Few things are more frustrating than experiencing significant performance slowdowns while playing a video game. Though lag is fairly common, it can spring from a handful of different sources. If you are noticing lag when you play a PC video game, you'll want to try a few of the tips below to eliminate the issue.
Check Your Internet Connection
Sometimes lag has nothing to do with your machine and everything to do with your internet connection. If you start to experience an unusual delay in an online game, the first thing you should check is your internet connection. If your connection is being throttled or it has suddenly slowed down, you might fix the problem by resetting your router. If you routinely experience lag due to a bad wireless connection, you might fix the problem by going wired. It's always good to check your internet connection when you have issues in an online game, as this is often a very likely culprit.
Reduce Game Settings
One of the most common causes of lag when playing PC games has to do with your machine. If you are running a resource-intensive game on high settings, you need a potent computer to get a high level of performance. If your machine doesn't feature the latest and most excellent components, you might need to turn down the settings. An excellent place to start is to turn off unnecessary graphics options or to turn down your settings to a Medium or Normal level to see if the lag starts to go away.
Close Other Programs
If the game's not the problem, your issue very well might be the other things that you have running on your computer. No matter how powerful your computer, it can only handle running so many things at one time at peak efficiency. Open up your task manager and check to see if any programs are running that are using up an unusually high percentage of your processing power. For a quick fix, you can shut down that program, and you should see improved performance. You'll want to go in and figure out why that particular program is behaving erratically, but shutting it down will help temporarily.
Update Your Antivirus
Viruses can also cause computer lag when you play PC games. Viruses can eat up an awful lot of your computer's processing power, so one of the best ways to eliminate lag is to go ahead and run a full antivirus scan as soon as you notice a new spike of lag. This will allow you to find the problem and eliminate it quickly, but don't stop there – make sure that you keep your antivirus and antimalware programs up-to-date so that you can catch viruses before they start to slow down your computer.
Update Your Drivers
Another common cause of lag is outdated drivers. There are often issues caused by a lack of compatibility between software and hardware, and updating your drivers can solve some of these issues. If you notice lag after installing a new piece of hardware or if you see that your lag is limited to a single program, it's a good idea to check both your video and sound drivers to ensure that there was not an update. While the problems may not go away with a specific driver update, this is a simple place to start when you think that there might be hardware compatibility issues.
Pay Attention to Your OS
Your operating system can also be at the root of some lag problems. If you are noticing significant lag, check to make sure that you've updated your OS recently. In some cases, simply performing an update can lead to some fairly substantial performance enhancements. If a simple update doesn't work, you might want to look at known compatibility issues between the program you are running and the version of the OS you are using – this might be a program-side problem.
Check Your Hardware
If all else fails, the issue that's causing lag might be found in your hardware. If you have an old CPU, an underperforming power supply or damaged RAM, you will see a significant reduction in your computer's ability to function. Likewise, an old or underpowered GPU can throttle the performance of most modern games. If you have a hardware problem, it may be time to upgrade your PC to better fit the programs you most commonly use.
It's generally a good idea to deal with video game lag by starting with the least complicated steps and moving up the chain of complexity after each is complete. What fixes lag for one game won't necessarily fix it for them all, though, so be diligent in your efforts. If you know the steps to take, you can generally get back to playing your video games as they were meant to be played.