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High CPU usage...

by jagwar / March 22, 2005 2:50 AM PST

Whenever I open a game (either an EA sports 3D graphics game, or DXBall, a '96 low sized game) the CPU usage jumps to 100%, the fans start overworking, and suddenly every couple of minutes -or less- the game comes interrupted/freezed for a few seconds.

I've seen that the freezes occur when CPU usage is used by DPC's (about 15% - 20%). DPC's are not using any CPU when I'm not playing a game.

The same occur to me when browsing over 3 or more IExplorer windows.

Pentium 4 1.7 GHz
256Mb Ram
Nvidia 64Mb

Hope somebody can help me.

Thanks in advance...

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Re: High CPU usage...
by Themisive / March 22, 2005 3:05 AM PST
In reply to: High CPU usage...

Sounds like it could be either:
1) your HDD(s) need defragging;
2) you may not have enough memory (RAM) - you need at least 512Mb for the XP OS alone, then possibly more for games - remember they are memory intensive;
3) you may need a bigger graphics card, quite a lot of the big games use between 64Mb to 256Mb fraphics RAM; and/or
4) it would be a good idea to update ALL the drivers you use, especially the graphics drivers (and don't forget the motherboard drivers).

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Thanks, and...
by jagwar / March 22, 2005 3:13 AM PST
In reply to: Re: High CPU usage...

I'll try the defrag right now.

About buying stuff... I don't have money right now, but I could save to buy 1 of those... which would be better to put my money into? more RAM or a graphic card?

Motherboard drivers? where? (sorry, I'm a noob)

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Get the RAM first....
by Butch F. / March 25, 2005 10:46 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks, and...

Get the RAM first, it'll improve your over-all preformance of the computer. RAM is the first thing I upgrade in all the computers I build (and that's a lot).

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Similar problem excluding ram
by EZRIDER714 / March 26, 2005 2:07 AM PST
In reply to: Get the RAM first....

What direction should I look in for a very similar problem except I already have 512mb of ram.
Computer is Compaq Presario 5000
Running wimxp home version 2002 with service pack 2
Have cleaned using the usual suggested anti parasite programs and it did improve some. but performance is still far from what I feel it should be. I can run some of the games, Sims, for ex. much better on my much older Gateway 550,win98se, with only 256mb ram.
Any guidance would be uch appreciated

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speed up xp
by rocky220 / March 26, 2005 12:58 PM PST

get rid of the fancy xp the control panel under my computer, in the advanced section set your pc to performance. winxp uses alot of resource. with all the fancy wallpaper etc. also note tweak your bios to optimized default's.

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by EZRIDER714 / March 26, 2005 2:01 PM PST
In reply to: speed up xp

Will be able to handle the fancy xp stuff.But need a little more explanation regarding - also note tweak your bios to optimized default's. afraid that is a little over my head. Can you expound on that to allow me to give it a shot

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Bios Settings
by krismeister / March 27, 2005 11:19 PM PST
In reply to: WILL GIVE IT A TRY

all computers have a bios (basic input output system) which is the first set of commands which you computer runs through while booting up. To reach the bios setup you need to hit "delete" or sometimes "f2" when you computer is just starting up. Thats before the windows logo, and a couple seconds after you hear your fans startup. The bios settings (CMOS) on high-end motherboards allow you to adjust clock and cycle speeds, and regulate your voltages. Every system has a bios but most major manufaturer(dell, sony...) machines i've used don't have a very teakable bios. Newbies do need to read up about this type of thing because altering the bios can be dangerous for your hardware. But the rewards can be increased performance.

northbridge 3.0ghz @ 3.2ghz
512 ddr 400
abit vt7 (via chipsets suck don't get them)
128mb radeon 9250

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by Yew / March 28, 2005 3:24 AM PST
In reply to: Bios Settings

If you want to get technical... The BIOS is a PC only thing. Most other systems have some sort of a boot ROM setup. Sun workstations, for example, have a limited administrative type shell built into the boot ROM, complete with ethernet access. So you can quite easily get away with never having a monitor attached to a system if you want.

Also, Via chipsets aren't really that bad, unless you mean the Pentium versions of which I have no experience. However, on the AMD side of the fence, they provide great low cost, high feature, chipsets. They may not be the best performers, but they usually come in pretty middle of the road. nVidia's are usually top performers, Via is in the middle, and SiS is at the bottom.

Congrats on reaching the "enough to be dangerous" level of understanding though. Very few people ever even make it that far. However, you've still got a ways to go before you should probably be giving complex advice.

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BIOS Settings
by solrek / March 28, 2005 5:07 PM PST
In reply to: Bios Settings

Correction: BIOS is the acronym for Basic Information On Start-up. If the BIOS is properly loaded and executed, the on-board speaker beeps twice. If there is a problem with the booting up process, the number of beeps indicate where the problem lies, if you remember the list of codes.

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BIOS acronyn
by MuleHeadJoe / July 13, 2005 6:37 AM PDT
In reply to: BIOS Settings
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by Yew / March 26, 2005 9:21 PM PST
In reply to: speed up xp

Those settings in the CMOS are pretty generic, and often will result in an unstable system. They can also turn on or off things that you don't want on or off.

Motherboards are made in a tiered fashion just like almost everything else. You've got your high end down to your low end, for the same basic model motherboard. Those high performance defaults often are designed with the highest end board in mind, and if you have anything less, the results won't always be as pretty.

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That's why I'm here
by EZRIDER714 / March 26, 2005 10:57 PM PST
In reply to: Careful

It's this type of thing that's the reason I am on this site.I know just enough to be dangerous,but smart enough to realize that fact.I always try to get some guidance here, before going in and changing this and that just to see what the outcome might be.Sometimes advice is given that is beyond my knowledge,and I am never comfortable using it without further explanation.Any suggestions to what path I might follow to attempt to alleviate this aggravating condition.

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by Michael00360 / March 27, 2005 10:06 PM PST
In reply to: Thanks, and...

I would have to go with the RAM. Just make sure that you get the right type of memory for your computer. Do you have DDR, PC100,PC133, or DDR2. Prices will differ depending on what king of memory you have and how much more you want. You must also remember that your motherboard has a limit on how much memory you can put in. While there are different brands of memory, the best thing to do is to ask a computer tech. about brand names. They will often know which brand you need and can help you get it and install it without problems.

If you really want a gaming pc, you can wait and save up some money for one of those really nice systems.

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Question of investment.
by 007nightcrawlerone / August 29, 2010 11:10 PM PDT
In reply to: Thanks, and...

Hello replace both graphics card and the ram in order to get
best performace and compatibility, there nothing worse than getting
one, then having to waste time going back to get the other.

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high CPU might be due to spyware
by lac023 / July 13, 2005 9:54 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: High CPU usage...

I am no computer expert but not too long ago this too happened to us and our pc has a TON of memory....our problem as it turned out was spyware all along. We changed a lot of our startup programs and also installed counterspy and adaware....cleaned it up and no problem. Worth a shot. Happy

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Not uncommon
by Yew / March 22, 2005 7:23 AM PST
In reply to: High CPU usage...

Personally, I don't subscribe to the whole disk defragmenting theory. I figure the amount of time you spend defragmenting a drive far outstrips any meager performance gains you might get from it, and it just adds unnecessary wear and tear on the drive. Maybe some day Microsoft will "innovate" a feature Linux has had for 5-6 years at least, in a self-defragmenting file system.

Given your situation, when you run a 3D game, it's not uncommon for your CPU to jump to 100% utilization. It's actually pretty normal. Especially with the "deep pipes" P4. Intel made a conscious decision to trade performance for high clock speed when they designed the P4. What I think your main problem is, is a lack of RAM. Contrary to the other poster, XP really only needs 256MB for itself, so generally you don't want to run it with less than 512MB. Of course the more the better, so if you ever see a deal on a 512MB stick, don't think that you need to remove your 256MB stick.

I would also be sure to scan your system for spyware. If you use Internet Explorer, it's pretty much a guarantee you've got some. You can search these forums or use Google to figure out how to get rid of the spyware... Keeping it off involves swearing off IE and Outlook Express. I'd suggest Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird as replacements myself.

Later on, when your financial situation improves (and you've got at least 512MB of RAM), a better video card might not hurt. Since you neglect to mention what model card you have, based on the other specs in your system, my guess would be probably a TNT2 or GeForce2. Both are fairly antiquated for today's games.

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Not uncommon
by jcrobso / March 23, 2005 5:15 AM PST
In reply to: Not uncommon

Upgrading to 512mb would be a big help.
Over the years I have made a lot of money from people who never do disk maint. They bring it in complaing that it's running slow, takes 5min to boot up. I run disk cleanup, msconfig and then defrag, let it run ovennight. The next day the pc boots up fast and runs good.
When a HD gets fragmented it spends a lot of time having to seak all over for the data, when the hd is seaking everything is just waiting for the data. HD have a certin life span.
Run the defrag pgm and do the analize function if it says you don't need to defrag then don't, If it says you need to defrag, then do it.
MS did have HPFS back in the NT3 days but IBMs OS2 also used HPFS so MS dropped it and came up NTFS instead. John

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Not so much anymore
by Yew / March 23, 2005 8:01 AM PST
In reply to: Not uncommon

The seek time on most drives made today, are around 10ms. That's about as long as it takes to blink an eye. Fragmentation really isn't an issue any longer. With drives now coming standard with 8MB and 16MB buffers, you'd be amazed. The problem has more to do with the crap I/O speeds of Windows. I'm not joking at all... Compare the speed of Windows doing routine file operations (save, delete, move, copy) and compare it to Linux or FreeBSD. You'll see a marked difference.

Defragmenting is like screensavers. Once upon a time it served a purpose, but that time has come and gone. It's time to let these urban legends die off.

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Another Reason to Defrag
by EgonJGF / March 24, 2005 9:26 PM PST
In reply to: Not so much anymore

Awhile back I had a "bad spot" appear on one of the drives on a server.

Because I had hardly ever defragged the drive, I lost parts of 50+ files where, in theory, I only would have lost a handful had I defragged regularly.

...which leads to the next point: Backup ALL important files regularly.

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Defrag is not a historical myth
by Castelan / March 24, 2005 9:55 PM PST
In reply to: Not so much anymore

I agree that most users won't see much benefit from defragging a drive often, but people using large applications or applications with very large files will definitely see improvement. Try installing something like WebSphere Application Developer or any large development environment. WebSphere lays down 12000+ files and the difference in bringing up a complex application within it can be a difference of minutes if the drive is not defragged. Even people uncompressing large files (rar, zip) will see a difference, though for 1 time operations, who really cares? But if your game regularly accesses an amount of file data that exceeds the drives cache capacity then the drive's cache doesn't really help. It simply holds data that you are never going to use again. In this case, reducing the amount of head movement in the physical disk via defragging can be very helpful.

Defrag will make a huge difference if the paging file is badly fragmented. Unfortunately, XP's built in defrag doesn't fix that. Fortunately, that file doesn't get fragmented too often.

I'd have to respectfully disagree that Linux does any better than Windows. Chasing around inodes has the same problem as chasing around NTFS fragments; the head has to move. And Windows does a pretty decent job of buffer management so I/O is cached. Compare XP to DOS (which has no caching) with a program that just writes to disk and you will see the difference. Even if you specify immediate disk writes (again, no caching), XP does pretty well. I haven't seen any comparisons, so it is just a subjective comparison.

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Yeah yeah...
by Yew / March 25, 2005 1:22 AM PST

I was going to include something along those lines originally, then decided it wasn't worth the time.

Most users aren't going to notice any real difference. There are a few cases where it is actually useful, but they aren't in the realm of your average desktop user.

I also think you're not quite understanding of just how Linux's Ext2/3 filesystem defragments. It's based off intelligent file placement. FAT and NTFS just use a standard FIFO method. They look for the first open cluster, and that's where they store the first part of the file. It then looks for the next open cluster, and so on, until the entire file is stored.

Ext2/3 will first look for the first series of clusters large enough to store the entire file. That failing, they fall back on the FAT/NTFS method, but in general, Ext2/3 are quite resistant to fragmentation. It's rare to see them exceed 5%, and 2% is actually considered pretty high. You can get 2% fragmentation on Windows by doing damn near anything.

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Yeah, I agree
by Castelan / March 25, 2005 1:36 AM PST
In reply to: Yeah yeah...

I agree with what you say. I'd still submit that the occasional defrag (monthly or so) is a good thing in a Windows box. Even on general machines (email, web surfing, etc) I've seen some good improvements if defrag hadn't been done in a long time. But your right (and I think, or hope, I qualified my last post to the same effect) that defrag won't be seen as much of a plus in most cases.

If you don't mind answering, I'm curious about the allocation of space for the ext2/3 systems. wouldn't the application need to know and say somehow on the open what the eventual expected size of the file is and if the file is just a sequential stream like a log, wouldn't such a file naturally fragment?
I thought the same claim of contiguous space for files of predetermined size was also made for NTFS as of Win2K. Maybe not.

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Can't say for sure
by Yew / March 25, 2005 6:07 AM PST
In reply to: Yeah, I agree

Honestly, getting down into the finer details of how file systems work makes my eyes glaze over.

I can't say for sure, but I do believe that there's a function in the ext2/3 code that has it do a small amount of defragmenting when the system load is very low. And on most Linux systems, there's a program called logrotate that gets run like once every 2 weeks or so, which compresses all the log files in the /var tree and causes the program to start fresh logs. This is done more so that you don't have to wade through a log file that's 2-3MB long, but it would also have an effect on fragmentation levels.

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Games Freeze
by saurabh.parashar / March 23, 2005 5:39 AM PST
In reply to: High CPU usage...

The way to enhance your game performance is to increase the RAM on the computer and have fun!! Trust me its just a RAM issue more than anything else...

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Game Freeze Up
by jazziev3 / July 22, 2005 6:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Games Freeze

I have a dell XP 2000 Computer and have plenty of RAM. This is a rebuilt I just purchased in April. I have a problem when playing Bounce Out & Bingo games from IWON. When bingo numbers are being called, after about 15 - 17 number called it will just freeze for approx. a minute or so. On Bounce Out the balls freeze about the same amount of time.

Cannot figure out what is causes this problem. Is their anything I can download to help this situation out?


Vera Johnson

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I vote for more memory
by glb613 / March 23, 2005 8:30 AM PST
In reply to: High CPU usage...

Most of the time if your video card doesn't meet the minimum requirements or isn't compatible, the game won't play. Freezing and interrupted play sounds more like not enough memory.

The minimum requirements are listed on the game box. It's been my experience that you really need more than the minimum for the game to play correctly.

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thanks all of you!
by jagwar / March 23, 2005 11:11 PM PST
In reply to: High CPU usage...

ok, I'll go for more RAM asap. I'll still try the defrag over the night.

1 more question, if Windows XP is using so much memory... would it be better to go back and install '98 or ME?

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by Yew / March 23, 2005 11:47 PM PST
In reply to: thanks all of you!

No... Win98 and Me are DOS based versions of Windows, and have whole different hosts of problems. Not to mention Win98 is pretty much EOLd, so no more security updates for it, and WinMe is very soon to follow.

If you want a somewhat different opinion... I've personally gotten back into console gaming instead of PC gaming. That way, I can easily run Linux, which can perform much better with less powerful hardware compared to Windows, and still get my gaming fix pretty much any time. Take it for what it's worth... It may or may not appeal to you.

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Go back???? NEVER
by mcgilbdd / March 24, 2005 9:12 PM PST
In reply to: thanks all of you!

I have read all the post, and see that you have come to the right conclusion....memory is the first step.
Depending on the manufacturer of you mother board, you might be able to adjust your memory timings, and greatly improve the performance of your system. However, get a local computer shop to tune it for you because it is not a job for the inexpierenced.
When buying memory, don't take the risk of buying the cheapest available. Buy a brand name, and shoot for the mid range in price. When you really strech out the processor for a long run, the cheaper memory will (sometimes) start to fade as it heats up, but workes fine for short burst. Memory is an area where quality counts, especially if you have the ability to "tune" the timeings. Slow memory can actually "hold back" your go for a quality brand, and buy midrange or better. And last....NEVER go backwards on the OS...stick with XP. While there are some rare cases where that might not be the best is rare, and usually has more to do with money and specific software that won't run under a newer operating system.

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I agree - get the memory
by datrumpetman / March 25, 2005 12:21 AM PST
In reply to: Go back???? NEVER

I've read all the posts thus far and recommend that you get some more memory. Trust me, pop in a 512 stick and you'll see your performance really ramp up. And I agree with the last poster, don't go for cheap memory. You'll end up regretting it. After you get some more RAM, you can upgrade your vid card and that will help too. But, put some money into the system RAM. That will help EVERYTHING run better. FWIW

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