im out of ideas. my frames drop miserably for the few seconds when smoke effects are rendered in two of the games i play the most: tribes ascend and apb. machine: i5 @ 4.6ghz. amd 5870 8gb ram (ddr3 800? @ default xmp settings) edit to minimal gfx settings in both games? done install clean, new drivers? done reformat? done search/post in specific game forums? done force faster, low quality lodbias on even smoke effects (which are high res textures even when you select low gfx settings(?)) using ati tray tools? done situation: max frames @ 125, game is solid. any effect that renders smoke, explosions, spray paints, smoke clouds etc, drops frames for the duration of the effect. frame drop depends on distance to effect - up close: precipitous drop, far away: minimal. otherwise game is solid. after many months ive tried idea after idea after idea. nothing has worked. there are many people who get the same drop with smoke effects in the games ive described, but to presume they are all the same cause is ... presumptuous. from irc, i got (anecdotal? unfounded?) notion that this may be ubiquitous, and if so then maybe agile minds in famed forums such at legendary G3D may have ideas. i am about to drop some ~250$ for a near side-grade to an nvidia card just in hopes that i can throw (some) money at it till its fixed. any other ideas? certain legacy drivers? some l33t h4ck setting? helpful voodoo chants? ill try anything.