Over the past few weeks I’ve had a niggling suspicion that my machine was running slowly. Things felt a little sluggish, sites were less responsive, switching between applications took longer than usual. My machine was showing signs of ageing, despite its relative youth.
Then I tried launching Heroes of the Storm, a game I hadn’t played for a few weeks and which had been updated in the meantime. After getting through the menus and starting a game, the performance gradually plummeted, with the frames per second dropping from around 20 at launch to just 1 when there were a few moving characters on screen at once.
Since other games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive didn’t exhibit the same unplayable jerkiness, instead reacting rather more like the rest of my system in being generally lethargic, I assumed something in one of the patches had ruined my settings. After rooting around on the forums I found a variety of potential solutions, including running the 32-bit client, verifying the installation, reinstalling the game, reinstalling drivers, changing resolutions, running the game in windowed mode, forcing Nvidia’s hand in the control panel, and many more.
In reality, however, the problem had nothing to do with the game itself, but something had instead gone horribly wrong with my power management settings. Although I hadn’t touched them myself, somehow my CPU was stuck in first gear, being throttled down to 5% instead of dynamically altering to cope with the demands of the system at any particular time.
The solution on Windows 10, in case anyone should have the same problems, was simple:
- Navigate to the power options in the Control Panel (or for a shortcut, hit WIN + R and type powercfg.cpl).
- Verify that you’re using the default Balanced power plan.
- Click Change plan settings then Change advanced power settings.
- Scroll down the list to Processor power management and check the entry for Maximum processor state.
- Normally this should be set to 100%. If it isn’t, either do so manually, or if you haven’t otherwise changed anything about your power management settings, click Restore plan defaults.