Throttling or lag?

What should I do?


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Mr. Detective

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Hello guys,

I'm gonna need some help from the computer experts here. My laptop seems to be struggling to run games recently and I'm not sure what the real issue is. I went back to playing CS GO yesterday, and while my ping is usually over 100, sometimes the game would stutter. Let's say I am running, all of a sudden, the game would freeze, and I would be, for the lack of a better word, "teleported" to somewhere else in front of me or to the side. Or I see an enemy, I would shoot, but then the game freezes, and one second later, the game shows that I died. It's not that this never happened before. I always thought it was lag, and it's true, that my internet connection isn't the best. But the former case happens more frequently than ever before, so I am thinking if perhaps my laptop has another problem. Maybe it's thermal throttling, or a worse case of lag, or maybe I'm unfortunate to run into both at the same time. I used MSI Afterburner, and this is what it reports:

Untitled.png

That's how hot it gets when I play game. I'm not sure if it's just that bad recently or it was like that before. CS GO is not a very demanding game, but it has had many updates over the years. I wouldn't be surprised if it takes more effort to run the game now. Maybe it was also this hot when I played BF4 last year. If I don't play games, then normal temperature would be 50C or so. Sometimes, I feel like the laptop is hotter and the fan is louder than it should be, even though I haven't been doing much on the laptop. Not usual, though. The wind coming from the fan isn't too hot as I am typing this right now. It's probably not because of dust. I opened up my laptop about 4 months ago to change the keyboard, and I did clean up the interior. I haven't changed the thermal paste yet. If there's a reason with the heat department, it might be that... I have never done that before, and I simply didn't think of it.

So what do you guys think is the real problem? Heat issue? Lag? Both? Thanks in advance!
 

Andar

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yes, from those numbers it seems that your computer is running hot when gaming and reducing performance to reduce heat.

If the air outtake is of normal temperature during that time, it might be that the air intakes are blocked - if the ventilator doesn't get air in then it can't distribute heat after all.
In most cases laptops have their intakes on the underside - which means that they need a hard surface to stand. If you have a tablecloth under them, the feet might sink in and the cloth will block the intakes.

Or it could be that the ventilators themselves have gotten old and weaker

In my opinion thermal paste is an unlikely cause as long as it had been applied correctly in the beginning. The paste is there to prevent air pockets and inconsistencies between the heatsink and it isn't used up by that. Theoretically it might be possible for the thermal paste to have been burned in, but that would mean that the processor had been overheating for much more and much longer than your description says.
And if you never removed the heatsink, then it's unlikely that a wrong positioning could have squeezed out the paste.

How old is the laptop? This could be an indicator that some of its components are nearing end of their lifecycle and are performing worse, but that would mean a rather old computer. Yes, laptop electronics age quicker than desktop electronics due to the higher temperatures and lesser airflows, but that would still require a lot of years. For example, HDDs are usually considered to have an expected lifecycle of 15-20 years unless overheating or physical dammage appears (and as long as you don't use regular HDDs for server duty, there is a reason why server HDDs are usually much more expensive)
 

Mr. Detective

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How can you tell when it's throttling and when it's lag? The freezing/stuttering happens even before the laptop becomes hot that I'm having a hard time determining which one is which.


The laptop is not even 3 years old yet. I bought it in July 2017. Brand new. SSD. No HDD.

If I am not mistaken, maybe one of the two fans have become slower than before. Well, I think. But I feel that the fan on the right is slower than the one on the left because the left one always releases stronger wind. I place my laptop on top of my pillow, and both are on top of my chest. Sounds strange, but I assure you that there is more than enough room for the fans to blow air out. The ventilators are on my right and behind the left side of the laptop. These two places always have plenty of space and are never obstructed by anything. If thermal paste is not the issue, then I don't know what else to do. This is starting to look like what happened to my old laptop. It ran CS just fine at low settings, but after a few years it stutters (worse than this) when running any games. Well, it ran everything else slower, too, so it might not have been heat issue.
 

Andar

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How can you tell when it's throttling and when it's lag?
There are technical differences and if it were my own laptop I would have been able to tell for sure - but I have to admit that basing this on descriptions through the internet makes this more of a guess than sure knowledge.
You have to keep in mind that "lag" is a summary term and can have a dozen different causes. If you know those causes there are usually hints that point better to the cause than just saying "lag" - and let's just say that my computer knowledge is far above a lot of other people.
Most computers have a setting in the BIOS that determines when they should start throttling, and 90°C is one of the more common limits that might be set, especially for Laptops.
OK - overclocker usually set this much higher to keep their CPU from throttling, and that has no immediate effects - but it will reduce the life expectancy of that CPU to only a few years if it is forced to run hotter. That is no problem for the overclocker as those usually upgrade their computers once a year as well.


Most laptops do NOT like to be operated on a pillow, and that might even have caused the problems in the old device as well. Like I said above a lot of laptops are designed for airflow below the chassis as well as the side-openings. I can't count the number of laptops I've seen overheating due to being operated on pillows or similar things.
 

Mr. Detective

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So... what should I do now? Sometimes it stutters like crazy, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes my FPS drops, my ping goes up, sometimes it happens even when these things are fine. If it's thermal issue, I'm don't know what else to do besides getting thermal paste. Is that my only option left? Or is there something else I need to look into?

I can only wait and hope it goes away when it occurs. But at times, it happens when I am having a bad game and I just want to run murder.exe.

I went back to playing CS GO yesterday, and while my ping FPS is usually over 100, sometimes the game would stutter.
Fixed the opening post.
 

Ellie Jane

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Just a note but if the laptop feels hot it means the heat removal process is doing its job as that heat isn't inside the laptop. Which might explain why it throttles before it feels hot.
 

Mr. Detective

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Welp. I did it... The bloody thing stuttered like no tomorrow so I kneed the damn thing hard.

Gonna have to get a monitor now, lol...


This is what it looks like. Does it look like time to apply new thermal paste?

Also took out the fans. Turned out there were more dust building up inside the vent which I didn't know of the last time I checked. Probably why I felt that my fans were weaker than before. Well, not that it would have helped much, I guess...
 

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