Rock Stable: How to Get Your PC in Tiptop Condition


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Stable Gaming

October 31, 2011


Stable gaming. Sounds like a dull topic, right? Not so. Stable gaming is, in reality, the Holy Grail of every PC gamer. Unfortunately some PC gamers tend to think that most games are buggy and unstable by default, and there's not much that can be done about it. This isn't true at all. From personal experience I can tell you that it's entirely possible to get virtually any game running with stability, as long as you tend to your own PC. So if you're having problems, don't fret. With a few simple tweaks, the ability to game with stability, unlike the Grail, will be within your grasp.

How Stable is Stable?

Different people seem to have different ideas of what the word "stable" means when it comes to PC gaming. Let's push away all those other ideas and get something clear in our minds: stable gaming means that you switch on your PC, you load up a game, and you play it for as long as you like without it crashing, freezing, glitching or otherwise making itself unplayable in any way. That's our goal.

Let's have more of this

Let's have more of this

...and less of this

...and less of this

Now I don't want to make it sound like it's all your fault if your games crash or have problems. Sure, some games have known bugs and quirks. But over many years of PC gaming I've yet to come across more than a handful of games which are truly so unstable that they can't be played for as long as I want without them going belly up at the first chance, especially after the first couple of patches are released. If you're having problems with smooth gaming, such as stuttering or lag, that's another thing altogether and is covered in my How to Get Rid of Lag article.

It's time we looked at some ways of getting your PC into shape so that it can last the distance with any game.

The Basics

You might know the drill, but let's run through it anyway. Here are several things you absolutely must do on any PC to make sure it's up to the task when it comes to gaming:

  • Update your drivers: Don't just install the latest graphics drivers (which for NVIDIA users can be found here), also make sure you grab the latest drivers for all of your other devices. Flaky audio drivers in particular are a known cause of gaming problems. Check the manufacturer's website for each and every one of your PC components. Even your router and DVD drive could do with some firmware updates.
  • Patch your games: In this day and age, when most games auto-update or at least let you know when a new update is available, there's really no excuse for not having your game patched up to the latest version.
  • Optimize Windows: Whichever version of Windows you're running, it's the foundation for your system. Anything wrong with the way Windows, your BIOS, or your hardware is configured and guess what - you're going to have problems. Run through this Windows Optimization Guide which comes in a handy PDF format.

I'll bet you dollars to donuts that you'll tell me you've already done these things. OK, I'll take your word for it, but I had to make sure. We'll move on to looking more closely at the most common causes of gaming instability.


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