Screen freezes. Choppy graphics. Game or application crashes. Even system crashes. What could possibly be the cause? Many times, these types of faults can be attributed to a GPU that simply can’t keep up with a game. If your GPU isn’t the latest and greatest available on the market today (shout out to Nvidia’s Titan RTX for top scores) it might struggle to keep up. Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts.
Why is the GPU important for gaming?
The GPU is your Graphics Processing Unit, which governs things like your max frame rates, resolution potential, whether frames are dropped, and overclocking potential. With screens now boasting 4K resolution and games to match (such as Battlefield 5), you are going to need a powerful GPU (and CPUs!) to support this boost in graphics resolution.
Gaming with an inadequate GPU
If you have noticed the aforementioned faults (choppy graphics/gameplay, screen freezes, etc.) when playing new release games on your system that you thought was up to scratch, then you might not realize that your GPU (as opposed to your CPU) could be the culprit.
Before upgrading your GPU or giving up on the game, there are a few things you can try out. One is updating your graphics drivers. You can do this by heading to your hardware manufacturer’s website to check you have the latest driver version installed (check under Device Manager on Windows).
One way to potentially avoid the purchase price of a new, top of the line GPU is to overclock your current GPU. This squeezes more juice out of it and could just fix your issues. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials floating about for how to do this. To find out which model of GPU you currently have, type dxdiag into the search bar, open the app, then click on the Display tab.
If overclocking your GPU doesn’t solve your problem, then you’ll be in the market for a GPU upgrade.
A word about Xbox and PlayStation
Like PC gaming, older models of Xbox One and PS4 may also struggle to play the latest new release game titles smoothly. Their machine specs get upgraded throughout within-cycle releases, so, for example, a brand new off the line PS4 will have better specs than the first release of the machine. Updating system software to the latest version can help.
Will I be able to get a top of the line GPU for my gaming laptop?
Laptops may rule when it comes to other computing needs, but when it comes to gaming, a desktop tower is always going to rule. You simply can’t pack the most powerful components built into a slimline frame – it’s never going to work. Sure, some people hack together their own franken-machines, with an external GPU (here’s how to get started if you’re interested), but it’s definitely not the norm.
If you are PC gaming and want to play games with the best experience, then leave the laptop at work or for watching Netflix in bed and either build your own custom setup or get a machine kitted out with a good GPU.
Why are new games so GPU heavy?
There’s a lot of debate in this space. It’s no secret that game developers partner with GPU manufacturers so that certain games can make the most out of certain GPUs. This means that performance on other GPU can fall flat – they’re specifically designed to run on the target hardware.
For more generic games without partnership deals, game developers may want to experiment with excellent GPUs to see what they’re capable of achieving. The Nvidia Titan RX that we mentioned earlier, for example, works with machine learning algorithms. If game development houses really want to flex their innovative muscles and wow consumers, then building for top-of-the-line graphics cards just makes sense.
Even gaming houses that don’t mean to make games for top GPUs may accidentally do so. For instance, if they are working on a target system with the Titan RX, and don’t test with other GPUs, they may have done sloppy work that chews the GPU more than it should, leading to poor performance on other hardware.
For browser-based games, you don’t have to worry about all this “nonsense,” although you may need a certain browser that’s up to date to play a game. For instance, online casino game providers have the benefit that the games do not require real-time rendering but this may change in the future as more gamification is added.
The final word
In summary, if a game looks amazing in the ads, like nothing you’ve ever seen before, but then it doesn’t play very well on your system, it could be that your GPU is struggling to keep up. There are ways to combat this, like giving up on the game entirely, playing on someone else’s top of the line gaming PC, or trying to update your drivers or overclock your GPU. If you’re set on playing at home yourself with the ultimate experience, then it might be time to shell out for a first-class GPU – just make sure that the rest of your system can also support the game. You don’t want to pay the megabucks for a GPU only to realize you have to also buy new CPUs, monitor, and other peripherals…