This isn't strictly to do with building a pc but it seemed logical to post here rather than create a thread. I just wanted to share my recent experience with you.
A few weeks back, I bought my house mate's old pc off him because he'd splashed out on a new rig.
It's not a massively high spec but still 10x better than anything I've ever owned. It has an Intel Quad Core Q9550 processor @2.83Ghz, 8gb of DDR2 SDRAM PC2-6400, a 500GB SATA HDD and a very outdated video card. There was no operating system so I got hold of a legal copy of Windows 7 Home Premium 64 off ebay.
So knowing I needed a new video card to be able to play anything remotely new, I gave Res my budget and asked for a bit of advice, settling on a Radeon HD 7850 (OC edition).
Now considering my house mate got rid of this pc because he couldn't play newer games, he was more than a little sceptical when it was suggested that this would be able to run most of them on Ultra, or at least Very High settings.
Sure enough, I tried BF3, Tomb Raider and ARMA III on the highest settings and they ran fine. Dropping to the next level down gave me a higher FPS and smoother gameplay without a significant difference in detail so I opted for that. When playing Tomb Raider, it did freeze at one point but considering this was a fresh OS install and new video card, I just put it fown to driver issues.
Anyway, I was playing BF3 online and the game locked up. "Crappy server", I thought.
Then I played Tomb Raider again and that locked up. "Maybe this is stretching the card a little, I'll lower the settings a bit". Locked up again.
Played Sim City, locked up.
So at this point, my mate had that, 'I told you so' look on his face.
I've spent days reading online and running various diagnostics, testing the GPU, CPU and RAM, clearing, reinstalling and updating drivers... determined that it wasn't just a case of the video card not being able to handle these games.
Earlier today, I was about ready to give up (ie- throw the tower out onto the road) when I decided to check the core temperatures. I searched around for monitoring software and came across a program called Performance Test
. It's a free to try, x amount to buy program that runs tests on all the various components in your pc and gives you a graphical display of how each component compares against a broad range of competitors.
For eample, this is how the GPU came out, with my results in green:(Note to save the results as an image, you have to buy the full version. This is just a screenshot so some parameters are missing from the bottom)
So I repeated this test for all of the different components and that brings me to the point of this post. The last thing I tested was the HDD and the results were shocking, particularly in the read and write tests where it was about 10% of what the nearest competitor achieved!
It all makes sense now. The games were freezing at points when they had to load more information, checkpoints or trigger points. The damn HDD was so slow that the games wouldn't run!
To check if this was the case, I deleted ARMA III from my HDD, reinstalled it on a Western Digital external drive and ran it from there. I've just completed one of the showcase missions with the settings on Very High with a 40+ FPS and it didn't even blink! So a drive connected via USB manages to deliver the data faster than this SATA drive.
Bit crap that I now need a new HDD but I'm so glad I've managed to isolate the problem.
And Res, I never doubted the card