What Is Game Stuttering in Windows 10 ?
One of the difficulties is that users refer to different problems as “stuttering” even when they are caused by completely different causes. Stuttering can be a kind of rhythmic crash during gameplay, it can be a random intermittent freeze, or it can be a frame rate going up and down.
Related: How to Fix not recognized as an internal or external command in Windows
Turn Off the Wallpaper Slideshow
We found this solution after weeks of frustration with a Windows installation freezing and stuttering every few minutes. Turns out, changing the wallpaper slideshow locks your entire computer for a second, whether you’re gaming or working in Office. If you have activated a wallpaper slideshow, turn it off or increase the time between wallpapers so that freezing does not occur as often.
To disable the Windows background slide show, right-click on the desktop and select Personalize. In the “Background” section, you should see this window:
Change the Background dropdown to something other than Slideshow and close the window when you’re done.
Related: What Is Double NAT and How to Fix It on a Network
Update to the Latest Windows (or Go Back)
When Windows 10 started, video game performance and problems like stuttering were relatively common. With each update, Microsoft has fixed most of the complaints. Gaming performance on Windows 10 computers is practically flawless these days. If you have a problem like stuttering in Windows 10, it is a good idea to check if there is a new update available for your version of Windows 10. If you are lucky, the problem has already been resolved.
Sometimes it’s the latest Windows update that causes stuttering. This is not common, but there have been times when new Windows updates cause game performance issues. You can uninstall Windows updates to see if that fixes the problem, and then wait for Microsoft to fix the problem in a follow-up patch.
Of course, you should not only assume that the latest update is the culprit just because it coincided with your problem, but googling a bit to see if anyone else has a similar problem before starting, links and updates straight to Delete.
Toggle Game Mode On (or Off)
Windows 10 has a “game mode” that was introduced shortly after the operating system was shipped to customers. This mode manages computer resources so that video games have the highest priority.
In the latest version of Windows 10, Game Mode seems to be on by default. However, if you stutter in your games, be sure to check that it is turned on. All you have to do is search for “game mode” in the settings or directly in the start menu. Then just flip the switch to the “On” position.
In a somewhat ironic twist, if you stutter with stuttering on, you might want to try disabling Game Mode. We have seen some users report that their stuttering issues disappeared simply by disabling this option.
Install Games on a Separate Drive
One possible cause of stuttering in a video game is access conflicts on the drive containing Windows. Stuttering is not an issue with modern solid state drives (SSDs), but if the main system drive is still a mechanical model, the game and Windows might have a hard time accessing the data.
The optimal solution is to replace your main drive with an SSD. However, if that’s not possible, you can install your video games on a drive other than your Windows hard drive to free up bandwidth.
Turn On Vsync
While this is not strictly Windows related, it affects all Windows gaming PCs, which is the case with almost all gaming PCs! By enabling Vsync (in game menus or in your GPU settings), you ensure that every frame a game produces is in sync with your monitor’s refresh rate. This fixes a common type of stutter in Windows 10 caused by mismatched timing between the game and your monitor.
Vsync is a pretty big topic in games. We recommend that you read What is Vsync and should you use it? to get a solid understanding of what it does and why it matters.
Use a Frame Rate Limit
As your CPU and GPU try to process as many video game frames as possible, you increase the chances of having small hiccups, which result in stuttering.
You can reduce this problem by setting a limit on the number of frames you want the game to render. Modern games often have a frame limit slider in their menus, but you can also find frame limits for the entire system or game in your graphics card’s software utility.
Activating Vsync also works as a frame limiter. For example, if you have Vsync enabled and the monitor runs at 60Hz, the game will not process more than 60 frames per second. For most gamers, rendering more frames than your screen can display serves no real purpose. However, some competing gamers benefit from reduced game latency even if their monitor cannot display all frames.
Is Your Computer Too Hot?
Components like the CPU and GPU throttle their performance when they get too hot. This can lead to performance problems that can manifest as stuttering. If your game keeps stuttering after experiencing smooth gameplay for some time, here are some things to check:
- All the fans are spinning.
- The computer has enough room around it for airflow.
- All heatsinks are correctly seated.
As mentioned above, it can also reduce the load on your CPU and GPU using the limits of VSYNC or FRAME.
Is It a Windows Problem?
Various issues can cause stuttering in games, and they’re not all Windows’ fault. If only one particular game stutters, this is a more specific problem for that title. If all your games are stuttering, it could be a problem with your hardware drivers (like your GPU drivers) or other software running in the background.
Stuttering in individual games often has more to do with game settings that are too high, a faulty game, or a slow hard drive than with problems with Windows itself. 4
A PC is a complex system made up of software and hardware, all of them produced by different companies. Most of the time, it’s not so much that a single part is broken, but that various software and hardware components just aren’t working together properly. This can make it difficult to isolate a problem, but a step-by-step diagnostic approach is your best chance at solving stuttering and related problems.