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I have a 16 GB Alienware M17X, and every time I try to play a game the game will run perfectly for a minute or so but then the game starts to lag.

Now I believe this is a swap file problem. So does anyone know if a SSD drive or a 32 GB ram upgrade will fix this problem? Or alternately if there is another solution. Thanks so much

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What makes you think it is a problem with swap ? Please update your question and include the output of free -m –  bodhi.zazen Feb 8 '13 at 21:40
    
I've given an answer based on what information you've provided , but you should add the game in question , whether it runs under wine or natively and your version of ubuntu , also architecture –  MuffinStateWide Feb 9 '13 at 0:28
    
The only way to be sure it's swap is to disable swap first: # swapoff -a –  josten Feb 9 '13 at 3:02
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2 Answers

If you believe that the swap partition is the culprit, then you should try to disable or unmount it first (swapoff -a) to see if your guess was correct. Or look at the System Monitor and see how much of the swap partition is currently in use. Note that you can also configure the swappiness, which means that you can have a active swap partition for system functionality such as hibernation, but that is otherwise only utilized if there is really not enough RAM available (like when an application has a memory leak).

I doubt that more RAM will do any good. 8 to 16 GB should be sufficient current games. Depending on how the game preemptively fetches data from the drive, a SSD will either only have an impact when loading new maps or levels or will minimize lags when new events are triggered, but that mostly depends on the game and how it is written.

It is also possible that you have set your graphics settings too high or you have interferences in your input devices.

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As stated above you could try messing with your swap partition and the way it behaves (swapon/swapoff and swappiness) however , looking at the tech specs of the laptop your swap would not be the culprit.

It appears that your laptop has no gpu , this can greatly impact performance as your in built graphics may not be able to handle your settings or may just be too slow. swappiness being lowered (to say , 10) may help this , but i wouldnt think it will solve the symptoms it may also be the driver being used , especially on 2nd and 3rd gen i7's

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