Why is my gaming PC lagging? Common causes and possible solutions

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

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

Thermal throttling

If you’re gaming on an older PC that you’ve had for a while, or just simply pushing your PC to the limit, you may encounter thermal throttling.

This happens when components get too hot under load and approach the maximum operating temperature. PC parts will then intelligently reduce performance to accommodate the increased temperatures, and this in turn should help gradually bring temperatures down before performance can ramp back up.


Thermal throttling is a potential cause of what PC gamers would think of as lag — the feeling that a game isn’t running smoothly or the in-game FPS suddenly drops.

There are several ways to check the temperatures of your CPU and graphics card with relative ease. You can use these tools and techniques to determine if your PC is overheating.

If so, then 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 hot room with no ventilation, or moving your PC to a more open space where it can breathe easily. Replacing the thermal paste is a more drastic method, but you may also find that it helps increase the fan speed on your PC.

Internet connection speed

Sometimes lag (or how it feels) has nothing to do with problems with your PC and is instead due to the speed of your internet connection. Slow internet and high pings can lead to awkward 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 download speeds, but they may not solve the problem.

If you notice a drop in your internet speed and it doesn’t match what your ISP should be providing, it could be a signal or hardware issue. Upgrading your home network can help resolve issues. 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 generally better performance.

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

Other apps require computing power

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

bag fluffWhy is my gaming PC lagging Photo 1

If you noticed a problem, press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC at the same time to open Task Manager. There you can see what processes are running and what is consuming the most in terms of processing power.

This includes viewing apps that are currently using GPU, CPU, and RAM. Obviously, if there’s something in the list other than your game that’s using a large percentage of one of these things while you’re playing, then that’s probably part of the cause. Right-click the problematic process and click End Task.

If you find that there is an app that does this on a regular basis and it is not strictly necessary for your PC gaming, you should uninstall it. Just press the Windows start button and type “add, remove, or remove programs,” then find and uninstall the app.

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

Problems with drivers

Sometimes delays can be caused by problems with your graphics drivers or conflicts with other drivers on your system.

We’ve already written about how to update and clean install Nvidia drivers for the 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 done this in a while and are trying to play the latest games, this may be part of the problem.

Nvidia’s Game Ready drivers are designed to ensure you get the best performance while gaming. The drivers are thoroughly tested on all types of gaming hardware and are also optimized for the latest games. So, follow the steps to clean install new drivers and see if that helps with your lag.

game settings

Believe it or not, sometimes your in-game settings can just be causing problems. Some games may have a frame limit set that restricts your maximum FPS. Having V-Sync on can also limit your max FPS and affect your gaming sessions. Check the game’s graphics settings to see if a frame rate cap is applied.

Other settings can also help improve performance. Some games are just too intense, even for high-end gaming hardware. Cyberpunk 2077 was particularly tough when it first launched, and while it looked great, it didn’t perform particularly well when the graphics were maxed out. Sometimes lowering your graphics settings can be enough to iron out issues that feel like lag, but are often just dips in frame rate.

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, like 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 outdated system that you’ve been gaming with for a while, you’ve probably already upgraded your graphics card. A GPU is one of the easiest things to upgrade, but doing it without considering 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 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, keep in mind that many modern thin and light laptops require a power supply to function properly. Technology Nvidia’s Advanced Optimus designed 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, high FPS experience. Plug in your laptop and you will see a noticeable improvement in FPS and your overall experience.

Writing by Adrian Willings.

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