How to fix high FPS drops and stuttering in PC games

Aleksandar Ognjanovic
by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Troubleshooting Expert
Aleksandar's main passion is technology. With a solid writing background, he is determined to bring the bleeding edge to the common user. With a keen eye, he always spots the next big thing surrounding... Read more
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  • Laging is a gamer's worst nightmare, both when it comes down to image stuttering and processing speeds, it can also get annoying very fast.
  • FPS drops can occur if you have problems with your connection or the servers are too busy, while system configuration is also very important.
  • To start resolving these issues, you will first need to check if everything is running optimally, and then gradually move onto updating drivers.
  • One important factor to consider is the system requirements of the game that's causing low FPS values.
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Being affected by high FPS drops is one of the most annoying experiences you can have as a gamer. The causes for this issue are not easy to determine because there are so many different factors in play.

As a wide number of PC users are playing games in Windows 10, the occurrence of the above-mentioned issue has grown exponentially.

Even though the implications are varied, the most common effect is a sudden stutter appearing randomly, which especially affects users who enjoy playing multiplayer releases, in which an optimal FPS rate is extremely important.

That being said, the blame can’t be thrown entirely on the OS, as many similar situations are caused by other factors, which we will discuss below.

What is FPS and what can cause FPS drops?

FPS is an acronym for Frames Per Second and, in other words, it is the frequency at which consecutive images appear on a display in 1 second.

The term is used in gaming and the higher the framerate, the better is the flow of the images on the screen. Low FPS is described by image interruptions and flickering.

Here are some of the most common reasons for this annoying issue occurring:

Problems with drivers

The GPU drivers are probably the top troublemakers for gaming problems and FPS drops in particular.

Display adapters inside Device Manager

If the drivers for the graphics card are not the right ones for your system, that can cause a lot of trouble. And if you’re facing this situation after you updated them, rolling them back to a previous version proves to be very efficient.

Overheating

You may have the right configuration for the game but when the components start overheating, they start to decrease their performance.

If you’re facing this situation, address it immediately by either improving the airflow or by using laptop cooling software. If you don’t perform this action, the components will continue to deteriorate until they break down altogether.

Connection issues

If you’re playing the game online, it’s obvious that you will need an excellent connection with the game servers, thus your Internet connection speed is crucial in this regard.

You may have a top performance rig but if the connection is slow or not steady, your FPS is going to drop significantly.

In case you can’t do anything about the actual internet connection, lowering your game graphics settings will surely be of help. Of course, if you choose to do this, you will have to settle for less in-game visual detail.

Before trying any troubleshooting steps, our research suggests that you should first restart your PC. Make sure to try this before exploring the steps described in this guide.

How can I fix high FPS drops while gaming on Windows 10?

  1. Ensure that the system requirements are met
  2. Change the game’s graphic settings
  3. Check if the Internet connection is running optimally
  4. Update the GPU drivers
  5. Disable background programs
  6. Modify the system’s power settings
  7. Turn on the Game Mode
  8. Scan for HDD errors
  9. Check the temperature of your system
  10. Defragment your HDD
  11. Reinstall the game

1. Ensure that the system requirements are met

Even though it might seem obvious, system requirements are often the reason for which a certain game underperforms and affects your gaming experience with FPS drops.

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 a pinch of salt. The developer informs you that this configuration should suffice if you want to simply run the game. If your system configuration fits in this category, then you should not expect amazing FPS values, but the good news is you can play the game.

To run the game and expect peak performance, you should concentrate on the third column usually called Recommended requirements.

Rockstar Games website – GTA 5 requirements

Another important element to consider when we’re checking system requirements for games is the updates brought to it across time, which might increase the actual requirements.

This only applies in cases in which the changes are so dramatic that it considerably affects the values needed to run the game optimally, but are usually released for older games or as version updates, so it should be obvious.

The entire set of information about updates can usually be found on the developer’s website, so no need to worry too much about this element.

2. Change the game’s graphic settings

Not all graphics settings found 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 Shadow Quality and Anti-aliasing is always good for starters. Also, the VSync option will considerably affect your GPU’s capabilities.

Other settings like Texture Quality, Shader Quality, Particles Quality, etc. are other options that need to be set on lower levels to reduce the FPS drop levels.

GTA 5 in-game graphics settings

Try different variations until you find the one that optimizes performance and quality while keeping the acceptable FPS levels.

Note icon
NOTE
It is important to know that changing these settings to a lower level will affect the quality of the image, but will increase the FPS.

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 running a game will give you a hard time due to the badly optimized game engine.

3. Check if the Internet connection is running optimally

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, on the Speedtest website. You’ll need less than 50 ms to enjoy the online sessions seamlessly.

In our case, as you can see from the image below, we have a latency of 7 ms, which could be Ok for online gaming, but these are the results from using Wi-Fi.

Our latency measured on Speedtest.net

As mentioned before, if you’re trying to get the most accurate values when testing your Internet connection latency, it is recommended to use an Ethernet connection.

Or, in case you’re planning on using Wi-Fi for your online gaming session, make sure that the latency value is acceptable.

4. Update the GPU drivers

4.1. Use the Device Manager

  1. Click the Start button and select Settings.
  2. Choose System.
  3. Select About from the left pane.
  4. Choose Advanced system settings.
  5. Click on the Hardware tab, and open Device Installation Settings.
  6. Select No from the dialog box and hit the Save changes button below.
  7. Confirm changes, right-click Start and open Device manager.
  8. Expand Display adapters.
  9. Right-click on your GPU and open Properties.
  10. Under the Driver tab, click Roll-back driver.
  11. Restart your PC and look for changes.

As you can see, if the Windows 10 Update feature forcibly installs another version, you can roll back the drivers and disable the automatic drivers updating by following the steps above.

We also have a very helpful guide that will show you what to do if Windows can’t automatically find and download new drivers.

In case you want to avoid the steps presented above and ensure that this situation doesn’t occur in the future again, you can also use a specialized driver updater software like DriverFix.

4.2 Check the manufacturer’s website

GPU drivers are a sensitive 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 a rule. Some users resolved the GPU throttling and high FPS drops by installing an older driver’s version.

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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.

5. Disable background programs

5.1. General applications

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys to start Task Manager.
  2. Find any programs or processes that can affect the PC performance, right-click on it and select End task.

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.

Here’s the list of programs you should avoid while gaming:

  • VoIP programs like Skype
  • Peer-2-peer applications like uTorrent
  • Download managers
  • Browsers (Google Chrome especially)
  • Recording and live streaming software

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.

5.2. De-activate the Xbox Game bar

  1. Press Windows key + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Open Gaming.
  3. Click on the Xbox Game Bar option from the left pane and toggle off the first option from the right pane.

Our research suggested that the FPS improved after disabling the Xbox Game Bar in Windows. You can do that easily by following the steps above.

However, you should know that some games use Game Bar for game invites so you might want to enable it back if you want to use the feature.

6. Modify the system’s power settings

  1. Type power in Windows search and select Power & sleep settings from the results.
  2. Now click on Additional power settings.
  3. Select High performance.
  4. Close the window.

7. Turn on the Game Mode

  1. Start the Settings app by pressing the Windows key + I.
  2. Click the Gaming option.
  3. Select the Game Mode option from the left pane and toggle on Game Mode from the right.

The Game Mode setting is turned on by default in Windows 10 but sometimes you can find it turned off for some reason.

The simple steps above will help you easily turn on the Game Mode that will help you achieve a more steady framerate during your play.

8. Scan for HDD errors

  1. In the Windows search bar, type command and click on Run as administrator to start Command Prompt with full rights.
  2. In the command line, type the following command and press Enter: chkdsk /f C:fix high fps drops
  3. Replace C: with other partition letters if it’s named differently.

If chkdsk is giving you headaches, check out our guide on how to fix chkdsk and go through with the scanning process.

9. Check the temperature of your system

Overheating. There’s no single hardware-related problem that is a bigger threat to your PC than this element.

Since today we’re discussing FPS spikes and sudden drops, 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 haywire.

This is often due to the CPU and/or GPU overheating and thus underperforming.

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 proper temperature monitoring software like CoreTemp.

As you can see from the image below, the temperature for our system is in the normal range:

Above 90-95 degrees Celsius, you will start experiencing performance drops and, in the worst-case scenario, critical hardware damage.

What can I 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.

Added to this, replacing the thermal paste should be done regularly, especially if you’re an avid gamer. The paste that acts as a conductor tends to lose its functionality after a few months of usage, so make sure to apply a new layer accordingly.

Note icon
NOTE
If you’re not sure about how to change the thermal paste, it is recommended to take your PC to an authorized computer shop to avoid causing any issues.

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.

If you still get to experience the problem first-hand, we have an article on what to do if your laptop is overheating, and solve the issue before it’s too late.

10. Defragment your HDD

  1. Press the Windows key + E to start File Explorer.
  2. Click on This PC.
  3. Right-click on any partition and open Properties.
  4. Select the Tools toolbar and click on the Optimize button below.
  5. Analyze and defragment partitions individually if needed.

As you might expect, the efficiency of how your hard drive works is another essential part that will certainly affect the overall gaming performance.

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 so if you have the latter, go past this solution. If you’re interested in improving the reading scores of your hard drive, you can invest in a good SSD.

If you don’t want to use the defragmentation tool included with Windows 10, you can use alternative software. Take a look at this great list including our best tune-up utilities and choose the one that fits you best.

11. Reinstall the game

  1. Click the Start button in Windows and select Settings.
  2. Now choose the Apps option from the list.
  3. Scroll down the list of apps, find your game, click on it and press the Uninstall button.
  4. Now try to reinstall the game from the installer file or media.

Finally, if none of the previous steps helped you by eliminating or at least reducing the in-game FPS, we advise you to reinstall the game.

Clean reinstallation is always a viable solution, especially if you use third-party software to clear the registry inputs.

How to avoid FPS drops

If you managed to fix the problem with the FPS drops in your games, you might also take into consideration our tips on how to stay away from this problem in the future.

Invest in a powerful GPU or choose the e-GPU route

Having a good GPU installed on your PC is essential when it comes to gaming performance, but in some cases, it would be advisable that you invest in a powerful e-GPU device.

Ensure that you stay on top of your PC’s maintenance

This advice includes both the physical cleaning of any coolers and components, but also ensuring that the component’s connection is optimal.

To go a step further, de-cluttering your hard drive is another important element, and you can do so with a variety of PC optimization tools.

Run your games off of an SSD

As an SSD is endlessly more efficient at processing data than an HDD, investing in a good SSD will save you a lot of stress in the long run.

Source: ResearchGate.net – Comparison of booting speeds of SSD and HDD

As you can see, there are a variety of troubleshooting steps that you can try to resolve a high FPS drop while gaming on your PC.

With the exponential growth of graphics and thus requirements when it comes to the latest game releases, even the most powerful PCs are bound to experience this problem at some point in time, but following our advice will prevent it from happening suddenly, so you will be able to react accordingly.

Whether it is about changing the in-game settings, or about investing in an eGPU to take your gaming to the next level, there is always room for improvement when it comes to how we take care of our PCs.

You can try using one of the best game booster software for Windows 10 PCs that promise to improve FPS and eliminate lag, but not even this tool can change much if the system capabilities are not up to par with the task you’re throwing at it.

We hope this guide has provided you with some useful information, and that it managed to help you resolve the high FPS drop issues once and for all.

If you want to get into contact with us, or simply share your opinion on this article, feel free to use the comments section found below this guide.

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