Troubleshoot performance and stability issues in PC games

Basic troubleshooting

If a particular game doesn’t work well on a particular computer, there are a number of possible reasons why. Just as each game is created slightly different, each model of computer is built slightly different.

If you’re having trouble running a game on your PC, try the solutions listed below.

You might also try posting a question in the Windows forums.

Run the Microsoft Store Apps troubleshooter

If you experience problems with a game app, or if you're unable to open the Store, try running the Microsoft Store Apps troubleshooter. It can automatically identify and fix some problems with apps and the Microsoft Store. It's only available in English, but it works on PCs running any language.

Download important or critical Windows updates

Check that you have the latest Windows updates on your device. Run Windows Update to download important or critical updates on your PC.

Update your games

Make sure you have downloaded the latest version of your games. Updates often fix problems found in earlier versions.

  • On Windows 8, go to the Start screen and check the Microsoft Store tile. If it lists a number, that many apps on your PC need to be updated. Your game may be included in the list. In the Microsoft Store app, tap or click the number in the upper-right corner and follow the instructions to update the app.
  • On Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP, check within the game itself for an update option. Or, check the manufacturer’s website.

Check the system requirements

Whenever you purchase or troubleshoot a PC game, first make sure your computer can meet the game's minimum system requirements. Although every game has different requirements, PC games generally use a lot more “horsepower” than other applications and are particularly demanding on your video and sound hardware.

Make sure your PC is properly ventilated

An overheated computer can often freeze. Games use more power than most other apps or programs, which generates more heat. Make sure your computer is adequately ventilated (no obstructions around your PC) and that the fan’s exhaust vent is not blocked.

Note A CPU or video card that has been overclocked can also contribute to overheating.

Unplug any non-required external devices

You may have other devices plugged into your computer (such as a webcam, external hard drive, card reader, or USB drive). Each of these devices draws power from the PC, which could cause the power supply to run in an underpowered state. If your power supply cannot keep up with the demands of your PC, your PC can freeze.

Turn down your graphics and sound settings

While most games will run on a broad range of computers, many require high-end graphics and audio hardware to play well at their highest resolutions and settings. Scaling down your graphics and audio settings may allow the game to run smoother and be more stable on your PC.

Every game is different, but these are a few common settings to consider:

  • Full Screen Anti-Aliasing (FSAA) – Turning this off or lowering it from the highest settings can make a big difference, at the cost of some jagged edges in the graphics.
  • Resolution – The higher the resolution the harder your graphics processing unit (GPU) has to work. Lowering the resolution can have a big impact with fairly little loss in graphic quality.
  • Shadows – Simple shadows are easier to draw. Shadows turned off is easiest of all.
  • Texture/Detail – Lower detail textures aren’t as crisp but will make the game easier for your system to manage.
  • Surround Sound – Disabling surround sound eases the strain on your sound hardware.

Download and install the latest drivers for your graphics and audio hardware

PC games are reliant on your graphics and audio hardware. That hardware relies on software called drivers to run. Drivers are updated frequently, so even if your hardware is brand new, you’ll want to check for updates. There are a few ways to get updates:

  • Run Windows Update to download the latest Microsoft certified drivers for your computer – your easiest and most reliable option.
  • Check with your computer or hardware manufacturer for the latest drivers – the best option for laptops and small form-factor PCs.
  • Download a reference driver for your hardware – the best option for power users and custom PCs.

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