Windows 10: Microfreezes in Games

For the past few weeks, I noticed microfreezes or microstutters in games. Gameplay would “halt” for maybe half a second, then resume normally.

This affected multiple games, so I knew it was a problem with my PC. I checked everything I could – deinstalled applications, made sure nothing “weird” ran in the background, checked the logs, and tried to catch one of the freezes with resource monitors. No luck. I also ruled out thermal issues.

In the end, I found the cause by sheer luck: I noticed that every time I had one of those stutters or microfreezes, my desktop wallpaper on my off-hand screen would change. I disabled wallpaper slideshows and lo and behold: No more microfreezes.

Why this feature would cause a problem, I have no idea. It certainly hasn’t been an issue in the past. I am not sure if it’s related to the Windows 10 “May Update” – I think the freezes occurred before I installed that update.

System: AMD Ryzen 3900X, NVIDIA GTX 1080, Windows 10 Professional 64bit. All patches and drivers up-to-date.

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