Borderlands microstutter, please help test!

(L0ki) #1

I made a post about this elsewhere already but I’m going to post here to see if I get a better response since I’m not getting much in the way of helping to actually test the problem.

In both Borderlands 1 and 2 I’m getting microstutter although it’s significantly worse in Borderlands 1 than 2, but the interesting thing is that exactly once every 60 seconds if my framerate is high enough (easiest to see at 140 and in Borderlands 1 stutter is actually worse the higher the framerate whereas in BL2 it always stutters at the same delay regardless of fps which makes more sense,) I get a microstutter that I notice.

So what this means is that regardless of what I’m doing in game, just standing still, or even in the inventory, there is a measurable microstutter EXACTLY every 60 seconds. This is what my Frametime graph in Borderlands 2 looks like when I leave the game running with just the menu open and no input. https://imgur.com/Fr9QtrG

My system specs are as follows:
i5-6600
gtx 1070 (390.77)
ddr4 2133 cas 15
850 evo
Win 10 1709 (16299.371)

I’ve tried multiple drivers and this occurs regardless even on the lowest resolution and game settings.

I want to narrow down if this occurs on every system, or if there is something hardware / OS / config specific that causes it. If somebody wouldn’t mind helping me test it, please log frametime graphs through Afterburner or another piece of software that does the same thing, and then look at your frametime graph while standing still for a few minutes. If you do this and report your results here along with your system specs, I would be super appreciative!

If you’re willing to help me test it I would be super appreciative and I’ll give step by step instructions in case anybody is willing to do a more objective test, but is unsure how:

Step 1. Download and install Afterburner
Step 2. Make sure both Rivatuner and Afterburner are installed and running, and then open afterburner and click the cog icon to open the settings menu.
Step 3. Click the monitoring tab and then scroll down and make sure the check box beside “Frametime” is checked.
Step 4. Start borderlands and load a character and then go afk for 5 minutes (requires consistently high fps to see the microstutter 60+ in BL1, closer to 75+ in BL2)
Step 5. After 5 minutes exit the game and then in afterburner at the bottom there is a scroll bar where you can scroll through a bunch of graphs of stats, go to the very bottom to see the frametime graph and see if it looks similar to the one I posted in the OP with a characteristic spike every 60 seconds.

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Microstutter on good PC - BL2
(So long, and thanks for all the fish!) #2

Definitely not a PC expert, but that microstutter every 60 seconds looks like a heartbeat!

Also, not sure on PC but I know on console the game’s internal event timer runs on a 1/60th of a second tick-count. So all the positions, collisions, etc. get re-calculated at that point (as well as adjusting for player control inputs). Might that have something to do with it?

Edit: I think that might also apply to PC? Check out some of the discussion on the limits of card versus actual fire rate for more details.

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(Vault Hunter - Borderlands Addict) #3

LMAO…that is exactly what i thought. :rofl::joy:

image

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(Idiosyncratic Wannabe.) #4

I am running a GTX 1060 and have all the same driver revisions you do(geforce and windows), I’m not seeing any micro stutter on my end.

2 thoughts, have you tried capping the frame rate to see if that still produces the problem as I know there are rare cases of games(see gta v) where a certain frame rate causes a performance issue. and do you own any other Unreal Engine 3 games that you could test to see if your computer is throwing up the issue.

then also verify your game files, but unfortunately that is about all I can think of.

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(Guajiro Pandoreño) #5

If you reboot your computer and go straight back into the game, do you experience this? Not a shutdown/startup, but a warm reboot.

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(L0ki) #6

Yes, it happens whether or not it’s a cold or warm boot.

Have you actually tried measuring it though with something like Afterburner? There is a difference between not noticing it and it not happening. Microstutter can be really hard for most to notice because it’s so subtle. It’s like with SLI where in the past many were fine with the frametiming issues it caused where it drove me nuts. This is even harder to notice than that. I don’t mean any offense by this, it’s just that objective measurements are better than subjective reports on this topic which is why I requested but am not having a lot of luck finding somebody to help me test it.

If you’re willing to help me test it I would be super appreciative and I’ll give step by step instructions in case you or anybody else are willing to do a more objective test, but are unsure how:

Step 1. Download and install Afterburner
Step 2. Make sure both Rivatuner and Afterburner are installed and running, and then open afterburner and click the cog icon to open the settings menu.
Step 3. Click the monitoring tab and then scroll down and make sure the check box beside “Frametime” is checked.
Step 4. Start borderlands and load a character and then go afk for 5 minutes (requires consistently high fps to see the microstutter 60+ in BL1, closer to 85+ in BL2)
Step 5. After 5 minutes exit the game and then in afterburner at the bottom there is a scroll bar where you can scroll through a bunch of graphs of stats, go to the very bottom to see the frametime graph and see if it looks similar to the one I posted in the OP with a characteristic spike every 60 seconds.

As I said, I would be hugely appreciative if you or anybody else would be willing to do this ( there are other pieces of software that can also monitor frame times, afterburner is just the one I’m familiar with and it’s easy to use.) Afterburner is a GPU overclocking software that also has OSD and stat monitoring using the RTSS program that is bundled with it, but you don’t have to use it for overclocking.

I’ve edited the OP with these more detailed instructions on how to test for the problem.

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(Idiosyncratic Wannabe.) #7

I’m 95% sure as my system is pretty new so I’ve been finetuning my performance over the past few weeks and as such have been looking for stutters and other issues.

I’ll do as you’ve requested and get a graph recording of my frame times for you when I’m next able, just no guarantees on timing as University is dictating how much time I can spend on everything else.

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(Idiosyncratic Wannabe.) #8

Okay I stand corrected, I am receiving an identical stutter,

The frame time dip is consistent and always into the 18,2 - 18,5, this is approximately a third of what it was idling at. Looking at the rest of my usage stats neither gpu or cpu experience a usage spikes.

My test environment was the view immediately after travelling to Oasis as it was the first place I could think of that would minimize testing variables.

As for hardware documentation:

Ryzen 5 1600
Gtx 1060 (updated to version 391.35 for the test)
16 gb Ram at 3000mhz cas 16
Samsung 960 Evo, with both game and operating system on it.
Windows 10 (1709, 16299.371)

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(L0ki) #9

I just want to say thanks for testing it, I really appreciate that you took the time to do this! I’ve only had one other person help test this and he had some sort of frame time anomaly on all 4 of his systems. I really wish I didn’t notice things like this :frowning: Back in the day when I played Borderlands 1 I just had a 60Hz monitor and honestly never noticed it. Now that I have a 144Hz Gsync, after playing some smoother games at high fps, the microsttuer really sticks out at me.

The one other variable I would like to test is if somebody that has an i7 machine would run the same experiment I would be super appreciative. Thus far I have not yet seen the results with an i7, just i5s and r5s.

I unfortunately don’t have my old i7 that I used to play Borderlands on anymore, but I am very curious if the same stutter occurs. I’m guessing it does, but I’m hoping somebody can help test it out. I really wonder what the game is doing that causes this periodic frame time spike?

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(Idiosyncratic Wannabe.) #10

My guess is that the stutter is caused by the engine. As both Borderlands 1 and 2 run off Unreal Engine 3. It would be nice to know if any other UE3 games experience this issue.

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(L0ki) #11

I was just doing some more testing and I got the following results: https://imgur.com/a/kE1FBbX

The flat line is with a limiter at 60fps and was rock solid, the spikes were occurring when using a limiter at 140. They were actually spiking higher than 60fps to 18.5 and 19ms. Ignore the giant spike in the middle, that’s just from alt tabbing out.

I’ve tested multiple other UE3 engine games, and none of the others I tested do this. The really frustrating and strange thing is that when I was testing before at 60fps I was still getting stutter! I have no idea why that last test was rock solid, or why the severity of the frame time spikes changes. Damn near every other game I own has consistent performance, but Borderlands is all over the place. I basically need to pray to the PC gods for consistent frame times before playing it. The whole thing makes no sense to me.

Edit: I just did a fresh boot and now it’s stuttering with a limiter at 60 again. I have no idea what stopped it and made the stutters better at 140. This is incredibly frustrating! All I had done before after booting was download a bootable Windows 10 disc in the background using the media creation tool, and browse firefox a bit. No friggen clue why that made the stutters better.

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(So long, and thanks for all the fish!) #12

I mentioned this above, but the game event loop checks in every 1/60th of a second. That’s when it does things like poll the controls, see if you fired and/or moved, calculate enemy AI reactions to what you’ve done, determine if anything got hit with a bullet… My guess is that, even when your character is idle, there’s some kind of update getting triggered by the game code that’s causing this minor frame stutter.

Out of idle curiosity, are any of your systems using vysnc and, if so, what happens when you flip the setting?

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(Guajiro Pandoreño) #13

Okay, hang in there… I have an i7 with a 165Hz monitor and G-Sync. Let me download that stuff and get this up to speed.

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(L0ki) #14

I was already aware of the issue you discussed, but I’m not convinced it has much to do with the stutter that occurs exactly once every 60 seconds, but really I have no way of knowing. I did some additional testing however, and noticed something interesting.

Where you are in game directly affects the severity of the stutter. I’ll detail a few of my test results as follows. All tests are with dynamic shadows off and bsmoothframerate=FALSE. All tests are performed on a fresh load into a area with no mouse or keyboard input.

Arid badlands by neds shack: 60fps limiter, stutters up to 24.4ms.
Arid badlands by neds shack: 140fps limiter, stutters up to 31.6ms.
Skag gully, 60fps limiter, zero stutters. Perfectly smooth frametime graph.
Skag gully, 140fps limiter, stutters up to 22.7ms
Headstone mine, 60fps limiter, zero stutters. Perfectly smooth frametime graph
Headstone mine, no limiter, stutters up to 28.3ms

All of these were exactly 60 seconds apart, and usually within 2-3ms of the highest stutter.

It’s friggen odd, and I have no idea why the engine does this.

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(So long, and thanks for all the fish!) #15

It could be something to do with the way the game processes objects in 3D space as it updates what’s being displayed on the screen - there was a nasty bug in the Handsome Collection ports of BL2 and TPS related to this.

Basically, the game checks through the 3D space to see which parts of objects are obscured in the user view by other objects in front of them. The bug involved an error in this process causing a timeout instead of returning quickly. This was particularly a problem in maps with a lot of odd structural features - Tycho’s Ribs in TPS was notoriously bad for this, but similar areas in both games had the same issue.

TL;DR multiple over-lapping features in the players current field of view require extensive processing to figure out how much of each one require rendering, and there’s potentially something a bit wonky in the code.

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(Guajiro Pandoreño) #16

Here’s mine; the chatter at the beginning is starting the game up, and the chatter at the end is leaving the game to grab the screenshot and all that. The framerate dips from 164 to 163 over those frametime spikes.

Do you actually notice it in game? I was watching the screen while this was taking place, and could not tell (but that might be G-Sync).

edit - here’s this same chart during some UCP-enhanced combat during a loop through Hunter’s Grotto (Bandit Mechromancer which got pretty intense at times). The first and last bits are out-of-game stuff (startup and this screenshot prep). This is 2560x1440 with full PhysX and everything maxed except no Ambient Occlusion, Depth of Field, or Bullet Decals.

While it’s a curiosity, I’m certain I wouldn’t notice that phenomenon during actual gameplay, much less standing still somewhere?

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(Idiosyncratic Wannabe.) #17

So I applied my usual settings which includes both V-sync and the built in frame rate smoothing setting and sat at the Oasis fast travel station.

Screenshot%20(11)

This is admittedly only about 4 minutes but I definitely wasn’t getting the spike into the 18ms frametime range.

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(So long, and thanks for all the fish!) #18

Just browsing through some of the posts and ran across a person getting a workable FR on a low end system by editing the game config file to turn cell shading off. Given that everything in game has cell shading on it, I got curious about whether that might affect this microstutter you’re seeing? Very much a stab in the dark here…

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(L0ki) #19

I realized that this thread is basically dead, but I meant to reply to your question a long time ago and left just sort of got in the way (I haven’t even been playing videogames over the last few months as a result of injuries.)

Anyways, yes I definitely do notice it especially in Borderlands 1 which is why I made this thread. In Borderlands 2 where my framerate is a bit lower and the stutters a bit less significant, I don’t usually notice it most of the time, unlike in Borderlands 1 where it was driving me nuts and I noticed it constantly. I’m really, really sensitive to even small framerate fluctuations which is a blessing and a curse. Recently I was playing Dark Souls remastered and kept noticing these tiny little hitches during asset loading of new areas, but monitoring it they were only like ~14ms spikes.

Oh I get a very playable framerate in the ~90+ fps average range but this issue is an entirely different issue. In fact, the higher my framerate, the more noticeable the stutters. In Borderlands 1 I can run at a consistent 144 fps with dynamic shadows turned off, so the stutters are super obvious. Turning off post processing didn’t have any effect.

I am curious is The Presequel has this same problem (I’m guessing yes since it’s an updated version of the same engine, but it was by a different developer.)

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(Guajiro Pandoreño) #20

Online research (as in, not very thorough) shows this phenomenon is somewhat widespread (not for BL2 exactly, but microstuttering in general in modern video games). This “smells” like some very low-level stuff, as it appears (unverified here) that it’s OS and, to a certain extent, game engine agnostic (does Dark Souls use the Unreal engine?).

If someone does not experience this (and this person would really need to run that test and check their chart, as it’s very easy for some (many?) of us to miss during actual gameplay), we would need several data points like this to look for differences we could drill down on. Instead of drilling down, what if we drill up?

Does it happen on consoles? Is it related to Steam (specifically, is there a legit non-Steam version of the game to check)? Is it nVidia- or AMD-specific? Has someone already checked these variables?