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[PC] Tips for Diagnosing Frame Stalls During Races

HooHoo Member, Codemasters admin

Due to numerous reports of stuttering during races from  PC users, we’ve collated some of the various tips from the community to help troubleshoot the issue and work out where the problem lies. If you can’t find a solution from the list below, then please provide us with as much info as you can and we’ll see if we can offer anymore help. Remember to post your basic system specs and send through your dxdiag and hardware_settings file to us to help us build up a picture of what is happening. If we can identify specific issues then we will likely split these off into separate threads to focus on that issue.

For anyone experiencing stuttering in the front end, replays or online sessions only, please search our technical support forum for previous reports of the issue and post a new issue if needed. All information on posting new issues, or providing additional information to help track down issues can be found here.


Confirm when the issue occurs

If the problem you have always occurs at a certain section of track, or when a specific thing happens in the game then this should be logged as a new support thread, with as much information provided as possible so that we can replicate the problem in our test lab. If the issue occurs all of the time, or at random points during play then please work through the suggestions below and see if these help to locate the source of the problem.


Check the PC minimum specifications

The intention of the PC minimum specifications is to provide gameplay greater than 30fps on the lowest graphical settings under normal Windows conditions. If your hardware fails to meet these minimum specifications then there is a chance that you will experience performance issues when playing the game. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer additional support for players whose PC’s do not meet the minimum requirements The minimum PC specifications can be found here

 

Update your drivers

Please ensure that all key system drivers are up-to-date, including your graphics card and sound card drivers. This is the most common source of issues, so please double-check these. We would recommend doing a clean install of the graphics drivers – check NVidia and AMD websites for details on how to do this.

 

Validate your Steam Files

Our next most common cause of this issue is with the Steam cache becoming corrupt, particularly after a patch. Please validate your Steam files and see if this helps with your issue.

 

Lower your graphics settings

Various issues can be caused by having the graphics settings set incorrectly. This can either be that the settings are too high generally and your system can’t cope with them, or there are specific settings are not playing well with your system. Try lowering your graphics settings to the minimum settings and see if this has any affect on the frame drops that you are seeing. If the problem is no longer seen at this setting, then try increasing the settings one-by-one until you find a good balance of quality vs. performance, or  until you identify a specific setting that is causing problems. If there is a specific setting causing an issue then please let us know which this is in the thread below and be sure to tell us your system specs too. It may be necessary to send through your dxdiag and hardware settings to allow us to investigate this further - see instructions on how to do this here.


Increase your graphics settings

It sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes raising the graphics settings can shift the bottleneck on your system which could be the cause of the stalls you are seeing. Try increasing the gfx settings or resolution. It will likely result in a lower frame rate, but may alleviate stalls.

 

Try Fullscreen and Windowed Mode

There have been reports of frame rate being better / worse in either fullscreen or windowed mode. To see if this has an effect on your experience, please try adjusting the Display setting in the Graphics -> Video Mode menu to “Fullscreen” and running the game for a while, and then set this to “Windowed” mode and run the game for a while and see if this has any effect on the frame stall issue. You may also want to try “Windowed (fullscreen)” mode too. If you notice any significant change in the frame stall problem using the different modes then please let us know.

 

Enable / Disable Game DVR

Game DVR comes with Windows 10 and there have been anecdotal reports of it both improving stuttering, and also of it being the cause of stuttering. To open the Game DVR menu press WindowsKey + G when the game is running.  Scroll to the Game Mode setting to the right and change the setting to see if this makes a difference to the frame stalls. It is expected that enabling Game Mode will improve performance on lower-end PCs, or those with lots of other programs running in the background, but it may end up exacerbating stalls due to excessive load on the system.


Disable Trigger Rumble on Wireless Xbox One Controller

There have been reports of micro stutters caused by using a wireless Xbox One controller with the trigger rumble feature enabled. Try disabling this and see if the issue goes away. To do this, enter the Options menu and select Settings -> Controls, Vibrations & Force Feeback -> Trigger Rumble and set this option to “Off”.


Disable conflicting software

Some third-party software has been known to conflict with the game when running at the same time. This may include performance and profiling software, streaming software and video capture applications. Please try running the game with these disabled to see if this affects the issue that you are having. If you notice any specific software conflicts then please let us know the details in the thread below and we will investigate further.


Disable conflicting hardware

Some peripherals have been known to cause some conflicts with the game in the past. To ensure that this isn’t the case for you, please disconnect any non-essential hardware from your PC (e.g. just keep mouse, keyboard and monitor connected) and run the game again to see if that makes a difference. If so, then add your other devices back in one at a time and let us know which one is causing the issue to occur.

 

Stop Windows Update

There have been reports of Windows Updates starting in the background while the game is running. This can affect the performance of the CPU and your disk access times which can result in stuttering. If you notice that this is running when you are seeing frame stalls then either wait and let your Windows Updates complete before resuming play, or stop the Windows Updates manually and see if this resolves the issue.


Limit the frame rate

Capping the framerate may give the PC a little extra headroom to cope with the demand thrown at it, or for moments where the hardware is struggling to feed the graphics card sufficiently. AMD CATALYST drivers have support in the FRTC utility to limit frame rate. For NVidia, there are a range of third-party apps that offer this functionality. Configure the necessary program to cap the frame rate to a lower value than your system would normally handle at the current graphics settings and then check if this affects the frame stall issue.

If this resolves the frame stalls then you may want to determine if a specific hardware problem is causing this issue. This is generally beyond the scope of our own forums, but this set of steps may allow a user to identify if specific issues with the graphics card or power supply are at play here: 

  • Install GPU-Z or similar GPU profiler
  • Run the game with the normal settings that produce the stutter
  • When you notice a stutter, check the logs in the GPU profiler to confirm what error is given. GPU-Z will state in the PerfCap row the reason for performance drops.


Disable texture streaming

Some stuttering was known to be caused by texture streaming, where the game is struggling to bring in the required textures quickly enough. This issue is more prevalent when the game is installed on mechanical drives. Recent fixes (v1.07) should have resolved most texture streaming problems, but you can double-check whether texture streaming is affecting this issue for you by manually disabling texture streaming using the following steps:

  • Browse to "...\Documents\My Games\<game_folder>\hardwaresettings\"
  • Locate the file "hardware_settings_config.xml" and open with any text editor
  • Locate the lines to do with texture streaming and edit it so that it reads as follows:
<texture_streaming sizeInMiB="0" />

 

Test Gysnc and Freesync

Some instances of stuttering and frame drop may be the result of certain monitor configurations. If both your graphics card and monitor are compatible with either Gysnc or Freesync then try the following:

If your GPU and monitor are capable of G-Sync try turning it on by accessing “Set up G-Sync” in the Nvidia control panel, select enable G-Sync, and click apply

If your GPU and monitor are capable of FreeSync try turning it on by opening the Radeon Settings app from your desktop, selecting “Display”, ensuring the “AMD FreeSync” option is set to “ON”, and closing Radeon Settings.

  • (https://www.amd.com/en/support/kb/faq/dh-013)
  • On some monitors you may also need to activate the option for FreeSync in your Monitor’s OSD.
  • If you are already using FreeSync and experiencing stutters try running F1 2018 with FreeSync turned off instead.

Please note some users recommend capping the frame rate just under your gsync/freesync rate to improve input lag whilst benefitting from the improved update rate.

Comments

  • steviejay69steviejay69 Member Petrol Head
    Game Bar is supposed to pause updates and kill notifications whilst playing in the latest version of W10. So turning it off you might need to enable Focus Assist to achieve the same thing. Consider setting your internet connection to metered to halt Windows Update.

    You can pause updates with W10 Pro not so great with with W10 Home. O & O Shut Up 10 is probably one of the third party utilities that if applied aggressively can make W10 behave abnormally.

  • SoloWingXSoloWingX Member New Car Smell
    Tried the game installed on SSD system drive, SSD non-system drive, HDD. Frame rate is limited to 65 FPS since the very beginning using MSI Afterburner, since there is no in-game FPS limiter. And V-Sync/Windowed is out of the question while using a wheel due to input lag. The GPU temps float around 78 Celsius, below my GTX 1060 6GBs temperature throttling limit (82 degrees Celsius). There is no CPU or GPU bottleneck according to the usage data. Disabled Game DVR, and re-enabled it for further tests. No "conflicting" hardware is connected to my PC, wireless keyboard, wired mouse, T300, monitor via DVI. From the software side, Steam, Origin, MSI Afterburner... aaand that's all. Tried putting texture streaming to zero, no help.

    I mean, I almost tried everything. (I won't disable Windows Update to play a game. A game developed for PC among other platforms should be able to cope with a basic feature of the main OS it is developed for). I don't have a beast of a PC, but people with modern i7s and 1080Tis are getting the same problem. The issue is NOT with our hardware. I know what CPU bottleneck feels/looks like. I know what GPU bottleneck feels/looks like. This issue has been present in F1 2016 and 2017. F1 2017 was the first game from your team that I considered somewhat "enjoyable" with a wheel. F1 2018 is miles better. But I can't play it seriously, since I am not focused on the racing, but the stutter. "Hunting down" an opponent, getting closer and closer a few tenths per lap, then losing time when getting a 2s stutter in a corner or during a battle. I could get over it in a single player RPG, but not in a racing game, especially a simulator "wannabe". This issue is tied to your game engine. And as long as you are using this engine, and do not prove me you solved this problem, I am not buying another game from this company. I gave you too many second chances anyway. (Is DiRT Rally 2.0 built on the same engine? Although I did not have this problem with DiRT Rally "1" IIRC.)

    Just one question... have you thought about it being a problem with NVIDIA not cooperating well with your engine? While I saw reports with Intel/AMD CPUs, the majority of the users had NVIDIA GPUs. Just a thought. (Don't take my paragraph above as a rant, but as a university student with no stable income I can not waste money on games I can not enjoy, especially if it's caused by a "bug", while the game itself is pretty great. I want this problem solved.)
  • supersnelsupersnel Member New Car Smell
    Thanks for the support Codies! This game has improved a whole lot since its release, but it was needed ofcourse. There's still some work that needs to be done though.

    In the mean time, capping the FPS in NVinspector and just trying out everything you can do seemed to solve the problem for me. My video card is never hitting the power limit (always around 80%) and I've now played around a lot with my video card settings. With overclocking it slightly and raising the voltage limit it works quite well. I can't specifically tell if it is because of these settings or not, but the problem now seemed to have solved it for itself. I still notice it when the FPS is not capped though, sometimes the frame stalling return for a while. So for all safety, I keep it capped at 73 FPS.
    Sometimes, I suddenly get low framerates (10 FPS) when sitting in the garage, don't know if this has anything to do with it. After a minute or so the framerate suddenly returns to normal.
    And then something else I experienced.:I got a 3d3 device error, that's just some extra information to add.

    1.12 seems promising, and although I haven't tried it out, it seems like you guys did some optimizations based on the patch notes.

    So thanks a lot for the cooperation Codies!
    Big thanks to you @Hoo!

    And you know were to find me. Maybe if I am in the mood for it, I'll try to participate in the beta if you are doing one next year. I so want this game franchise to grow!
  • steviejay69steviejay69 Member Petrol Head
    supersnel said:
    Thanks for the support Codies! This game has improved a whole lot since its release, but it was needed ofcourse. There's still some work that needs to be done though.

    In the mean time, capping the FPS in NVinspector and just trying out everything you can do seemed to solve the problem for me. My video card is never hitting the power limit (always around 80%) and I've now played around a lot with my video card settings. With overclocking it slightly and raising the voltage limit it works quite well. I can't specifically tell if it is because of these settings or not, but the problem now seemed to have solved it for itself. I still notice it when the FPS is not capped though, sometimes the frame stalling return for a while. So for all safety, I keep it capped at 73 FPS.
    Sometimes, I suddenly get low framerates (10 FPS) when sitting in the garage, don't know if this has anything to do with it. After a minute or so the framerate suddenly returns to normal.
    And then something else I experienced.:I got a 3d3 device error, that's just some extra information to add.

    1.12 seems promising, and although I haven't tried it out, it seems like you guys did some optimizations based on the patch notes.

    So thanks a lot for the cooperation Codies!
    Big thanks to you @Hoo!

    And you know were to find me. Maybe if I am in the mood for it, I'll try to participate in the beta if you are doing one next year. I so want this game franchise to grow!
    They really need to come out with a new approach. Just rinsing the data through tweak after tweak to EGO isn't really working. And the data rinsing isn't going great either. This game is an embarassment.

    Something needs to change. I've just about given up.

  • PlegeKossuPlegeKossu Member New Car Smell
    I followed pretty much all the tips given in OP. Still no solution on stuttering issues. It happens both offline and online and visual options don't matter. Limiting fps lowers CPU and GPU loads and temps but doesn't stop stuttering. Stutters/frame stalls happen regularly but randomly. I haven't been able to find out anything in gameplay that triggers it. The lenght of stalls vary from 0,1 s to 2 s and sound stalls too at the same time.

    So I haven't found solution BUT I have found some evidence what happens in GPU during stalls. I got data from gpu-z and made a chart out of it. I don't know how to attach it here but I sent a message to community(at)codemasters.com with the file.

    Here's what happens in my system which is i5-4670K, GeForce 1060 6GB, RAM 8GB, fps limited to 60:
    1. Fps is normal 60. GPU load 60-80 % and temp 67 C, core clock 1860 MHz and memory clock 2003 MHz. Voltage 1,05 V.
    2. GPU load starts to drop from 60 % to 40 % during a few seconds
    3. GPU load suddenly drops to below 10 %
    4. 2 seconds after this PerfCap triggers state 8 (idle), GPU voltage drops to 0,63 V, core clock to below 800 MHz, memory clock to 1900 MHz
    5. 3 secondc after this memory clock drops first to 405 MHz anf finally to 203 MHZ. Core clock dips to 139 MHz. This goes on for 2 seconds and during this time GPU load fluctuates between 0 to 26 %. This 2 second time is where the frame stall happens. It's like a hiccup.
    6. After the hiccup the GPU load goes to 99 % for 0,2 seconds and settles then to normal 60 %. PerfCap goes back to state 4. At the same time the voltage goes back to 1,04 V, core clock to 1860 MHz and memory clock to 2003 MHz. Fps goes to normal 60.
    7. Everything goes fine and smooth until next hiccup, which can happen again randomly after 10 seconds or 10 minutes.
    The chart would clarify this explanation but bear with me. My conclusion from this all is that for some unknown reason the GPU load drops, which triggers the card to the power save mode. It seems there's a 2 second buffer, when GPU load can be low before idle mode is triggered. In example above the low load situation lasts about 7 seconds. I thought that my CPU could be bottlenecking the GPU, but it doesn't seem to do that because CPU load stays all the time between 40 % and 60 %. Game is on SSD and WIN10 is on another SSD. With capping frames to different values I get different CPU and GPU loads, but this load dropping still happens anyways.

    Do you know if it's possible to increase this low load buffer time somehow in drivers or with Afterburner or else?
    Or is it somehow possible to lock GPU frequencies to constant value?

    Would be nice if CM could attach the graph I sent to this message.
  • steviejay69steviejay69 Member Petrol Head
    There is one on a review of an RTX2080, still got stutter lol

  • HooHoo Member, Codemasters admin

    Would be nice if CM could attach the graph I sent to this message.
    Here is the image you sent us:


    Looking at the log data you send, the long period preceding the spike is showing the perfcap reason as 4 ("Reliability. Indicating perf is limited by reliability voltage"). That might be normal for your setup though.

    It's an interesting graph - the deterioration from 2-5 seconds and then the shapr drop in voltage and performance at 8 seconds. I'll send this to the devs to see if they can explain any of it. Do you know if any other software was kicking in in the background during this time?
  • PlegeKossuPlegeKossu Member New Car Smell
    Thank you Hoo for adding the graph.

    If i've understood right, the PerfCap allways gives some code. Code 4 means that the card is operating at reliable voltage level. Code 14 means it's idling because there's no load.

    I'm quite sure there was no other programs interfering at that moment because the CPU wasn't spiking.

    I found a promising setting in NVidia control panel, the Power management mode. It was set to "adaptive". I changed it to "prefer maximum performance". Then I capped fps to 59 and set everything to high on game. I played the game about one hour and got no stuttering at all!

    Have to test this longer to see if it really solved the problem and how the temps behave...
  • HooHoo Member, Codemasters admin
    @PlegeKossu - we've been discussing the graphs here. The GPU is clearly going into some sort of self-preservation state as it is underclocking itself and reducing the power. We can't tell what is triggering this response though - I would normally suggest temperatures, but these seem fine in your graphs (unless your thermometer is out). We're going to see if we can get some other people to help work out what is happening. Hopefully your change in the power settings has resolved this anyway. Please let us know if you continue to have issues.
  • AGAMEonlineAGAMEonline Member New Car Smell
    Definatly having the same issues here. Usually when approaching other vehicles. Doesnt seem to make any difference how many players are online.  :/
  • artworxartworx Member New Car Smell
    Hi i have/had similair problems.
    lots of lag spikes during online and even offline races.
    i used gpu-z to see if it registers the drops, and yes it did.
    it was going from max clock speed to half clock speeds.

    So what did i do (for now) to make it dissapear.

    i took my videocard out and reinstalled it. (read somewhere it could have got a slightly bad connection.
    i looked at gpu-z more closely, and i saw that my pcie express port was on v1.
    this was strange so i looked at my mobo specs if it would run v3 (latest) and yes my mobo is capable.
    i went to my bios and saw that it was on auto, changed it to v3 and booted again.

    i started gpu-z again and saw that it was now doing v3 instead of v1.

    started the game, tryed some online races and did not have any lag spike at all, even i recorded a whole 25% race with ingame settings at 60 fps all was smooth..

    maybe this is something or nothing till i try again later today to see if it stil works.

    my specs are
    intel 4460 i5
    16gb ddr3
    gigabyte sniper g1b5
    1060gtx 3g gigabyte (399.34 driver)
    2 ssd 240/512 gb

  • HooHoo Member, Codemasters admin
    Thanks for the updates @artworx and @PlegeKossu. If these look good then I'll update the original post with your suggestions.
  • PlegeKossuPlegeKossu Member New Car Smell
    @Hoo - I think that the reason for GPU clocking down is not self-protection but energy saving. If I understand correctly that's how Nvidia GPU Boost works in adaptive mode. It boosts power within given limits when there's heavy load and when it detects low load, it clocks gpu down to save power. I guess this "prefer maximum performance" setting prevents gpu from clocking down.

    There is interesting topic on geforce forums: https://forums.geforce.com/default/topic/1023091/geforce-drivers/list-of-games-which-require-quot-prefer-max-performance-quot-on-modern-gpus-/1/

    This could explain why so many high-end cards have these frame stalls.

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