How-to identify which component is possibly bottlenecking your gaming experience.

Learn how your hard drive, SSD, RAM, CPU and Graphics Card can affect your game, to the point of bottlenecking, and how to resolve or correct some of the issues.

Episode #9-37 released on April 28, 2019

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You are playing a video game, and suddenly your frames per second drop without reason to frame rate so unbearably slow, what happened?

Computers are fickle and complex machines, and how a video game, or even any application, is coded, optimized and updated over time has an impact on performance, for better or for worse.

Since, many games and programs use the graphics card to render graphical user interfaces, it may be useful to know the relationship between all the parts in the computer so when you purchase computer components you don't waste money on configurations that are not likely to work well together.

Order of operation, your applications and games are stored on hard drives or SSDs. The speed of those devices will determine how fast anything can be loaded. Spinning hard drives are slower but currently have more storage. SSDs can be faster and loading times will be shorter.

The processor makes requests for data from the hard drive or SSD and stores anything into either it's cache or RAM. The amount of RAM will greatly determine how much of the data the CPU needs stays in RAM. Too little RAM and you will be relying on virtual memory making the process slower again. It is a good idea to have a little more RAM than what you need, just in case.

Once the processor gets to executing code, especially graphical user interface items, which is call a draw call, it prepares and executes many of the commands and sends them to the graphics card to be rendered by the graphics processing unit. Depending on the settings of the application or game, if there are too many texture items to be rendered, the resulting frame rate will be lower to compensate for insufficient Virtual RAM. 4K requires a minimum of 4GB of VRAM for low to medium settings, and do not expect 60 frames per second in those cases. Higher VRAM means better graphics, faster GPU means more FPS, with a catch.

Back to the CPU, if the CPU has too many draw calls, it will max out its performance. When a CPU is behaving normally, and everything is balanced, the GPU can run up to 100% without overtaxing the CPU. An over taxed CPU will result in the graphics card remaining in idle rendering fewer frames per second, making the game play experience unbearable. This is definitely an issue for games with greater amounts of draw calls and coding practices not meant for the computers the users are using. This was definitely an issue for games like Assassin's Creed Unity when it first game out. This can sometimes be solved by using a newer game engine like DirectX 12, Vulcan, etc. which are less dependent on the CPU for draw calls taxing the CPU a lot less.

Now, how does one know which part is bottlenecking the computer?

Press Control+Alt+Escape to bring up the task manager, under performance you will see which component is being taxed the most. GPUs can run at 100% and that is actually good. CPUs, RAM, hard disks and SSDs running at 100% is actually a bad sign since it indicates that each component is being taxed more than it should be. Depending on what is being taxed the most, you can either adjust the visual settings for the game or change the part that is being over taxed.

If you are running out of RAM, add more ram.

If your hard drive or SSD is being over taxed, buy or install on a faster drive or SSD.

If the CPU is being overtaxed, consider upgrading or turning down the quality settings in game.

And, if your graphics card isn't running at 100% you are not getting the full experience possible. Keep in mind that using Vsync will reduce tearing in gameplay and match the FPS to your monitor and result in the graphics card not running at 100% either.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Dot Net

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