Hi, thanks for taking the time to post. These are all wonderful suggestions and I have done every last one of them. I'm now of the opinion that there is something wrong with the engine and how it interacts with some hardware setups. As mentioned before, I had read on the game's forums that someone suggested there was an issue with a specific asteroid type. I've just got done traveling a bit to a new system and found a different type of asteroid field to bounty hunt at. The old one had asteroids with reddish patches that looked like iron ore. The whole field was very dusty and hazy. The new field I'm at has plain looking rocks and no dust or haze. I once in a while notice a tiny bit of stutter but it goes away right away. The longer stutters that were occasionally accompanied with part of the screen turning black doesn't happen at all anymore. I wish I had tried going somewhere else earlier. It's worth it though. I learned about the game, a lot about optimizing settings for games, got a newer bios flashed on my motherboard and video card, upgraded to Windows 8.1, discovered my bios had all my fans set at 100% all the time, and rebuilt my computer and cleaned it out. I feel a lot better now.