Starfield gameplay PC RTX 4090 4K Ultra Settings – A Stuttering mess on HDD

We like Bethesda’s Starfield so far on PC, but can’t help feel that Microsoft should have allowed the game more time to cook in the oven. Some of its first week issues make the game almost unplayable in places when using Nvidia RTX 4090 GPU. The problems we have encountered just within our first 3 hours of playing have been numerous and totally off-putting. The main issue is audio not working properly. This shouldn’t be happening and the fix of restarting the game doesn’t always work. Music stops working, and NPCs lips move with no sound. Terrible, and immersion breaking. The issue is caused by the game being installed on a HDD rather than SSD.

The other issues aside from excruciatingly long loading times is horrible pausing during combat which makes some of the combat a complete dud. This might also be as a result of HDD installation. Controller aiming ceasing to work but movement is fine. Aside from these issues, the game looks fantastic using Ultra settings. 4K resolution, No dynamic scaling, no DLSS or in this case FSR2 being enabled for what that is worth. In the Starfield gameplay video, you can see all of this and how well the RTX 4090 runs in a benchmark type scenario. With the the GPU and CPU being worked quite hard this is some poor but perhaps expected results. We hope a patch is coming fast as some of these issues really spoil the flow of the game and really shouldn’t be happening with such a high-calibre title for Microsoft.

Please note, some of the issues persisted when the fps was capped at 60 with far less load on GPU and CPU. The CPU reached 90 degrees at some points which could have contributed more to the issues in the video. But they remain with the CPU temp at around 70 degrees which is a quite normal temperature. Running the game via an SSD offers a much smoother experience. However, the game has moments of high CPU usage pushing the i5 13700K up to 90 degrees momentarily when playing uncapped. It often peaks over 80 degrees when playing with Vsync enabled especially when transitioning. The average temp is around 70 degrees which is fine.

The issue for us really is, no game should make SSD a requirement on PC and if it does, the HDD performance shouldn’t be as bad as it is seen here. Bethesda even state that playing via HDD is possible but perhaps not the best experience as we’ve seen here. That said, not all HDD are the same. Some offer faster read speeds than others.

Written by: Rob Cram

Rob Cram has hundreds of video game reviews, thousands of articles under his belt with years of experience in gaming and tech. He aims to remain fair and free from publisher/developer influence. With his extensive knowledge, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement with his views are entirely optional. He might have a bias towards cyberpunk.