For the past few months that I have had this build, I have been content with my system's gaming performance while avoiding any overclocking. Sure, sometimes there were some choppy parts in my games where the fps dropped, from GTA IV on moderate settings (it really hogs resources) even to World of Warcraft (city activity causes fps drops), and in other FPS games as well, but I just shrugged it off and thought that I can't get any better.
However, I have recently started to think about the possibility that my system may be, for some reason unknown to me, underperforming. Sure, my system specs (below) may not be the best, but I consider them very good nonetheless, and I think I'm not getting enough bang for my buck in games.
My system specs:
ASUS P5Q motherboard
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 @ 2.66Ghz
EVGA Nvidia GeForce 260 GTX 896Mb
4Gb DDR2 Kingston RAM (single channel)
Ultra 1000W PSU
I am running Windows 7 Ultimate x64.
I have a close friend who has a similar build to mine: same P5Q motherboard, Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 @ 2.99Ghz, Nvidia Geforce 9800 GTX 512Mb, 3Gb of DDR2 RAM, and a 550W power supply. He also runs Windows 7 Ultimate x64. However, he gets so much better performance on his games. His fps on games such as CS:S, Garry's Mod, and Battlefield 2 are consistently higher than mine are, and do not suffer the same drops that I do. Another example: in World of Warcraft, he only drops to a minimum 50fps in cities filled with many players (e.g. Dalaran, for those of you that play) while I can only hope for 20-something, and his fps is much smoother elsewhere. Indeed, when I play on his system, the difference is noticeable. Granted, my CPU is a little slower and most games don't support multi-threading, but I wouldn't think that it contributes such a large difference.
Additionally when I lurked on several forums over the months, sometimes others have reported getting better performance on systems matching or even below mine. Either they are exaggerating, or I have something setup wrong.
So really I'm just wondering if it is possible that my system is not performing to its full potential. I have built this PC myself, so is it possible that there is something that has not been setup or properly calibrated? Perhaps there is something setup in my BIOS that is wrong? I'm still fine with the way it is now, but honestly I expect better.
Any tips and advice are greatly appreciated (I would like to avoid OCing, though).
If it's any help, here is what CPU-Z shows (idle, not running any games):