Gaming is the best escape from boredom and a popular form of entertainment.
However, this joyful and exciting experience can quickly be ruined when your PC crashes mid-game.
Consoles are less likely to crash because they’re optimized to only run games.
PC crashes are more common because they’re general-purpose machines that run everything from engineering simulations to multimedia content and games.
Your PC might crash during a game for any number of reasons.
Let’s discuss the most frequent causes and give you a few solutions to try.
PC Crashes While Gaming (Causes, Fixes)
Your PC may crash during a game due to file corruption, operating system malfunctions, or faulty components.
CPU or GPU overheating, driver incompatibility, overclocking nuances, and game bugs are other common causes.
There is a virtually unlimited number of reasons your PC could crash during a game.
Fortunately, your computer has the tools to let you pinpoint the exact cause.
Every time an application crashes, your computer automatically records it in a log.
You can see the error code and description and Google it to find the root cause.
Here’s how to do that on Windows 10:
- Type Event Viewer in your Start Menu.
- Expand Windows Logs.
- Look for Red or Yellow warning icons based on when the crash occurred.
- Double click on the entry and read the description.
- Google the description and Event ID to learn more about the problem and its cause.
Sometimes, the crash might be caused by a driver or hardware failure.
In this case, Windows won’t get a chance to log the error, and instead, you’ll see the frown emoji with a short, vague message.
This was called the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) in the previous versions of Windows since it displayed a scary blue background with some white text and restarted the computer before you had the chance to read anything.
If you get a BSoD, you won’t see a record of it in the Event Viewer logs, but that doesn’t mean the crash logs aren’t available.
Instead, you need to install BlueScreenView.
This application automatically finds the dump files and presents the error code or name.
Note the code and search online for a solution.
With that description, let’s discuss a few common situations and the solutions you can try.
Common Causes Of PC Crash While Gaming
Games usually use maximum GPU and CPU capacity to maintain high FPS and smooth gameplay.
The operating system also prioritizes the game processes to give games the maximum resources.
Any fault or conflict that interferes with normal game operations will cause the PC to crash.
1. Driver Incompatibility
You may be surprised to know that incompatible drivers or wrong driver updates cause 75 percent of PC crashes.
Every piece of hardware in a PC needs a driver to work with other parts and do what it’s supposed to do.
Usually, the default drivers installed by your laptop or PC manufacturer don’t cause trouble.
However, faulty updates or multiple reinstallations could cause conflicts.
To prevent this issue, install drivers from official websites and double-check the version and compatibility of the driver with your PC.
What if you have an outdated or glitchy version of the driver?
Follow these steps:
- Search Device Manager in your Start Menu and select the first result.
- Right-click on the device whose driver you need to repair and click Properties.
- Select the Driver tab.
- Click Update Driver.
You can follow the same steps to roll back the driver if you think your driver’s current version doesn’t work well with your PC’s configuration.
Once you’re on the Driver tab, click the Update Driver option.
Your PC will start searching for an update.
If Windows finds an update, it’ll install it automatically, but the changes will take effect once you restart your PC.
You can also update your graphics card driver using the manufacturer’s auto-updater application, such as GeForce Experience or the AMD driver auto-detect tool.
The CPU and GPU need fans and good ventilation to maintain their standard performance.
If these parts get hot, they’ll start to throttle, resulting in poor performance and PC crashes.
GPU overheating can cause black screens and crashes.
The heat generated from your CPU and GPU may transfer to nearby components and damage them, too.
Most manufacturers integrate protective features, such as automatic shutdown to prevent irreparable damage.
You can easily determine if your PC is overheating by installing heat monitoring applications such as MSI afterburner.
The highest limit for GPU heat is 85°C or 185°F and for CPU is 80°C or 176°F.
Your PC overheats if your CPU or GPU gets hotter than these limits.
Here are a few solutions for overheating:
- Check the fans and make sure they spin.
- Clean the case and remove dust from the fans. Regular cleaning makes a massive difference in the temperature of your PC components.
- Move your case to somewhere with better airflow and ventilation.
You can also change the thermal paste of your GPU or CPU.
Thermal paste transfers heat from the chip to heat pipes and heat sinks to be cooled off by the fans.
It’ll lose its effectiveness if it gets dry, and the heat will remain in the chip.
Finally, you can reduce the game’s graphics to reduce your GPU’s workload, resulting in less heat.
3. Outdated Windows Version
Your PC’s operating system may be the culprit for the crashes.
If your machine is running on Windows, Microsoft releases updates constantly.
These updates fix bugs and unwanted errors in the previous versions of the operating system.
Here are the steps to update your operating system:
- In the Start menu, select Settings.
- On the left side, click Windows Update.
- Click on Check for updates.
If any necessary updates are available for your device, Windows will download them automatically and ask you to restart your PC to install the changes.
Sometimes, the same updates may introduce bugs that make your system crash.
If you’ve started experiencing bugs after a system update, reverse the update using the following steps:
- Open Control Panel.
- Navigate to Programs and Features.
- On the left sidebar, click on View installed updates.
- Under Microsoft Windows, locate the latest update based on date and uninstall it.
- Restart your computer.
4. System File Corruption
If your PC shuts down unexpectedly while updating or saving a file, it may experience system file corruption.
Hard drives may cause file corruption if there are bad sectors on the disk.
You may be able to repair corrupt files using a system file scan.
Follow these steps:
- Search for the Command Prompt in your Start Menu.
- Right-click on the app and select Run as administrator.
- Type in sfc /scannow and hit enter.
The utility will scan all your system files, and if it detects any corrupted files, it’ll attempt to fix them automatically.
Restart your PC and see if the problem is solved.
If not, run Deployment Image Servicing and Management to restore the files.
- Open the command prompt again as an administrator
- Type in the DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth command.
After the service discovers damaged files, it’ll connect to the internet and download replacement files.
5. Virus Or Malicious Software
Viruses or malicious software often enter your system as downloadable content.
If this content passes the firewall and antivirus program, it can attach itself to drivers to render itself undetectable.
They usually change file names and corrupt or damage vital system files to prevent the system from functioning correctly.
Antivirus apps are the best way to detect these viruses, but the advanced scan features usually cost money.
To do an advanced scan without paying any money, use Windows Defender, Microsoft’s official antivirus.
- Open Windows Defender from your Start Menu.
- Select Virus and Threat protection.
- Select Scan options under Current Threats.
- You can select from a few scan options based on how much time you have.
A full scan will scan your PC completely and take action if it discovers any threats.
Note that sometimes the damage is irreversible, and you’ll have to do a clean install of your operating system to fix the crashing.
6. Too Many Background Processes
Background processes, such as open browser tabs, fill up your RAM.
If the game doesn’t have enough RAM, your PC will crash.
Installing third-party optimization apps is one of the easiest ways to prevent PC crashes due to insufficient RAM.
For instance, Wise Game Booster will eliminate unnecessary processes that use your RAM or CPU and optimize your PC for gaming.
Microsoft has also integrated an optimization app in Windows, which you can enable from the settings:
- Open Setting from your Start Menu.
- Click on Gaming from the left-hand sidebar.
- This will turn on Game mode.
Here’s a video to help you optimize your PC for gaming:
You can also kill unnecessary processes manually using the Task Manager:
- Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete simultaneously and select Task Manager.
- Click on the Memory column to locate the process consuming the most RAM.
- Right-click on the process and select End Task.
But be careful.
If you stop one of the vital processes of your PC, it may cause your machine to malfunction or crash.
7. Faulty RAM Or Hard Disk
The hard drive and RAM directly impact game performance and can cause your PC to crash while gaming.
Windows memory diagnostics is a built-in application for checking your hard disk and RAM’s integrity.
To use the application, follow the steps below:
- Press the Windows Key + R.
- In the dialog, type mdsched.exe and press Enter.
- Select Restart now and check for problems (recommended).
After the PC reboots, the screen will display the scan progress.
When the scan is complete, the application will let you know if there are any problems with your PC’s memory.
If there are any errors, take your PC to a technician.
8. Overclocked GPU
Overclocking your GPU or CPU can boost performance and give you better frame rates.
Overclocking means increasing your video card’s clock speed using NVIDIA Inspector or ASUS GPU Tweak.
However, overclocking has some downsides, and frequent crashes may be one of them.
When overclocked, your chips receive more voltage to increase the clock speed, but not all the components in your computer are designed to withstand the extra voltage, especially midrange and low-end motherboards.
An overclocked chip produces more heat and will likely throttle if proper cooling isn’t available.
When your GPU starts to throttle, you’ll see strange distortions or artifacts on the screen, and the PC will likely crash when the heat goes way up.
After overclocking your GPU, install a heat monitoring application and run some tests to make sure that your GPU doesn’t overheat.
You can also set your GPU settings to their defaults and see if the problem disappears.
9. Sound Interface Issues
The sound card is one of the rarest causes of PC crashes while gaming.
Your system’s sound card can have compatibility issues with the graphics card, resulting in desynchronization and PC crashes.
To fix this issue:
- Open Device Manager.
- Expand “Sound, video, and game controllers.”
- Right-click on the card you think is causing the issue and select Disable.
- If you select the wrong sound card, you can enable it again by clicking the appropriate button.
10. Services And Startup Applications
Services and startup applications, also called boot-up programs, launch as soon as the system starts.
If these programs are the cause, the problem will start right after the boot-up sequence is complete.
A clean boot is the only solution to finding the faulty service or program.
Clean booting means disabling unnecessary startup application services.
It boots your computer with the bare minimum drivers, making it easier to find the cause of the issue.
Here’s how to do a clean boot:
- Search for System configuration in your Start Menu.
- On the top section of the System Configuration window, click the Services.
- At the bottom of the Services tab, click the “Hide All Microsoft Services” check box.
- On the right side, click Disable all.
- Select Apply.
- This will disable all of the unnecessary services.
- To disable startup applications, select Startup from the top bar of System configuration.
- A blue Open task manager text will appear, click it, and your PC will open the Task Manager’s startup section.
- You’ll see a list of all the startup applications with the amount of impact they have on your PC startup time.
- Click all the applications one by one and select Disable.
- Now restart your PC, and it’ll boot in Clean Boot mode.
You can try to run the game in this mode to see if it still crashes your PC.
If not, then the culprit is one of the startup applications or the services running on your PC.
It’s rare to see a PC crash because of the game itself, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
If a game process goes wrong, it normally crashes the game and not the PC, but in some cases, constant screen freezing and blue screen also have been noted.
1. Not Meeting The Minimum Requirements
If your PC doesn’t meet the game’s minimum requirements, it may crash while trying to run the game.
Your machine struggles to keep up with the workload, resulting in constant freezes, low frame rates, and stress on components.
Check the minimum requirement before installing any game.
This little but necessary step can prevent both the waste of bandwidth and unnecessary anxiety.
2. Need For Additional Software
Some games require extra software like DirectX to run correctly on your PC.
Most of these games will offer to install the necessary applications or update DirectX on the installation menu.
However, pirated games or small indie games may lack this feature.
Therefore you have to install these applications manually.
DirectX allows Windows games to communicate with your hardware configuration.
Windows updates install the latest DirectX version supported for your GPU.
New games use DirectX 11 or 12.
If your GPU doesn’t support the DirectX version required to run the game, your PC may crash while running the game.
Likewise, if the game requires a DirectX version that’s not available on your machine, it may run into some problems.
Here is how you can check your DirectX version installed on your PC:
- In the Start menu, type in dxdiag.
- In the System Information section, check the DirectX Version.
Aside from DirectX, Your machine might need other applications to run a specific game.
To know what applications to install, check the game’s official website.
You can also search on the internet and check the forums for additional information.
3. Game Porting
Porting means converting console-only games to be playable on other platforms, such as PCs.
Because ported games don’t run on their native platforms, incompatibilities and conflicts are natural.
The only thing that you can do is to wait until the developers release patches and updates for the game.
Seek Professional Help
If you still can’t find the root cause of your issue, take your computer to a technician.
Identifying the reason for your PC crash is tough without the proper tools.
Ultimately, your PC components may need replacement or repair.
To troubleshoot your computer, PC technicians use advanced tools and software that regular users don’t have access to.
They’ll disassemble the PC to test each component separately and then reassemble it without causing damage to the parts.
If you do this alone, you may risk damaging your parts with static electricity.
Furthermore, technicians have years of experience repairing computers, so they’ll be able to fix the issue faster.
They’ll also check the machine for file corruptions and viruses with a premium antivirus.
After the issue is solved, remember to take your PC to the technician every three to six months for maintenance.
They’ll clean your PC and install necessary applications to prevent further PC crashes.