How to Resolve Stuttering Issues in Games

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Ashley_Buckwell
edited August 2023 in Gaming

Your frame rate can be high, you can have good graphics hardware and a fast computer, but for some reason, your games seem to stutter and are choppy for no apparent reason. In some cases, it might not matter what game you play, the stutter appears every time. It can even happen when playing videos. This article will present some potential reasons for what is known as micro stuttering or pc stuttering, that frustrating phenomenon that happens to gamers, and how to deal with it.

What is game stuttering?

Stuttering is an issue caused by irregular delays between the graphics processing unit (GPU) and the image on your display. This is most notable when gaming, because it can have a profoundly detrimental effect on your experience. It is also noticeable when watching videos. When dealing with screen stuttering, games will feel slow, appear laggy, and skip frames. This can cause a delay in player actions, which wreaks havoc on gameplay.

Some players report having screen lags where the screen would essentially stutter for a few seconds. It can happen all the time, not just when playing games. Occasionally, this issue can occur alongside the blue screen of death, which indicates underlying issues with the graphics card or driver.

Why is stuttering in games so frustrating?

Stuttering in video games can be incredibly frustrating for gamers, because it interrupts the playing experience and can lead to a loss of progress and even death of the gamer’s character. In the worst of cases, stuttering can make it impossible to continue playing. With many of today’s streaming, fast-paced games, missing a moment of the action can be deadly in the game world. A lag in the game makes it harder for the player to control their character and keep up with the action. Additionally, stuttering can lead to visual or audio glitches, which can be especially distracting and ruin the immersive feeling of the game.

Moreover, because stuttering has several possible causes, it is difficult for the player to identify the source of the problem. This can be especially frustrating since they may not know how to fix the issue and will have to resort to troubleshooting their computer. Finally, being unable to play a purchased game leads to concerns regarding trying to get a refund or thinking about whether more money should be spent upgrading hardware to meet the game’s requirements.

What causes stuttering games?

Here are the top six causes of stuttering:

  1. Underpowered GPU. Having inadequate hardware can lead to stuttering. Graphics-intensive games require particularly high-end graphics processing units (GPUs). 
  2. Not enough RAM. Modern AAA titles generally require a minimum of 8 GB of RAM, and the RAM needs to be fast and of good quality.
  3. Too many programs open simultaneously. This ties in to not having enough RAM. Your computer only has a limited amount of RAM to share among all the active applications, processes, and games.
  4. CPU bottleneck. This can occur with games that are not necessarily highly graphics-intensive but that require a lot of CPU power. This includes simulation games that need to load and track many assets, such as Cities: Skylines.
  5. Overheating. Running components at or beyond their recommended capacity for long periods, which is a side effect of trying to play on an underpowered CPU or GPU, will generate a lot of heat. If your system is not capable of dissipating that heat, your game may start to stutter and run erratically. Not only that, but extreme overheating can damage components.
  6. Outdated or misconfigured graphics drivers. If the graphics driver is not kept up-to-date, bugs in the software may render it unable to perform optimally, and in some cases may cause it to fail completely. Also, misconfigured settings can lead to erratic behavior.

How can you prevent stuttering from happening in your games?

If you have updated your graphics drivers to the latest version and believe that your hardware is good enough to play your games, there are additional fixes you can attempt to prevent game stuttering.

Update in-game settings. In addition to graphics settings, some games will allow you to reduce the complexity of gameplay, such as by reducing the size of a map or the number of active sprites.

Reduce screen resolution. Change the game’s resolution by accessing the in-game graphics settings. If screen resolution is not available here, you can reduce screen resolution via your Windows control panel settings.

Turn off Xbox Game Bar. The Xbox Game Bar from the Microsoft Store is a built-in app for recording game clips, chatting with Xbox friends, and so on. Turning it off can provide more resources to optimize your gaming experience; however, some games require Xbox Game Bar for receiving game invites.

Turn off unnecessary apps and background processes. Make sure to close resource-heavy programs such as web browsers, file downloaders, and office suites. Additionally, find out more about which processes you may not need by taking a look at Windows Process Explorer, and kill processes that are not necessary. 

Change V-Sync state. V-Sync (vertical sync) is a graphics technology that synchronizes the frame rate of a game with a gaming monitor’s refresh rate. It plays a role in alleviating screen tearing and stuttering, and it has a large number of settings that can be tweaked for optimum performance. You can start by enabling/disabling it, and if that does not resolve the stuttering, try further adjusting its settings. 

Decrease anti-aliasing. Anti-aliasing is a process that eliminates jagged lines in games. It is accomplished by rendering frames multiple times to smooth over the transition between surfaces in the game world. However, higher levels of anti-aliasing can cause the GPU to work overtime, potentially leading to a bottleneck. If you are experiencing game stuttering, decrease anti-aliasing to 2x or simply turn it off entirely.

Turn off texture filtering. Texture filtering is used to calculate how a 2D image is mapped to a 3D model. Try setting your game to the most basic type of texture filtering (i.e., bilinear filtering) or disabling filtering altogether. Other types of texture filtering, such as trilinear and anisotropic filtering, enhance graphics quality but come at a higher computational cost.

Reduce texture quality. Texture quality is easily adjustable in most games. The lower the graphics quality, the higher framerate your GPU can achieve, at the cost of your game looking much worse. Before you adjust texture quality, check the game’s recommended settings for the texture quality you want to target and make sure that your GPU and CPU can accommodate it.

As shown here, there are several steps that can be attempted when trying to prevent game stuttering. Upgrading your hardware is typically the best option, and many great-value Acer gaming systems and components will provide superb performance for the latest games. As a last resort, making adjustments to graphics settings may improve performance just enough to allow your game to run smoothly with your current specs.

Ashley is a technology writer who is interested in computers and software development. He is also a fintech researcher and is fascinated with emerging trends in DeFi, blockchain, and bitcoin. He has been writing, editing, and creating content for the ESL industry in Asia for eight years, with a special focus on interactive, digital learning.

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