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Framerate stuttering during gameplay, can anyone help?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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January 10, 2014 1:08:34 PM

Hey guys,

I'm a first timer here at Tom's Hardware (I've read articles/reviews/etc but first time posting). I have a hardware issue that I just can't, for the life of me, figure out what's going on. I've gone through some extensive troubleshooting, which I'll explain. This is kind of a long post, so thanks in advance to anyone willing to help me out :)  First, I'll outline the specs:


HARDWARE
--Case: Thermaltake Chaser MK-I
**** http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
--CPU: Ivy Bridge 3770k (stock and OC to 4.4, I've tried both and anywhere in between).
**** http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
--Mobo: ASRock Fatal1ty Professional (Z77 LGA 1155)
**** http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
--RAM: 2 x 8GB Gskill Ripjaw X DDR3 1600, 2 x 4GB Gskill Sniper DDR3 1600
**** http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
**** http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
--SSD: Intel 330 Series Maple Crest 120GB
**** http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
--HDD: WD Black 1TB SATA 6Gb/s (7200 RPM 64MB cache)
**** http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
--Video: 2 x EVGA GTX 680 Classified--4GB
**** http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
--Power Supply: OCZ 750w 80Plus Bronze
**** www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681734105...
--Heatsink: Thermaltake Water2.0 Closed-Loop Liquid CPU Cooler
**** www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1683510618...
--Monitor: Dell S2230MX 21.5"
**** www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?Item=N82E1682426005...
--Miscellaneous other components (Optical Drive, cool lighting, fan controller, etc)

SOFTWARE
--Windows 7 64bit
--Nvidia drivers: 332.21 whql (I have also tried older versions and betas)
--Steam and Origin
--FRAPS
--Nvidia ShadowPlay (for recording gameplay)

TESTING GAMES
--Battlefield 4
--Guild Wars 2
--Counter Strike: Global Offensive

OK, now that we know specs, let's get down to business. When I'm gaming, framerate jumps around quite a bit (with any game really, the ones listed above are just ones I'm using for testing). Typically I'll get the expected average FPS (I use FRAPS to show FPS), but every few seconds the framerate will drop dramatically (like down to 20-30) then jump right back up to where it's supposed to be (60+fps). Even in games that aren't quite so hardware intensive (CS:GO), I'll see the framerate average around 180fps, but with drops every couple of seconds down to 120fps, then right back up again. Even though 120fps is more than acceptable, the sudden drop causes a 'stutter' effect. This is REALLY difficult to deal with when playing competitively online (not to mention disheartening given the price of the components listed above). Also, I notice quite a bit of screen tearing in any game I play--something that for some reason, my buddies don't notice. The screen tearing is minor comparing to the stuttering, but thought I'd throw it in there.

Here's what I've tried so far (I of course blew out ALL the dust and such prior to these steps):
1) Remove a GTX 680, and try it with a single 680 (maybe SLI causing issues?). Then do the same with the other 680.
2) Do the same as step 1, except use the second PCIe 3.0 slot instead of the primary one.
3) Remove 2 x 4GB Gskill Sniper, and run with only 2 x 8GB Ripjaw X. Try this in Dual Channel, and Single (all possibilities of A and B channels). Try each of these variations with each technique from step 1 and 2.
4) Perform Step 3 again, except by removing the 2 x 8GB Ripjaw X and using the 2 x 4GB Sniper.
5) Update Motherboard bios to newest version. Re-perform steps 1-4.
6) Update SSD firmware. Re-perform steps 1-4.
7) Apply new Thermal Paste and re-seat Heatsink. Re-perform steps 1-4.
8) Wipe the OS, and build fresh. Re-perform steps 1-4.
9) Borrow my buddy's EVGA GTX 760. Re-perform steps 1-4 (of course with the correct driver).

Not a single one of the above steps resolved the issue, and yea, it took quite some time. I'm so frustrated at this point that it's possible the answer is right in front of me and I can't see it. Or not, who knows. Anyways, can anyone help me out here? I'm more than happy to upload screenshots, gameplay videos, configs, etc. Also, if I'm missing any information, let me know and I'll update.

Again, I SOOO appreciate any help/tips/thoughts that any of you may have. I've got a PC that should be destroying these games, and it's frustrating to be going through this. I'm not sure what else to try, please help!!

Thanks :) 

Best solution

January 10, 2014 1:52:21 PM

well i had the same problem with my configuration at bf4 although fps was hovering between 60-80 at times there was that irritating stutter! problem solved after disabling core parking, using this utility:

http://www.coderbag.com/Programming-C/Disable-CPU-Core-...
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January 10, 2014 4:06:07 PM

Wow, that does seem to help out quite a bit. Thanks chris987. I'll have to do some more extended testing to be sure though (gotta play me some more video games, oh darn..) lol. I'll let you know how it goes after an evening of gaming. Thanks again.

Side note--have you experienced the screen tearing? It seems like if I don't turn on vsync, i see screen tearing. Enabling vsync takes the tearing away, but results in lower fps, and feels just a little bit slower on the mouse response...
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January 10, 2014 11:16:59 PM

unfortunately image tearing is inevitable with vsync off even with a 120hz monitor in your case, since you score 180fps.
200hz monitors doesnt exist yet!:)  what about adaptive vsync nvidia has? also keep in mind micro stutter may occur due to sli setup! disabling core unpark also helped in other games too, not only minimizing tearing but also increasing fps! im running windows 7 64bit. i've heard that on windows 8 you dont need to unpark cores when running on desktop pc. you could make good use of 120-144hz monitor they are quite expensive though!
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January 10, 2014 11:33:35 PM

Nice, I've had the chance to do some extensive testing tonight. I'd definitely have to say that was the fix. There is the occasional dip, but I was expecting that because of the SLI lke you were saying. I did go ahead and try with only 1 card, and it was perfect. I do have a 120-144hz monitor that I bought a few months ago (an asus 24" cant remember the model), but the colors were just WAY off--brights such as snow were straight up blinding. Either way, I'd say that my very frustrating issue has been resolved, and I can finally sleep at night lol. Much appreciated chris987.
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January 10, 2014 11:43:10 PM

no problem man glad i could help. about the colors try a manual calibration of your monitor. i have benq 2420t and by the box calibration was awful.i found several custom options that improved color reproduction and contrast, great deal!
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