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GPU slowdown earns Discord weird bug of the week

A fix is coming eventually, Nvidia says

If you're one to obsess over frames per second or CPU and GPU utilization, you may have noticed some odd behavior when using Discord with Nvidia graphics cards of late.

When playing games with Discord open in the background, Nvidia GPU memory clocks are running slower than they ought to be.

The bug, first spotted by folks over on the LinusTechTips forum, appears to be linked to how Discord ties into Nvidia's encode/decode engines for video streaming.

How far memory clocks drop seems to depend on which card you're using. Nvidia's 30-series cards appear to lose about 200MHz while Discord is open, though some users have reported drops of more than 500MHz on older 10-series cards.

The Register was able to replicate this issue on a RTX 3060-based gaming system using MSI's Kombustor test suite. As soon as we began streaming with Discord, memory clocks fell from 7500MHz to 7300MHz.

Nvidia confirmed the issue in a support bulletin published earlier this week, noting that "after a recent update to the Discord app, users may notice that the graphics card memory clocks will not reach full speeds when launching a game."

The chipmaker also noted that a fix was in the works and would "be pushed to users' PCs via an over-the-air update at a later date." However, it's not clear what change to Discord may have caused the issue. Some forum-goers have speculated it may be linked to the rollout of AV1 encode support on Nvidia 40-series cards. This would make sense as the issue only crops up when using Discord's voice and streaming functionality.

In the interim, Nvidia has provided a workaround for those who can't or don't want to wait. The fix involves downloading Nvidia's GeForce 3D Profile Manager application and modifying the SLI profile used by Discord. You can find a full breakdown here.

So should you apply Nvidia's fix or wait for a driver patch? Well, from what we can tell, you can probably wait as you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference, especially on newer cards.

Even on a mid-tier card like the 3060, a 200MHz drop, as anomalous as it may be, isn't that much. And in our testing, we found no discernible decline in frame rates in Doom Eternal running at 1080p "Nightmare" settings with dynamic resolution turned off. Frame rates hovered at between 177 and 220, regardless of whether Discord was on or not.

But if you're using an older card, the performance hit might be more noticeable. In that case, it may be necessary to apply Nvidia's hot fix until a proper update can be released. ®

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