If you’re an avid computer game player, you’ve probably run across one that slows down your computer. You’ll notice it’s a little more difficult to run other programs when you have a game running, and the game itself might get choppy or even shut down. There are a few different reasons this could happen, but here’s some basic information behind why your computer doesn’t always run as well when playing a video game.
Your computer has a limited number of resources it can dedicate to a task. When one task takes up resources, it can’t dedicate as much to others. A task that requires a huge amount of resources, like a graphics-intensive video game, may overburden your computer’s hardware. Although there are many programs that don’t take much computing power to run, a lot of small programs running at the same time can have the same impact as one big resource hog.
What Do These System Requirements Mean, Anyway?
Most computer games come with a list of system requirements. Your computer has a lot of components, but there are a few big ones that impact your computer’s ability to play a video game.
Think of your computer’s processor like a band conductor. The conductor uses gestures to give instructions so that the entire band can play in unison. A really good conductor can give these instructions with exceptional speed. The processor is responsible for telling the rest of your computer what to do. The faster your processor, the faster it can give out these instructions.
Your computer’s hard drive is like a digital filing cabinet. It stores all the files and programs your computer needs to run and everything else you download and install. A full
hard drive will also make your computer run slowly, so you’ll want to leave some free space.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
RAM – frequently referred to as “memory” – is kind of like your computer’s short-term memory. RAM stores data for your computer’s processor to access, but will only store it as long as your computer is running. Accessing data from RAM is faster than accessing it from your hard drive, which is why having more RAM may make programs run faster. Your computer does have limits on how much RAM it can support, so don’t go on too big of a RAM-purchasing spree.
The video card is designed specifically to create images out of digital information. New video cards have their own processor and memory, so they can create images rapidly without adding more burden to your computer’s regular processor.
How to Improve Performance
There are actually a few things you can do yourself that will improve how well your computer runs, especially when playing computer games.
Since every program running on your computer takes up some resources, close the ones you don’t need when you’re playing a game. Browsers, movies and even instant messengers can impact how well your computer performs! Scan for and remove viruses on a regular basis. Viruses, spyware and adware are all programs, and they use your computer’s resources to spread themselves around!
If your hard drive is getting a little full, it may be time to do some digital spring cleaning. Uninstall programs you no longer use, empty the recycle bin and delete movies you don’t plan on watching again. Avoid deleting something if you don’t know what it is, or you may accidentally get rid of something your computer needs.
You might also want to defragment your hard drive. Windows has a built-in defragmentation tool that you can use, and there are third-party programs available to defragment Mac systems.