Fallout 4 'stuttering' on Xbox One linked to storage bottleneck

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Fallout 4 has been in the hands of gamers for a couple of days now, plenty of time for people to compare and contrast the game on different platforms and hunt down early bugs or glitches. That’s exactly what EuroGamer’s Digital Foundry has done and the results are telling.

The first bit of good news is that both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One render the game at a native 1080p and use temporal anti-aliasing, a fact that the publication says keeps the image sharp and shimmer down even when viewing the sprawling post-apocalyptic world from afar.

Console versions both strive for 30fps gameplay, a modest goal considering the wealth of factors at play such as shadows, characters, day-night cycles and weather systems. Unfortunately, there are some noticeable performance drops to note.

Moving between major city areas, for example, causes both consoles to dip below the 20fps mark in the same spots on the map. This is likely due to assets being decompressed on the fly for the next location and is temporary as frame rates return to normal relatively quickly.

There appears to be a more serious issue with the Xbox One, however, as the game experience can pause for up to a second at a time during play. In matching runs, the Xbox One hit 0fps while the PS4 slowed down to just 28fps. The runs were tested across multiple consoles to eliminate the possibility of a bad box; the issues persisted on all Xbox One machines Digital Foundry tried.

The root cause of these momentary pauses appears to be the Xbox One’s hard drive. Despite an installation size of 28GB, it would seem that the console struggles to pull data from the drive quickly enough. Such stutters are most evident just before a cut scene and when switching to a new weapon using the D-pad. It doesn’t happen all the time but when it does, it can be pretty distracting.

When exploring a complex area such as Diamond City, the team found the PlayStation 4 slightly outperformed the Xbox One (28fps versus 25fps). It’s not a flawless victory for the PS4, however, as the machine struggled in certain scenarios, dropping close to the 20fps mark while Microsoft’s console held firm at 30fps.

In a follow-up report, Digital Foundry concluded that the Xbox One’s storage system is indeed responsible for the bottleneck. Curiously enough, both consoles include a 500GB 5400RPM hard drive yet only the Xbox One suffers from stuttering issues. Short of a title update, the only complete fix at this point is to install a solid state drive in an external enclosure then copy the game data to that drive and use it instead of the internal hard drive (or replace the internal HDD with a SSD). Either way, it’s not a cheap fix but it does eliminate the problem entirely.

Testing with a faster 7200RPM hard drive and a solid state hybrid drive also showed signs of improvement although neither solution completely wiped out the problem the way the SSD did. Conversely, testing a solid state drive with the PS4 provided a very small advantage, one that wasn’t worth writing home about, the team said.

All things considered, the publication believes the Xbox One woes can be corrected via title update considering both platforms have very similar storage solutions and the problems aren’t present on Sony’s machine.

Teardown image courtesy iFixit

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Captain828

TS Guru
Would be interested to know if this also affects the PC version.

I personally haven't experienced any slowdowns on my 7200 rpm drive.
 

amstech

IT Overlord
Microsoft said:
Screw that, we are Microsoft and people will drink up whatever juice we make.
Windows 8, Windows Phone, The Xbox One, how can consumers deny our superiority and awesomeness? Can't we ride the same ego wave we have always used? Halo 5 hello! Who cares if we extremely cheaped out on the X1's hardware and released it as basically a beta console with lists of issues? We are staying firm on our pricing regardless of being outsold 2:1 in America and 3:1 in Europe.
People will come around, you will see. :walksawayshaking
 

Cycloid Torus

Stone age computing - click on the rock below..
Compressed content? Why? Is storage so expensive? Is the CPU dawdling?

Might be interesting to see how uncompressed and defragged runs.
 

Adhmuz

TechSpot Paladin
The fact that they use 5400rpm drives in a performance oriented ecosystem is beyond me to begin with.

The only reason I can think of that's causing the Xbox to have more issues is the way the console's OS caches to the HDD, something I see Microsoft doing more than Sony given the added features the Xbox has and the heavy Windows based OS. Really they should have spent the extra $3 a drive and gone with the 7200rpms across the board, 5400 was fine when you were dealing with the PS3 and 360 due to the games relying less on accessing the drive for such large amounts of data. Understandably given the consoles went from half a GB of combined RAM/VRAM to 8GB, I'm sure that stresses the drive considerably more.

And then there's the pathetic frame rate, barely maintaining 30FPS is absolutely unacceptable, pushing for 1920x1080 is nice, but not when it results in stuttering and distracting frame rate drops.
 

Mandark

TS Booster
Would be interested to know if this also affects the PC version.

I personally haven't experienced any slowdowns on my 7200 rpm drive.
everyone should have an SSD to boot and play from. EVERYBODY. problems like this vanish. 7200 rpm is ok, but not in a good ssd, like the EVO 850 and 850 Pro, or M.2 drives (fastest)
 

wastedkill

TS Evangelist
That price bracket for console to pc performance wise just keeps on increasing, looks like buying a PC for gaming is becoming cheaper and cheaper all thanks to the console/price/performance ratio.
 
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davislane1

huh? this doesnt have to do with devs. this is an xbox problem. not a game problem.
With consoles devs have to work within an extremely limited hardware capacity to get their games to run. Specifically, they have to develop tricks and optimization strategies that allow them to extract optimal performance and presentation.

Two years into the so-called next gen, both PS4 and Xbox One have demonstrable difficulty doing anything substantial above 30fps. What's more, they still have significant problems at 30fps targets. This is in addition to myriad delays with other titles, not infrequently related to getting the games to work at targeted levels (and subsequently choosing lower targets, as happened with Dying Light).

The fact that these consoles have a two-year record of devs not being able to hit next gen targets bodes ill for the hardware. All evidence thus far points to both systems being woefully underpowered.
 
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mcborge

TS Guru
Would be interested to know if this also affects the PC version.

I personally haven't experienced any slowdowns on my 7200 rpm drive.
If you run your games from a separate drive to your os on your pc this shouldn't be a problem, I'm getting a solid 60 fps with everything set to high, I'm not even having any issues running the game with sli enabled (x2 gtx 760's). The only issue I've had with the game so far is dog meat getting stuck in few doors and a chair.
 

Adhmuz

TechSpot Paladin
With consoles devs have to work within an extremely limited hardware capacity to get their games to run. Specifically, they have to develop tricks and optimization strategies that allow them to extract optimal performance and presentation
Versus on PC where they have to develop for a myriad of different system specs, and make the game flexible to accommodate all the variables. Whereas on a console you know what you have to work with, it's never gonna change, you adapt the game to the console hardware using the already implemented adjustability in the PC build, a little fine tunning and voila right. So, what's the problem, who forgot to do their job?

The fact that these consoles have a two-year record of devs not being able to hit next gen targets bodes ill for the hardware. All evidence thus far points to both systems being woefully underpowered.
This I agree is very concerning and a tad bit unexpected, by now it's expected that games are getting close to being properly optimized for the hardware, able to push the consoles as far as they can go. Unfortunately to meet expectations it appears the devs are trying to push them too far, too fast and without full optimization, something I fear has to do with the ability to hot fix issues after games are released, putting less pressure on getting things right the first time. Meeting deadlines becomes more important than overcoming problems, resulting in the piss poor console industry we now have. Fortunately the PC version seems to be solid at launch, something rare for these cross platform titles nowadays, it's very disappointing to say the least.
 

Nobina

RTX 2080 Ti and iPhone XS MAX 512GB
I've heard quite a lot of people saying they have a problem with this game on PC and now it's on consoles also. I actually thought PC gaming sucks because of bad ports but I guess they can't make it good for consoles either.
 

Emexrulsier

TS Evangelist
Has anyone else seen this? what the hell did the devs do to this game?
"words"
I have a 980ti but comparing the two examples the performance hit over the visual benefit is so negligible in many scene it just isn't worth using it in Ultra
 

cliffordcooley

TS Redneck
Runtime stutter sounds more like a memory issue. Much the same as hard drive thrashing in heavy use of paging. Which makes an OS stutter, all because there is not enough memory.
 

gamerk2

TS Evangelist
I have to say, 2yrs in an these devs can't even consistently hit 60FPS with big titles.

Not a good sign.
Well, the XB1 CPU is about as powerful as the 360 CPU, so you're going to have the same CPU limitations you had in the last generation. Nevermind the other APU based limitations. At the end of the day, you've got an integrated class GPU, rather then it's own standlone unit, so overall processing power is going to suffer.

These consoles, compared to PCs of the time, are some of the weakest ever.
 
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davislane1

These consoles, compared to PCs of the time, are some of the weakest ever.
Precisely.

I had largely dropped PC gaming a few years back because console was a cheaper option that provided an acceptable experience. The increasing gap with PCs this generation is simply too great, to the point of negating the value gained from a lower long-term expense. I'll probably build a new gaming rig next year and use my PS4 for exactly what I've been using it for since I've had it: Netflix.