(Pocket-lint) – Layers can really ruin the fun. There are various things that can slow down your machine, cause stuttering, or generally ruin your experience. Figuring out what’s causing it and why can be painful, but we’re here to help.
So, if your PC is lagging during your gaming sessions, then have a quick read and see different ways to diagnose it and possible fixes.
If you’re gaming on an older PC that you’ve had for a while or even just pushing your PC to the limit, you may experience thermal throttling.
This happens when components run too hot under load and approach their maximum operating temperature. PC parts then intelligently reduce performance to account for the increased temps, and this in turn should help gradually reduce temps before power can be ramped back up.
Thermal throttling is a potential cause of what PC gamers would consider to be lag – the feeling that a game isn’t running smoothly or there’s a sudden drop in in-game FPS.
There are different ways to check the CPU and graphics card temperatures relatively easily. By using these tools and techniques, you will be able to determine if your PC is overheating.
If it is, there are things you can do about it. Simply cleaning the fans and dust filters can help, as can something as simple as opening a window in a warm room with no ventilation or moving the PC to a more open room where it can breathe easily. Replacing the thermal paste is a more drastic method, but you may also find that simply turning up the fan speed on your PC will help.
Internet connection speed
Sometimes lag (or the feeling of it) has nothing to do with problems with your PC, but instead is down to the speed of your Internet connection. Slow internet and high pings can cause unpleasant gaming experiences in multiplayer games.
Tools like SpeedTest can give you an idea of your current internet speed and show you both your ping and upload speeds, but may not fix the problem.
If you notice a drop in your internet speed and it doesn’t match what your ISP is supposed to offer, it could be a signal or hardware problem. Upgrading your home network can help alleviate any problems. For example, if you’re using wireless, try switching to an Ethernet connection to your gaming PC. Using an Ethernet cable ensures a more solid and reliable connection and overall better performance.
If you can’t do that, consider upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 or a mesh network for better coverage.
Other apps provide processing power
Just because your game is the only thing you play doesn’t mean your PC isn’t busy with other things too. Sometimes your machine may have other apps running in the background that can eat up processing power and cause lag.
If you’ve noticed a problem, press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC at the same time to open the task manager. From there you will be able to see the processes that are running and what uses the most in terms of processing power.
This includes showing apps that are currently using GPU, CPU and RAM. Of course, if there’s something else on the list other than your game that uses a large percentage of any of these things while playing, then that’s probably part of the reason. Right-click the offending process and click End Task.
If you find that there is an app that does this on a regular basis and it is not essential to your PC gaming, consider uninstalling it. Just press the Windows start key and type “add remove or remove programs” and find and uninstall the app.
Alternatively, if it’s something you use regularly but don’t need constantly, click the startup tab in Task Manager. find the app and right-click to disable it. That will stop it from loading every time Windows starts.
Problems with drivers
Sometimes lag can be caused by problems with the graphics drivers or conflicts with other drivers on the system.
We’ve previously written about how to update Nvidia drivers and install them cleanly for best results, as well as tips and tricks to improve PC performance. Sometimes fixing the lag can be as simple as downloading the latest graphics drivers. If you haven’t done it in a while and are trying to play the latest games, that could be part of the problem.
Nvidia’s game-ready drivers are designed to ensure you get the best performance when you play. The drivers are thoroughly tested on all kinds of gaming hardware and are also optimized for the latest games. So follow the steps to install new drivers cleanly and see if that helps with the lag.
Believe it or not, sometimes it can simply be your in-game settings causing problems. Some games may have a frame limit set, limiting your maximum FPS. If v-sync is turned on, this can also limit your maximum FPS and disrupt your gaming sessions. Check the game’s graphics settings to see if there is a frame rate cap.
Other settings can also help smooth out performance. Some games are just too intensive, even for high-end gaming hardware. Cyberpunk 2077 was particularly punishing when it first 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 resolve issues that may feel like lag but are often just drops in frame rate.
Alternatively, you can turn on settings like Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) which can help improve performance by using AI to intelligently upscale 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.
If you have an aging system that you’ve been gaming 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 so without considering other parts can cause problems. One of them is a system bottleneck. This can happen where one part is particularly powerful, but others are not. If you’re gaming with an Intel Core i3 processor and an RTX 3090 Ti, you may already have this problem.
Consider upgrading your CPU 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 connected to a power supply to work properly. Technology like Nvidia’s Advanced Optimus is designed to maximize battery life, but does so at the expense of performance.
So you can’t just play triple-A titles without power and expect a smooth experience with high FPS. Connect your laptop and you will see a noticeable improvement in FPS and your overall experience.
Author Adrian Willings.