There’s nothing more annoying than experiencing stuttering in games. A lot of the time, games can adjust graphics settings automatically, but even that can be flaky. However, it is best to configure these settings manually, as you know what your machine is capable of.
There are several possible reasons why you’re experiencing stuttering in games and it all depends on the type of game you’re trying to play. If it’s a graphics-intensive game, say ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’, then your GPU will carry a great load. On the other hand, if you’re playing a simulation game like ‘Cities: Skylines’, then you’ll need more RAM.
Let’s first discuss troubleshooting and see where the problem lies.
Making sure your PC is at 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 is that really gaming?
A lot of modern PC games have a built-in benchmarking tool, but you could always use a different one. With this tool, you can see how much FPS you’re getting and decide how to proceed.
There are some things graphically that you can give up and still enjoy the game. If you’re not playing the game for its beautiful graphics, here are some of the settings that can usually be found in-game that can be adjusted to stop the stuttering.
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The first thing that you can do can actually turn out to be the most effective and that is lowering the resolution. Good advice is to make sure you’re not running the game at a larger resolution than your monitor can handle. That’ll just needlessly overbear the GPU which can cause it to function more slowly in performing other necessary operations.
Sometimes, when the refresh cycle of the display is not in sync with the rendering cycle there can happen an effect known as ‘screen tearing’. This means the display tries two show GPU’s output while the card is in the middle of swapping frames. If you turn on the VSync, you can solve this problem, but unfortunately, it does come with its own issues, like input lag.
Aliasing makes lines look jagged, it’s as simple as that. One of the best solutions for this is anti-aliasing. What it does, is it renders the frame at a certain number of times the resolution and smooths over the transition between surfaces.
These numbers are usually found in settings as 2x, 4x, 8x, and 16x. Obviously as the number gets larger, the graphics get smoother, but if you set it to 2x or turn anti-aliasing off, you’ll be saving your GPU the time necessary for all that extra computing.
The technology to combat aliasing is ever-developing, so keep your eye out on the developments.
This 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 are able to see the model from various 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 closeby texels, and get an average out of them. This most basic way the texture filtering is done is called bilinear filtering.
We also have trilinear filtering and anisotropic filtering. Without getting too technical, let’s just say these further improve 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 that can be found in games that can really help with stuttering in games. Other times, it’s possible that your rig is completely up to the task, but is bogged down by other things so let’s see what can be done there.
Update Your GPU Driver
A lot of newer graphics cards come with a 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 GPU manufacturers, not on you. Still, it’s worth checking out if you have the latest drivers.
Turn Off Unnecessary Background Processes
Nowadays, there’s so much 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 taken advantage of a lot. It’s worth noting that Google is slowly working on this problem, but it 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.
To have a better insight into what’s slowing down your PC, the task manager is an excellent tool. The simplest 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 is the best way to eliminate processes that you don’t need while gaming.
Another neat trick is checking out the ‘Details’ tab. There you can right-click the executable of your game and set priority 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’re gaming on Windows there are several system-specific tasks that Microsoft put in the background that can seriously damage your FPS. Luckily, they also made turning off these settings easily accessible. 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 certain operations and it’s turned on by default.
Check Your Internet Connection
Obviously, this only goes if you’re playing an online game, but it can still cause headaches for no good reason. When playing an online game, it’s best to choose a server that’s near you. This ensures the smallest ping and can cause dramatic improvements when experiencing stuttering in games. Nothing can be done about your local competition, though.
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, like upgrading your GPU or CPU. A little cheaper variant could be adding more RAM or upgrading to an SSD and of course, running your games from said SSD. It’s also quite possible that your PSU is underpowered or that either your CPU or GPU is overheating.
These are all hardware fixes that would require going to the store or waiting for the delivery, but the aim of this article was to help you fix stuttering in games in the easiest possible way and we hope you found it useful.