Got my housework done, finally (and man does that shit pile up when you laze about in a depressed fashion for a week and a half), and had some time to settle in and play a game, instead of just reading diagnostic reports.
Two things found:
1) My personal system/FO3 combination responds well to forcing the hard drive cache use to on. This apparently causes severe stuttering for some folks, but my game went buttery smooth with it on.
2) Seems the video card, if not the sole issue, has been the driving force behind my major issues. Played twenty odd minutes. Started getting stutters about 12 to 15 minutes in. It would miss a frame here, freeze up a few seconds when a spawn point was triggered, things like that. Problems got progressively worse as time went on. Alt-Tabbed back to Speccy, and the GPU had spiked from idle temp of 78C up to 94C.
Switched game off, let it cool back down to idle, started it back up. Played another ten, fifteen minutes. Problems began to manifest again. Same thing, but a bit worse. Closed the game, looked over the readout, and it was sitting at 95C, but the graph showed it had spiked to about 100C.
Seems like anything over 90C is bad ju-ju for the card, and apparently this particular specimen shows its heat-fatigue with major caching slowdowns. With what heat does to RAM chips, that's not really surprising. I'm still amazed nothing has burned out.
So, I've got my pedestal fan set up and aimed properly, and the card is happily idling along at 77C. Jumps to 80C when I watch a full-screen movie.
Suppose I get to buy a new card, then.
Seems you can get a pretty decent one for a C bill here lately, which is the top-out of what I'm usually willing to pay for a video card.
Yeah yeah. I should be springing for something like this, but like I told the Lady when she pointed it out to me while we were browsing the list: putting that thing into my PC would be like putting a Hemi into a Civic. Yeah, it's technically possible... but why? At the end of the day, it's still a damned Honda.
At the end of the day, this is still a thirty month old Emachine.
Seems though, like I can get a GF9600 or so for the hundred bucks. Just have to be careful, cause I'm pretty sure my PC doesn't support PCI-E 2.1 - my current card is a 2.0.
I really wish they'd pick a fucking standard and stick to it. ISA, then PCI, then AGP, then BETTAR AGP ZOMG 8X BESTEST EVAR... and now we're back to PCI? People need their damned schizophrenia meds. Or girlfriends.
'Sides. Even with an ailing card, with hard drive caching on, the game was running at 1024x768, decent draw distances, and still pulling a solid 25fps outdoors. Fallout 3 is the newest game I have much interest in running, probably won't buy New Vegas if it's still put out by Bethsoft anyway.
Don't see much point in putting a shit-ton of money I don't have into a PC just to say I have a more powerful one.
I prefer to own 454 Casulls for bragging rights. They're way more fun, and don't become obsolete every other year.
Anyhow, seems like the outside fan method will keep the computer running until I have a chance to get into town and see about a new card. It's just going to cut heavily back on my gaming.