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Troubleshooting Game Performance Issues - Software

How can I improve the frames per second (FPS) display rate for my games and reduce choppiness and lag while playing?

Note:

This article is part of a series of articles regarding system and game performance. When troubleshooting performance, please also complete all possible steps in our Troubleshooting Game Performance Issues - Hardware article.

Important:

The instructions presented in this guide are intended for users who are not encountering critical errors - please see the Troubleshooting Game Crashes topic if you are encountering crashes or error messages.

 

System Requirements

The System Requirements for all games are listed on the Store page of each game. If your system does not meet the minimum requirements for a game or your system meets the minimum requirements but not the recommended configuration, you may need to upgrade the appropriate hardware, especially if your computer uses an integrated video controller. Upgrading your video card and memory can have an immediate effect on gameplay performance.

 

Manage System Resources

The amount of memory available for model loading and graphics rendering has a direct effect on the rate at which frames are displayed in games, and whether or not lag is apparent while playing.

Please observe the instructions below to reduce the hard drive read times for loading game levels and content, prevent video display conflicts, and increase the available processor time and memory for games on your system:

  1. Disable Background Applications - Please see the Disable Background Applications topic for instructions.
  2. Video Card Software - Any video card software for forcing particular video modes should be disabled. Please see the Refresh Rate and VSYNC topic for more information on managing your screen refresh rate.
  3. Free up memory - Be sure to have plenty of available RAM free.

    When insufficient RAM is free for game resources you will experience disk swapping, which will have a noticeable effect on FPS. (256 megabytes of RAM is the minimum amount of RAM required - model detail, water detail, HDR, and other video options enabled or increased will require a significantly greater amount of RAM to maintain a high FPS rate)
  4. Defragment Game Cache Files - Game Cache File (GCF) fragmentation may result in increased load times and sound skipping or stuttering.

    Please see the Defragmenting Game Cache Files topic for instructions for instructions to defragment your game cache files.

 

Use an Optimal Resolution

Increasing resolution, or any video option beyond your recommended settings will have a negative impact on your FPS.

If you have changed or 'tweaked' your settings and do not remember the original settings you can reset them with the instructions provided in the Reset Video Settings and Force a Video Mode topic.

 

Update your Video Drivers

Outdated video drivers may fail to make full use of your video card's capabilities. Please review the Updating Drivers topic for instructions.

You may also wish to check your video card manufacturer's site for more information on fine-tuning your video card for better performance - in some cases the default settings will not provide the best performance on your machine.

 

Tweak your Video Settings

Tweaking your games video options can increase your FPS, however, it is not supported. We cannot assist with video tweaking, or driver tweaking for better performance.

Important:

It is recommended that you use the factory default settings for your video card if you encounter random freezes (but not crashes) while playing or while loading maps.

Please see the Reset Video Settings and Force a Video Mode topic for instructions if you are experiencing inadequate performance and would like to lower your video resolution and DirectX level (this may help with older video cards and integrated video cards) to improve game performance.

 

 

AMD FX and Opteron CPUs with Windows 7

Microsoft has identified issues with Windows 7 that may result in reduced performance for the following CPUs:

  • AMD FX
  • AMD Opteron 4200
  • AMD Opteron 6200

If you have one of these CPUs and are encountering performance problems, please download and install the following patches:

 

 

Dual-core Troubleshooting

When playing older games, dual-core processor systems may need patches in order to improve performance.  Please see the Dual-core Troubleshooting article.

 

Use Launch Options

To use launch options in Valve Source and Goldsrc games to adjust detail levels and graphic rendering, please see the Setting Game Launch Options article.

 

The Game's Menu/Gameplay Lags but my Ping is Fine

This is normally a symptom of the Nvidia Network Access Manager software. If you are running this software, please follow these directions:

  1. Go to Add/Remove programs in your control panel
  2. Select change/remove "NVIDIA forceware Network Access Manager"
  3. Select "Modify" > "Next"
  4. Uncheck everything except: "Intelligent Application Manager" under Framework and Network Access Manager
  5. Finish the install process.
  6. Restart your computer

It is always strongly recommended that you disable all background applications for the best performance. For instructions on how to do so, please follow the Disabling Background Applications guide.

 

Problem with Steam?

Contact Steam Support
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