Monday, November 16, 2009

Revisiting the Stuttering Issue on the M17x

First, let's define 'Stuttering' as it relates to the M17x. One of the chief complaints from some users (not everyone is having issues) has been the intermittent FPS drop off while gaming. In-game you may see your FPS drop to sub 10 for a few moments, after this momentary loss of FPS, FPS will again climb to normal. Audio popping/crackling while playing back audio has also been reported and can be associated with this 'Stuttering' issue.

The steps below have worked for me on Vista 64 and a few others have reported this has also worked for them. This may work for you, it might not.

1. Disable the following startup items (use CCleaner's Startup Items module for fast access or use MSCONFIG):

  • AlienFXController.exe - this startup item is responsible for your system lighting. You can still access it by launching the AlienFX Controller via the start menu ---> Programs ---> Alienware. Once you have made your lighting changes be sure to shut it down again by right-clicking on the alienhead and choosing EXIT.
  • FATrayMon.exe - this is your AlienSense Facial Recognition startup item. It displays the little icon in the task tray for quick launch of settings. Not necessary.

    2. Disable the following Services (Note: When editing services, always access the services console by typing 'Services.msc' into the Run Command):

  • AlienFusionService - This service is responsible for the GUI tie in of the Command Center Fusion Module and the OS's Power Profiles. You can make changes via the Power Options Control Panel instead. All this module does in Command Center is provide a nice fancy GUI to the OS's power profile settings. It is not required.
  • FAService - This service is required for AlienSense (Facial Recognition). Since it's a resource hog, kill this one as well (needs to be killed since you have already disabled its startup tasktray item).
  • Windows Search - This one is totally unecessary. This is a component of the OS and responsible for indexing your hard drive to provide faster file searches. If you don't use CTRL-F to locate files on your hard drive, kill this one. Most of us know where are doc, music and pictures are anyway.

    That's it. This should help with reducing stuttering. After making the changes above, I have had zero stuttering in-game and no audio playback issues (Windows Media Player). It should also be noted, for audio playback - disabling the use of Visualzations in your Audio player app can also reduce any stuttering.

    Concerning Startup Items, one of the major tweaks you can perform to Vista or Windows 7 is by eliminating (disabling - don't delete them, lol) unecessary startup items. Some of these may include (depending if you have the relative software apps installed) the following:

  • ehtray.exe - Windows Media Center - disabling will have no effect on your ability to launch Media Center manually
  • acrotray.exe or ReaderSL.exe - Acrobat/Adobe Reader - not necessary to view PDFs
  • AdobeARM.exe - not necessary
  • PDVD8LanguageShortcut - PowerDVD language module - again, not necessary for playback of DVD/BluRay Media
    PDVD8Serv.exe PowerDVD Remote Control - again, not necessary and will not effect remote control functions (at least none that I can find)
  • BDRegion/BRS.exe - another component of PowerDVD. Again, not necessary for playback of DVD/BluRay media
  • SunJavaUpdateSched - Java update Scheduler. You can check for Java Updates manually via the Java Control Panel. No reason to have this launch @ startup
  • WindowsDefender - if you use an aftermarket AV/Security solution, this is also not necessary. I have always disabled it and have had no ill effects

    This is only a partial list. Everyone will have different startup items based on the applications installed on their system. Always use Google Search and research the startup item you are thinking of disabling. Make sure its not a critical component.

    I also suggest using CCleaner's Clean & Registry functions on a regular basis. I usually run it every other day - takes moments to run and will remove lots of temp clutter.

    NVIDIA Issue:
    With the newer releases of the 186.xx series driver, NVIDIA's Stereo 3D Vision is installed by default. There is a known memory leak issue with this and a fix is supposed to make its way out. Personally, for me, I wont be using it so I haven't paid attention to this memory leak issue and its supposed update. It may be a non-issue with the 19x.xx drivers - I don't know. Best to uninstall it if you don't need it.

    Remember, the steps I posted here are not a FIX but a work-around. I prefer to keep my system running well and do not need a facial recognition app (or any other unnecessary app/service) running on my system hogging resources.

    That's it for now. Hope this helps some of the newer users out there who may be seeing the 'stuttering' issues described at the start of this post. If it hasn't helped you or you don't want to try it for whatever reason - well, all I can say is either return your system, sell it or accept it.

    EDIT: Be sure to also see this post as it may help answer additional questions.