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Why is my GPU Underperforming? FIXES + Diagnosis

    ✅ Fact Checked
    Updated on October 6, 2022
    John Chad, Bachelor Computer Science Degree & Computer Engineering.
    Written by
    John Chad, Bachelor Degree in Computer Science & Computer Engineering.
    Russel Collins
    Fact Checked by
    Russel Collins
    John is a certified IT & Computer Engineer with a Bachelors Degree. He has worked for a International Insurance Company in the IT department before deciding to become a full time blogger to help his readers. Holds a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science from Stanford University.

    The GPU market has been flooded with graphics cards, and it’s not uncommon that you have some which don’t perform as well as others.

    If your computer or laptop is running on an older generation of hardware, then the chances are high that one component (or several) inside may be causing issues.

    This article will help you understand why your GPU might be performing poorly so that you’ll know what steps to take next if necessary.

    cropped How to Fix Nvidia Graphics Cards Problems

    The first thing we need to consider is whether there are any software problems. A lot of people mistakenly believe that their GPUs are underperforming due to overheating or because of a factory defect, however, this isn’t always true. It could also happen due to driver crashes caused by malware or viruses.

    In order to rule out such possibilities, try installing CCleaner – a program designed specifically for cleaning up junk files from system memory. Also, try to recall any programs you’ve recently installed that could be modifying your graphic settings or directly tweaking your GPU.

    Now let us look at common causes for poor performance.

    GPU Underperforming Fixes & Diagnosis

    Driver Problems

    Driver updates are crucial for keeping everything working properly. Unfortunately, sometimes users forget about them until something goes wrong. When drivers fail to update correctly, the result can cause all sorts of issues. For example, outdated/incompatible drivers can make gaming very difficult since most games require certain specs for optimal performance.

    Hardware Issues

    Sometimes minor things get overlooked when setting up new PCs. Such mistakes include using incorrect RAM sticks, faulty power supplies, improperly seated video card(s), etc. All of those can affect overall performance down the road.


    Overclocking is another big problem among gamers who want to squeeze every last bit of juice possible out of their GPUs. While overclocking is useful for increasing performance, it comes with risks. First off, overclocked components tend to overheat more easily than stock ones do. And second, overheated components tend to break quicker. As a general rule of thumb, it wouldn’t hurt to keep a close eye on temperatures whenever you’re playing games.

    Dust buildups

    Dust buildup can clog cooling vents on laptops and even obstruct airflow completely. These small particles act like tiny sandblasters and can negatively impact heat distribution across various parts of a computer. They can also hinder the proper functioning of fans and other components. To avoid dust buildup, use a vacuum cleaner regularly and clean out dust bunnies around ports and heatsinks before putting them back together.

    Bad air circulation

    Heat sinks installed atop modern CPUs typically block incoming air flow. The same applies to graphics processing units. Poor ventilation, especially during periods where computers stay idle for long hours, makes the internal temperature rise quickly. Heat dissipation decreases, slowing down clock speeds and resulting in diminished performance.

    Incorrect fan speed

    Fan speed plays an important role in maintaining low temperatures throughout operation. Most motherboards come equipped with multiple fan slots, allowing users to set different fan profiles to match ambient conditions and load demands. But often, manufacturers use default values instead. Users should check documentation included with their motherboard and adjust accordingly. Keep in mind that too slow or fast fan speeds can damage components.

    Running resource hungry programs

    Most modern games demand plenty of computing power. Resource hogs consume lots of available resources, including system RAM and processor cores. Some popular titles, such as World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto 5, use hundreds of megabytes worth of data. Even smaller programs can strain the capabilities of weaker machines. Therefore, it’s best to opt for lightweight alternatives whenever possible. Otherwise, you risk having your PC go through a constant slowdown. Of course, you can reduce strain on your system somewhat by lowering graphical quality.

    Virus infections

    Viruses usually spread themselves via email attachments or websites. Once infected, affected PCs display pop-up messages asking for payment to fix the problem. If you receive unexpected notifications like this, immediately visit antivirus provider Avast! for further information. We recommend downloading free tools from Kaspersky Lab to detect suspicious activity. Also, ensure that you install security patches released by AV companies constantly.

    Malware infection

    Malicious agents pose serious threats to computers. Luckily, detecting malicious code early enough allows users to prevent its effects. Viruses employ numerous tricks to hide once downloaded onto a device. One of them is deleting critical registry entries, so it’s vital to create backups beforehand. Scanning external drives frequently is also recommended. If you suspect anything shady going on, uninstall suspicious programs right away—it’s better safe than sorry.

    Underpowered PSU

    Power supply unit failures can occur due to aging components. Faulty PSUs deliver insufficient amounts of current, thus preventing voltage regulation mechanisms from doing their job properly. Other symptoms include random reboots, distorted sound output, dimming screen brightness levels, flickering lights, and blue screens. Try replacing old cables with brand new ones or upgrading to higher wattage models.

    Too much VRAM

    Video memory known as VRAM dictates the number of textures and assets visible onscreen. Having less VRAM results in lower frame rates and choppy gameplay. Increasing the size of the existing VRAM increases cost without necessarily improving efficiency. Instead, focus on adding additional vRAMs to improve overall performance.

    Not updating graphic drivers

    Drivers allow third-party developers to communicate directly with the underlying hardware. Drivers developed by Nvidia, ATI Technologies, Qualcomm Atheros, Realtek Semiconductor Corp., Broadcom Corporation, MediaTek Inc., Marvell Technology Group Ltd., Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics, Dell Inc., and HP provide access to hardware features offered by specific brands. Hence, failing to update drivers can lead to compatibility issues. New versions offer improved functionality and enhanced stability. So, it pays to stick with trusted providers.

    Software incompatibility

    Some popular titles, such as Call of Duty Ghosts and Titanfall, only support DirectX 11.x whereas newer consoles prefer 12.x. Older games written for older platforms lack optimization for modern hardware. Similarly, game publishers release new releases with bugs left unfixed. Getting acquainted with technicalities helps users spot subtle differences between various editions.

    Fan failure

    Fans serve as the lifeblood for coolers. Their function gets compromised when they lose effectiveness. Malfunctioning cooling solutions generate excessive noise and vibration, ultimately affecting the user experience. Restarting the computer periodically improves reliability.