In my entire life of PC gaming, I’ve never experienced a more difficult and frustrating game than ARK to optimize. I am sure at least 90% of the ARK community can relate as well. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing this game and have hundreds upon hundreds of hours invested, not counting the time that has been invested into reading the wiki, Reddit, watching videos and streams.
When I first bought the game and launched it, I had crazy lag and rubber banding, some good frame rates for a second, and then 5 fps for a few seconds, and this is how it has continued until very recently. Many of these issues are caused from the game being in alpha and server lag which we are powerless to fix.
During my time playing, here is the list of things I’ve upgraded and tweaked to improve performance in ARK Survival Evolved. These changes have improved load speeds and FPS, but now to the point where it doesn’t happen or annoy me.
- Switched game install from a normal hard drive to a solid state with a fresh format.
- Set steam launch options to include –USEALLAVAILABLECORES
- Tried every single graphics setting, low, medium, high, epic – etc. You have to tweak these for yourself and figure out what works best. I always turn shadows to low.
- Launched game with low memory, no sky effects etc. For my PC, I actually get better game play when launching it in normal mode.
- Purchased a new video card. I had a Radeon HD 9750, not a bad card, but figured it just wasn’t enough for this game. I switched to a GTX 970. Unfortunately this barely increased my FPS, and didn’t do much for the sporadic lag and FPS drops.
What did work?
Overclocking the GPU! This is the one thing I haven’t thought of or read about on any forum. This might not be possible for many of you, but for the ones who have decent systems with less than satisfactory results should definitely try this.
I can only relate and tell you how to overclock the GTX 970, but if you have other cards just YouTube a guide for overclocking your card. When you search, try to match your motherboard model to the video card so make it super straight forward and step by step.
There is software that can be downloaded, or came with your card that you can use to overclock the GPU. I use MSI Afterburner.
After overclocking, and while tweaking the settings, you will want to either benchmark and stress test the card, or have a hardware monitor open to make sure it’s not getting too hot and also hitting the speeds you expected. I use Open Hardware Monitor open on my other monitor while I play.
GPU-Z will also show you the stats and speeds or your card.
CPU-Z will show you and let you benchmark your CPU, but I believe ARK is more GPU intense than CPU. I have both overclocked but didn’t notice a huge difference until the GPU overclock.
You can go down the list and tweak everything I’ve discussed to greatly improve your game play and enjoyment from playing ARK Survival Evolved.