Having a gaming laptop that is lagging can be really frustrating. The problem is not just exclusive to older laptops. Sometimes new laptops do the same thing. The most frustrating is when you have a laptop that is more than powerful enough to run a game, but it still lags.
There are several reasons why your gaming laptop could be lagging. The most common cause is CPU throttling due to heat. Some other reasons include only having single-channel RAM, or the laptop is underpowered for what you are trying to do.
In this article, we will look at the reasons why your laptop is lagging. We will also discuss a few possible solutions. So, if you have an old laptop or a new one, and it keeps lagging, keep reading, and hopefully we can solve whatever problem you are having. Here are our 6 causes and solutions to a lagging gaming laptop.
If you know that your gaming laptop is capable of running games, but you still experience lag, CPU throttling is most probably the reason.
CPU throttling occurs when your CPU is running above a certain temperature. A gaming laptop manufacturer will apply throttling methods as a sort of safety to protect your laptop from overheating. They do this for your safety and their peace of mind.
It might seem like they are purposefully inhibiting your gaming experience but think about it, do you want your CPU to overheat and damage your entire laptop? I guess the answer is no. There is a workaround, though.
CPU throttling problem solved
There is a solution to a CPU that is overheating. This method is called Undervolting. While it may sound very technical, Undervolting is actually really simple, and it requires no electrical knowledge or knowledge of CPUs.
The way Undervolting works is, you make it so that the voltage that gets sent to the CPU is lower than what the manufacturer designed it to use. Laptop manufacturers often design laptops to run at best possible efficiency. Why they make it run on more power than is needed, I do not know. Surely they should just run the CPU at the minimum power requirements.
Undervolting your laptop is perfectly safe; it does not harm the CPU. That being said, if you Undervolt the CPU too much, you risk the stability of your system and can expect the laptop to crash every now and then. If you do it properly, this won’t be a problem. Luckily, we have you covered. Let’s take a look at how to Undervolt your gaming laptop.
How to undervolt the CPU
You need to download one of two programs depending on whether your CPU supports the first one. The best program to do this is Intel Extreme Tuning Utility. They have a list of supported CPUs on that page. If your CPU is not supported, I recommend using a program called “ThrottleStop.” Here’s how to Undervolt your CPU.
Intel Extreme Utility tool
- Download the program onto your laptop.
- Do a stress test to evaluate the temperature of your CPU while it is being used at its default voltage. I recommend doing a 20-minute stress test.
- When the test is done, you will see a small graph. The “package” temperature is what you are looking for. Take note of the temperature. It is a good idea to see what your clock speeds are during the test.
- Now go to the “Core” option. You will see something called “Core Voltage Offset.” I recommend setting the offset to -0.040. Don’t forget to apply the settings. This won’t be your final setting, it is just a base to start off with. After testing, if all is well, you can increase the offset.
- Rerun the same stress test. You should see a drop in Core temperature and a slight increase in clock speeds. If all is stable, you can increase the offset by increments of 0.005 to 0.010 until you reach an offset of 0.080 to 0.120. I do not recommend going above this.
Pretty simple, right? If you go too high, don’t worry, you can always go back down to a point where everything is stable.
This is pretty much the same; it is just a different UI. To do a stress test, you will need a separate program like AIDA 64 Extreme (Paid Software.)
Benefits of Undervolting your gaming laptop
Lower CPU temperatures mean less heat, less heat means less throttling, and altogether your laptop should run a lot smoother. You should also get higher clock speeds, which means better gaming performance.
Is it safe to Undervolt a gaming laptop
In my experience, the worst that can happen is your gaming laptop might crash if you overdo it. When done right, Undervolting is safe.
What Temperature should my laptop run at
After doing a stress test on the stock CPU, you should get around 70 to 80 degrees Celsius. The stress test will show how it performs when doing intense tasks like gaming. After Undervolting the CPU, you should see temperatures of around 63 to 70 degrees celsius.
You might be running low on RAM. A lot of laptops come with the bare minimum required. Most laptops also only use 1 channel for the RAM. Even if you have enough RAM, running it through 1 channel is not the best.
You want to run your RAM through dual-channel. This means that you need to buy another stick of RAM, but make sure you get the same spec as the one on your laptop. If your laptop does not support dual-channel RAM (it only has 1 RAM slot), then, unfortunately, there is nothing you can do.
Upgrading your RAM
- Open the back of your gaming laptop; this normally just requires a Phillips screwdriver.
- Check to see how many RAM slots there are. If there are 2 slots, great.
- Check the sticker on the existing RAM. You want to see the size and frequency of the RAM. It should say either 2666MHz or 3200MHz. Also, check if it is DDR4 or DDR3. It will probably be DDR4.
- Get your new stick of RAM, try your best to get the same brand. The frequency and size should be the same as the existing one. It also has to be the same DDR.
- When you have the new RAM stick, you will notice it has a small slit. Line the slit up with the RAM slot to make sure it fits.
- Press the RAM stick into the slot using a small amount of force.
- Close the laptop, switch it on, and go into windows.
- Go to “My Computer” and right-click the mouse.
- Select Properties in the popup window, and you should see the specs of your machine. Hopefully, you see the right amount of RAM.
That’s it for upgrading your laptop’s RAM.
Drivers are not up to date
I will use your GPU in this example. When a GPU manufacturer creates updates, the game developer will follow suit to optimize the game for the graphics card update.
If your drivers are not up to date, this could cause some games to start lagging.
Update your drivers
This is a pretty simple fix. It just requires you to check for and then download the latest drivers for your components. Here’s what you should do.
- Start with your Motherboard. Go into your motherboard software, check for updates, and install any if necessary.
- Next, go to your GPU software. This will either be Nvidia or AMD software. Check for updates, download, and install.
It is literally that easy. You should check for new driver updates at least once a month or if your laptop starts lagging while playing games.
You did not put the laptop in performance mode
This is another easy thing to correct, but it is also very important. Gaming laptops are built to serve more than one purpose. Some people use them as media players, work machines, general computers, and gaming.
Because of this, the laptop will be built with different modes, let’s just use two of them, default and performance.
The default mode will normally throttle the CPU, disable the GPU and run the fans at lower speeds. It does this to preserve battery life and keep the laptop noise down. It also prolongs the life of the components as they generally run cooler.
In permanence mode, the CPU will run at higher clock speeds, and the fans will also run at higher speeds. You can adjust this. The GPU will also be enabled. All of these boosts will drain the battery faster, increase the noise levels, and run the laptop at higher temperatures, but, hopefully, you have undervolted the CPU already.
Switch to performance mode
Each gaming laptop will come with software. MSI laptops will have MSI software, ASUS will have ASUS software, and so on. All you have to do is go into the software program of your laptop and toggle between the modes. You can also normally tweak things like fan speeds. Performance mode will also close unnecessary programs that run in the background
Some laptops also have a dedicated physical button that allows you to switch between modes easily.
Too many programs running at the same time
This is a problem that often gets overlooked. The CPU, RAM, and SSD can only do so much. If you have too much going on in the background while playing games, your RAM will suffer the most. While switching to performance mode should shut down background programs, it doesn’t always get all of them.
You could also have too many programs that start during your laptop’s startup. This will make the laptop sluggish from the minute it boots up and could flood your RAM before you even start playing games.
Closing background programs
Always close any programs that you don’t need to use while playing games. This could include Chrome, Skype, MS Office, and more. If you need to run Chrome, try having only one Tab open at a time. For Discord, there isn’t much you can do, and most of the time, we need Discord open while jamming games.
To check which programs are running that you do not know about, here’s what to do:
- On your keyboard, press “Control + ALT + Delete” all at the same time. You should get a popup window.
- In the popup, you should see “Task manager.”
- In Task Manager, you will get a list of programs that are currently running. If you see something that shouldn’t be running, close it.
- Check to see if that helped.
A virus is a piece of malicious code that imbeds itself into your machine. It is also known as “Malware” (MALicious softWARE). Most of the time, we never know about the virus. It just runs in the background. Sometimes though, it can cause havoc to our operating systems.
How do viruses get onto the laptop
Think about every site you have visited, more specifically, think about all the downloads you do. A virus can be attached to any file or document. So, if you download games, movies, music, or software from untrusted places, it is possible that a file from those places has a virus attached to it.
What do viruses do
For the most part, they lie dormant on the laptop until you run whichever file they are attached to. Once that happens, they can attack 1 or multiple system files, drivers, or any software you have on the laptop. They also come in the form of key loggers designed to steal your personal information.
Find and eliminate a virus
So, you have a virus and it is slowing down your machine. Don’t worry, we have you covered.
Installing an antivirus
With antivirus software, you have paid and free versions. It is up to you to decide which to get. I have a list of 3 of my personal favorites:
- Norton 360 Antivirus is free and has a 30 day free trial for its premium package. It also includes a 24/7 hour customer service.
- Bitdefender Total Security is a paid antivirus. It comes with a nifty little feature that allows you to place passwords on certain files and folders.
- TOTAL AV is 100% free. It has real-time spyware removal and online protection. I highly recommend this Antivirus.
Installing an antivirus is important for people who spend a lot of time online and especially important for people who do any sort of financial activities online.
Finding a Virus
It is pretty easy, but it depends on what antivirus you are using. In general, just open whichever one you have and perform a scan. The software will detect any malware and walk you through the process of removing it.
Be sure to keep the software updated.
When we buy big-ticket items like a gaming laptop, we expect it to work with no problem. After all, gaming laptops are not cheap.
If you read the article through to this part, I recommend making a checklist or bookmarking this page. That way, you can run through all the points in the article, and your laptop should perform better. If not, you might have a hardware problem and should contact the place that sold it to you.
The 2 most important parts of this article are the CPU throttling section and the RAM section. Those should be the first problems and solutions that you look for.