- Gaming can be extremely frustrating when you experience high FPS drops.
- In order to fix them and enjoy smooth gameplay, follow the steps listed below.
- For more help improving your life using a PC, go to our Troubleshooting section.
- Want to know more about gaming? The eponymous Gaming section is here for you!
In the perfect parallel universe, gamers don’t suffer from high FPS drops. This pestilence can be an awful issue and it’s not easy to determine the solution because there are so many different factors in play.
Windows 10 is slowly becoming the number one choice for gaming, although more because it’s the part of requirements and less by gamers’ choice. Nonetheless, FPS drops affect all systems, even the almighty Windows 7.
Especially if they occur suddenly, without any good background explanation. Luckily, we prepared an in-depth list of all solutions that crossed our minds and provided them below.
In case you have bumped into FPS issues and you’re not sure how to deal with those, make sure to check the list below.
How can I fix high FPS drops while gaming on Windows 10?
- Make sure your GPU drivers are up to the task
- Scan for malware
- Meet the system requirements
- Check the cooling and inspect CPU
- Check HDD
- Check the connection
- Modify in-game and Power settings
- Don’t use the onboard sound device
- Update Windows, DirectX, and redistributables
- Disable background programs
- Reinstall the game
1. Make sure your GPU drivers are up to the task
GPU drivers are a touchy subject, especially on Windows 10 where the Windows Update feature manages drivers.
Most of the time, the generic driver won’t suffice, and we are all well aware that even the top-notch GPU will fail miserably without the proper software support.
In most scenarios, you’ll need the latest drivers provided by the OEM, but that’s not the rule. Some users resolved the GPU throttling and high FPS drops by installing an older drivers version.
So, sadly, you have to spend some time experimenting with the available drivers until you find the right driver for your GPU. These are the official support sites for major OEMs:
If you’re using legacy GPU, make sure to install legacy drivers. It’s not of the utmost importance for those to support Windows 10. Sometimes they’ll work regardless.
Update drivers automatically
DriverFix will help you update drivers automatically and prevent PC damage caused by installing the wrong driver versions.
After several tests, our team concluded that this is the best-automatized solution.
Here is a quick guide on how to use it:
- Download and install DriverFix
- Launch DriverFix
- DriverFix will now show you all of the drivers that need to be fixed.
- Wait for DriverFix to download and install the newest drivers
- Restart your PC
DriverFixThis lightweight and portable tool will detect all of your missing drivers by itself, and update them as soon as possible.
However, you could also try manually updating your drivers with the Device Manager, although this doesn’t always yield the best results.
Now, if the Windows 10 Update feature forcibly installs another version, you can roll-back drivers and disable the automatic drivers updating. Here’s how to do it:
- In the Windows Search bar, type Control and open Control Panel.
- From the Category view, open System and security.
- Open System.
- Select Advanced system settings from the left pane.
- Open Device Installation Settings under the Hardware tab.
- Select ‘No‘ from the dialog box.
- Confirm changes, right-click Start and open Device manager.
- Expand Display adapters.
- Right-click on your GPU and open Properties.
- Under the Driver tab, click Roll-back driver.
- Restart your PC and look for changes.
If Windows can’t automatically find and download new drivers, take the matter in your own hands with this useful guide.
2. Scan for malware
Malware is another feasible reason for the possible FPS drops and overall performance of an application as demanding as the modern game is.
There’s a dozen of malware infections that can inflict system issues, but we need to set aside the adware and mistakenly-installed bloatware that tends to work in the background.
Taking into consideration recent cryptocurrency tricks some sites use (they use your CPU power to mine without your consent, of course), you’ll need to step your antivirus game up and protect accordingly.
You can use basically any third-party antivirus out there, but our weapon of choice is Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, with top-of-the-class detection rates and excellent real-time protection. So make sure to check it out.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
Get the an antivirus tool that will not affect the FPS of your favorite games by choosing Bitdefender Antivirus plus!
On the other hand, you can use even the built-in Windows solution, called Windows Defender, and its Offline Deep Scan feature for the more meticulous approach.
Here’s how to run it in Windows 10:
- Open Windows Defender from the notification area on the taskbar.
- Open Virus & threat protection.
- Click on Advanced Scan.
- Select Windows Defender Offline scan.
- Click Scan now.
If you need more info on how to perform a full system scan directly from Windows Defender, check out this guide.
3. Meet the system requirements
Even though this is something a Captain Obvious would say, requirements are too often the reason why a certain game under-performs and makes your world collapse with every FPS spike.
Nonetheless, there are two things you’ll need to know about system requirements that are hidden in plain sight and commonly overlooked.
Firstly, the minimum requirements are something you should take with the pinch of salt. The developer is basically informing you that this certain configuration should suffice if you want to run the game.
Translated into the common language ”Just start it”. Now, even the medium requirements won’t bring you the playable 30 to 60 FPS.
In order to run the game and expect peak performance, you should concentrate on the third column — Recommended requirements.
The second thing we overlook when it comes to system requirements concerns changes. Most of the popular games get frequent updates that can and will affect the processing power of your gaming rig.
So, if you’re informed a certain update brought esthetical improvements, more vivid graphics , etc, make sure that you can run it. Sites like ‘Can You Run It‘ are a good starting point, but the official requirements are always the ones you should rely on.
For a better gaming experience, we recommend downloading Game Fire for free. It will help with various gaming issues, such as low FPS, lags and slow PC.
4. Check the cooling
Overheating. There’s no single hardware-related problem that is a bigger threat to your PC than overheating. Since we’re today referring to FPS spikes and sudden drops, the overheating is probably the biggest suspect for the issue at hand.
Let’s imagine a common scenario: you start the game after the PC was idle, the game works great until some time and then the FPS goes to hell. It’s due to the CPU and/or GPU are overheating and thus underperforming.
In order to self-preserve themselves under the intense heat and avoid malfunctions, the main PC components start working slower. Finally, your PC should shut down forcibly if the temperatures pass the allowed limits.
So, for starters, make sure to acquire a proper temperature monitoring software. Like SpeedFan, for example. Above 90-95 degrees Celsius are the temperatures that you’ll need to avoid in order to evade performance drops and, in the worst-case scenario, critical hardware damage.
What to do to improve the cooling system and reduce the temperatures while gaming?
Firstly, you’ll need to get your hands dirty and clean the inside of your PC casing. The special focus should be on the exhaust and coolers.
Also, replacing the thermal paste should be a norm for every user. It tends to lose its functionality after a few months, so make sure to apply a new layer accordingly.
Furthermore, it doesn’t hurt to add some extra fans and improve the cooling of the unit. However, double-check the PSU capabilities before doing so.
5. Check HDD
Another essential part that can and certainly will affect the overall gaming performance is the hard drive. A hard drive is probably the most prone to malfunctions, and it’ll, in comparison to CPU or GPU, lose its initial performance values over time.
This, of course, applies only to physical drives, not SSDs.
There’s not an exact estimated point when your HDD will start misbehaving, but everything over 3 years points towards the decline in the performance. Can this affect the gameplay, you might ask.
It certainly can. Games are installed on an HDD and thus the slow reading/writing speeds can cause performance drops, FPS spikes, and similar inconveniences.
Here are some steps you can take to identify HDD problem and act accordingly if there’s an issue at hand:
- Use ‘chkdsk‘ command or a third-party software to scan for HDD errors.
- In the Windows search bar, type Command Prompt, right-click on it and run it as an administrator.
- In the command line, type the following command and press Enter:
- Replace C: with other partition letters if it’s named differently.
If you’re having trouble accessing Command Prompt as an admin, then you better take a closer look on this guide.
- Defragment your HDD (don’t do this on SSD drives):
- Install games on SSD if you have one available.
If you don’t want to use the defragmentation tool included with Windows 10, you can use an alternative tune-up utility. Take a look at this list with our best picks and choose the one that fits you best.
6. Check the connection
In case you’re playing an online game and have issues with FPS, we advise you to check the connection, as well. In most scenarios, it’s not about your bandwidth speeds (it can be affected to some extent, though), but rather by the latency of the data package.
This is measured in milliseconds and it indicates a delay between the user and the network itself.
Basically, the higher the latency — the worse the game performance. You can check your latency, here. You’ll need less than 50 ms in order to enjoy the online sessions in a seamless manner.
Furthermore, it’s advised to use a wired connection rather than Wi-Fi while playing online. Also, restart your router or modem if you run into any issues and check the port forwarding preferences for that specific game.
7. Modify in-game and Power settings
- Right-click on the Battery icon in the notification area and open Power options.
- Select High Performance.
- Close the window.
Not all graphics settings presented in modern games will work for every configuration out there. So, if you have slight issues with your FPS drops, make sure to change the graphics options.
Disabling Shadows and Anti-aliasing is always good for starters. Also, Vsync won’t work well with certain GPUs.
Try different variations until you find the one that optimizes performance and quality while keeping the acceptable FPS levels.
It all depends on your configuration and the ways the game is or isn’t optimized for that configuration. And sometimes even the top-notch PCs will give you a hard time due to the badly optimized engine.
Some developers like doing their job like that, especially with the console ports.
Also, it’s important to mention the laptop’s Power management, as it can slow down CPU activity if you set Balanced or Power Saving modes. The best plan for gaming is High Performance.
It might seem that there’s no much difference between the plans, but there are hidden perks that distinguish them.
8. Don’t use the onboard sound device
- Right-click Start and open Device Manager.
- Expand Sound, video and game controllers.
- Update your sound drivers or uninstall the onboard sound device and stick with Realtek.
- Restart your PC and look for changes.
For some strange reason, some users reported the problems with an onboard sound device which was, for no apparent reason, colliding with the GPU drivers and it causes both sound issues and FPS spikes.
Now, you can try and update or reinstall the dedicated driver, or uninstall it completely and stick with the alternative sound drivers.
9. Update Windows, DirectX, and redistributables
Every avid gamer knows that there are additional side applications that you need to install in order to run any game. They mostly come with the game installer and are mostly automatically installed afterwards.
However, some games lack the supporting applications that are of utmost importance.
First and foremost, you’ll need the proper version of DirectX Runtime in order to run the game in the first place. Furthermore, there are Visual C++ libraries that need to be installed, together with .NET Framework.
Now, there are various versions of all those secondary applications (for different system architectures), so the best way is to install the latest ones and the ones that were active when the game emerged.
I have basically every Visual C++, starting from the 2005 version. Just in case, and it doesn’t cost you anything. Since all of those are provided by Microsoft, you should have an easy time locating them, here.
DirectX-wise, you can easily find out which version is supported by your graphics card and the game, respectively. Windows 10 get’s DirectX updates automatically through Windows Update. Older versions can be found, here.
10. Disable background programs
Here’s the list of programs you should avoid while gaming:
- VoIP programs like Skype.
- Peer-2-peer applications like uTorrent.
- Download managers.
- Browsers (we’re looking at you, Chrome).
- Recording and live streaming software.
Certain background programs are known for resource-hogging, making them quite unwelcomed while gaming. Disabling their respective background processes should improve the in-game performance and reduce FPS drops.
If you’re running a powerful enough PC, the majority of background applications won’t affect the framerate. The ones we enlisted are throttling your bandwidth which can be a problem, for multiplayer, connection-dependent games.
Also, you can enable or disable the newly introduced Game bar in Windows 10. Here’s how to do it:
- Press Windows key + I to open Settings.
- Open Gaming.
- Open Game bar from the left pane.
- Toggle off ”Record game clips, screenshots, and broadcasts using Game bar”.
- Uncheck the ”Show game bar when I play full-screen games Microsoft has verified” box.
11: Reinstall the game
Finally, if none of the previous steps helped you by eliminating or at least reducing the in-game FPS spikes and drops, we advise you to reinstall the game or check its integrity with the supporting client (Steam, Origin, Battle.net offer integrity checks).
The clean reinstall is always a viable solution, especially if you use third-party software to clear the registry inputs.
There are multiple tools that fit this description, a lot of those free of charge. But, if you want something that’s up to the task whenever called upon, IObit Uninstaller 10 PRO is the best solution and we highly recommend it.
You can try it for free since it offers a trial period, and find how useful it is on your own.
That should conclude this long but hopefully informative article. In case you have something to add to the list, or questions regarding the solutions we already posted, feel free to do so in the comments section below.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in September 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.