Computer Stalling When Playing Media
*Warning: I am a heavy writer, this post risks being very long in order to insure that no details are missed*
I would like to seek help regarding an issue that I've started having a couple months ago but could not as of yet remedy. As mentioned in the title, the issue is a large drop in frame rate whenever viewing any kind of active media.
The problem began upon reconfiguration of a video game, specifically Tribes: Ascend, which I did in order to better fit my system specifications (will be posted at the bottom). I had been playing around with settings to get the best balance of performance and aesthetic pleasure, but overall decided that the lowest possible graphical settings were the only way to enjoyable play the game. However, after changing this, I noticed heavy frame rate drops whilst in-game. I would be able to play a few minutes of the game regularly followed by a massive drop down to 1-2 FPS.
Originally, I thought the issue was specific to this game. Thus I began inquiries and found that the game isn't optimized very well, creating strain on the CPU. But this did not explain why the problem started at the time it did, considering it was running fine for several months prior, nor did it give me a solution.
It was at some point close after that I realized that the problem was consistent through all video games. The same problem occurred whether I was playing a medium-intensive game such as Tribes or a less intensive game such as Call of Duty 4, or, surprisingly, flash games. That's right, I found this problem to occur in a small browser game named Entanglement that I downloaded for Google Chrome. The same applied to Planetarium, another app. for the browser. I then tested it on other flash games from various websites and noticed that same problem.
Further inquiries were made, but the best answer I could get was either that my graphics card was overheating or that my CPU is being over-strained. I then cleaned out the fan on the GFX card as well as the main fan in the computer. It did not help. I researched my CPU usage whilst idle, in-game, etc. and nothing seemed abnormal.
At that point I then had to leave on a six-week trip, leaving the computer in a state of nearly unused for that time. A couple days ago I returned and found that the problem had spread to internet videos as well. I could no longer watch videos in 720p for the entire length of the video. The single person that would rarely use the computer in those six weeks claims that the computer would sometimes restart itself and that it was running very slowly in comparison to before.
I then took many measures to find the solution to this problem. I cleaned out the hard drive as much as possible, manually and through the disk cleaner. That took off a good 28 GB from my main hard drive. I also defragmented both drives. I did an error check on both drives. I changed my computer theme from the Vista Aero theme to the old and ugly gray-bar Windows 98(2003?) theme. This change seemed to help in the problem with the videos, but it did not completely fix it. I ran spyware, malware and virus checks across the computer but nothing active was found. I tried a registry cleaner but could not find a reliable free program for the job. I went through regedit and cleaned that out as much as possible as well. I then began to suspect that it might be an internet issue, but found that to not be the case when I played an offline game and found I had the same problem. Checking my core temperatures, I found that usually it would hover around 45 degrees Celcius whereas in a game of Tribes upon stalling it would be around 50 Celcius, not a great enough change to cause the problem as far as I can tell. Somewhere in this time I also confirmed that the problem does not lie in my graphics drivers, as they were updated to the max and I reverted to an old version to confirm it wasn't a bad update.
Hopefully I didn't miss anything, but rest assured I tried virtually everything to identify the cause and solution to this problem. All I have left to do is clean the heat sink and check if I need new thermal paste, but considering the core temps I don't believe this to be the problem. Hopefully somebody on this forum knows a little bit more than me and can help me figure this out. All help and suggestions are appreciated.
OS: Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
System Model: Acer Aspire M1640 (this is the desktop Aspire, not the laptop)
Processor: Intel Pentium Dual Core E2160 (1.8GHz)
Memory: 2046MB RAM
GFX Card: NVidia GeForce 8400GS
- 1264MB Memory