PC Gaming is definitely on the rise these days.
Powerful hardware is getting cheaper, and overall a lot of products and components have become a lot more accessible.
Still, it’s a shame that the platform which generates the most revenue also faces the most bugs and other issues.
The most common of these is when your computer freezes while playing games. It is something we’ve all come across dozens of times, and a lot of you might already be familiar with some common fixes.
Despite that, there are a tonne of users out there who go through this frustration almost daily.
This article should serve as a great guide on how to fix PC freezes while playing games. Let’s get into it.
What Are Your Options?
It can be pretty difficult to directly pinpoint the main source of the problem.
We’d recommend reading through this guide and see what actually works for you. There can be dozens of things in play here, from defects in the software side of things, or a problem in the actual hardware.
We’ll mostly be focusing on fixes you can do in Windows itself, although we will delve into the hardware side of things a bit.
Let’s get started.
FIX #1: Lower In-Game Settings
If your headache is mainly due to choppy or inconsistent framerates, this should be the first solution that comes to mind.
It’s possible that you might be pushing your hardware a bit too much, whether that be the CPU or the graphics card.
Try lowering the textures and overall quality a bit.
If you’re playing on high or ultra settings, drop it down to low or medium.
Depending on the game, it obviously might look a bit worse, but at least you’ll get a smooth framerate.
It also goes without saying that if your system doesn’t meet the minimum requirements for the game, the computer hard freezes when playing games.
FIX #2: Restart Windows Explorer
If lowering in-game settings didn’t work and you’re still facing computer freezes in Windows 10, here’s another quick and easy fix for you.
We recommend exiting your game for this one, as that gives the best results.
Steps to Restart Windows Explorer
To restart windows explorer, bring up your Task Manager.
- Press the Ctrl+Shift+Esc keys on your keyboard, which should open up the dialog box called “Task Manager”.
- Click on the “more details” option so that you can view all of the current open processes.
- In the processes list, scroll down to find the process named “Windows Explorer” which should have a little folder icon next to it.
- Right-click on this, then select restart.
This basically terminates the graphical user interface and restarts it, which might help in some cases.
This same fix also applies to freezes while playing games in Windows 7.
FIX #3: Disable Background Programs
Disabling useless programs running in the background is not that much difficult.
A lot of programs can take over RAM and processing power even when in the background.
- Just press Ctrl+Shift+Esc on your keyboard which should bring up Task Manager.
- From here, take a look at all the programs eating up processing power or memory, and disable them if they’re unimportant.
FIX #4: Check Your Thermals
Heat problems or mainly high temperatures a common cause for lag and stuttering.
If your video card or processor is reaching unsafe thermals while gaming, the computer will automatically throttle down to protect the components.
If you want to keep an eye on thermals while playing, we recommend using MSI Afterburner.
- Best Thermal Compounds available in 2020
- Types of Thermal Paste/Compounds – Which one to use on a Gaming PC?
This program has an option to add an OSD or an on-screen display while gaming, so you can always keep an eye on thermals.
Since we’re already talking about thermals and stability, below are some other things you can do as well:
- Stress Test your GPU: Performance on a video card can degrade over time due to overheating. This can cause instability and random framerate drops while playing. Try a benchmarking or stress tool such as FurMark.
- CPU Stability: It’s not always the graphics card that causes these issues. Sometimes, it’s possible that your CPU isn’t working efficiently, or it doesn’t have the best stability. We recommend using Core Temp for real-time temperature readings. This neat program can help you monitor the power draw and load percentages on all cores.
If you want to put the CPU through its paces, run a stress test like Prime95. This test really punishes the processor and checks for any and all stability of all issues. You can even select the “Blend Test” to check RAM stability at the same time.
FIX #5: Update your drivers
We’re back to one of the more obvious and common fixes, but you’d be surprised how often this one is overlooked. A lot of people just leave the auto-update feature on for their drivers. While this does work most of the time, it can be a miss sometimes.
It’s highly possible that you actually turned off auto-updates because it is definitely very annoying in Windows 10. Speaking of which, your OS should be up-to-date as well.
If you want to update your Nvidia or AMD drivers, you do so with their own respective software, like the Nvidia control panel. However, we recommend doing a clean reinstall for the drivers to avoid problems in the future.
Steps To Perform A Clean Driver Installation
If you want to see an actual real difference and get away from annoying intermittent freezes once and for all, you’ll have to completely wipe away any traces of the previous drivers.
We recommend Display Driver Uninstaller or simply, DDU.
With DDU, you can basically clean all previous driver installations from your PC for good. You have a few options here, such as “Clean and restart”, or “Clean and shutdown” if you want to install a new graphics card.
We also recommend using DDU in safe mode while uninstalling, and turning off Wi-Fi or removing the internet for good measure.
Related Post: Best WiFi Gaming Router
This makes sure that any and all files for the previous drivers are deleted, and turning off the internet makes sure Windows doesn’t automatically install new ones.
After that, installing new drivers is pretty simple. Just go to Nvidia or AMD’s website and find the latest drivers for your video card, install them and you should be good to go. In rare cases, driver updates can even boost performance.
Keep your drivers updated.
FIX #6: Get Rid Of Temp Files
This is another common source of the problem.
If your gaming laptop or computer doesn’t have sufficient space to efficiently store temp files, it may cause stuttering and make your computer freeze while playing games in Windows 10 (or Windows 7 for that matter).
Steps to Delete Temp Files
- Press the Windows+R keys simultaneously on your keyboard, which should bring up the Run program.
- Type the word %temp% in here and press enter. This should open up a folder containing all your temp files.
- Select all the files in the folder and delete them.
After that, just relaunch your game and hopefully, the problem should be solved. If not, we recommend following up with the method below.
Check the in-depth guide if you want to delete windows 10 temp files using settings.
FIX #7: Increase The Size Of Virtual Memory
A lot of people will tell you that 8 gigs of RAM are sufficient for most games.
While this does have some truth to it, you’d definitely be better off with more memory.
8GB might be enough for most people, but that isn’t factoring in all the programs you might have open in the background. Chrome is especially notorious for eating up RAM.
Virtual Memory a combination of RAM and a portion of your hard drive.
If your game consumes all of the physical memory in your system, then your computer will use virtual memory to temporarily save files.
You may increase this size to help performance, especially if you have a lower amount of memory, Follow these steps to do so:
Steps to Increase The Size Of Virtual Memory
- Open the start menu and search for advanced system settings.
- From here, click on the advanced tab, then click the settings button under the performance section.
- Click on the advanced tab in here, then click on change.
- Make sure that the automatically manage paging size option isn’t selected [A].
- Select your system drive [C], then click on the Custom size option [B]. From here, select the Initial and Maximum size for your virtual memory [D].
- Click on Set, then OK.
You should use the recommended size for the initial size option.
As for the maximum size, don’t set this much higher than your actual physical memory.
For example, if you have 8GB [8192MB] of RAM, setting this option to about 12000 megabytes should be enough.
FIX #8: Check For Malware And Viruses
Trust us, don’t be one of those people that relies on “free” anti-malware or antivirus services. Sure they may seem fine at first, and they’ll tell you if they detect any malicious files. But it’s not much fun when you download an antivirus no-one has ever heard of, and then that program is a virus itself.
Viruses and malware can cause problems in-game too, which can definitely hurt performance a lot. We recommend using Malwarebytes or Norton for actual security. Although, the updated built-in Windows defender does work quite well.
Those are just some of the basic fixes and methods you can try out. They are tried and true and still work quite a while when your computer freezes, even in 2020. However, if all of that didn’t quite work out, and your computer freezes when playing games but doesn’t overheat, there might be a different issue entirely.
FIX #9: Turn Off On-board Audio
We’d also advise you to disable the generic sound drivers provided by Windows 10.
This is for the onboard sound device, and you’re better off using RealTek’s drivers. The generic sound driver can cause problems with the video card, which can hinder performance.
- Open the start menu and search for “Device Manager”.
- Navigate to the “Sound, Video and Game Controller” option from here.
- From the drop-down list, select an onboard sound device and disable it.
After both of these fixes, we recommend restarting your PC for better results.
FIX #10: Look Out For Bottlenecking
A bottleneck usually occurs when the performance in a program or game is severely limited by a single component. Let’s say you have a really old processor, and you’re pairing that with a brand new high-end GPU. They aren’t exactly going to work efficiently together.
An example of this would be pairing a second-gen i7 with an RTX 2080. We don’t imagine a lot of folks are doing this, but that would be a prime example of a CPU bottleneck.
Memory can be a bottleneck at times too. If you have painfully slow RAM or a low amount of it, you’re going to see worse performance than you would with more RAM or faster memory.
Finally, if nothing else works and your computer still freezes, your last resort should be to upgrade.
FIX #11: Check Your Hardware
If none of the above methods really worked out for you, well we have some bad news.
Before proceeding, make sure that your PC passes for the minimum requirements for your desired game.
If not, then you might be due for an upgrade, which can be whole other guide on its own.
But if your PC does meet the minimum or recommended requirements, and you’re still having issues, faulty hardware might be the problem.
First off, we recommend checking your hard drive or SSD’s health. Faulty drivers can contribute to horrible performance in games, and they can even cause a total system failure.
Use a program like Hard Disk Sentinel to check your HDD health.
This program also shows you if your drive is performing in its full capacity. It even tells you if your drive is going to fail on you soon.
Since you’re already checking your hardware, you should give your power supply a check as well. Make sure that your PSU has enough wattage to power your whole system properly. If it doesn’t, your system might be throttling down to make up for it.
Well, that’s pretty much all we could cover in this guide. As we mentioned in the introduction, there are a lot of factors in play here, and there is a lot that can go wrong.
Still, hopefully, this guide helped you out in some or another.
If it helped you share it with others so they can save themselves a headache too. You might be able to help someone else out who’s game keeps crashing or freezing too.
- Mai, W. (2019). Fix computer freezes when playing games [Easily]. Retrieved from https://www.drivereasy.com/knowledge/fix-computer-freezes-when-playing-games-easily/
- Zoeteman, D. (2012). The computer randomly freezes when playing games. Retrieved from https://superuser.com/questions/406766/computer-randomly-freezes-when-playing-games
- TheShadicar. PC freezes while playing games. Retrieved from https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/geforce/forums/gaming-rigs/8/206731/solved-pc-freezes-while-playing-games/?commentPage=1
- Brithny. (2019). Fixed: Windows 10 Freezes When Playing Games. Available at: https://www.easeus.com/backup-recovery/computer-freezes-when-playing-games.html