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Getting extremely low FPS after reinstalling Windows

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I cannot figure out what the cause of this is, but after reinstalling Windows (and installing a faster SSD) due to a failing SSD I have reinstalled Skyrim and am getting incredibly horrible FPS.  Note: I have also updated my BIOS firmware version and had to re-set all the settings, which I believe I set correctly.

 

System:

Intel i7 950 3.07GHz

8 GB DDR3 1600 RAM

Windows 7 64-bit

AMD Radeon HD 6950 2 GB GDDR5 VRAM

AMD Catalyst Control Center 14.1

Samsung 840 EVO 250 GB SSD (w/ RAPID)

Game Resolution:1080p (1920 x 1080)

 

I installed STEP up to 2C (which includes the AMD CCC tweaks, ini tweaks, and ENBoost - which should increase performance) and installed Skyrim Performance Monitor in order to possibly figure out some of the performance bottleneck(s).  I ran tests from the intro screen up to the beginning of the carriage unloading roll-call (as recommended by STEP for benchmarking).  Here are the report results (averages):

 

Memory (MB): 498 MB

VRAM (MB): 1,079 MB

Disk I/O (MB): 5 MB

CPU %: 27 %

GPU %: 13 %

GPU °C: 52 °C

Threads: 31

FPS: 20

 

The FPS results are HORRID, especially compared to the FPS I used to get last Windows installation (unfortunately I didn't benchmark well back then, but I do remember, usually getting at least 50 FPS readings from FRAPS).  What I don't get is that no other reading is bad... In fact, it appears to me that no other system resource is being strained, according to my system's capacities/capabilities.  What could be causing the lack in FPS?  I have spent all day trying to figure out this crap...  If anyone could offer some useful insight, it would be greatly appreciated.

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YES!!! I solved the problem. In fact, Skyrim is now running better than it EVER did on my computer.

 

So this is what happened:

 

I started getting a lot of total computer shutoff type crashes. Not freezes, not CTDs, but also noticing strange lags and so forth... Things just running sluggish. So I started playing with my BIOS settings related to CPU energy saving options and so forth. I disabled the energy saving options and looked at the CPU temp in the BIOS and it was like 82°C and then the computer shutoff (while in the BIOS). Then I turned it on again 5 minutes later and went into the BIOS to view the temps. Temps quickly raised to 70°C and then the computer cut off at 72°C. I thought that temperature seemed high, but wasn't sure. I was suspicious of the PSU too. So I opened the case up with the power on and had a look at all of my fans and inspected the dust content. All fans seemed to be running smoothly and not much dust... So I cut the power and started pulling and pushing on components. And then I realized that my CPU heatsink was wobbling around. Ahhh - that's it. I had recently removed a tightly packed mounting tray across from it and must have jostled the CPU cooling array while trying to get the tray out.

 

So, I removed the heatsink and cleaned off the stock thermal compound from the bottom of the heatsink and top of the CPU with cue tips and 70% isopropyl alcohol. Afterwards I sprayed compressed air at both surfaces. I pulled out my old and unopened tube of Tuniq TX-2 (superior thermal compound to pretty much all thermal compounds out there - read the reviews and tests) and reapplied compound to the CPU. I carefully reattached the heatsink. Now the CPU runs at 40°C idle in the BIOS with the case open and 44°C idle with the case closed. So I loaded up Skyrim with the SPM and immediately noticed the carriage ride was smooth as all f'ing sh*t! The ENTIRE time during the actual playable game was 60 FPS. When the loading screens and all are factored in the min was 29 FPS and average of the whole thing ended up being 58 FPS.

 

Moral of the story - CPU speed and cooling are VITAL! Buy Tuniq TX-2 thermal compound for computer repairs/maintenance. Any time you lift the cooling unit (even slightly) off your CPU or GPU, you might as well just pull the whole thing off, clean it off with isopropyl, and reapply superior fresh thermal compound carefully (unless it's got a thermal pad, then don't try to replace it with thermal compound, as compound alone probably cannot fill the gap the pad can). It REALLY means a lot to have the CPU or GPU properly cooled.

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I have a question, to anyone who is knowledgeable in the differing requirements of baseline STEP and hi-res STEP - given my aforementioned system specifications, what kind of difference in FPS would you expect to see on a rig like mine between choosing baseline versions of mods versus choosing the higher res options? I DDSOpt every mod that is listed as "Yes" in columns 1 or 2 in the DDSOpt Guide for STEP mods... and DDSOpt-process mods at 2048x2048, except those mods that are suggested for DDSOpting both low and high res versions of the mods with some of the textures at 1024 and some at 2048. I ignore 4096x4096 versions of mods, but choose 2048x2048 versions as long as STEP shows them as performance-friendly options (over the typical 1024x1024 baseline options) - the reason why is because I play at 1920x1080 res. Also to note: I don't use ENB and don't plan to unless using 1024 textures recovers enough FPS for me to make ENB worth using.

 

I'm just thinking of substituting all or most of my 2048 mods for 1024 mods in order to regain some FPS because my average FPS at this point is 51 (which isn't bad). It's nice to have breathtaking visuals, but it's also nice to have silky-smooth motion. I'm wondering if 1024 textures is the best tradeoff or not. In order to figure that out, I'm trying to an educated someone's opinion about the kind of FPS difference I would see if I were to switch mods out for lower-res.

 

Any suggestions?

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