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How To Fix FPS Drops? The ULTIMATE Guide!


FPS drops are one of the most frustrating things a gamer can experience, other than the lag, of course. However, there is typically a relatively simple solution to resolve FPS drops, and in this article, we will list multiple ways you can do just that.

How to fix FPS drops? There are several ways to fix FPS drops, such as malware removal, updating drivers, changing windows settings, and getting new components.

Since many things can cause FPS drops, we have created a complete list that will lay out just about everything that can be causing it and how you can fix it!

How To Fix FPS Drops?

Upgrading Your CPU To Remove A Bottleneck

It’s normal for a GPU to be running at 70-100% while playing a game because it has a much more intensive job to do.

CPUs also have an essential job, but they shouldn’t be running anywhere near 100% while playing any game.

If your CPU is running at 100%, that means that your CPU is bottlenecking your build, and you need a stronger CPU to match your GPUs strength.

You can measure whether your CPU is bottlenecking your build by installing the MSI Afterburner tool or another benchmarking tool.

Make sure during the installation for MSI Afterburner that you also install the RIVA tool. Then, run the installer for the tool, and once installed, click the settings icon. 

When you open settings, click on the monitoring tab and click on the statistics you want to measure in the on-screen display.

Click the checkmark to the left of the stat’s name and click on the stat you want to measure.

Once the box is highlighted and you are modifying the settings for that stat, look below and check the tick box that says “Show in On-Screen Display.”

For what we are measuring, you should activate the GPU usage measurement and the CPU usage measurement.

Then, play the game you are currently playing, and in the top left, you should see two measurements.

If you notice that the CPU usage one says 100% and the GPU usage stat says something less than 80%, that is a sign that your CPU is a bottleneck.

Unfortunately, the only real fix if this is your problem is to buy a new CPU. Look for more cores, threads, and a higher clock speed for a proper upgrade.

The upside is, if you haven’t upgraded in a while, there should be several useful upgrades you can make for an affordable price.

Make Sure You Are Using The Correct GPU

Sometimes if you are using a CPU with integrated graphics and have a dedicated graphics card plugged in, there can be a conflict.

This conflict can result in Windows choosing the integrated graphics over the dedicated graphics card, which leads to poor performance.

Before we get into a highly complicated fix, make sure your HDMI or DisplayPort cable is plugged into your GPU and not your motherboard.

When I first built my PC many years ago, I made this mistake. Luckily it was corrected before I played any games, but it’s a typical beginner mistake that you should check for just in case.

If you notice that you are way, way below the performance you think you should be getting, there is a way to ensure you are using your dedicated NVIDIA graphics card.

  1. Right-click your desktop.
  2. Choose the “use the advanced 3D image settings” option.
  3. Click “manage 3D settings” in the left sidebar, under “3D Settings”.
  4. Under global settings, make the preferred graphics processor the high-performance NVIDIA processor option.
  5. Then, click the “Configure Surround, PhysX” option in the left sidebar.
  6. Change the processor to your dedicated GPU.
  7. Make sure you press apply after every change.

To check if you have an integrated graphics card in the first place, check the device manager and look under the Display Adapters dropdown.

If you notice an Intel Integrated Graphics option and your dedicated graphics card is listed there, you have two GPUs.

If that is the case, follow the guide above to ensure you are using the correct GPU for the best performance.

Re-Install The Game You Have An Issue With

If it is one specific game causing you issues, you should consider uninstalling and reinstalling the game.

This strategy has worked several times for me, as sometimes there is an issue in the installation or download that leads to issues in-game.

For example, once with Apex Legends, I had tons of textures that weren’t loading in and appeared as all-black shapes instead of a texture—reinstalling the game fixed it perfectly!

If this problem is consistent across multiple games, this may not work for you. But it’s worth trying if only a particular game is troubling you.

Check For A RAM Shortage

Modern games can use more than 8GB of RAM, so if you are currently using 8GB of RAM or less, you will likely have frame drops and worse performance.

Games like Call Of Duty: Warzone can experience a HUGE LAG when supplied only with 8GB of RAM, as you can see in this video.

This is another type of bottleneck on your build that you can quickly and cost-effectively remedy by buying another stick of 8GB RAM if you are only using one stick at the moment.

If you are using two sticks of 4GB RAM, I would highly recommend that you don’t buy another stick. Instead, I recommend you purchase two new 8GB sticks and replace what you are currently using.

16GB of RAM will be the absolute minimum you should use, although if you have the funds to future-proof your build, you can go for 32GB.

If you want to measure your RAM usage in games, go to MSI Afterburner and add it to the list of measurements you want to see in your on-screen display.

If you haven’t set up MSI Afterburner yet, the guide is above in the CPU bottleneck section.

Here’s another video comparing every type of RAM with a proper dual-channel setup for the 8GB. If you have only one stick, the performance will be even worse than what this video shows.

Check For Malware!

The internet is riddled with several traps that can easily lay adware or malware on your computer only to cause severe issues with your computer.

Other than changing your web behavior by being more cautious when downloading things and always minding what links you click and what websites you’re on, there is malware software.

Malware software can detect malware or adware on your computer and remove it, so you don’t suffer the performance loss that it often causes.

The software I use to remove malware is called Malwarebytes. I have the paid version for live protection, but all you need is the free version.

The free version of Malwarebytes can scan your computer when prompted on the home screen of the app. It will look for any sign of malware on your computer, and if it finds anything suspicious, it will quarantine it.

After the malware is placed into quarantine, you can delete it inside the app’s quarantine section. While set in the quarantine section, the malware should no longer pose a threat to your computer.

But if you know something is malware or aren’t familiar with what is put into quarantine; you should probably delete it to be safe.

With that being said, there are sometimes false positives, so if you know this to be true, you can remove it from quarantine.

For example, after I installed Superhot, I ran a malware scan a day later, and it was put into the quarantine bin. I knew Superhot is a game and not malware, so I removed it.

That’s it. A malware scan will take maybe 5 minutes to scan your whole system, and if malware is found and removed, it should reduce if not get rid of your FPS drops.

Poor Optimization Of A Game

If you are playing a specific game or a few games you play that have bad FPS drops and the rest are acceptable, it may be the game.

PUBG was famous for this when the game had just released because it was so poorly optimized and wasn’t correctly using all the power of your computer.

More recently, when Cyberpunk 2077 was first released, it also had an awful performance that put the most powerful machines to shame.

Unfortunately, this happens too often these days.

In this case, the only immediate fix you can do is lower your graphical settings until you reach a good enough FPS with lows that aren’t unbearable.

Over time the company that makes the game should release several patches and updates that fix the game’s performance issues, but this can take weeks, if not months, to do.

So unless you are willing to wait it out, you will likely have to reduce your graphical settings one by one until you can reach a good enough FPS.

Make Sure You Aren’t Mistaking The FPS Drops For Lag.

If you’ve gotten to this point, you may have already ruled this out, but this can be easily confused if you are a newer member of PC gaming.

Lag happens in online games and results from a poor internet connection, not necessarily your PC.

An excellent way to rule this out is to turn on a ping counter or latency counter in-game if there is an option for it in the menu.

Sometimes this is also tucked away in the leaderboard in games like Call Of Duty or Rainbow Six Siege.

Nonetheless, look for spikes in ping, packet loss, or weak signal connection as these all happen during lag and can sometimes feel very similar to FPS drops.

Updating Your GPU Drivers

This is a routine thing you will continue to do throughout your whole time owning a PC, especially if you intend to play a newer title.

It’s common practice for graphics card companies to create drivers for new games before they release, so try to grab them before you begin playing.

You should also continue to check for new drivers as time progresses because, occasionally, more drivers are needed to improve performance.

Drivers help the graphics card, and operating system work together to obtain better optimization, and better performance needed for new games.

This, in some cases, can help with FPS drops in a newer title because the drivers support the GPU in doing its job better.

Also, drivers sometimes include fantastic new features that you can toggle on and off in-game to achieve more FPS.

I’m talking about DLSS, a feature that aims to have no graphical downgrading but a massive FPS increase.

However, DLSS is up to game developers to implement into their game. This is why not all games have it at first, but in the future, when they do add it, it will be introduced through a graphics driver update.

That’s why you should stay current with your graphics drivers. They can help get you better performance in both higher FPS and more stable FPS.

Check Your Cooling On Your GPU And CPU

If your components are getting too hot, this may lead to thermal throttling or malfunctions that create FPS drops and unstable performance.

Thermal throttling is a function that happens when a component gets too hot and is throttled in power to prevent it from reaching extreme temperatures.

This can happen with many parts. If the thermal throttling fails to succeed, this will lead to a system’s shutdown, as an emergency caution.

To measure your CPU or GPU temps, go into MSI Afterburner under the monitoring tab and add CPU and GPU temps to the measure and on-screen display.

This will give you an idea of how hot those two parts are running during your time playing the game.

If you notice that your temps are reaching very high numbers as your FPS is dropping, you may be experiencing thermal throttling.

To fix this for a CPU, you should check the thermal pasting and the CPU fan.

First, make sure the CPU fan is on and functioning while the PC is in use. If it isn’t, make sure the cables are secured into the fan slots on the motherboard.

If the CPU fan still isn’t cooling, you may have an issue with the CPU cooler, and you should contact the support for that product for more information.

If the CPU fan is spinning at its maximum and still not cooling, you may need to buy a new CPU cooler.

Consider buying either a larger CPU fan, if that is what you are using, or some type of aftermarket water-cooling system.

Second, before you buy a new CPU cooler, you may want to check your thermal pasting to make sure you put enough on or that it hasn’t worn out.

As you can see in this video, putting too much on isn’t much of an issue regarding temperatures.

However, what isn’t shown is when you put too little thermal paste.

If you put very little to no thermal paste on, it can also affect your CPU temperatures.

Thermal paste is a medium to transfer heat from the CPU to your CPU cooler. Without enough, the heat won’t get transferred properly, but all you need is a pea-sized drop.

As long as you have at least a pea-sized drop of thermal paste on your CPU, you should be fine here.

Regarding the wearing out of thermal paste over time, as thermal paste gets worn out it can perform its job worse. So if you have been using the same thermal paste for many years, you may want to clean up your CPU and apply a new layer of thermal paste.

Next, we have the GPU. There isn’t a whole ton you can do to help the cooling on your GPU, but there are a couple of things to try nonetheless.

If you see your GPU is running at 80 degrees Celsius, you should start looking at options to cool it down.

When I was playing Red Dead Redemption 2 for the first time, I noticed my computer was getting super hot.

My solution was to install EVGA Precision at the time, but you can also do this in MSI Afterburner and up the fan curve.

The fan curve shows how fast your fan is going to run and at what temperature. It’s a curve because as your GPU temperatures go higher, so will the GPU fans’ speed.

Alternatively, you can also set your GPU to always run the fans at a speed of your choice.

This is a good option if you don’t want to deal with fan curves. Or want to find what fan speed will keep your GPU cool, so you know what to change in the fan curve.

Now let’s talk about how you can change your fan curve.

If your MSI Afterburner looks like this, click the cogwheel next to fan speed, which will activate user-defined fan speeds.

showing MSI Afterburner

If you are in a different looking interface, you can either hover over the buttons to see the description or activate it in the settings under the Fan tab. You are looking for the User Defined option for fan speed.

After you have activated this, you can test the default fan curve by playing a game and monitoring the GPU temp in the on-screen display.

If you notice the GPU is still going to very high temps, back out of the game and return to MSI Afterburner.

From here, click the settings cogwheel for MSI Afterburner, and navigate to the tab labeled Fan.

Once in the fan tab, you will see a chart with the temperature at the bottom and fan speed percentage along the left side.

If you click and drag the points on the graph up, you will increase the fan speed at that temperature, and if you drag it down, it will decrease the fan speed at that temperature.

It is advised that you have higher fan speeds as the temperature increases, so be sure you don’t accidentally mess that up.

I use a more aggressive fan curve that works for me, but if you notice higher temperatures, you can increase the fan speed at hotter temperatures and create your custom fan curve.

This worked great for me and did help stabilize my performance while playing RDR2 on my ultrawide monitor, which was quite strenuous.

If this doesn’t work for you, I would recommend checking the airflow in your case to make sure the heat is appropriately able to escape.

Spaces where hot air from your PC’s components are still can cause the components in that area to become hotter.

Your case should at least have one intake and one outtake, but ideally, it should have two intakes.

If you already have a case with the minimum requirements, you can add more fans to the top or bottom to increase the flow of air in your case.

About a year ago, I put two large case fans at the bottom of my PC with air blowing directly at my GPU, and it seems to be running cooler.

It’s also beneficial for my M.2, which runs hotter and is in a place that typically has hot air and inadequate airflow.

Lower Your Graphical Settings

This is typically where most people start, so forgive me if this one is a bit obvious.

By default, games can get a bit ambitious when it comes to graphics settings. If you have any decent graphics card, it usually puts you at ultra-high settings that can be very straining on your GPU.

It also is going to make your FPS much lower at the cost of having better visual quality.

However, if you take your settings down to high if you have a better GPU or to medium or low, if you have an older GPU, you can stabilize and increase your FPS.

This is due to the load you are taking off the GPU to process higher-quality graphics and make the images simpler and easier for the GPU to draw.

At the very least, if you can get your FPS high enough, the FPS drops will be less noticeable if you are dropping from 100 to 60, for example.

Then, especially if the example above is realistic, I would recommend capping your FPS at 60, so you can run a stable frame rate with minor drops.

Turning Off These Windows Settings

Windows 10 has included plenty of unnecessary features that will either go unused or duplicate something else you may already have.

In this instance, the game DVR can cause some performance issues, so turning it off may help solve your FPS being lower.

Although I could try to explain this somehow myself, this YouTube video explains it best and provides detailed instructions.

While we are talking about turning off Windows 10 settings, I’ll mention one you may want to turn on.

  1. Navigate to your Windows settings, 
  2. Click System, then Power Options. 
  3. Once in the Power Options tab, click on the Additional power settings option.
  4. Choose high performance under preferred plans.

This ensures your power is focusing on performance rather than managing your energy consumption.

Upgrading Your Tech

If you’ve reached the point where you’ve either tried or ruled out all the solutions above to no avail, then it may be time to upgrade your tech.

If you have older equipment, that can impact your performance in-game to a point where you might experience big frame drops or low FPS.

Newer games are only becoming more demanding, so getting a more powerful GPU or CPU will be essential if you are using tech older than five years old.

Changing Your NVIDIA Graphics Settings

With both NVIDIA graphics cards and AMD graphics cards, you can modify your GPU’s control panel settings to get better performance.

This has hugely helped people with FPS drops and stutters, but it has also largely increased many people’s FPS.

My settings are a bit messy at the moment, I’ve watched several of these videos in the past year, and I have mixed and matched them all to suit my PC.

So, here are two separate in-depth guides for AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards so you too can optimize your graphics card settings for the best FPS.

NVIDIA:

AMD RADEON:

Wrap Up

Hopefully, one of these fixes was able to help fix your FPS drop issues. We tried to include as many as we could that have helped resolve this issue for people in the past.

Some things like using an SSD instead of an HDD or GPU power cables might make a slight difference in newer games, but for the most part, they only seemed to improve FPS slightly rather than fix FPS drops.

As for the rest, I believe I have done most things on this list at some point in time to fix an issue I’ve had with FPS or otherwise on my PC.

I recommend starting with some more straightforward fixes and then moving into the more technical ones because sometimes the 5-minute fixes are all you need.

Tom

I've been a PC gamer and builder for around 3 years now but my love for gaming spans many years all the way back to the Nintendo 64! Getting into PC gaming there was a lot of information that was hard to understand so I made it my mission to make PC gaming easy!

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