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Playing a game on the PC usually provides a better experience than the same game on a console, with a few exceptions (Diablo 3, I’m looking at you). Yet many people still enjoy consoles, and it’s easy to see why. PCs are more complex and lack standardized components, which means there’s no guarantee a game will run, or run well.

While random strangeness does at time occur, must of the problems encountered by PC gamers fall into some familiar categories. Issues can usually be resolved as long as the source isn’t a bug in the game’s code. Let’s have a look at the five most common problems.

Artifacts And Glitches

graphicartifact

Artifacts, or glitches, are a species easily identified by a graphical weirdness. Game geometry may be missing, inflated, or mal-formed, textures might appear strangely pixellated or colored, and portions of the screen may flicker, suffer from banding, or otherwise just look odd.

Problems like this are usually the result of the video card fumbling the information sent to it by a game. Outdated drivers are sometimes the culprit, and if you often run beta drivers, that too may be the cause. A quick Google search regarding the game displaying such glitches may point you in the direction of others who can tell you what driver version works best.

The other major cause is a graphics card that’s overheating and/or failing. Check your graphics card’s temperature using a tool like TThrottle TThrottle: Monitor & Take Action Against CPU & GPU Overheating TThrottle: Monitor & Take Action Against CPU & GPU Overheating Read More ; if your card is exceeding 100 degrees Celsius, it’s likely too hot. Should temperatures look fine, try downloading Furmark and running a stress test Test Your Graphics Card Stability with Furmark [Gaming] Test Your Graphics Card Stability with Furmark [Gaming] Read More . If artifacts appear, your video card probably has one foot in the grave.

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Excessive Lag Online

serverlag

You line up the shot. You squeeze the trigger…er, mouse button. For a second, nothing happens. Then your shot fires, hitting the wall your opponent was standing on just a moment before.

Online lag is a very frustrating problem that, at times, can seem difficult to deal with. The minimum amount of lag you can expect is dictated by the quality of your Internet connection, but most people on broadband receive 100-200ms to servers in the same region. More than that might indicate a problem.

First, see if there are any downloads active on your network, including video streams. This can cause lag if your router is not prioritizing your game What Do Gaming Routers Do And Does It Really Matter What Do Gaming Routers Do And Does It Really Matter Hardware companies target gamers with all kinds of special gaming hardware. There are gaming mice, keyboards, headsets, sound cards, and more. There are now even "gaming routers" -- routers specially marketed towards gamers offering an... Read More (which most don’t). Turn whatever you find downloading off, and then try the game again.

Should that not work, and you’re on WiFi, check the quality of your connection. You can just glance at the Windows signal strength monitor for a basic indication, but if you want something more precise, try PassMark WirelessMon. It’s $24 for the standard edition, but comes with a 30-day trial. Should you find your signal strength to be low, you can try to move your PC, connecting via Ethernet, or boosting your router’s signal 8 Tips to Effectively Boost Your Wireless Router Signal 8 Tips to Effectively Boost Your Wireless Router Signal If your wireless router's signal doesn't seem to reach very far, or if your signal keeps dropping for some weird reason, here are a few things you can do that might fix it. Read More .

Temporary Freezing / Hanging

Games are supposed to run more smoothly on the PC than on any competing platform, but that doesn’t always happen. Occasionally gamers run into a problem where a title seems to frequently freeze or hang, sometimes for several seconds at a time, before resuming normal play.

This is usually the result of a bottleneck in your computer’s performance. The hangs are caused by a sudden lack of resources, which forces the game to freeze while it waits for your computer to catch up.

Check to make sure that your computer’s RAM, video RAM, processor and hard drive meet the developer’s recommended specifications. If they do not, you may need to upgrade. If they do, download the latest video card drivers, clear out any unneeded background processes, and free up space on your hard drive (if less than 10% remains).

Screen Tearing

Tearing is a specific visual artifact that appears when the frames shown in a game seem to split into a top and bottom half, which do not align. In very severe cases, the split may even occur three or four times.

Unlike many other issues, this one is caused by too much performance. Most monitors have a 60 Hz refresh rate, which means that they only refresh their image 60 times a second. But a fast gaming PC can play many titles at much higher speeds. When the frames start to come in more quickly than the monitor can refresh, a refresh may contain information from multiple frames. And thus the problem.

The most popular fix is an in-game setting called V-sync 5 New Video Card Features You Should Know About [MakeUseOf Explains] 5 New Video Card Features You Should Know About [MakeUseOf Explains] Computer games are not difficult for most modern video cards to handle, but that hasn’t stopped the performance war between AMD and NVIDIA. It’s only raised the bar. 1080p is now a mundane resolution. To... Read More which locks the game’s output to a certain maximum (usually 60 frames per second). If you want to spend some dough, you can also fix the problem by purchasing a monitor with a 120Hz refresh rate.

Stuttering

This problem is different from freezing/hanging because it happens at a much higher frequency, and each individual “hang” lasts for a millisecond at most. The problem may not even be noticeable at first glance, but only apparent during fast movement.

Multi-GPU setups are the most common cause of stuttering. While they theoretically act as one, in practice they’re not always perfectly in sync. This may mean frames arrive in an uneven pattern, which leads to the stuttering effect.

The obvious way to fix this is to disable one of your video cards, but that’s not ideal. If you use Nvidia, try downloading the latest drivers, as the company has largely solved the stuttering. AMD has not had as much luck, so far, but you can try their beta drivers.

Conclusion

PC games are much more reliable than they used to be, and these issues (if they even occur) are nowhere near as severe as the crashes and driver conflicts that were common just a decade ago. If you’ve read these tips and still have a problem, feel free to leave a comment, or ask your fellow readers at MakeUseOf Answers.

Image Credit: Dark Legacy Comics, John Nigel

  1. Janis Keith
    October 27, 2016 at 3:47 am

    When i am playing SuperCity neighbors ask you for items etc... when my window comes open with the request list it has what each person request out from their profile picture then aside from that there is a send optopn. When i click on the send it does nothing, will not send the item out, have had this problem for three weeks and even PlayKot cant seem to find the problem.

  2. jorgen klein
    October 6, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Since the MS anniversary update, my Steam Games won't, they start but always go of and steam keeps on trying to start the game. Or I get the message (like in Borderlands 2), that game was moved or possibly corrupted, which neither is the case. Rebooting my laptop (I7 3860, 6 GB Ram, Nvidia GT 740M (4Gb) and reinstalling the game doesn't help. It seems that the "security" update is more like HELL update. will use System Restore like before and wait 2 to 3 months, until MS has solved those issues.

  3. rodgers
    July 6, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    Hi.
    I have core i7, 2.1ghz, 6Gb ram, NVIDIA GT 360M
    And I stil cant play fifa14 help please

  4. Darshan Patil
    July 1, 2016 at 8:40 am

    hi, these are my pc configerations:
    -i7,5th gen.
    -8 gb RAM.
    -4gb graphics card.

    but still my pc is acting like i3 processor and the game is not running smoothly,even though my system configerations are high end.The game which i m facing problem with is "LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER".and also my system configerations are more than enough for this game.plz help.......

  5. Uday
    June 4, 2016 at 3:55 am

    hey buddies...i have one problem while starting my game(Beowulf)....
    Plez help me to cure this proble....
    Error number:0x80040702
    Description: failed to load DLL: GDInstallhelper

  6. lucas
    February 20, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Ha you say console games run well.. On my Xbox 360, GTA IV lagged in many cases, like when i was mowing people on the sidewalk, you know all the important stuff in GTA.

  7. Chris M
    October 4, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Perfect timing. Rift just updated last week and I am lagging massively. Last night, in a raid, I literally had 0 FPS. the game is now using 80%+ of my memory.

  8. Howard B
    October 4, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Consoles are just as bad as PCs in some cases; case in point, when I tried Fallout 3 on my PS3, the graphics were awful, with miscolored textures and clipping problems.

  9. Stephen
    October 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I have : core i7 920 @ 4Ghz , HD5970 4GB Black, 12GB DDR3 Ram 1200Mhz.
    I still cant play the witcher 2 without dropping the graphics to "crap" . Is there any fix to this as the witcher 3 is coming and I want to complete the second one and will not be buying the third one if I cant even finish the second with atleast descent graphics.

  10. Prasad H
    October 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    How to improve the ping in online games?

    • Tom W
      October 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      That depends on the cause of the ping. You can switch servers, try the tips in the article, and make sure your internet speeds are high enough.

    • Danny S
      October 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm

      Besides what Tom W said, sometimes you'll have to switch Internet providers to see ping improvements. Simply switching isn't a guarantee that pings will improve -- you'll need to do some research to see if others notice an improvement with that specific provider.

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