Question Is my HDD Causing Stuttering in games?

Jan 29, 2020
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i5 6500
AMD RX 590
HyperX FURY 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) 2133 MHz DDR4
Toshiba P300 1TB Internal Hard Drive
Acer XF240Hbmjdpr Gaming Monitor, FreeSync, 144 Hz, 1 ms

Over the last couple of months I've started to experience stuttering issues whilst gaming on my PC that never used to happen when i first put it together a couple of years back. It happens in most games - both new and old.

Sometimes, The FPS counter is telling me I'm getting so many frames, but it doesn't feel like i'm getting anywhere near that amount in reality and the entire experience is miserable.
Other times, the FPS looks and feels just fine, but the game will freeze for a split second, every 30 seconds or so, and then be OK until the next one happens.
Different games act differently, but none act as they are supposed to.

I must have spent hours trying to diagnose the issue but i can't seem to get to the bottom of it, so I'm hoping someone can help.

I've taken the machine to 2 different local technicians who have both told me that my gaming experience would greatly improve if i fitted an SSD and put the OS and games on it - and that my HDD is the probable cause of the issue.

Although i recognise that SSDs are far superior, I'm reluctant to believe what they're saying for a couple of reasons:
  1. because for the longest period of time the same games that (now) stutter did not, and they were playing just fine on the same hard drive
  2. because from excessive googling it seems the speed and type of drive would only typically affect loading times rather than actual gameplay once the map had loaded (in COD for example).
  3. Because it's so much easier for them to make a quick buck by telling me to get an SSD installed than actually investigating what's causing the issue.
  4. I don't want to go out and spend £100+ on an SSD because some idiot who didn't do his job thoroughly enough told me to.
I'm not completely dismissing what they're saying here, I did a quick resource monitor for 60 seconds earlier whilst in the middle of a Team Deathmatch on Black Ops 4 - and it does show about 4 maxed out disk spikes with corresponding disk queue length spikes under the "disk" monitoring tab (Images Inserted)
I should mention that the full 60 seconds that i monitored for was a stuttering mess in-game - it did not feel as though there was a correlation between the spikes and the stuttering - but then again it might have been worse during those spikes, who knows. Ididn't have anything else running either other than the Resource Monitor and Task Manager.

I suppose my question here though is - Is the game alone causing these spikes and proving the 2 dudes right that my HD isn't up to the job, or is there some sort of sinister background process going on that's taking up those resources? (There doesn't seem to be from what i can see. Then again, idk what i should be looking out for)

Disk remains at 1%-2% at idle according to Task Manager, but obviously spikes in the middle of a round. I was always under the impression that once a game had loaded up, the game would access it's files stored in VRam rather than the Hard Drive, but Hard Drive spikes would suggest otherwise ?

The other issue with Black Ops 4 specifically is framerate - I'm playing the game at 1080p minimum settings and the framerate fluctuates between 50 and 120 - (average 90) which is criminally low and not consistent with other scores by people with the same GPU o nthis game specifically.
But it doesn't make sense to me conceptially that a 7200 RPM HD could in anyway bottleneck an RX590, especially seeing as as it used to work just fine.
Are hard drives prone to slowing down as they age?

I've been reassured by both technicians my hardware has been benchmarked and that all is working fine, I have also done some benchmarking of my own with my (limited) expertise lol. I am at a loss for what might be causing this.

Things i've tried so far:

Clean Windows Install
Updating GPU Drivers
Windows Memory Diagnostic (all clear)
HD Tune test (all clear)
Vsync On/Off
FreeSync On/Off
HDMI/DisplayPort
Second Monitor
Turn Off the Windows Game Bar and Game DVR. ...
Turn Off Intel Turbo Boost. ...
Turn Off Dynamic Tick. ...
Turn Off the Diagnostic Policy Service. ...


Any Help much appreciated !





 

boju

Champion
Ambassador
Have you checked cpu/gpu temps & frequencies while playing?

Monitor those on a second screen with HWinfo64 or run MSI AB osd to monitor in game. Including total cpu usage, there's a an entry for cpu without a number that shows total usage across all cores.


Depending on frame rates, the cpu must prepare them for the gpu to finally render. If there's too much background stuff happening taking away cpu resources, can impact performance.

SSDs do help if pagefile is used / or loading assets on the fly ie; openworld games etc, can make the experience smoother. 16GB ram should be enough though to limit excessive pf usage albeit doesn't stop the use of it completely. For BO4 shouldn't be an issue though using a hdd, especially 7200, 5400 might be a different story.

Check cpu/gpu temps, frequency and usage and see if all is well. Cpu shouldn't be throttling or nearing max usage. Gpu is fine maxing out, just don't want the cpu at that level. Might also try limit your fps to say 60fps in the Adrenalin software and see if that helps lower cpu usage if it's too high. Or close off background apps, ie; Chrome.

And if all is good in the way of temps, speeds and usages, it could be the hdd starting to fail. Maybe run disk repair tool or check it's health.
 

dorsai

Honorable
Nov 23, 2013
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It's likely a combination of having a relatively slow quad core cpu and an old style HDD....your gpu and memory look solid.

With that quad running at 100% as shown in your graphs there is little doubt that any gpu calls for HDD access are being delayed and likely causing stuttering. Assuming a game loads 100% of what it needs to memory is a mistake...games hit the HDD for data constantly and the cpu being maxed out causes a delay in that request for data being handled.
 
Jan 29, 2020
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It's likely a combination of having a relatively slow quad core cpu and an old style HDD....your gpu and memory look solid.

With that quad running at 100% as shown in your graphs there is little doubt that any gpu calls for HDD access are being delayed and likely causing stuttering. Assuming a game loads 100% of what it needs to memory is a mistake...games hit the HDD for data constantly and the cpu being maxed out causes a delay in that request for data being handled.
That actually makes a lot of sense because...

There's something i forgot to mention in my spec descriptions.
When i was not experiencing stuttering issues, i was playing Black Ops 4 with the same build build, except with an RX 460. i have since bought 2 different cards, a Vega 64 and an RX 590 - both of which I've had stuttering issues with)

On the RX 460, I was running the game at an uncapped framerate (which would hover around 90fps) at 1600 x 900 resolution. Unfortunately i never did any monitoring back then to see what was going on and why it was running better.
Could it be that back then, the weak RX 460 was bottlenecking my i5 6500 from ever reaching high usage percentages? Thus not actually allowing the CPU to cause stuttering ?
 

boju

Champion
Ambassador
The video i posted explains about cpu frame pre-rendering, so it is possible the cpu has reached its limits with a faster card and was managing with your older card. Also, it depends on game and how busy it is in other cpu related tasks whether the game code allows for more fps without consuming too much cpu with other stuff.

Monitor ingame with Msi Afterburner and watch cpu usage and cap fps when need to. Increasing details can have the same effect if fps decreases.

Limiting background apps/programs ie Discord, Cortana etc, freeing up resources can help cpu do more for the game.
 

dorsai

Honorable
Nov 23, 2013
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That actually makes a lot of sense because...

There's something i forgot to mention in my spec descriptions.
When i was not experiencing stuttering issues, i was playing Black Ops 4 with the same build build, except with an RX 460. i have since bought 2 different cards, a Vega 64 and an RX 590 - both of which I've had stuttering issues with)

On the RX 460, I was running the game at an uncapped framerate (which would hover around 90fps) at 1600 x 900 resolution. Unfortunately i never did any monitoring back then to see what was going on and why it was running better.
Could it be that back then, the weak RX 460 was bottlenecking my i5 6500 from ever reaching high usage percentages? Thus not actually allowing the CPU to cause stuttering ?
Yes. Exactly right...the gpu became maxed so the cpu was able to handle the HDD requests much faster. With a better cpu and 16gig of system memory allowing it to run at full speed that Vega 64 card would wreck the RX460 and the 590. I run a Vega 56 with a relatively cheap Ryzen 3600, 32gig of ram, and an m.2 ssd and it easily hits 120 fps in BO4 running a combo of normal and high settings in game and is very smooth.
 
Last edited:

Flashgo1

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Mar 11, 2016
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could be the HDD is failing but not failed yet. had laptop that played same games for years and all of a suden they are stuttering and one would not even launch. replaced with ssd and cut my boot time by over 1/3 and all stutering and lag was gone. you can get a cheap 2.5SSD for 75
 

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