How to reduce stuttering and audio distortion in Windows 10

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Regeneration

New Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2018
In Windows 10 build 1803, Microsoft made some kernel changes related to hardware timers that broke a lot of device drivers and caused high latency, stuttering and audio distortion on many systems. Microsoft claimed it was fixed on several occasions but is not completely true. Here are several tips for these who have encountered such issues.

Enable/disable HPET and Dynamic Ticks
Some users claim that forcing High Precision Event Timer (HPET) as a main timer and disabling dynamic ticks solve latency issues and audio distortion. Some users said its the other way around.

To try this workaround, run cmd.exe as administrator and type in:
bcdedit /set useplatformclock true
bcdedit /set tscsyncpolicy enhanced
bcdedit /set disabledynamictick yes

Force disable with:
bcdedit /set useplatformclock false
bcdedit /set tscsyncpolicy legacy
bcdedit /set disabledynamictick no

Restore to defaults:
bcdedit /deletevalue useplatformclock
bcdedit /deletevalue tscsyncpolicy
bcdedit /deletevalue disabledynamictick

You can try mix between the three.

Look for problematic drivers
LatencyMon is a free utility that can be used to detect problematic drivers. LatencyMon analyzes the possible causes of buffer underruns by measuring kernel timer latencies and reporting DPC and ISR execution times as well as hard page faults. It will provide a comprehensible report and find the kernel modules and processes responsible for causing audio latencies which result in drop outs. It also provides the functionality of an ISR monitor, DPC monitor and a hard page fault monitor.

LatencyMon will display the highest latencies of a kernel timer and report the highest execution times of ISR and DPC routines as well as hard page faults. In most cases it will also find the drivers and processes responsible for executing them. It will create a comprehensible report which also displays all sampled data in a detailed manner allowing you to perform in-depth analysis.

Sometimes bugged drivers may cause high latency in Windows' sub drivers. For example: network adapter driver and ndis.sys, display driver and dxgkrnl.sys, SATA controller driver and storport.sys.

There is another useful utility worth mentioning: TimerBench, a freeware that tests the theoretical and gaming performance of Windows' timer facility QPC (QueryPerformanceCounter) to compare different timer settings. TimerBench uses Unreal Engine 4 and DirectX 11.

Search for better drivers
Some vendors have updated their device drivers to address these issues. Some version of drivers may not be affected at all. Try updating to a new driver, older driver, and alternative one. Most vendors publish drivers on their websites, but there are some like Realtek that release new drivers only through Windows Update. For example, the latest Realtek audio driver is available here, and needs to be installed manually from the device manager. If automatic driver update gets in your way, use this registry export to disable it. Sound Blaster Z owners should check out this driver.

Update/downgrade the motherboard's BIOS
Make sure to check the motherboard's/laptop's vendor website for BIOS and firmware updates. These may reduce latency and eliminate these issues completely. Try to contact the vendor's support, sometimes there is a beta BIOS kept in private. And sometimes older version works better.

Turn off power saving features
Latency seems to improve with high performance power plan and/or power saving features like C-states, C1E, EIST, Cool'n'Quiet disabled in the BIOS. Set your graphics card to prefer maximum performance from its control panel.
 

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trents

Senior Member
 
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
This is the first I have heard of this problem. Can you give specifics about your system components?
 

RJARRRPCGP

Member
 
Joined
May 30, 2004
Input lag? Feels like I could be getting that with PC Halo MCC! :mad::bang head (My current Ryzen system in the sig.) ("Matisse" 3700X, 16 GB of DDR4 SDRAM and a Radeon RX580 8 GB)
(And the BIOS for the MSI B450 Tomahawk, was flashed to "1E" (June, 2020) )

I also got major micro-stuttering in PC Halo MCC campaign mode! Interestingly, seems to usually not occur in online multiplayer mode. (My current Ryzen system in the sig.)

And of course, this thread reminds me that I can't use my SoundBlaster ZXR without constant cracking, even Windows sound effects, on my socket FM2+ system, the Gigabyte GA-F2A88X-D3HP motherboard and Athlon X4 "Kaveri" 860K.

Because I have the new Ryzen setup, I don't plan on popping the SoundBlaster ZXR into my socket FM2+ system anymore.
 
Last edited:

Niku-Sama

Member
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
when you say input lag do you mean the audio input that would throw off something like lip sync?
 

RJARRRPCGP

Member
 
Joined
May 30, 2004
when you say input lag do you mean the audio input that would throw off something like lip sync?

Sorry for the late post. What I mean, is that they seem to be on top of me before the mouse click is registered, or something similar to that!