If your gaming experience is not good all the time, you may need to learn how to fix lag spikes on your PC.
There are a lot of reasons this could happen.
After reading this guide, you should be able to know how to fix lag spikes on your gaming PC or laptop, be it network issues related or gaming performance.
The difference between lag spikes and FPS drops
You need to differentiate between the two. A lag spike while gaming is not the same thing as an FPS(Frames Per Second) drop.
The difference between a lag spike and an FPS drop is not so easy to tell, especially when you are not tech-savvy. However, the difference is simple.
A high ping, slow internet connectivity, high packet loss are often the cause of lag spikes in games. As opposed to FPS Drops, which happens to make your gaming experience less smooth.
Turn on the FPS counter inside your games, most should have this option. If the number drops, it’s most likely because of low memory. This scenario happens even when the rest of your PC specs can handle the game requirements.
Budget home PCs are most prone to sudden FPS drops. Installing more RAM, and/or an SSD will very often solve the issue.
Random lag spikes, on the other hand, can happen for a plethora of reasons.
Check your Internet Connection and Speed
I wrote an extensive article here, which covers some basic steps on how to troubleshoot sudden FPS drops.
When you are experiencing random or constant lag spikes, checking your internet connection should be your top priority.
If a simple internet speed reports a decent/high download/upload speed but indicates high packet loss, it’s time to check the router settings instead.
Another reason for sudden lag spikes when gaming is related to the location of the game’s webserver. If you are from North America, but playing online on an Asian server, you will always experience unexplained lag spikes while playing.
Often, a simple request to your ISP is enough to ask them to increase peering/upload speed with a specific region.
Ask in the chatroom and check if anyone else is having the same problem. If that is the case, it might not be any solution, as the problem is on the server-side.
Check your Router Connection
If you are still experiencing lag spikes on your PC, it’s time to check the Router. Incompatible settings can affect the amount of bandwidth you are getting.
Often, port forwarding a specific game that is lagging can help dramatically. Usually, an error addressing NAT(Network Address Translation) should appear inside your game logs, too.
You want to check if the game reports any “closed” or “moderated” connections. If it does, this usually translated to lag spikes during gaming.
Port forwarding can help increase the gaming experience online as it directs all the traffic directly to the game’s server address. It won’t have to pass through your network’s gateway, which will lead to a decrease in sudden lag spikes.
Upgrading your router to a mode gaming dedicated one will also help.
Troubleshoot WiFi Connection Issues
The most common problem which leads to lag spikes while playing is your WiFi connection. This happens when other devices share the same connection.
If someone else around the house is doing a Netflix binge, while you are playing the latest World of Tanks, bandwidth is going down the drain.
Getting your router closer to you will help decrease any sudden lag spikes. Also elevating the router near the ceiling will aid connection.
This is because WiFI waves travel downward.
Always perform Driver Updates
This always goes neglected because so many of us never think about driver updates.
But in reality, not updating your driver will most often cause connection issues. Updating your drivers and Operating System is a good habit that will pay off in the long term.
A lot of gaming users reported an increase in FPS whenever there was a major driver/OS update conducted.
It’s worth taking the extra 5 minutes and scheduling an update.
Even though the reasons exposed above are the most common, other hidden ones may arise too. For example, high CPU temperatures can cause lag spikes on your PC as well.
Asking on your favorite gaming board about recent game issues might reveal specific fixes which are not hardware-related.
If something worked for you which is not presented in this article, please don’t be shy and post in the comment below.