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Gaming PC is slow, if its not configured properly. This article will explain, how to fix the speed issues, if your gaming PC is slow, even if its strong enough on paper. Sometimes, even if the parts should be far strong enough to run the game, the gaming PC is slow. Nowdays, a lot of people are building gaming machines. This requires no special knowledge, benhcmark results can be found on the internet. These people do the research, buy the parts, and they get suprised, if the gaming PC is slow. If every benchmark says that X card should run the game with 40 fps, but it only runs it with 20 fps, then there is a problem.
Doing the research
The gaming PC is slow, unless people usually wise enough to do a little bit of research. And they are wise - it is easy to google, which computer parts they need. People usually have a relative modern motherboard, which they can use to build an ideal gaming PC. They choose a CPU and a GPU carefully. Older motherboards support 8 or 16 GByte RAM, so people oder this quantity of memory. They order a video card for a few 100 dollars, they usually want to keep the CPU cost below $100. Everything arrives, they put it together, and the machine boots. At least after a BIOS update. You install Windows 7 or Windows 10. You install your favorite games. Everybody is happy, for a few hours. Then the horror begins. The game, that should run fluidly, stutters, produces micro-lags, the FPS fells below 25. The gaming PC is slow, but it should not!
The CPU should be strong enough... but its not
One of the assumption is, that the CPU is not enough powerfull to run the game. People usually buy cheap Intel i5 or AMD FX CPU-s. Sometimes, they buy the top cpu for a specific socket, such as Core2Quads, Xeons, Athlon2 X4 or Athlon FX CPU-s with at least 4 core or more. Every benchmark says the game should run fine - but it wont, the game struggles on the machine even if the CPU gets overclocked. What the mistery could be? The Gaming PC is slow, but it should not!
The graphics card seems to be too weak
The game should run fine on the GPU you have bought. You have bought an RX570, or an nVidia GeForce 1060. You might be bought an nVidia GTX 980, or an older model. You done the research, you are sure you have got the correct video card (and not a repackaged 15 year old card from Aliexpress). The game still stutters, so you try to install a new driver, hoping, it will help. The situation wont improve, the gaming PC is slow. You curse the moment when you have decided to build a gaming PC.
The power supply is weak?
You assume the PSU does not outputs enough power. This can cause some video cards to throttle back, so you insert a new power supply, but it does not helps. You try to measure voltages with a multimeter, and you see they are correct. You sit in front of the computer and you are depressed. You try to remove the curse by chanting magic words, you try to sacrafice a rabbit at midnight. Then you get an axe to end the suffering of the computer, and buy a new one. This time for a little bit more money. And the symptoms repeat. Even the new Gaming PC is slow, so you decide to get a new hobby.
Then you realize its your fault
At this point you realize that probably the problem is caused by you. Thats right, the problem is caused by you, by not setting up the hardware and the software correctly. You missing various important steps. This article will explain, what you have missed, and how you must set up your system to operate correctly. The Gaming PC is slow because of the combination of various factors. These problems will be eliminated with this short tutorial.
The RAM is detected incorrectly
You have bought the memory for your system, but you only focused on the memory size. You have ordered the proper quantity of RAM, so you now have 8 GByte, or 16 GByte of RAM in your system. You think now everything is fine. However, the memory have a clock speed, a data rate, and a latency too. The memory will usually work on the slowest, fail-safe settings, unless you set it up properly in the BIOS.
The frequency of the RAM
If your machine is based on DDR3, then it will usually use support DDR3-1333, or DDR3-1600 modules. Sometimes, mistakelnly, these are called DDR3-1333 MHz modules, or DDR3-1600 MHz modules, althrough the real clock speed of these are much less. If you machine is DDR2 based, it can be DDR2-533, DDR2-666, or DDR2-800 based.
How the RAM actually works
Your memory is complicated. In the times of SD RAM, the memory was running on 66, 100 or 133 MHz. With the release of DDR memory, the memory frequency was still 100 or 133. However, they have doubled the BUS transaction speed by introducing a new transaction mechanism that allows the transfer of two memory block within one clock cycle. This allowed the memory to run at effectively 200 MHz even if the memory hardware itself was running 100 MHz.
The DDR2 and DDR3 memory
With the release of DDR2 memory, they doubled this data rate again. So, if the RAM hardware runs at 133 MHz (133,333 actually), that results an effectively 4*133 = 533 MHz. With the apperance of the DDR3, they have doubled this again: 133*8 = 1066 MHz effectively. Some program mistakenly refers the RAM by its bus clock rate, such as CPU-Z.
If you just put some random memory in your motherboard, it will probably not detected properly. In older motherboards - even if the CPU and the motherboard both supports DDR3-1333, the default memory will run at DDR3-1066 by default. Usually the memory modules you get is DDR3-1333 or DDR3-1666. So you must go to the bios, and set the memory frequency to operate on the proper speed. For example, if you have an Intel I5-2500 CPU, then the motherboard will most likely run the memory at DDR3-1066. The gaming PC is slow at this speed, you must set the memory in BIOS to run at DDR3-1333. The Intel i5-2500 supports this, so you should instantly get a few extra percent in speed, and a few extra FPS. In the case you have an older DDR2 based computer, the ram will be likely running at 533 MHz by default, but your RAM will be probably capable to run on 666 or 800 MHz as well.
If you think now you understand all the magic of your RAM, you are wrong. The MHz indication only refers to the data rate, which the RAM can produce under a sequencial (streaming-like) memory access. When you start to read new memory areas, a new problem arises. This is the memory latency. Lesser the latency is, better the performance is. Some motherboards will not detect this, and you must set it manually. If your motherboard allows this to set it, then it will not bother to detect it for you, and it will run the memory on failsafe settings. Your gaming pc is slow, if the RAM runs in big latency mode.
Finding the proper memory latency
Find and set the proper memory lateny. A DDR3-1333 memory can have CL7, CL8, CL9 or CL10 latency. Smaller is the faster. This means, your motherboard will maybe set it to CL10 for failsafe purposes. You must find the proper parameters for your memory, and set it to the proper latency. If your RAM supports CL8, then you should set the latency from CL10 to CL8. If CL8 is not supported by the motherboard, set it to CL9. After setting the proper latency, you will get additional speed boost, a few percent, and probably a few more frame per second.
You forgot to install the chipset drivers
The motherboard chipset needs drivers too. Without having a chipset driver, your motherboard will maybe communicate with the graphics card on a limited speed. You can find the proper drivers of your motherboard at the manufacturers website. Install the drivers, and you could experience another few percent performance increase in gaming. Althrough, Windows 7 and Windows 10 nowdays will have drivers for most of the motherboards out of the box, there are various exceptions. Gaming PC is slow in some cases, when the chipset drivers are not installed. If such drivers are needed, this could be another factor which will make your gaming PC faster.
Video card runs in PCI-E 8x mode
PCI Express cards can be run in various modes. Normally, video cards communicate in PCI-E 16x mode. Some motherboards support PCI-E 1.1, 2.0 or 3.0. Every card is compatible with every PCI-E socket (in theory). However, in some cases, if the chipset driver is not installed, the card could be limited to 8x mode. In some situations, the motherboard maybe only communicates in PCI-E 1.1 mode, even if 2.0 is supported both by the card and by the motherboard. If the PCI-E data rate is not 16x, or it runs on an older standard than it should, then the gaming PC is slow. The phenomon will decrease the 3D performance of gaming.
Check the PCI-E data rates
To check the PCI-E data rate, you can try the software GPU-Z (https://www.techpowerup.com/download/techpowerup-gpu-z/). On the following screenshot, i have marked the PCI-E data rate with a red box. Click the question mark to give some 3D load for the graphics card, as in IDLE, it maybe idles in a lower data-rate mode for power-saving reasons. If the GPU runs in 16x mode under load, then thats fine. If its runs in 8x mode even under load, or if it fails to switch to PCI-E 2.0 mode even if both the GPU and both the motherboard supports it, then thats a problem.
Your card is maybe not in the proper PCI-E slot.
The PCI-E will be in 8x mode all the way, if the card is in the wrong slot. Some motherboard have multiple PCI-E slots for video cards, and other devices. However, only one of them is a real PCI-E 16x slot. Others are usually 8x slots. Usually, only the top slot is PCI-E 16-slot. Gaming PC is slow, if the video card is in the wrong slot. The Gaming PC is slow, if you have the card in the wrong slot. In some situations, various cards will refuse to work in the 16x slots when you have a very old motherboard, then try to update the BIOS.
Update the BIOS
If you experience problems with PCI-E mode, you may have to update the BIOS. Updating the BIOS to the latest bios will maybe fix this issue, and the video card will be able to communicate on faster data rates. Be carefull to flash only the proper BIOS from the manufacturer. Flashing wrong BIOS into the motherboard can cause permanent damage to your hardware. After flashing the BIOS, you should clear the CMOS, set up everything in the BIOS again, and hope that you get the proper data rates.
Reseat your graphics card
Remove the graphics card from your socket, and clean the PCI-E connector carefully with alcohol. Clean the motherboard socket as well. In some cases, dirt in the socket, or unproper seating can result the PCI-E mode to fall back to 8X mode, or to PCI-E 1.1 mode. If your GPU needs an external power cable, be sure you have a proper power cable mounted in the GPU. Without the power cable, the video card maybe silently swtiches to low performance mode.
It still runs in 8x and 1.1 mode
Disable special USB features in the bios. Try disabling USB 3.0 support alltogether. Disable COM and LPT ports, if you dont use them. Disable the integrated graphics card, if its still enabled. Pull out unneccessary USB devices from the computer. If you use webcamera while you play, then throw out your 4k snowflake webcamera, and put your 20 year old 240p webcamera back. These tricks could spare bandwidth for the graphics card, and in some systems, they even could cause the 2.0 spec or the 16x mode to reappear.
The CPU overheats
If your CPU fan is suspiciously silent under big load, or if its suspiciously loud, then something is wrong. The CPU fan should spin faster under heavy load, or spin slow if there is no heavy workload on your computer.
The BIOS FAN settings are wrong
In most motherboard bios, you can set the fan speed. However, some manufacturers tend to set the ventillation start temperature at 60 celsius degree. This is too big, as this will result too much heat. This will not damage the components, however, the newer CPU-s will use thermal throttle. This means if the temperature of the CPU reaches a certain degree, the CPU will decrease its clock speed to preserve the stability of the system. This can happen after a few minutes of playing The gaming PC is slow if this happens. To avoid this phenomon to occur, set the ventillation start to 50 degree celsius, and set the full speed to 62 celsius.
The VRM modules overheating
A new and strong CPU can put more stress on the motherboard than expected. If the voltage regulator or the chipset on the motherboard overheating, the chipset will maybe throttle the speed back. This can result a drop in the performance after a few minutes of heavy load. To avoid this, add additional ventillation to the computer case that cools the motherboard as a whole. If this is not possible, then set the CPU fan starting temperature to 25 degree celsius, so the CPU fan will supply more air movement for the whole system, rather than just serving the CPU itself.
The thermal paste is dried
If the thermal paste is dried up, the CPU will quickly overheat. The Gaming PC is slow, if the thermal paste is dried up. CPU-s, especially above 90 Watts need thermal paste to operate properly. Otherwise, they get too hot, and they will throttle the clock speed. If the thermal paste is dried, then the CPU cooler cant cool down the whole surface of the CPU. This will cause thermal throttling. If the CPU limits the clock speed, the gaming PC is slow. To avoid this phenomon, add fresh thermal paste, and/or decrease the CPU fan's threshold to top out on much lower temperatures.
How much these tricks will help?
If the Gaming PC is slow, and the hardware specs are fine, then these are the most frequent reasons of the phenomon. Setting the proper memory speed and latency will give 10-20% performance increase. If the PCI-E slot is mistakenly running in 8x PCI-E 1.1 mode, then ensuring the proper PCI-E communication standard will give an additional 20-30% speed up. If the CPU is mistakenly throttling back the speed, you can gain another 20-30% speed. These problems usually co-exist on a PC, when hobbysts building the gamer PC. Fixing all of these issues one by one, will result a dramatic increase in the speed of gaming. If the FPS of a game was 20 due to these reasons, with the help of these tricks, will most likely exceed 30, making it perfectly playble.