found any way to turn it off.

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Wow. This is exactly the same problem and solution I have. I shake some window around as well to get rid of it. :( –  Joshua Dec 21 '12 at 4:18

Your GPU is probably clocking down to save power.
Find the relevant setting and change it.
For NVIDIA it's "PowerMizer"; I think for ATI it used to be "PowerPlay"?

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