PC Crashes While Gaming: 10 Reasons Why and How to Fix Them
Updated · Jul 27, 2023
We doubt there’s a gamer out there who hasn’t experienced PC crashes while gaming.
And they tend to happen just as you are about to get a kill, collect sweet new loot, or complete an objective! Don’t they?
No need to get infuriated in such cases as we got the solution for 10 of the most common PC freezes while gaming.
Let’s log in!
However, you can also troubleshoot PC crashes while gaming via the Windows Event viewer:
- Type Event Viewer after opening the Start Menu;
- Right-click on it and choose Run as administrator;
- Click on Windows Logs found in the left-hand column;
- Navigate to the System or Application sub-menu;
- Look through the Event Log (center window) for Critical, Error, or Warning entries;
- You can also filter the results to show only these events.
- Google the Event ID and the Message to find a solution to your problem.
Note: If and when a crash occurs, Windows will prompt you to use its crash reporter service, and once several users do the same, Microsoft will distribute a fix.
What does the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) mean?
If your computer crashes during games on Windows 10 or any other edition, you can restart the game, but if you encounter a BSoD, your entire PC will freeze and require a restart.
Unfortunately, a BSoD comes without any warning, robs you of unsaved work, and signifies a fatal system error at the kernel level due to bad Windows drivers or failing hardware.
To figure out the issue in such cases, use a crash dump analyzer, such as BlueScreenView, or scan the QR code that appears on the screen if you are using Windows 8 or later.
10 Most Common Reasons for PC Freezes While Gaming
If you experience any kind of game crashes while gaming on your PC, you’ll most likely find the causes and the corresponding solutions in the following list.
Since the CPU and the GPU are the two most computationally powerful components, they draw the most power and produce the most heat under full load.
The latest models, however, feature a thermal throttling design that allows them to lower their clock speeds, thus sacrificing performance and reducing their heat emissions.
Thanks to this throttle design, game and system crashes are much rarer nowadays; however, they can still happen under extreme circumstances.
The best way to diagnose overheating issues is to use a system monitoring tool such as HWMonitor, which lets you track your components’ temperature and even lists the thermal limit when the CPU or GPU will start throttling and even suffer damage.
When it comes to your GPU, anything over 80°C is a sign of concern, whereas modern CPUs have pushed the thermal limit up to 95°C even. Toasty, right?
You can solve your overheating concerns via one or more of the following ways:
- Check, repair, or replace the fans that don’t work properly;
- Clean up your computer as dust and dirt increase the system’s heat levels;
- Ensure nothing blocks the air vents and place your case for optimal air ventilation;
- Reapply thermal paste if it’s old or put improperly;
- Avoid overclocking your components.
2. CPU & GPU Overclocking
In addition to extra heat, overclocking your GPU or components can also lead to system crashes at higher and unstable clock speeds due to lack of voltage, power, thermal headroom, and/or silicon constraints, i.e., you didn’t get the best-binned chip out there.
Moreover, excessively high voltages can also lead to degradation of the components’ integrated circuits over time, which may result in unrecoverable system crashes.
However, with modern chips, you can also attempt an overclock by reducing their voltage instead of increasing it, so they draw less energy, produce less heat, and boost more.
The reason why undervolting causes system instability is the lack of voltage your components get when trying to reach higher clock speeds.
Therefore, to resolve your overclocking issues, do the following:
- Test your higher-clock stability;
- Adjust the overclock settings as needed;
- Run your components at stock settings.
3. Outdated or Wrong Drivers
One of the most common reasons for PC crashes while gaming is outdated or wrong drivers, as they cannot instruct your components properly.
In essence, drivers function as digital translators that tell your hardware how to communicate with your OS, and without them, your components are rendered useless.
While your drivers are automatically updated in most cases, this process may sometimes download the wrong files, resulting in malfunctioning hardware.
Moreover, component manufacturers also recommend manually downloading the corresponding driver files from their official websites to ensure smooth operation.
As for game crashes due to bad drivers, look into your sound or graphics card driver, as these two devices run the audio-visual environment you see within your games.
To avoid driver woes, follow the following rules of thumb:
- Always download the latest drivers off the manufacturers' websites;
- Wait before installing newly released drivers;
- Uninstall older drivers before installing new ones;
- Restart your PC after any driver updates.
- Try using a third-party driver updater software
4. Virus or Malicious Software
During your everyday computer activities, you can pick up an uninvited digital guest whose purpose is to cause havoc to your system for any number of reasons.
As a result, vital computer programs may perform sluggishly or even stop working entirely.
To prevent such occurrences and keep your data and OS integrity safe at all times, use a good antivirus program that immediately detects and eliminates these threats.
However, before paying for a premium service, you can also try eliminating the threat with the built-in Windows Security application, as it has dramatically improved in recent years:
- Click the Start icon and type Windows Security;
- Click on Virus & Threat Protection to open the scan window;
- Select your preferred scanning option and click on ‘Scan’;
- Wait for the results and deal with any threats as you see fit.
If you are unable to eliminate the malware via these steps, check out our extensive guide on how to deal with computer viruses.
5. Antivirus Program Block
Under certain circumstances, modern antivirus programs may block some programs after mistakenly classifying them as malware or even take away from your system’s performance if they actively scan for viruses while you are gaming.
If your game crashes for either reason, you will have to adjust or turn off your antivirus program to prevent it from disrupting your game sessions.
The safer method is to keep the AV active but create an exception to the file in question, so it is not scanned and avoid any active scans while gaming.
If you are using Windows Defender, you can easily add a file to the ‘Allowed threats’ list:
- Navigate to Windows Security > Virus & Threat Protection;
- Click on Manage Settings and scroll to the bottom;
- Under Exclusions, click on Add an exclusion;
- Choose whether you are excluding a file, folder, file type, or process and locate it via file explorer to add it to the list.
6. System File Corruption
Since games will only launch if all their files are intact, corrupted or missing files and folders will stop them from running or even make them crash at specific points.
File corruption usually happens when you forcibly close an application or shut down your computer while it's updating or saving a file.
For instance, losing power when your game automatically saves your progress may lead to a corrupted save game file that will prevent you from starting the game again.
In such cases, you can simply navigate to the game’s save folder and remove the corrupted files, or even replace them with verified save files, before starting your video game.
You can also try recovering the lost files by using data recovery software, such as AnyRecover or Recoverit, which typically scours your hard drive for fragmented files and attempts to recompile them.
Additionally, corrupted system files can also lead to instabilities and PC freezes while gaming; however, they require a more involved process to troubleshoot and fix:
- Press Start, type Command Prompt, and launch it as administrator;
- Type in sfc /scannow and hit enter;
- Wait for the system file scan to complete;
- Restart your PC to see if you’ve solved the problem.
On the other hand, if you are troubleshooting a faulty hard drive with bad sectors, you can use the CHKDSK system tool:
- Open the Command Prompt as administrator yet again;
- Type chkdsk followed by other parameters relevant to your situation;
- Wait for the scan to find or fix all logical and physical errors.
Note: CHKDSK can take anywhere from half an hour to half a day to complete depending on the number of files you are scanning and whether or not you are fixing any errors it finds.
In any case, to avoid potential data losses, it's always a good idea to have a backup, which you can either set up via Windows or by using third-party backup software.
7. Old Hardware With New Software
Any gamer who has tried running the newest games on older generation GPUs has had a bad day either because of FPS stuttering issues or the inability to even launch the game.
In extreme cases, games can even glitch or freeze, at which point you need a PC restart.
Therefore, you should always check the game specification page before buying it to ensure your hardware devices can run it properly.
8. Not Enough Power
Less powerful and/or defective power supplies can cause your system to shut down outright and even cause fire or kill your other components.
As the two most powerful PC parts, the CPU and the GPU draw vast amounts of power during heavy loads that your PSU has to be ready to provide at any time.
In addition, PSUs need a certain amount of headroom on top of that to accommodate for unexpected power spikes that may happen now and then.
Troubleshooting PSU issues is fairly simple, as all you need to do is start a demanding game that puts your PC under full load to see if it causes a PC restart or shut down.
If and when you establish that your power supply is the culprit, you should shop around for a new one that provides enough clean power for every component, and when building a system in the future, choose the PSU last after calculating your exact power needs.
9. Lack of RAM
Most gamers run multiple background processes on top of their games, such as streaming apps, browser tabs, social media apps, and even antivirus software.
To avoid computer crashes during games on windows 10 or any other version in such cases, you need enough RAM for every app and background process you intend to run.
To fix this issue, you can implement one or several solutions:
- Upgrade your platform with newer and more RAM;
- Close any apps and tabs you are not using while gaming;
- Use a third-party optimization app that stops unnecessary processes;
- Start Windows Game Mode that optimizes the OS for gaming;
- Kill any extra processes manually via Task Manager:
- Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc;
- Click on the ‘Memory’ column to find the most demanding processes;
- Right-click the unnecessary entries and click End Task.
10. Improperly Installed Hardware
One overlooked reason for game and app crashes may also be hardware that has not been fitted well during installation, thus losing electrical contact or vibrating intensely.
The most common perpetrators in such cases are components that must be installed into slots on the motherboard, such as the GPU and the RAM sticks, as they need to be locked in.
Other components that may lead to system failures include a vibrating hard drive that hasn’t been screwed in and an improperly installed CPU cooler that leads to overheating issues.
Get professional help when building your PC to avoid these mistakes, as poorly assembled systems may lead to system crashes, component damage, and voided warranties.
PC crashes while gaming are not necessarily a critical issue as the reason they occur is most often a very common software bug or faulty and/or outdated hardware. Chances are high you’ll find the solution you need in the list above and resume your gaming session in no time!
And if you need additional diagnostics assistance, you can always install an all-in-one diagnostics software designed to find and fix most PC problems.
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