in Bicycling

Tips for a Reliable Zwift Experience

I’ve been using Zwift for several months and have had my fair share of application crashes, but I think I’ve resolved them after a bit of trial-and-error.  Here is my list of tips for having the most reliable Zwift experience.  Note that you should only consider the following tips if you’re having issues… if you’re not, then ride-on!

Plugin Your Laptop’s Power Supply

Most laptops try to conserve power when they aren’t plugged-in to prolong battery life.  Give your laptop all the power it needs to run Zwift by plugging in the power cord.   That’ll also save you from getting towards the end of your ride and then having to stop riding to plugin your laptop because your battery is dead.  Your smart trainer needs power anyway, so it’s not like you can create a cord-free environment no matter what you do.

Note that there is now a “Laptop Battery Saver” option in the Zwift settings as well. If you’re computer is hard-wired to power, select the “Off – Max Speed” setting.

Use a Wired Secondary Display

If you’re projecting Zwift to a TV or second monitor, use a wired connection instead of a wireless one (like Miracast).  I think this was the reason Zwift kept crashing on me.  I project Zwift onto a TV using Intel WiDi, which is similar to Miracast, and after about an hour of riding the screen would freeze even though the sound was still going.  I recently purchased a long HDMI cable to hard-wire my laptop to my TV and I haven’t had any Zwift lock-ups since.

Use Zwift in Windowed Mode on Second Display

When Zwift runs in full screen mode, it will always display full screen on your computer’s screen and you can’t drag it onto another display.  As a result, you end-up setting-up your computer to duplicate the display onto a secondary monitor or TV.  I can only assume that running Zwift on your computer and a secondary monitor requires more resources of your computer for no real gain.  Instead, change Zwift’s “Screen Mode” setting to “Windowed” so you can drag it to your secondary monitor or TV.  This also gives you the advantage of being able to open other applications on your main display.  In my case, I open-up Pandora via a web browser on my main display and listen to music while riding with Zwift on my secondary display.

Use Wired Internet Access

This might not be an option for many since it’s unlikely that your Zwift rig is setup near your Internet router, but if possible, hard-wire your computer to your network instead of using Wifi.  Hard-wired access is always faster than Wifi and isn’t as subject to temporarily losing a signal.

Configure Your Computer for a High Performance Power Plan

If you’re using Windows, you can adjust the power plan settings so that your computer can use as much power as it needs to make the game run well.  I recommend starting with the “High Performance” power plan and modify it as you see fit.  Note that a high performance power plan typically assumes your computer is plugged-in to a power source, not running on batteries.  Here’s how to configure a power plan in Windows 10.

Ensure Zwift is Using the Right Graphics Adapter

Most laptops don’t have secondary graphics adapters, so this may not apply to you.  However, PCs and high-end laptops might have secondary graphics cards, like a NVidia adapter for example, to handle intense graphic needs.  Make sure that when Zwift runs, it is using the graphics card you want it to use, not which ever one Windows picks.  On my laptop, there is a NVidia application in the toolbar that has a link that states, “Customize which applications use the GPU.”  I have it set to always handle Zwift.

Configure Zwift for the Appropriate Screen Resolution

In the Zwift application settings, you can set the “Game Resolution” to 576p, 720p, or 1080p.   Don’t select a setting that is higher than your hardware can handle because that will just make your PC work harder for no benefit.  For example, I’m projecting Zwift onto an LG 720p TV.  I could set Zwift to display 1080p, but that won’t do any good because the TV won’t be able to display the increased resolution.

Ensure Your Comptuer Hardware is Up to the Task

If you’re projecting Zwift onto a new 4k TV and you’re expecting flawless performance, super high resolution graphics and high frames-per-second, your computer better be a pretty new, top spec high-end machine ($$$$) as well.  Don’t expect a 10 year old el-cheapo computer to be able to handle pumping-out hours of high resolution graphics without melting down.  (Note that Zwift won’t display at 4k yet, but you get the picture…)

Although I’m not sure of how much it will help Zwift, it doesn’t hurt to increase your laptop’s memory to as much as it can handle (or you can afford) and perhaps upgrade to a solid-state hard drive (SSD) instead of a standard hard drive.  SSD prices have come way down over the past few years and my experience is that they do boost performance significantly.

Ride on!

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