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Certain graphically intensive games I play tend to exhibit stuttering on my computer, and I don't know why.

The stuttering is usually in the form of FPS "dipping" for a fraction of a second, to a rate anywhere from half to a tenth of the normal one.

Lately this has been very bad with Chivalry: Medieval Warfare: The FPS will stay around 50, but every 1-2 seconds it will flash to 20 and perhaps less for an instant then go back up. The average FPS isn't affected much, but in practice this means that every 50th frame or so takes something like 100-200 milliseconds to render, which leads to noticeable stutter.

The issue isn't exclusive to Chivalry, it also happens with Torchlight 2 or Carrier Command, or any recent 3D game which my system can run just barely. I imagine the dipping may very well happen for older, less intensive games, but if the average time to render a frame is 5 ms, and the occasional frame takes 5 times as long, I won't notice it because 25 ms is still very short.

I am at a loss as to why this happens.

  • My AMD Radeon 5750 isn't exactly top of the line, but averaging over a second or more, my FPS can be pretty high despite obvious stutter. Thus, it shouldn't be a matter of not pushing enough polygons fast enough.
  • My WD Caviar Green is where I keep all my game files, and it isn't known for being fast. Mine is most likely malfunctioning as it often pauses for a few seconds when reading files (probably due to coming out of the sleep state). However, with games everything is loaded into memory anyway, so it shouldn't matter, and besides I get the same stutter on my faster spinny disk and my very fast SSD.
  • I have more than enough RAM.
  • My Athlon II x3 345 isn't the fastest, but why would a CPU cause every 100th frame to take much longer to draw?

To add to the frustration, I cannot get actual data on how long each frame took to load either.

Which piece of hardware is the bottleneck responsible for the stuttering?

Here is my dxdiag.txt file if it helps:

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Overheating of the CPU or GPU is always my first guess. Are all fans working? Are heat sinks clean and free of dust? Is the CPU heat sink properly mounted? – David Schwartz Nov 14 '12 at 17:59
With chivalry there is inherent engine lag that can even passed from the server. This is per the lead developer so I wouldn't worry about that game... I get 48 fps in 64 player servers on a 3930k @ 4.2ghz and gtx 580 3gb @ 850 mhz. Usage never spikes above 50% and is less than 5% on the CPU... That is just poorly written game. – Not Kyle stop stalking me Nov 14 '12 at 18:00
@DavidSchwartz No the heat sink is not clean and one fan is faulty. However the CPU never goes above 70C. Does that count as overheating? – Superbest Nov 14 '12 at 18:09
Have you tried disabling Aero while playing the game? – Darth Android Nov 14 '12 at 18:57

Do you have stable voltage in your house? I had a similar problem, where my computer would just slow/hangs for a second occasionally, then back to normal. I found after I bought and installed a UPS that had a built in voltage stabilization functionality, the problem went away.

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