Common Causes of Poor Gaming Performance

A lot of things can cause performance issues in the gaming industry. There is an incredible amount to hardware, software and driver combinations and configurations.


Every PC gamer has setup their hardware and software configuration in a unique way.


The Operating system is always updating and changing with every patch or upgrade.


We could also have unwanted malware on the computer causing all kinds of problems and unknown background changes.  


Basically, the life of a PC Gamer is not easy. Some things to think about.



Update ALL drivers

Update your drivers. Graphics and audio drivers first as these are commonly the drivers associated with poor gaming performance.


Don’t forget audio can also mean updating your USB headset software and drivers. My Corsair Pro Headset is the best headset I’ve ever had, but the ICUE software/drivers suck at times.


Also check if any important motherboard drivers need updating. The GPU and Audio are not the only parts of a high-performance PC


If you want to automate this process, I can’t recommend IOBit Driver Booster enough. I’ve tried and tested many automatic driver installers over the years,  and many others just can’t compete with Driver Booster for performance and easy of use.

Turn Off V-Sync
(If this doesn’t fix the problem, turn it back on)

Try turning off V-Sync (or ‘Enhanced Sync’ on newer AMD Cards).


V-Sync attempts to eliminate screen-tearing by limiting the FPS (frames per second) to match your monitors Hz (Refresh Rate). If your monitor has a 60Hz refresh rate, it can’t physically show more than 60 FPS. V-Sync will attempt to limit your GPU output to 60 FPS to match that 60Hz. This option can sometimes cause unforeseen graphical problems.


If you’re wondering about the refresh rate of your monitor? This information can be found by right-clicking anywhere on your desktop (Windows) and selecting Display Settings, then scroll down to and click Advanced display settings.


Most games will allow you to turn this feature on or off in the video settings section of the game.


This can also be turned off in the NVIDIA Control Panel by following the instructions below:


(WINDOWS 10) Right-click the Desktop background and select NVIDIA Control Panel.


If your struggling to find NVIDIA Control Panel it should be located here:

C:\Program Files\NVIDIA Corporation\Control Panel Client\vcplui.exe

1, Click Manage 3D Settings.


2, Choose either Global Settings tab (this option will change the settings of all games) or Program Settings tab (this setting will allows you to choose to change the settings for of just one game). I would recommend using global setting for testing purpose. If this fixes the problem, then maybe setup v-sync for just that game using the Program Settings tab.


3, Locate Vertical Sync setting, click the dropdown arrow and select Off (or try Adaptive first if you wish).  

Close unnecessary background processes and programs

Try a free program called JetBoost.


1, Download, Install and run JetBoost.


2, Click the configure button.


3, Tick everything you don’t need running under the Processes tab.


4, More advanced options are available under the Services, Non-Windows Services and Other tabs.

Only change these settings if you know what you’re doing, many background processes are needed by windows and your hardware.


5, Click Boost. (clicking Restore afterwards will load the programs and processes back into memory)


If this fixes your performance issues, there could be many reasons for this.


Your system may not have enough RAM or CPU power to run the game and many background processes at the same time. Alternatively it could be one of the background programs or processes that JetBoost has closed that’s directly causing issues with your game. You may need to isolate the actual program or process that’s causing the issue. Trial and error by turning things back on, one at a time.

Windows Updates

Many gamers neglect the importance of keeping their Windows software up-to-date. This is your core operating system after all, directly effecting your core stability, security and performance.

Anti-Virus and Firewall issues

Occasionally your Anti-Virus or Firewall may be causing you performance issues, especially with online gaming. A couple of things to think about first.


Make sure that your Security software is up-to-date, including having the latest virus signatures/definitions. Why not run a quick scan after updating for good measure.


Most modern security software will have an option to temporarily disable the software, you can always try this option to see if that fixes your issues. Just remember that this option will leave your system vulnerable, so be careful what your doing whilst its disabled.


If disabling your security software fixes your issue, you have some trouble shooting to do.


There are so many different security packages out there these days, but most of them will give you the option to whitelist or allow a program/game to bypass the software. It could also be that you need to open/forward some of your firewall ports to allow a better flow of traffic with the game server.


Troubleshooting Security software issues may be a little technical for many people. Google is usually your friend here. Ill list a couple of google search examples to give you an idea.


“How to whitelist a program in Norton 360”

“How to port forward using Kaspersky”

“What ports to open for Battlefield 1”

Hard Drive Performance or Failures

Firstly, I would recommend having separate hard drives dedicated to just games, and preferably these should be SSD hard drives.


Defrag old drives.


If your game is not installed on an SSD hard drive, first check to see if it needs defragging.


Press the windows Key and type defrag to find Windows own defragging software, Windows 10 usually does a good job of automatically keeping your drives defragged, but it’s always a good thing to check first.


Note. never defrag an SSD drive, firstly this will not help with performance at all, and will unnecessarily lower the lifespan of your drive.


Install the game on a non-system drive.


If you have the option to install the game on a drive that’s not your main system drive, do so.


Your system drive is being accessed hundreds, if not thousands of times per minute by your operating system. This will cause performance issues for games that require a lot of loading and fast access to data. Not to mention this will also put a lot of stress on your main system drive, and if your operating system and your game is fighting for the same resources, your operating system will take priority.


Hard drive failing?


For a quick reference of the general well being of all your hard drives, I would recommend a free program called CrystalDiskInfo.


Once installed and run, you will see a list of all your drives at the top, and hopefully they are all green(good). The software is based on the S.M.A.R.T information given by your hard drive. This is only intended as an indicator, but doesn’t always tell the full story.


HDDScan is another good free piece of software that has the ability to run tests and find hard drive issues not reported by S.M.A.R.T.


If you prefer not to download software, you can always try the windows built-it CHKDSK function. Firstly find out the drive letter of the hard drive that the game is installed on. I.E. drive D:


1, Press the Windows Key

2, Type CMD

3, Right click on the search result “Command Prompt”

4, Click run as administrator

5, Once the Command Prompt box appears you want to type one of the following.


CHKDSK D: /F      - This will perform a quick scan and fix of the most common driver errors.




CHDSK D: /R        - This will perform a more detailed scan and fix to include bad sectors. (note, this scan may take hours but it’s generally the best option)


note. If your running CHKDSK on your C: (system drive) you may get an error “Chkdsk cannot run because the volume Is in use by another process. Would you like to schedule this volume to be checked the next time the system restarts? (Y/N)”


type Y and press enter. Then restart your PC for the check to be performed on boot.

System junk and cache files

Over time your computer accumulates masses of junk files, large caches of data and other rubbish that’s no longer needed. These files over time can cause system instability and performance issues.


Windows comes with a built in Disk Cleanup utility.


1, Press the windows Key

2, Type Disk Cleanup

3, Right-click on the search result “Disk Cleanup”

4, Click run as administrator

5, Select C: and click OK (assuming C: is your main system drive)

6, Click Clean up system files button at the bottom

7, Again, select C: and click OK (assuming C: is your main system drive)

8, Tick all of the following.

a, Windows Update Cleanup

b, Download Program Files

c, Temporary Internet Files

d, DirectX Shader Cache

e, Device driver packages

f, Recycle Bin

g, Temporary Files

h, Temporary Windows installation files

I, Thumbnails


Click OK, then click Delete Files button.


Sometimes Windows Disk Cleanup just doesn’t do enough to remove many of the hidden caches and junk files.


I personally use one of the following free or paid software solutions.


Firstly we have CCleaner, up until recently this would have been my first choice, but due to some recent behaviour I now use an alternative. You can read more about said behaviour HERE


My favourite is now IOBit Advanced System Care, I personally use the paid Pro version for the extra features and automation. I honestly can’t remember what’s available in the free version, but the Pro version does all of the following: Startup Optimization, Privacy Sweep, Junk File Clean, Shortcut Fix, Registry Clean, Spyware Removal, Internet Boost, System Optimization, Registry Defrag, Security Reinforce, Vulnerability Fix and Disk Optimization all in one click. I run this daily before shutting down my system which coincidentally the software can automatically shut down your system on completion of the cleanup process.