Having a slow computer can become very frustrating, especially if you don’t know what’s causing it. It can delay your productivity, and ruin your experience when gaming.
But what’s the reason for a slow computer? Is it due to a bottleneck in your system or is there another problem at play?
Understanding the difference between a slow computer and a bottlenecked one is very important so that you can take the proper action to identify the problem and fix it.
So, how do you tell the difference between a slow computer and a bottleneck?
A slow computer refers to a computer that is not performing well, while a bottleneck is due to a specific component causing a reduction in the overall performance. A slow computer will have multiple causes, while a bottleneck is only a specific one.
In this article, we will provide an in-depth guide on how to identify the cause of a slow computer and how to fix it. We will go through the different causes of having a slow computer as well as different causes of having a bottleneck in your system.
After reading this guide you should be able to troubleshoot and fix your slow computer and go back to what you were doing; whether that was high-performance gaming or an increase in productivity.
Understanding What a Bottleneck is
The reason a bottleneck happens in a computer is due to a specific component or process that is causing a loss in performance to the whole system. This happens when one part of the system is not able to keep up with the other parts of the system. This creates a bottleneck that will slow down your entire computer.
The most common bottlenecks are found in the CPU, GPU, and memory.
The CPU, or central processing unit, is responsible for processing all the instructions that your computer receives. When it’s overworked, it can create a bottleneck that slows down the entire system.
The GPU, or graphics processing unit, is responsible for rendering images and video on your computer. When it’s overworked, it can create a bottleneck that slows down the entire system.
Memory is responsible for storing data that the CPU and GPU need to access quickly. When the memory is full, it can create a bottleneck that slows down the entire system.
All these parts create a bottleneck because they are overwhelmed with information that the rest of the computer can process, but they can’t.
When a bottleneck happens it can significantly impact the performance of your computer. Delaying the amount of work you can get done, and can also reduce your FPS performance when gaming.
My old computer used to bottleneck all the time and when I played certain video games I wasn’t able to get over 100 FPS even though I used a really powerful GPU at the time an “RTX 2080 Ti”. The reason was that my CPU was bottlenecking my system because it was so old.
That’s why it is very important in identifying which computer components have the potential to bottleneck your system.
One of the most common ways to identify bottlenecks is by using performance monitoring tools.
These are just some of the tools that I use to monitor my system, but there are many more out there to choose from.
These tools can provide detailed information about the performance of each component, which can help identify which component is causing a bottleneck. Additionally, observing system resource usages, such as CPU, GPU, and memory usage can also help identify bottlenecks.
Once a bottleneck has been identified, it can be fixed by upgrading or replacing the specific component that is causing the bottleneck. For example, if the CPU is causing a bottleneck, upgrading to a faster CPU can improve the performance of the computer.
If the GPU is causing a bottleneck, upgrading to a more powerful GPU can improve the performance of the computer. If the memory is causing a bottleneck, adding more memory can improve the performance of the computer.
If you are interested in knowing more about bottlenecking computers, and how to specifically fix them.
I have written a very in-depth article on: “How to Tell if Your Computer is Bottlenecking.”
Understanding What a Slow Computer Is
You can tell you have a slow computer when your computer starts to not perform as well as it should. However, unlike bottlenecking, there are multiple factors that could be causing your computer to slow down.
- Lack of memory
- Outdated hardware
- Malware in the computer
Lack of Memory
One of the most common causes of having a slow computer is the lack of memory in your PC. If the memory on your computer is full then it will cause your computer to slow down.
The reason for this is that when your computer runs out of short-term memory, that comes from your RAM, it will then have to start retrieving data from your hard drive or SSD, which is much slower than your RAM speed.
If you want to learn more about how memory works then check out: “Improve Ram Performance”
Another common cause for having a slow computer is outdated hardware. As technology improves, the hardware in your computer system also needs to improve if you want to keep the same performance as it used to.
More and more games are coming out with better graphics settings, and software is requiring a lot more power to compute the tasks it used to, and eventually, the components in your computer won’t be able to keep up.
A computer that was high-end just a couple of years ago, would no longer be able to play the latest AAA games at max settings without seeing a performance dip. This isn’t a big deal to most people as they would still be able to play the game.
However, if you own a computer that’s more than around 10 years old, then you will notice a lot of performance issues because it is out of date.
Malware is another common cause of a slow computer. Malware is software that is designed to harm a computer. It can slow down a computer by consuming resources and causing errors. It can also steal personal information, delete files and cause other problems.
Symptoms of a slow computer include:
- Slow Startup
- Slow program execution
- System Freezes
To prevent malware from slowing down your computer it is important to regularly update the software and hardware of your computer.
The reason for this is that it adds extra protection against these malware attacks against your computer.
Another line of defense is to install anti-malware software such as McAfee, or Norton. However, this is also something to be careful of because this anti-malware software can also cause your computer to slow down.
I know this from experience because when I was a kid I had McAfee installed on my laptop and it absolutely destroyed my laptop’s performance, slowing it down so much I had to get rid of the anti-virus software.
My recommendation is that if you want that extra layer of safety just enable Windows firewall on your computer and only use that. As these 3rd party anti-virus softwares will slow down the performance of your computer.
Additionally, regular maintenance such as disk cleanup, disk defragment, and disk error checking can help keep the computer running smoothly.
In summary, a slow computer is a general term that refers to a computer that is not performing as well as it should. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as lack of memory, outdated hardware, or even malware. Symptoms of a slow computer include a slow startup, slow program execution, and system freezes.
Seeing a performance dip in your computer can decrease your productivity and experience when gaming. There are many causes for seeing the performance of your computer decrease, but it is very important for you to understand whether it’s because your computer is just slowing down or if it’s due to something like a bottleneck in your system.
Once you are able to identify the issue it is up to you to fix it so that you can get your computer to start running like it was new again.