Is your gaming PC frustrating you? Even if you have a well-built rig, experiencing various performance issues, such as slow gameplay or random crashes, is not uncommon. While this can be frustrating, the most common issues usually have simple solutions.
Knowing how to troubleshoot these issues will help you resolve them quickly. You’ll also avoid a perhaps unnecessary trip to a computer repair shop.
Slow Performance, Lagging, Crashing, Or Freezing
One of the most common issues gamers have is slow performance, lagging, crashing, or freezing.
Slow performance and lagging can often be solved by shutting down unnecessary programs running in the background. Open up your task manager by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + ESC, check which programs are running, and force-stop the ones you aren’t using.
If that doesn’t resolve the issue, your computer may not have the necessary hardware power to deal with the games you are playing. In such cases, upgrading your RAM or storage is one of the easiest ways to speed up your PC.
Upgrading your CPU or graphics card can be expensive, but adding an extra 16GB RAM module can cost you less than $30.
Before going out and buying RAM sticks, make sure they are compatible with your setup! Motherboards that support DDR4 RAM technology won’t be compatible with DDR5 RAM sticks, for example. Ensure that the timing and speed of the RAM sticks you buy are the same as your existing RAM sticks.
A slow storage drive could also lead to slow performance. If you have an old HDD, replace it with an SSD. If you have a small storage drive but a lot of games, adding more storage can speed up your system.
Again, make sure they are compatible with your current setup. For example, older motherboards may not support M.2 form factor SSDs.
Also, before you add any new components to your PC, make sure your PSU has enough power to support them. This applies to new storage drives, graphics cards, or any other component that would draw additional power from the power supply unit.
Another thing worth pointing out is that viruses and malware can lead to a sudden decrease in PC performance. If you’ve been downloading games from dubious sources, they may have been bundled with adware, spyware, viruses, or even ransomware.
Run a complete antivirus scan (a deep scan, not a superficial one) with Windows Defender or a third-party antivirus, like Avast.
Random Shutdowns Or The BSOD
If your computer shuts down randomly, your power supply unit may be at fault. It may not have enough power for all your components. Check its wattage rating and calculate the required wattage of your components.
If you recently added a new graphics card, for example, it might be drawing too much power from the PSU. In that case, upgrading your PSU can help.
Before you do so, however, try reseating or upgrading the RAM. Also, if you recently installed new programs or games, reinstall them.
Similarly, the infamous BSOD (blue screen of death) isn’t as scary as people think it is. The equivalent on a Mac is the spinning wheel of doom.
Often, it’s a result of faulty hardware, such as a bad RAM stick. Try reseating the RAM or replacing it with a similar RAM module.
If you have a hard disk drive in your rig, it might be old and need replacing. A bad HDD can also lead to a BSOD. In that case, replace your hard disk drive with a solid state drive.
Another thing that can lead to random shutdowns or the BSOD is bad graphics card drivers. If you recently installed a new GPU, re-download the drivers from the manufacturer’s website.
While shutdowns and the BSOD are often hardware related, they can be software related as well. If it suddenly started happening after installing a new game or program, uninstall it and reinstall it.
While it shouldn’t be your first option, reinstalling Windows can sometimes fix it. Back up your files first, though.
Another reason computers may randomly shut down or experience slow performance is overheating. If your computer gets too hot, it may shut down as a prevention measure.
To avoid overheating, ensure you have a good cooling system in place. Liquid cooling is recommended, but air cooling is fine for many gamers as well, as long as the fans are clean and working properly.
Use compressed air to clear out the fans, as dust may have accumulated in them. Take off the CPU cooler, remove the thermal paste with some high-proof isopropyl alcohol, and add new thermal paste. Over time, thermal paste gets brittle and loses its performance capabilities.
Black Screen Or No Power
Unlike a blue screen, a black screen usually points to an issue with the monitor or its connectivity. Make sure the monitor is connected to a power supply and that it is connected to your graphics card using the correct ports.
If your computer isn’t getting any power altogether, your PSU may have failed. If you have another known PSU, connect it to test if that’s the issue. If the PSU has failed, buy another PSU, but make sure it has enough wattage to support all your components, and fits your computer case.
There may be other causes. For example, the voltage switch on your PSU (shown above) may be set to the incorrect voltage. In that case, set it to the correct setting.
Poor Images And Graphics
If your images are corrupted during gameplay or appear with distortions or strange artifacts, the GPU might be at fault. Your GPU is responsible for processing videos and images.
It might be overheating, or it might not have the required drivers installed. Try reinstalling the drivers from the manufacturer’s website. If that doesn’t help, open up your case and check the GPU’s fan. Clean it with compressed air, remove the GPU from the PCIe slot, and reseat it.
Consider stress testing your GPU using an online GPU stress test tool to see how it performs and measures up to expected benchmarks.
Slow Online Gameplay
If your computer lags when playing online games, your internet connection may be at fault.
There may be other programs running in the background, using the internet. Open the task manager to shut them down.
Run a speed test using a free speed test tool like Ookla or Google Fiber’s speed test. Check that the upload and download speeds are sufficient for the game you’re playing.
Are they slower than what you paid for? Remember that actual internet speeds can vary greatly from advertised speeds. When you signed up for your plan, you were being shown the maximum speed, but that speed is often only delivered under certain conditions.
Shutting down background apps may help free up your bandwidth, but other factors may also come into play. Depending on your ISP, there may be higher-priced plans available with faster speeds.
Finally, if you’re using a wireless connection, consider switching to a wired Ethernet connection. Wireless connections can sometimes be slow, especially if other people in the household are on the same Wi-Fi network.
Weird Noises Coming From Your PC And Other Issues
There aren’t many moving components in your PC other than the fans and the hard drive (if you’re not using an SSD). If you hear a grinding or clicking noise, one of those components is likely at fault.
There may be something obstructing your fans. Clean them out with compressed air. If the sound is coming from your hard drive, it might fail soon. Back up your data and replace your hard drive, ideally with an SSD.
There are some other hardware issues to watch out for. If you have a liquid cooling system, there is a risk it could leak, especially if you built a custom one from scratch instead of an AIO prebuilt system.
Also, if you ever detect a burning smell from your PC case, disconnect your computer from the outlet immediately and check to see if the motherboard or other components are burning. This could be a result of overheating or a faulty component. The PSU and motherboard are the first components to check. Look for black spots on the motherboard.
Peripheral Device Problems
If your mouse or keyboard is not working correctly, try unplugging and plugging it back in. If that doesn’t work, make sure that you have the correct drivers installed.
Keeping track of all your required drivers can be difficult, but there are many free and paid software tools that do that for you automatically.
If audio isn’t working correctly, ensure your speakers or earphones are connected properly, and you have the correct audio drivers installed.
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