Performance decrease (mostly in 3DMark), but no apparant cause to find

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marijanovic
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A problem bothers me in the last few days.
My PC's performance in 3DMark benchmarks has dropped and I can't find the reason why.
I have eliminated hardware problems and driver problems as the cause for the performance degradation.
Sfc /scannow finds some problems of which some can not be fixed, but I believe that does not cause the lower scores I'm getting.
Besides of that, the PC works fine, no apparent malfunctions and slowdowns have been noticed.
Ant there is no sign of a virus/spyware/adware infection.

Here are the examples of the 3DMark06 performance drop:
Today:

Two months ago:

The performance "changed" during a period of two months.
The 12500 3DMarks score is from January (last time I ran the benchmark with normal scores).

Do you have an idea I could try in order to fix the problem?
I would like to find out what causes the problem before reinstalling Windows (as a last resort).

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modena
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A couple differences in the screens I noticed are the voltage on CPU is higher than the last time and you updated your GPU driver. There have been some horror stories in the past with GPU's and driver updates. Sometimes having the latest isn't always the greatest kind of ordeal. Can you try rolling it back to the older version of 8.930.10.0 and then give it another go?

I'm not sure what else it could be. Hopefully more people here have other ideas for the cause.

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marijanovic
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I have tried older drivers, scores stay the same or even lower (I wrote that I eliminated drivers as the problem).

Higher CPU voltage is due to boards overvolting sometimes. The board overvolts a bit now and then.

eire1274
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Likely, you have something in the background eating CPU time. There are LOTS of internet stickies (especially if you use IE) that can go memory resident, and they can kill system performance.

Have you done a spyware / adware sweep with a program like MalwareBytes recently? And do you have active (updated) antivirus?

I regularly pick up "slow computers" and slap some freeware (MalewareBytes, Advanced SystemCare, AVG, etc.), spend a couple hours cleaning, and hand back a PROTECTED and FAST AS NEW machine.

Nick McDermott

marijanovic
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There is no sign of an infection, i mentioned that.

And I know that. How do I know?
Comodo Dragon Browser + AdBlock + AdBlock+ + WOT
Firefox + AdBlock+ + WoT
Comodo Internet Security (Firewall, Antivirus, Sandox, Defense+)
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware + HitmanPro + SuperAntiSpyware
Hardware firewall built into the Siemens Gigaset SX763 router
Smart User
I think that makes my PC somewhat secure from spyware & other malicious programs.
A scan now-and-then (each two-three weeks) finds a tracking cookie, nothing more.

As for maintanance I use TuneUP utilities 2012 (Using tuneup Utilities since version 2006).
Works like a charm.

Does that satisfy you, Eire1274?

eire1274
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Yep, and you may be keying in on your issue. Every one of those programs has a scanning utility in memory, eating CPU time and system memory.

Not trying to be mean, but going over-board is sometimes just as bad. You now have scanning engines fighting in your PC.

Nick McDermott

marijanovic
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Your assumption is flawed. Only Comodo IS works in the background.
Other "scanning utilities" are used on a per-need basis, they do not run in the background. There is no need for them to be running in the background. They do not start with Windows nor do they run when not needed.

I'm a Master of computer science, a g33k, a tech support guy (IT Crowd xD), a Trekkie, a gamer, a hardware reviewer, an otaku & a freelance tech reporter with about 15 years of active PC usage. I know my way arround, that's why this problem bothers me and I don't want to reinstall Windows.

Btw; ran 3Dmark03 today - got higher scores than before half a year ago. But 3DMark06 & 3DMark Vantage still show the performance drop. :S

eire1274
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I'm a BS in CS with multiple certifications, with 20 years in the IT field. I AM TRYING TO HELP YOU, so keep things polite.

I'm sorry to explain that SuperAntiSpyware and MalwareBytes both have active system tasks as part of their component assembly, even the free versions. They are "per-action" based utilities, not "per-need", and this is how they block infection. You are correct that Firefox Adblock is not memory resident unless Firefox is loaded, as is Comodo Browser.

It is my belief that you are looking at a software issue, whether it is utilities as I have indicated is possible or some other software. As you have not changed hardware, and have ensured that it is not driver issues by trying different versions, we know that the problem is not there. This is why I said "keying in on" the issue.

Again, this is a diagnostic session (by remote). No one is saying anything bad. We are trying to solve an issue verbally. Please keep the discussion polite.

Nick McDermott

marijanovic
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I disabled the "active system tasks" as you call them (the background active processes) from running in the background. I assure you my SAS & MBAM run only when I star them and I use them to run the scans and chack for infections (and clean the infections if found). There are no active components of these programs running at any moment, only when needed.

I have no intention to be implite, it is just that I do not like beeing underestimated.

If you need a list of my active processes (from task manager), I would be happy to post it.

eire1274
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Got it.

This is the problem, trying to diagnose, but of course there is something missing that hasn't crossed the communication lines. I wasn't trying to be a jerk, but as a Moderator my job is to enforce THE LAW. E.g. keep it all nice and stuff.

Yes, a list of processes could be very useful, as well as a reading of who is eating CPU time, and how much.

Also, is there any chance you have been using AMD Overdrive (ATi SmartGart) or a competing GPU overclocker previously and the settings have changed? That can cause some big differences.

Nick McDermott

marijanovic
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Here you can see my active processes after Windows turned on and a few minutes of beeing idle.

As for the other question - I have been using MSI Afterburner to overclock my GPU a bit.
The settings (clocks; 675 core, 1050 vram) are the same as before, nothing has changed.

eire1274
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Hmmm... something is surging, taking almost 20% of all three cores. Is that just the start-up routine?

Nick McDermott

marijanovic
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I believe it was me accidentally startinu my Comodo Dragon Browser...

eire1274
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Hmmmm... I don't know. Have you done the AMD uninstall, then installed the newest Catalyst set? Perhaps we have old files causing an interruption.

Nick McDermott

marijanovic
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Complete uninstall (uninstall, boot to safe mode, driver cleaner, driver sweeper, boot to normal) & clean driver install. That was the first thing I've tried.

Tivon
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Have you tried adjusting the AMD Catalyst Control Center Options yet?
Set all the options to max performance and test again.

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marijanovic
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I've tried that a long time ago; few 3dmark points higher but a vast reduction in image quality (blury textures etc).

Tivon
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When you say, "I have eliminated hardware problems and driver problems as the cause for the performance degradation." Does that mean you have tried defaulting your motherboard bios settings back to defaults? You never know, it could be one of your motherboard settings in the overclock that is reducing speed in order to compensate for stability. Try and match everything from your first overclock and benchmark.

marijanovic
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When I say I have eliminated hardware and driver problems that means I have eliminated hardware and driver problems including bios problems.

eire1274
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Again... if we say something, we aren't saying "marijanovic is stupid"! We are trying to help you identify the problem and perhaps help you find something you missed!

"Yes, I checked that and it is fine" would have gotten the point across without sounding so terse and annoyed. By the way, Tivon is also a moderator and a fine troubleshooter, as well.

Nick McDermott

Tivon
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Well, if you are positively sure you have eliminated all of hardware and driver problems including bios problems then there is little more I can say on this matter. If all else fails try reinstalling windows and 3dMark06.

marijanovic
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Reinstalling 3DMark06 did not help. Performance is decreased in 3DMark Vantage too.
But I've got an performance increase in 3Dmark03 (now why would anyone want to use that old benchmark I wonder). xD

Reinstalling Windows is my last option, but I will do it soon.

eire1274
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I'd agree, it screams "software issues" at me, and if we can't find it in drivers or in active processes, it is within Windows itself.

Either that, or your hardware is developing issues...

Nick McDermott

marijanovic
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Now I'm more interested in finding out will the performance drop even further than in finding the cause...
I'll wait a fey days and repeat the benchamrks, maybe it will fix from itself xD.

marijanovic
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New official Catalyst 12.3 drivers - no change in performance.

marijanovic
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Windows reinstalled; 11500-12000 3DMark06 score.

Edit:
Forgot to overclock my GPU. Now the score is about 12200 max.