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Why does my laptop freeze when playing a video game?

Answer: If your laptop or desktop computer freezes or hangs while playing a video game, the cause may be heat-related. If your CPU or GPU overheats, the computer will stop functioning to protect the hardware from physical damage.

▶ When a computer overheats, it may not produce an error message. The screen may simply become frozen, meaning you can't move the cursor, or it may turn black and the computer will shut down.

Video games and other graphics-intensive applications are taxing on both central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processor (GPU). While a computer's ventilation and internal cooling system should prevent the components from overheating, it can still happen.

Causes of overheating include:

  • dust buildup inside the computer
  • broken or malfunctioning heat sensors
  • broken or malfunctioning fans
  • manually overclocking the processor

Dust or dirt buildup in a laptop can cause a lot of problems including malfunctioning sensors and fans. A high-powered handheld vacuum or a compressed air blower can remove debris from your computer. If the buildup is bad enough, you may need to open your computer or bring it to a service center to have it cleaned out.

If you've overclocked your processor, you've also increased the chance of your PC overheating. Simply resetting the BIOS settings to the default configuration may prevent your laptop or desktop PC from getting so hot it needs to shut down.

Published: March 7, 2019 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center