When I’m in the middle of a game, the last thing I want to happen is for my computer to shut off randomly, especially if I’m winning because who has time for that?
While you likely get frustrated when it happens, it’s not rare, which means it’s a fixable problem. So, why does your computer shut down while gaming?
Generally, your computer shuts down while gaming because it is overheated or has an issue with its power supply unit. However, you may encounter a virus infection or driver issues causing the random shutdowns. While it’s not as common, sometimes the problem is with the hardware or your computer is set up to go into sleep mode.
Occasionally, your battery has gone dead, which you would need to replace for your computer to operate correctly. But, let’s not jump there yet, and start with some fundamental issues that could be causing your computer to shut down while gaming.
A blue screen usually occurs due to critical errors preventing your system from operating correctly.
For example, you likely will experience a blue screen if you have a low-level hardware system or your hardware is faulty, while your power supply unit may cause random shutdowns because it cannot manage your hardware.
In addition, blue screens appear when your driver no longer has available space or there are bugs within the driver. Usually, you can fix these issues by reinstalling your driver or performing the latest updates.
When a blue screen occurs, your computer must restart, and you may have lost data that was not saved before the crash.
However, a random shutdown can occur if there is a battery issue or your computer is overloaded with an excessive amount of running programs.
One of the most straightforward reasons your computer shuts down is overheating. If your computer’s temperature reaches a specific level, it will shut down to protect your PC. You likely will hear strange fan sounds from your computer as it detects the increasing temperature.
If you have been running your computer for an excessive period or your game uses heavy graphics, it may cause your device to overheat. When your computer can’t keep up with what you are doing, it shuts down to prevent damage.
To lower the temperature, ensure you clean any dust, monitor the cooling system, and check your thermal paste, a substance applied to a processor, prior to installing a cooling system. Most thermal pastes will last several years, but if you are gaming often, you may have to reapply the paste.
Core Temp is one of the most accessible programs to check your computer’s temperature, and it’s also free to download. You can also monitor the temperature using a software program like HWMonitor, NZXT’s Cam, and SpeedFan.
It’s best to track your computer’s temperature while playing games, so you can better identify if overheating is causing your computer to shut down. I’ve had to deal with the same overheating issue with my Verizon router.
Your PSU, a power supply unit, provides power to your computer; if there is an issue, your computer cannot function properly. If your PSU cannot provide sufficient power, it will cause your computer to shut down randomly. Also, it is likely a PSU problem if you hear noise from the computer, but it won’t start.
You must be attentive to any power supply issues because they can cause further damage to your PC. For example, you likely will experience a PSU issue after hefty gaming due to a lack of appropriate voltage.
If you are using a surge protector to source your power, try using a different outlet or outlet strip to supply power. For example, the problem could be where your power comes from, and a simple fix will do the trick.
When a virus infects a computer, it may shut down while you are gaming. Generally, you want to avoid downloading anything from unknown sites, as it can infect your computer. In addition, avoid third-party software, as you run a greater risk of transferring viruses to your computer.
Unfortunately, when your computer receives a virus, you must clear your device and perform reformatting.
In addition, a shutdown virus will automatically cause your computer to shut off without warning. However, you may experience a fake blue screen that will infect your computer when you attempt to close it.
To avoid infecting your computer, you should never open unknown downloads or visit insecure websites.
However, you should also not open email attachments from an unknown sender or if the email appears to be a phishing scam. Unfortunately, scammers are good at making emails appear legitimate, so you must use your judgment when opening emails.
If your driver is not suited for gaming, you likely will have issues with your computer shutting down while you play. Usually, the issue lies within your graphics driver; if it’s not updated, you will run into problems with random shutdowns.
If you do not have one already, purchasing a graphics card will help prevent shutdowns; however, you must ensure your card is compatible with your driver. For example, if you use an AMD graphics card, ensure you have the latest Windows update and AMD driver.
In addition, you should stay on top of necessary driver updates, which you can perform manually or automatically. For example, it would be helpful to have automatic updates turned on, so you don’t have to worry about making notes of when to perform the updates.
To set your computer to perform automatic updates in Windows, follow these simple steps:
- In your taskbar, type device manager, and select Device Manager
- Next, select which category you’d like to see available devices and right-click your desired driver to update
- Choose Search Automatically for Updated Driver Software
- Select Update Driver
This YouTube video helps discuss updating drivers:
Your computer may shut down while gaming if you’ve recently downloaded new hardware that isn’t compatible with your device. You can determine whether your computer meets the requirements of your game by visiting the game’s website.
In addition, it’s best to check your RAM, random-access memory, to ensure it’s not outdated or requires cleaning. Your RAM performs nearly everything on your computer, so if it’s not in working order, then you may experience shutdowns while gaming.
You can also run a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) test to ensure it works correctly. For example, your GPU can process several amounts of data simultaneously, which aids gaming, so it must work correctly to avoid shutdowns.
To check whether your graphics card is working properly, follow the below directions:
- Open the Windows control panel and select System and Security
- Choose Device Manager and open Display Adapters
- Select the Graphics Card you are using and select Device Status
- If it does not say “Device is Working Properly,” you should notice the warning given
Sleep mode is a fantastic feature to prevent your computer from running unnecessarily; however, it could also be why your device is shutting down. You’ll want to check your computer to see if sleep mode is automatically set up to turn on after a specific time.
You can check whether sleep mode is activated on Windows by following these steps:
- Click menu and then settings
- Choose system settings
- Click power and select sleep
- Choose the option for it to never go to sleep
This simple fix can help prevent your games from randomly shutting off on you. Here’s a YouTube video that discusses how to fix a computer that won’t wake up from sleep mode.
Another common issue for computers to shut down while gaming is battery issues. If your computer’s battery is dead, it will likely randomly shut off at times. To determine whether your battery is dead, ensure you have the power cord unplugged, and if the computer automatically turns off, there is an issue with your battery.
Unfortunately, you can do nothing with a dead battery except replace it, which is a tedious task. It would help to review your warranty to see if you are covered for a battery replacement.
Also, if you notice your battery isn’t fully charged after being plugged in for a period, there likely is an issue that will lead to shutdowns while gaming. If you notice less power, you will want to work on getting a new battery before it stops working completely
How To Prevent Random Computer Shutdown
Before attempting anything else, restarting your computer is always a good idea. Restarting your computer is a simple solution that solves many problems you face. For example, if your computer has been running for a lengthy amount of time, it’s best to give it a rest to prevent overheating.
If you overload your computer with multiple demanding programs, the device will shut down because it cannot handle the overload.
So, for example, avoid running any additional applications in the background when playing games, which could slow down your computer or lead to a random shutdown.
If you believe your computer is overheating, you want to check the fans and ensure your computer can receive proper airflow.
To keep your computer cool, ensure there is no blockage, stay on top of the thermal paste, and change it when needed. In addition, you can clean your computer with a blower as necessary.
If Windows isn’t updated regularly, it may not be compatible with playing your specific game and will shut down.
To ensure Windows remains updated on your computer, check whether you have automatic updates or not. When you miss essential updates, like bug fixes or improvements, you are preventing your computer from operating at its full potential.
You always want to ensure your drivers are updated to the latest version, which you can do manually or automatically.
Remember that your computer may not automatically perform the updates, so you must stay on top of any required updates. In addition, if you believe the issue is your graphics driver, ensure you have the latest update.
If you don’t have an antivirus program, you should install one to monitor for viruses. However, you must ensure your current program is updated, and it’s best to run the antivirus program daily to monitor potential issues. Many antivirus programs are available, including McAfee Antivirus Plus and Bitdefender Antivirus Plus.
Remember, you can set antivirus programs to run automatically, so you don’t always have to remember to turn them on.
When you have the appropriate software to check the health of your hard drive, you will help prevent any potential errors or data loss. There are several ways to check the health of your hard drive, including:
- Utilize a disk health check program, like CrystalDiskInfo or DriveDX
- Run health checks through the BIOS of your computer
- Use Windows’ built-in CHKDSK tool
Installing temperature tracker software will make keeping tabs on your computer’s temperature easier.
In addition, various programs on the market will aid you in keeping the temperature in check, including HWMonitor, NZXT’s Cam, and SpeedFan. While various software is available, opt for a free one if you can, especially as you navigate through troubleshooting and determining the root cause of shutdowns.
This YouTube video further discusses the benefits of temperature tracker software:
If you do not have a compatible graphics card or an outdated driver, you will experience shutdowns while playing high graphic games. High graphics can overload your computer if it is not equipped to handle them.
The most common cause of a computer shutting down while gaming is overheating, but there also could be an issue with your power supply, or your computer might be infected with a virus.
Sometimes it takes several rounds of troubleshooting before you can pinpoint where the problem is coming from, but hopefully, with the advice provided, you’ll be gaming uninterrupted in no time.