This article to designed to help players optimise their PC for gaming. Ultimately, the hardware in your PC will determine your in-game performance, but the following tweaks may provide a small boost to frame rates and help reduce stuttering.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- In-Game Settings
- Unreal Engine 4 Shader Compilation Stutter
- Windows Settings
- Gaming Laptops
- Background Applications
- Antivirus Software
Choose suitable graphical settings for your PC
- Your Resolution should be the native resolution of your monitor, but you may need to lower this if you can't reach your performance target. (i.e. 1920x1080)
- Start by choosing a Graphical Preset such as "High" and reduce the preset to achieve your target frame rate. 60 FPS (Frames Per Second) will be a suitable target for most players.
- Once you have a graphical preset that is suitable for your PC, you can fine tune the balance between performance and graphics in the advanced settings, which give you control over individual settings such as shadows.
- Typically, settings that control Shadows and lighting have the biggest impact on performance.
- Resolution Scale should be left at 100% for most players. This is a very demanding setting to increase as it increases the internal rendering resolution of the game, then downscales it to the size of your monitor for a smoother image. Decreasing resolution scale can increase performance for very low-end hardware, but will significantly reduce image quality.
Enable V-Sync to prevent screen tearing
Turn V-Sync On to avoid visible "tears" in the image, which occur when multiple "frames" of an image are displayed at the same time. This can happen when your graphics card and monitor are working at different speeds. Enabling V-Sync, will tell your graphics card to wait till the monitor refreshes before displaying the next frame. A typical monitor refreshes the screen 60 times a second (e.g. 60 Hz).
Set a suitable frame rate limit
If you enable V-Sync, your frame rate will be limited by the refresh rate of your monitor (e.g. 60 Hz = 60 FPS). However, some games will allow you to set a frame rate limit independent of refresh rate. This should be set accordingly to your average frame rate.
If you typically get around 60 FPS on average, set your FPS limit to 60. If the limit is left too high or unlocked, there will be a greater variance in highs and lows, meaning your game will look less smooth in action. This can also help to reduce heat and noise output, by reducing stress on your graphics card.
Unreal Engine 4 Shader Compilation Stutter
Unfortunately, many games built on Unreal Engine 4 suffer from shader compilation stutter. This is most noticeable as pauses between frames, whenever something new is being rendered for the first time. This kind of stutter will occur on any PC hardware, so it cannot be eliminated with a hardware upgrade.
However, you will find that a second run of the same content will be dramatically smoother. This is because the shader is cached when it first appears. This allows the game to reuse that data, which is much faster than compiling shaders on the fly. The cache size is limited, so eventually it will be overwritten by new data. Furthermore, shaders will need to be recompiled if you update the graphics card driver or change your graphics card.
This doesn't happen on consoles because the hardware inside a console is a known quantity and the shaders can be precompiled and shipped with the game. The different combinations of hardware inside a PC is impossible to predict, so shaders have to be compiled on demand.
Changing the following Windows settings may help reduce stuttering and increase performance in some cases.
Set the Windows 11 graphics preferences for the app.
Disable Windows 11 game mode.
Disable Windows 11 GPU scheduling
Ensure that the AC adapter is plugged in
Some laptops may defer to an integrated graphics device (e.g. Intel Iris/UHD/Xe) designed for low power usage if running on battery. To ensure that your laptop is using the dedicated graphics card (Nvidia/AMD), you will need to plug in the AC adapter.
Configure your laptop to use the dedicated graphics card
- Ensure that you have the latest GPU drivers from Nvidia’s website.
- Right-click on the desktop and select NVIDIA Control Panel Then click Manage 3D Settings (on the left-hand side).
- From the drop-down menu; Select the preferred graphics processor and choose your Nvidia processor.
- Once you have selected your preference, click Apply.
- AMD graphics cards will follow the Windows settings.
Check the power plan
Windows will have several power plants to choose from, but if you intend on using the laptop for gaming, you will need to select the High Performance profile. You can find these profiles by opening the Start menu and typing "power plan". Additionally, many laptops will come with bespoke software to handle thermal and performance management (e.g ASUS Armoury Crate). Performance/Turbo profiles would be recommended for gaming, but Max/Turbo profile may also increase heat output.
Background applications can use up system resources and cause stuttering and even crashes if your system runs out of memory (RAM) while playing a game. However, they are not only a concern for players with a low amount of RAM, as background applications can often use the CPU as well.
For example, your antivirus software may be using a significant amount of CPU to complete a scan. Therefore, you want to make sure you don't have anything unnecessary running in the background while gaming. This can be done by simply closing applications before you start a game (web browsers are one of the worst offenders for RAM usage). However, you can also minimise the amount of applications that start when your PC turns on.
- Open Task Manager by right-clicking on the Start Menu.
- Go to the Startup tab.
- Work through the list of application and disable anything you won't need when the PC turns on.
- Restart your PC.
Windows 10/11 both have built-in security that will be suitable for most players and has very little impact on system performance. However, you may have bought a new PC or gaming laptop that comes pre-installed with third-party antivirus software (e.g. McAfee, Norton, AVG etc...). They have their uses for keeping uninitiated users out of trouble. However, their tendency to be overprotective can come with its downsides.
- Third-party antivirus software can be a resource hog on CPU and RAM.
- It may block applications and games from accessing online functionality.
- It may delete or quarantine games files, which can cause a game to stop functioning.
Therefore, our recommendation for most players would be to either enable "game mode" (if available on your software) or remove third-party antivirus software and revert to Windows Defender, which comes with Windows 10/11.
The primary limiting factor of your in-game performance will be the hardware in your PC.
Make sure your PC meets the Minimum System Requirements of the game you are trying to play. However, minimum system requirements may only mean that you can play with the minimum graphical settings, at a low resolution with poor performance. We would recommend that most players aim for the Recommend Requirements in order to enjoy the game as it was intended to be played. However, you could have a PC anywhere between Minimum and Recommend requirements and still have an enjoyable experience.
Dual Channel RAM
Gaming Laptops and Custom PC builders often include just one stick of RAM (Random Access Memory) to reduce costs. You may have the same amount of RAM as someone else, but a single stick of RAM will only work in "Single Channel" mode. Overall, this means that the performance of your RAM will be significantly reduced, and you will see stuttering in-game.
If your laptop/PC supports dual channel RAM, it would be recommended to have matching pairs of RAM, so it can work in Dual Channel mode.
Overclocking would not be recommended for most players as it increases power usage, heat output and can make your computer unstable.
If you have outdated drivers for your hardware, you may experience performance issue and even crashing. To ensure that your computer is up-to-date, please head over to our Troubleshooting Technical Issues Guide.