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Something is quietly *lowering 7DtD process priority*


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Hi, first off I am very sure this is not a fault of the game, but have a look at this attached pic.





Normally I can run with a certain set of options at a comfortable (for me) 25fps, but periodically, about every hour (sometimes more, sometimes less) my FPS drops to 10-12. After some inconsistent length of time at least several minutes and sometimes up to 15 or 20 minutes, this will go away and FPS will return to normal without any actions taken, just sitting with the game paused and watching the FPS counter.  No combination of video settings makes this especially better or worse, and when this happens, CPU usage actually *goes down* (i.e. the machine becomes LESS BUSY).  It isn't that the CPU is bottlenecked (see usage graphs) it isn't that there's a competing app also trying to hit the GPU, or that there is a shortage of RAM or video memory or various other things, it turns out that something is silently lowering priority of the game that is hypothetically set to run in exclusive mode.  It doesn't matter whether other interactive apps are open when this happens - in the attached pic I have stuff like event viewer, task manager, scheduler and process explorer running to help diagnose why this happens, but it happens just the same whatever interactive apps are running, even if none.


This behavior has been a problem I've had *FOR YEARS*, not just with this particular game - which is why I'm certain it's not the fault of the game, because it happens with other apps besides (notably Fallout 4 behaved exactly like this and so does my 3d modeler apps).  This behavior has happened on completely different hardware and Windows 10 installations - I wrecked my Windows install more than once while trying to weed out what causes this.  I still don't know what specific software item causes it but I have tentatively eliminated things like

- virus scanner (disabled entirely, still happens)

- windows defender / smartscreen (same)

- various aspects of windows push notifications (completely disabled wpnusersvc, selectively disabled part of the system-wide push notification svc, broke some other features but still had this priority drop crap)

- all the XBox Live junk (disabled)


The general sequence of events is:

- Start playing game, comfortable 25fps

- FPS drops to single digits, creeps up to about 12fps (this can vary a bit depending mainly on screen resolution)

- Note the time, check event logs, and 100% consistently, there are one or more non-interactive logins like this:



- Check the CPU utilization, below normal, no other processes are competing for CPU time, nothing else is invoking the GPU


All the time I've been trying to diagnose this problem it's behaved just like something was forcing it to run at a lower priority but nothing writes any other event log entries at or around that timestamp.  Recently I've been trying to run it at high priority, but the problem was still happening so I almost stopped trying that until just now when I caught something silently lowering its priority (and other interactive processes too, like chrome, several times in writing this post I have had the text input box freeze at the same time the FPS counter drops) and later raising it back to what I had had it set to.


Past this it's very unclear exactly what might be doing this, the only sure thing in this case is that that login event 4672 occurs right at the start; one problem is I don't know how to narrow down exactly what utility or service is actually doing the login, because it is wrappered in svchost and it doesn't write any other log entries anywhere that I have ever found.  Another problem is that a very large number of scheduled events are kicked off by the Scheduler service  on the condition of "At logon of any user" - the list of tasks is very large even in a minimally configured PC and the UI for the scheduler is not searchable or list-friendly so it's a big pain to go through and locate which ones are set this way.  Also there isn't any way for an end user to know for sure which of these might be lowering other app priorities.  Tbh this might even be a red herring and the cause of the priority lowering thing might be something else entirely but I am very sure there is a 100% correlation between the FPS drops and that service login.  Something definitely turns the priority back up again, so I think the culprit might be a particular process that is the last to close, but I'm not very sure of that because there might be some other triggered event "when this other thing closes, run this command to reset app priorities" but that's a wild guess.


This is the process that seems consistently to be the last one of the group kicked off by that service login:


the _1006fd suffix is not actually part of the executable name, it's dynamically assigned per user login (i.e if I reboot, a new and different suffix is assigned).  I have tried things like manually killing this process (it gets silently restarted) and trying to disable the service it runs under (it can't be disabled even with administrator privs). It lives in Windows\System32\aarsvc.dll:




I really doubt I am unique or even rare in having this problem, I've read about exactly this description (fps goes down despite no load, goes back up after a while) *for years* and for a bunch of different games. Not that I think it's FP's responsibility to deal with it but if this is intended Microsoft behavior, as I'm pretty sure it is, maybe there is some way to protect your app from this, like there is some flag or maybe a whitelist to make your apps exempt from this priority lowering stuff. 

e: oops, forgot to add, while this USED TO happen with Fallout 4, at some point it seems to have stopped, which implies to me that Bethesda became aware of this problem and dealt with it somehow, whether by getting on a whitelist or some kind of patch I don't know.


anyway that's my post THANKS FOR READING!!!!!!!!!!!

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sounds like rather a lot of people have this same behavior (FPS drops for no obvious reason, despite low/no load, then goes back up)




the board reduces that first image, here's a link hopefully will insert correctly:



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Two reasons I have seen for this recently.


1. Microsoft power settings. If it isn't set to maximum/Ultimate performance, Unity doesn't always properly notify the system that it needs more CPU. This leaves the system running in low power mode, when it shouldn't be.


2. A few months ago Microshaft pushed out a chipset driver. This driver causes horrendous problems with OC'ed systems, and will revert them to stock clocks. Something else that it does is under-clock your chipset. I had an i7-7700 that wasn't going past 800MHz until I fixed it with a new chipset driver from the manufacturer.

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Power settings was one of the first things I looked at a couple of years ago, you're right by default these settings can permit the CPU to be slowed down (and the PCIE bus as well) but in this case I've already set it to not do that:




I will look into the chipset driver thing, although I've had this problem (and from everything I've read, so have a lot of people) for much longer than that,  I never actually had proof that something was lowering game process priority before today but I suspect that's been what is going on for the whole time, the symptoms I get are super distinctive and consistent.

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Update: I decided to try a privacy/security utility called Blackbird, on the suspicion that push notifications are what is causing the hourly-ish service logins that appear to cause - or at least, initiate - the priority/FPS problem. Since I installed it I have not had the frequent service logins and have not had the FPS drops. 



I don't think the problem is technically FIXED, but as far as I can tell the problem has stopped occurring, with the negative consequences (that I know of, so far):

- The Windows Notification/Action center applet no longer works. This was only ever an annoyance to me anyway as it was never anything but ads from MS.

- Windows Update push notifications and automatic update installations from MS probably won't work any more. tbh these were pretty annoying anyway, especially the kind that would nag you every few minutes to reboot to apply the change. Manual updating is OK with me.


I'm not exactly recommending Blackbird because it's like a giant sledgehammer when I really wanted to solve a very specific problem but at least the problem seems to be solved, or at least worked around? Hopefully without breaking anything actually important.


Link to Blackbird: https://www.getblackbird.net/

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Another update, I did a manual Windows Update check and it applied a patch (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4497165/kb4497165-intel-microcode-updates) which seems to have overwritten or undone at least some of the changes Blackbird applied, because I'm now seeing service logins about every hour again - but now there is no longer a performance or FPS drop, so I have no real clue as to what the real source of the problem, but Blackbird does seem to work around it at least.  The game has behaved completely smoothly, acceptable FPS and no crashes or anything.  FYI!!!!!

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Update: Blackbird didn't fix this, and also it happens when I'm disconnected from the network, so it isn't something external at all; but the service login does happen 100% of the time, so I am very sure there is a connection.  NB this problem even happens while the game is paused and I'm not touching the keyboard!

e: going through the entire list of scheduled tasks, it turns out non interactive logins don't actually invoke tasks that are scheduled to run "At log on of any user" so at least there's that

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Update: this has only happened to me about two times in the past several days, so while it isn't quite ~fixed~ it is small enough of a problem that it doesn't bother me any more.  If other users have similar problems (FPS drops for no reason/low system load, then recovers after a while) that aren't easily solved by other means, consider trying Blackbird.



Link to Blackbird: https://www.getblackbird.net/

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