5 Common PC Gaming Problems (And How to Fix Them)
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Playing games on a PC provides you with a lot more freedom than on a console. But because PCs are more complex and lack standardized components like consoles, graphical glitches in games (or performance problems) are common.

Most of the common PC gaming problems you’ll experience fall into a few general categories. In this article we look at some of the biggest PC gaming problems you might run into, and show you how to fix them.

1. Artifacts and Visual Glitches

The term “artifacts” refers to heavy distortion of visual media. With video games, this manifests as all sorts of graphical weirdness. You might see missing or deformed geometry, wonky textures, flickering elements, and similar.

Because your video card is the component responsible for processing visuals and sending them to your screen, these issues are typically rooted in your GPU. You should make sure that your graphic card drivers are up to date—see our guide to updating Windows drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know? Here's what you need to know and how to go about it. Read More for help doing this.

If you still experience graphic glitches in games after confirming you have the latest drivers, you may have an issue with heat in your system. Clean your PC if you haven’t in a while; too much dust will build up excess heat, which harms your video card and other components. Make sure your PC has adequate ventilation, too. In case you’ve overclocked your GPU, consider rolling it back to normal.

You can use PC diagnostic tools like HWMonitor to monitor graphics card heat. There’s no exact operating temperature you should look for, but in general, an idle card is about 30-40 degrees Celsius. While playing a game, something in the range of 60 to 85 degrees Celsius is normal. Running above 90 or 100 Celsius is too hot.

Finally, you can stress test your GPU to check for problems How to Safely Stress Test Your (Overclocked) CPU, GPU, and RAM How to Safely Stress Test Your (Overclocked) CPU, GPU, and RAM Stress tests can reveal whether or not your system remains stable under heavy loads, particularly if you overclocked your hardware. We show you how stress tests work and pitfalls to look out for. Read More . If you see artifacts and other visual strangeness during the test, your video card is likely failing.

2. Extreme Online Lag

Lag refers to a delay between you taking action in an online game and the server’s reaction to what you did. If you’ve ever sworn you shot right at an opponent in an online shooter, only to have him skip across the bullets while they hit the wall behind him, you’ve experienced lag.

The quality of your internet connection will affect how much lag you experience. Because of this, when you experience lag, you should make sure to close any bandwidth-intensive tasks that are running on your network. Stop all downloads and video streams, and make sure you aren’t running any torrents.

Lag is more of an issue on an unstable internet connection. If you’re playing online via Wi-Fi, you should consider switching to an Ethernet connection. Have a look at the best powerline adapters The 5 Best Powerline Adapters for Your Home Network The 5 Best Powerline Adapters for Your Home Network Looking for the best powerline adapters for a more reliable home network connection? Here are the best models you can pick up today. Read More if wiring in directly isn’t an option.

Note that the game you’re playing can affect lag as well. If the game uses a peer-to-peer (P2P) setup, like some Call of Duty games, your experience will be affected if another player has a poor connection. In games with dedicated servers, though, only your connection will suffer.

Network Ping

When troubleshooting lag, you should be aware of your ping. This is a value, in milliseconds, that indicates how long it takes your actions to go to the server and back to your device. As you’d expect, a higher ping results in delayed inputs.

Most games let you view your ping in real-time, which you can use to gauge the health of your connection. Generally, you’ll notice lag with anything over 100. If your ping is 50 or under, you’re in a pretty good spot.

Keep in mind that location plays a huge deal in determining ping. If you’re in the US and playing a game on EU servers, you’ll experience much higher ping because your inputs have to travel a greater distance. This is why it’s best to select servers that are as close to you as possible.

3. Freezing/Hanging

When games don’t run smoothly, it’s a huge pain. If you regularly experience sudden freezes in offline games where the game has to “catch up,” the chances are that at least one component of your system is a bottleneck.

You can take a few quick steps to troubleshoot this game hanging problem. If possible, drop the graphics to a lower setting so that the game isn’t as resource-intensive. Close other programs running on your PC so they’re not using up your RAM and CPU power. Make sure you have some free disk space so your game has room to breathe.

If these fixes don’t solve the freezing, you should review your current PC hardware and make sure that it meets the specifications of the game you’re playing. You may need to upgrade if your system isn’t up to snuff. For instance, an SSD will provide far better load times than an old HDD, and you may need more RAM to keep a game running smoothly.

Check out the upgrades that will improve your system performance the most These Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most! These Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most! Need a faster computer but aren't sure what you should upgrade on your PC? Follow our PC upgrade checker to find out. Read More to get an idea of what you need.

4. Screen Tearing

We covered general visual artifact issues earlier, but screen tearing is a special case. This visual problem occurs when your screen shows multiple frames from a game at one time, split into two or more parts that don’t align correctly.

Unlike many PC gaming issues, this isn’t really the fault of any one component. Screen tearing occurs because the feed that your video card sends to your monitor does not sync up properly with the display’s refresh rate. In effect, your card submits a new frame before your monitor has finished showing you the last one, so you see a broken image containing both.

Most games include a feature called V-sync (vertical synchronization) to combat this. Enabling it prevents the video card from updating your display until the monitor finishes the current refresh cycle. While this helps prevent screen tearing, it can also introduce some input lag. Input lag is different than network lag, and refers to a delay between your control inputs and the game recognizing them.

Thus, whether you decide to use V-sync depends on what type of game you’re playing. In a multiplayer game where every instant counts, you should probably keep it off. But in a slow-paced single-player game, using V-sync will make your display look as beautiful as possible.

5. Games Crashing

Visual and performance issues are frustrating, but at least they don’t prevent you from playing the game. Unlike games that continually crash. When games crash, it’s extremely annoying because you can lose progress. If a game crashes frequently, you might not even be able to play it.

Some of the advice we’ve touched on above applies to games crashing too. Make sure that you have the latest video drivers installed and that your system meets the recommended requirements to play the game. Restart your PC to make sure it’s not a temporary problem.

From there, you can jump into some other troubleshooting steps. Disable your antivirus and other software that might interfere with a game’s proper operation. You should also try running the game as an administrator, which can sometimes clear up crashing issues.

Next, reinstall the game to confirm all files installed correctly. At that point, it’s worth Googling the specific game to see if other people have had issues. In some cases, you may have to attempt a specific workaround for that title.

Why Is My Game Glitching? Now You Know

In this article we’ve looked at some common PC gaming problems and how to go about solving them. If you have successfully resolved the issues you can now get back to enjoying your favorite games without issues.

Note that these are all general categories of problems; you may also run into glitches specific to a certain title. Perhaps it’s a visual issue or something that impedes your progress. In these cases, the bug will hopefully get patched out in a future update of the specific game.

Even if you’re not having any of the above problems, it’s always a good idea to make use your PC is running at optimal level. Here’s how to optimize your PC for gaming Optimize Your PC for Gaming With These 4 Vital Tweaks Optimize Your PC for Gaming With These 4 Vital Tweaks Wondering how to optimize your PC for gaming? Use these vital tips to keep your gaming PC setup running at its best. Read More with a few vital tweaks.

Explore more about: Computer Maintenance, Gaming Tips, Network Tips, PC, Steam, Troubleshooting, Video Card.

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  3. davin
    February 18, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Umm so you now when windows does an update it started updating and I was a little impatient and I turned the PC off (gaming PC) now it's stuck in a loop of starting up and restarting and repeat plz how fix?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.......

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

      • Danny T
        February 21, 2017 at 1:36 am

        Besides what Danny S said maybe you'll have to move countries, i hear North Korea has good ping.