There’s nothing more annoying than experiencing stuttering in games.
In many instances, games themselves can automatically adjust graphics settings based on your system’s specifications, but even that can be flaky. Given that you know what your machine is capable of, it’s best to configure these settings manually.
There are many reasons why you might be experiencing stuttering in games, and it all depends on the type of game you’re playing. If it’s a graphics-intensive game, say ‘Cyberpunk 2077’, then your GPU will carry a great load. If you’re playing a simulation game like ‘Cities: Skylines’, then you’ll need more RAM or a faster CPU.
Let’s first discuss troubleshooting and see where the problem lies.
Making sure your PC supports the game’s minimum system requirements before buying the game may seem like common sense, but for the best gaming experience, it’s best to get a game that your PC can run at recommended system requirements.
This is because the minimum means exactly that – the game will technically run, but it may be on the lowest settings and at 5 frames per second.
And can you really play video games like that?
A lot of modern PC games have a built-in benchmarking tool, but you could always use a different one. With these tools, you can see how much FPS you’re getting and decide if that is good enough for you or if you want more.
Graphic-wise, there are some things that you can give up and still enjoy the game. If you’re not playing the game for its wonderful graphics, here are some in-game settings that can be modified to stop the stuttering.
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Firstly, you can try lowering the resolution, which can actually turn out to be quite effective. You should ensure you’re not running the game at a larger resolution than your monitor can cope with. That’ll just needlessly overbear the GPU, which can cause it to perform other necessary operations more slowly.
It’s important to mention that screen resolution may have the strongest impact on visual quality. So, while you might get a huge FPS increase, you’ll also lose out on a lot of details. Your game may look grainy, blurry, etc.
Sometimes, when the refresh cycle of the display is not in sync with the rendering cycle, an effect known as screen tearing can happen. This means the display tries to show the GPU’s output while the card is in the middle of swapping frames.
If you turn on the VSync, you can resolve this issue. However, it, unfortunately, comes with its own problems, such as input lag.
Aliasing makes lines look jagged, it’s as simple as that. One of the best solutions for this is anti-aliasing, as is it renders the frame at a certain number of times and smooths over the transition between surfaces.
Anti-aliasing can be found under Graphics/Display settings in most video games.
It is important to note there are different types of anti-aliasing. Some of these types are very demanding such as MSAA. Multisample anti-aliasing (MSAA) is a form of supersampling without considerable downsampling. With this, you’ll get a considerably crisper image, but the FPS will plummet.
Fortunately, you don’t have to completely turn off anti-aliasing. Often anti-aliasing settings allow you to reduce the amount of supersampling ranging from off to 8x or 16x. To find that sweet spot of image quality and FPS, try reducing the anti-aliasing to 4x or 2x.
If that doesn’t satisfy your FPS needs, try looking for FXAA in the game’s settings. FXAA is a much simpler form of supersampling which means it isn’t as taxing on the GPU, but the image will also be much blurrier.
Still, better than nothing.
DLSS And FSR
DLSS is similar to traditional anti-aliasing, but by utilizing the power of deep learning, it manages to render an image at a higher resolution and then downsample it while maintaining visual quality.
With deep learning, DLSS can actually improve your FPS while removing aliasing, effectively reducing stuttering. To use DLSS though, you will need an RTX card.
FSR on the other hand is not dedicated to AMD hardware and can be used by both older and newer generations from Nvidia and AMD.
FSR cannot really be compared to DLSS as it doesn’t use any fancy artificial intelligence/deep learning. Instead, FSR takes a downscaled image and runs it through a network of non-linear and linear upscaling. Again, delivering higher FPS while reducing the game’s aliasing.
Make sure to use these settings whenever you can to effectively reduce stuttering.
Texture filtering calculates how a regular 2D image or other data will be mapped to a full 3D model. A single pixel on the 3D model won’t be a direct one-to-one match to a pixel on its own texture (referred to as texel). This is because you’re able to see the model from different angles and distances.
When we look for the color of a pixel, we get the spot that it matches to on the texture, and then get a few samples from nearby texels, and get an average out of them. This is the most basic way in which texture filtering is done and is called bilinear filtering.
We also have trilinear filtering and anisotropic filtering. Without getting too technical, let’s just say these further enhance the graphics quality. So, likewise, using the lowest settings will certainly bump up your FPS, although not as much as anti-aliasing.
This is another big player when lowering stuttering in games. As it’s pretty self-explanatory, let’s just quickly sum it up – lower texture quality means more FPS, but worse-looking graphics. Sometimes, it’s a trade-off worth making.
Those were some of the most common settings you can find in games that can really help with stuttering. It’s also possible that your rig is completely up to the task, but is bogged down by other things. Let’s see what can be done in this case.
As seen in the image above, there’s little difference between Ultra and High while dropping down to Medium clearly reduces the number of details of the ground and the bricks on the side. Dropping down to Low removes a large chunk of the details, leaving only a smooth surface.
Update Your GPU Driver
A lot of newer graphics cards come with software that controls driver updates automatically, but you need to be wary of relying too much on this.
There will be situations where this software will not do that, and that’s on the GPU manufacturers, not on you. Still, it’s worth checking out Nvidia’s or AMD’s support page to get the latest drivers.
Turn Off Unnecessary Background Processes
Nowadays, there’s a lot of bloatware that can make the game unbearably slow. I’m not going to call Google Chrome bloatware, but it’s definitely a RAM-hungry browser. It allows plugins and addons to use whatever they need and whenever they need it, and this gets abused. A lot.
It’s worth noting that Google is slowly working on this, but the problem still persists. If a browser is something you desperately need to play the game, be it streaming or watching a tutorial, Mozilla Firefox is the best-known alternative.
The task manager is your best friend if you need to have an even better insight into what’s slowing down your PC. The easiest way to access it is to right-click the taskbar and then select task manager.
Once there, you can use the ‘Processes‘ tab to see exactly what application is using what part of your PC and what is the best way to eliminate processes that you don’t need while gaming.
Another awesome trick is checking out the ‘Details‘ tab. There you can right-click the executable of your game and set the priority level to ‘High‘. While technically ‘Realtime’ is an option, you shouldn’t use it because it messes up other processes that are required for gaming, like the mouse and keyboard inputs.
If you are having trouble figuring out exactly which processes you need and which ones you don’t, you could use Process Explorer. This tool gives you a bit more insight into every process, what it does and how much CPU or RAM it utilizes.
If you’re gaming on Windows, there are several system-specific tasks put in the background by Microsoft that can seriously damage your FPS. Luckily, they also made it easy to turn off these settings. Simply search for ‘Game Bar‘ in your settings window and turn it off.
If you’re using an Intel processor, you can turn off the ‘Intel Turbo Boost‘. It’s a tool that automatically overclocks your CPU for some operations and it’s turned on by default.
Check Your Internet Connection
Obviously, this only applies if you’re playing an online game, but it can still cause headaches for no good reason. Multiplayer/online video games can often stutter and lag if you have a bad internet connection.
If you can, try to choose an in-game server that is closer to you. This will improve the response time between your computer and the server, effectively reducing lag and stutters.
Those are some of the quick and easy things you can do right off the bat to reduce stuttering in games.
However, there are plenty of other things that can be done. These are all hardware fixes that would require going to a store or waiting for a delivery.
These include upgrading your GPU or CPU; a little cheaper solution could be adding more RAM or upgrading to an SSD and, of course, running your games from said SSD. It’s also possible that your PSU is underpowered or that either your CPU or GPU is overheating.
The aim of this article was to help with fixing stuttering in games in the easiest possible way and we hope you found it useful.