1% Low FPS and why it matters
1% Low FPS indicates the worst frame generation times that can cause stuttering if they are way lower than the average fps. Low 1% FPS can arise out of a number of reasons like hardware bottlenecks or some kind of poor configuration that holds back the system from performing to its full potential.
When playing Fortnite with different rendering engines I noticed very bad 1% low fps specially with directx12 renderer to the extent of making the game completely un-playable.
Very low 1% fps will lead to stutters and make it difficult to position and aim properly in fast combat situations. The 0.1% lows are essentially the stutters if they fall drastically low.
The situation gets trickier when you get good average fps, but very low 1% fps. Common sense tells us that a low-end system should have low average fps as well.
On my Asus TUF gaming laptop with rtx3060/ryzen5800h i was getting 200+ average fps, but the 1% low was falling below 30, causing severe stutter specially when making fast movements.
So I ended up trying various fixes and eventually things worked out and the stutters went away with better 1% lows. So here I am sharing whatever worked for me.
1. Un-install high resolution texture pack
Open the Epic Store application and find Fortnite in the Library. Now click the 3 dots beneath the icon and click Options. This will open a dialog for Fornite Installation Options.
Simply uncheck the "High Resolution Textures". And that's it. Restart the machine.
This will remove the high resolution textures which are known to cause slow loading times and frame drops and has been reported frequently on reddit as well.
2. Enforce exclusive fullscreen mode
This will work only with DirectX 11 and Performance Mode renderers. By default windows runs the game in a borderless window even if you select "Fullscreen" in fortnite's ingame settings.
This is how windows works by default.
The particular setting is "Fullscreen Optimizations" which enables this and windows claims that this gives the user the best experience. However in my tests I have seen that this causes a drop in the fps and causes some lag as well.
Its best to use the "Disable Fullscreen Optimizations" setting to make the game run in Fullscreen Exclusive mode.
However fullscreen exclusive mode has certain drawbacks which may or may not concern users.
1. Takes time to switch to desktop/other apps when you press the window key or alt+tab.
2. When you change the sound level using hardware buttons like those on keyboard or headphone, no indicator overlay will be displayed but it will still work as expected.
3. Check CPU bottlenecks
The next step would be check potential hardware bottlenecks. For most part this is either the cpu, gpu or ram. Monitor everything with some kind of on-screen display (OSD) program which shows system performance metrics like cpu, gpu, ram usage and average fps.
The one that works best for me is MSI Afterburner which bundles together Rivatuner statistics.
It works quite well with fortnite and shows most stats like cpu/gpu usage, temperature, average/1% low fps and more. We shall not be going into details of how to set it up in this article.
You can check msi afterburner fps statistics in action on our youtube channel where i upload some of my fortnite gameplays.
The above is Fortnite Chapter 4 Season 1. Watch on youtube.
Once you have it up and running, check the values as you play the game. If you notice very high cpu usage but moderate gpu usage, then you cpu could be the bottleneck and vice versa.
CPU bottleneck can happen for a number of reasons including:
1. You simply have a low-end old cpu.
2. Other applications using cpu.
3. The cpu is throttling its clock down to maintain thermal limits.
4. The cpu clock has been capped or boost has been disabled.
Incase of thermal throttling you can either try to improve the cooling or try to limit the maximum temperature using tools like ryzen master, ryzen controller or intel XTU.
An option could be to overclock your cpu if you system supports it and can sustain high power consumption with proper cooling. On laptops you mostly do not have the option to overclock your cpu, but desktop users can do it if the cpu and motherboard support it.
Check minimum processor state from windows power profiles. Set it to 100% so that the cpu does not drop its frequency at anytime during the gameplay.
4. Check GPU bottlenecks
If the gpu is the bottleneck, then our options are limited. Try overclocking with msi afterburner. The gpu core clock frequency and the memory frequency can be increased. Try doing both in small increments to prevent system unstability and consequent crashes.
Keep in mind that increasing the clock speed will change the boost upper limit of the clock and will not increase the base clock speeds. The memory however will instantly work at the higher clock speed, adding a few extra fps to your games and improving the 1% lows at the same time.
Another good option is to lower the graphics settings to get more fps out of the gpu. For fortnite, the "Performance Mode" delivers the highest fps but uses simple looking graphical elements that look decent and attractive. With the Performance mode renderer the processing of the game becomes more cpu bound and keeps the gpu usage low which might surprise some users however overall it delivers much better 1% Low fps with minimal lag and stutter.
5. Check RAM bottlenecks
8GB vs 16GB
Inadequate ram can cause serious performance issues and sudden frame-drops when hitting peak values at intervals. If you have only 8 GB ram try increasing it to 16 GB.
A lot of cheap gaming laptops come with only 8 GB of preinstalled ram to cut on costs, but this results in a massive cut in performance.
Single channel vs dual channel
Another problem could be single channel ram which is not as fast as dual channel. For instance you might have a single 16GB ram dimm in one slot with another slot being vacant.
For ddr4 ram, dual channel memory increases gaming performance significantly compared to single channel.
On my Asus TUF A17 (2021) gaming laptop I see 1% low fps at 55-60% of the average fps, but the gpu and cpu usage are not very high. The ram on this laptop runs at the base clock of 1600 Mhz (3200 MT/s).
Overclocking ram is a very effective method to boost system performance and improve 1% lows. A lot of desktop motherboards have the XMP setting enabled in the bios which can be used to overclock the ram. This will boost system performance significantly and improve 1% lows in most games including fps as well.
With gaming laptops, there are only some laptops that have this feature available in the bios. If its not there, chances are that you cannot overclock the ram unless you know some serious hacks.
So check your bios for XMP support and if you are lucky to find it there, go ahead and try it to see if get better fps in fortnite.
Some of the above tweaks can potentially give you a huge boost in both average and 1% low fps in Fortnite or any other game with equivalent settings. There might be situations where you already have the best settings already and still seeing low fps. Then you probably need a hardware upgrade or just switch to lower graphics settings.
If you know of any other settings that can improve fortnite fps, do let us know in the comments below.