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Why is my gaming PC lagging? Common causes and ways to fix them

(Pocket-lint) – Lag can really spoil your fun. There are different things that can slow down your machine, cause stutters, or generally ruin your experience. Figuring out what’s causing it and why can be a pain, but we’re here to help.

So, if your PC is lagging during your gaming sessions, read quickly and see different ways to diagnose it and possible fixes.

Thermal throttling

If you’re playing on an older PC that you’ve owned for a while, or just pushing your PC to its limits, you may be experiencing thermal throttling.

This occurs when components heat up too much under load and approach maximum operating temperature. PC parts then intelligently decrease performance to account for the increased temperatures, which, in turn, should help to gradually reduce temperatures before power can be increased.

Thermal throttling is one of the potential causes of what PC gamers would consider lag – the feeling that a game isn’t running smoothly or that there’s a sudden drop in FPS in-game.

There are various ways to check your CPU and graphics card temperatures with relative ease. By using these tools and techniques, you will be able to determine if your PC is getting too hot.

If so, there are things you can do about it. The simple act of cleaning fans and dust filters can help, as can something as simple as opening a window in a warm room with no ventilation or moving your PC to a more open space where it can easily breathe. . Replacing the thermal paste is a more drastic method, but you might also find that increasing the fan speed on your PC will help.

Internet connection speed

Sometimes lag (or the feeling of lag) has nothing to do with problems with your PC, but rather depends on the speed of your internet connection. Slow internet connection and high pings can lead to uncomfortable gaming experiences in multiplayer games.

Tools like SpeedTest can give you an idea of ​​your current internet speed and show you both ping and upload speed, but may not fix the problem.

If you notice a drop in your internet speed and it’s not what your ISP should provide, it could be a signal or hardware problem. Upgrading your home network can help resolve issues. For example, if you’re using wireless, try switching to an Ethernet connection with your gaming PC. Using an Ethernet cable provides a stronger, more reliable connection and generally better performance.

If you can’t do that, consider switching to Wi-Fi 6 or a mesh network for better coverage.

Other applications hogging processing power

Just because your game is the only thing you play doesn’t mean your PC isn’t busy doing other things. Sometimes your machine might be running other apps in the background which might consume processing power and cause lag.

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If you noticed any problem, press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC simultaneously to open the task manager from there you will be able to see the processes running and what is using the most in terms of processing power.

This includes showing applications currently using the GPU, CPU, and RAM. Obviously, if there’s anything else on the roster other than your game that’s using a large percentage of any of these things while you’re playing, that’s probably part of the cause. Right-click the offending process and click End Task.

If you find there’s an app that does this regularly and it’s not essential for your PC games, consider uninstalling it. Simply press the Windows start key and type “add, remove, or remove programs”, then find and uninstall the app.

Alternatively, if it’s something you use regularly but don’t need all the time, click the Startup tab in Task Manager. find the app and right click to disable it. This will prevent it from loading every time Windows starts.

Problems with drivers

Sometimes lag can be caused by issues with your graphics drivers or conflicts with other drivers on your system.

We’ve already covered how to update Nvidia drivers and install them cleanly for best results, as well as tips and tricks to improve PC performance. Sometimes fixing your lag can be as simple as downloading the latest graphics drivers. If you haven’t in a while and are trying to play the latest games, that may be part of the problem.

Nvidia’s Game Ready Drivers are designed to ensure you get the best performance when gaming. The drivers are thoroughly tested on all kinds of gaming hardware and optimized for the latest games as well. So follow the steps to cleanly install the new drivers and see if that helps with your lag.

Game settings

Believe it or not, sometimes it can just be your game settings that are causing issues. Some games may have a frame limit set, limiting your maximum FPS. If v-sync is enabled, it can also limit your maximum FPS and interfere with your gaming sessions. Check the game’s graphics settings to see if a frame rate cap is applied.

Other settings can also help smooth performance. Some games are just too intensive, even for high-end gaming hardware. Cyberpunk 2077 was particularly harrowing when it launched and while it looked gorgeous, it didn’t perform particularly well when the graphics were maxed out. Sometimes lowering your graphics settings can be enough to fix issues that may appear to be lag, but are often just frame rate drops.

Alternatively, you can enable settings like Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) which can help improve performance by using AI to intelligently scale your graphics while requiring less processing power from your GPU. There are alternatives to DLSS, such as AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution and Intel Xe Super Sampling, but we’ve found DLSS to be the most reliable so far.

System bottlenecks

If you have an aging system that you’ve been playing with for a while, chances are you’ve already upgraded your graphics card. A GPU is one of the easiest things to upgrade, but doing it without considering the other parts can cause problems. One of them is a system bottleneck. This can happen when one part is particularly strong but others are not. If you play games with an Intel Core i3 processor and an RTX 3090 Ti, you might already be experiencing this problem.

Consider upgrading your processor and adding additional RAM to your system to improve overall system performance and improve your machine without replacing the whole thing.

Not enough power

If you’re gaming on a laptop, it’s worth bearing in mind that many modern thin-and-light laptops need to be plugged into a power supply to function properly. Technology designed by Nvidia’s Advanced Optimus to maximize battery life, but at the expense of performance.

So you can’t just play triple-A titles without power and expect a smooth experience with high FPS. Plug in your laptop and you’ll see a noticeable improvement in FPS and your overall experience.

Written by Adrian Willings.

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