RE: Closing down background processes
Shutting down services and background apps is a vital part of performance tweaking, and at the same time it is widely overrated. Obviously you should not sim or game with other progs running, but when it comes to stopping services all you are doing in many cases is saving a few kb of ram per service, and absolutely zero cpu usage.
Don't get me wrong, this is something every gamer/simmer should do without question, but only in conjunction with the dozens of other performance tweaks. Shutting down these unnecessary processes alone will most likely not add a singe frame per sec, or increase texture loading speed, but it may help with stutters.
The reasons for killing services are mainly 1)it's just plain logical to shut down all that junk you don't use in the first place (in other words, it's done on principle, lol) 2) to suppress things like program updates, virus scans, etc while you game, and 3)ALL tweaks and optimizations, although not major performance boosts in themselves, work together for a possible 5-10% gain.
What I'm about to say next, you probably won't read elsewhere. As PCs become more powerful, disabling services and background apps becomes less and less crucial; it's just a matter of doing the math. Since Windows XP came out, we've been shutting down the same old background stuff, yet look at todays PC compared to that little machine we were all using back when we first installed XP.
Now if you're using Windows Vice, then there's some new trash to disable, but with that e6600, GF8800 machine, don't look for any more frames per sec by disabling services.
Now, having said all that bull (I just make it up as I go along), you should consider that closing major progs will of course give you a noticable performance gain. But I assume we're talking about all the usual suspect services and background Windows apps. Also, you may very well see an extra framerate or two depending on just how much stuff you have running that can be disabled. Personally, I run a fairly stripped down OS. I've tried those utilities mentioned above, and they found nothing that needed to be shut down. So those of you who actually use those utilities to close apps obviously have a bit more going on than I do on my pc.
One last thing, tweaking for performance, or optimizing, goes much deeper than most people realize. Here's a good source, aimed at the gamer, which covers a lot:http://www.tweakguides.com/System.html
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