Whether you’ve just bought a new computer, built one or have owned one for several years, it’s hard to know what’s best for your PC when it starts to get slow, even if you’re a Mac owner!
Fret not, for there are solutions to your problems, no matter what kind of PC owner you are: buyer, builder or longtime owner. Here’s what we reckon you should try.
Easy solution: Limit how many applications you have open
This could sound like a difficult, almost unachievable, solution for many of you, but let’s break it down because it’ll likely make a difference.
Basically, the more applications you have open, the more power your computer will consume and the more resources your computer will devote to keeping applications at optimal speed.
Applications, mind you, applies to both windowed apps (so apps you use in any given moment, such as Google Chrome, Steam or Discord) and apps running in the background (so OneDrive, Microsoft Teams and Spotify). When we say resources, we mean CPU power and RAM, which are the main things that keep your computer operating fast.
What do you do about these? You close them and try to limit what ones are open. Basically, when you have too many apps open at any given time, your PC might be devoting CPU and RAM operations towards multiple applications, impacting the speed of the application you’re using and therefore showing noticeable signs of being a slow PC.
How do I solve this? To pull this solution off, start by closing whatever unnecessary apps you have open on your taskbar (these will be highlighted by some indicator in both the Windows taskbar and the Mac dock).
For background apps on Windows devices, you can close these through different means: Either by showing “Hidden Icons” by clicking the upwards arrow on the taskbar, or by opening Task Manager (you can search for this on the taskbar). Quit and end the process of any background applications you don’t need open at the moment (an easy example of this is closing Spotify, which can be a bit of a system resources hog).
Additionally, limiting what apps open on startup can result in faster performance. To solve this on Windows, in your taskbar, search for “Startup apps” or click the “Startup” tab in Task Manager.
Specific solution: Close all your gosh dang tabs (or, maybe, consider a Chrome alternative)
Close all the tabs you don’t use! Slow PCs can typically be sped up by closing some of the unused, idling tabs that you’re not using, be them in a different window or the same window that you’re using.
This is a suggestion that I can’t get over recommending to people. When I benchmark laptops (such as the Surface Laptop Studio and the Huawei MateBook Pro) I typically make note of how many tabs can be open before lag starts to become apparent. The Surface Laptop Studio, for example, started to lag after 20-some YouTube tabs were open.
That laptop, mind you, is a super expensive one (over $4,000) so consider that if you have a much cheaper laptop, it might not be able to run as many tabs without lag becoming noticeable.
How do I solve this? Close your unnecessary tabs! Sometimes it can be that simple.
Alternatively, if you want to try something a bit radical, consider a Google Chrome alternative. Google Chrome is a pretty notorious system resources hog, taking up much more RAM and processing power than some other web browsers, so it might be worth considering another browser.
Self-care solution: Cleanup your hard drive
Modern computers (and smartphones, for that matter) leverage hard drives to assist the RAM and CPU in accessing virtual memory, which means it’s important to not fill your hard drive up to the max if you want optimal performance. However, this isn’t a primary solution. As Chron explains, while the hard drive does impact the overall performance of a PC, it doesn’t play as crucial a role as the RAM and CPU in terms of speed.
That being said, a filled hard drive will likely lead to slower PC speeds, in basic terms. It’s good to have several gigabytes free if you want an optimal experience.
How do I solve this? Start by moving any large, amassable files (such as all your photos and videos) you have to a different storage unit. For some, this could mean moving your stuff to a separate hard drive on the PC, but for others, this could mean moving your files to a portable hard drive or a USB.
If you’re after a more advanced solution involving data breakdowns, I recommend installing WizTree, to visualise what files have the biggest impact on your hard drive. I used this app earlier in the year to help clean up my SSD hard drive and found several games installed that I didn’t realise I had downloaded. It’s also remarkably easy to use.
Advanced solution: Install more RAM
This solution might be best suited for advanced PC users, like those who build their own PCs, but it’s as valid a solution as you can get. RAM is one of the most important PC components if you want fast speeds, so if you can have more of it, the better.
It can get quite technical to solve your slow PC woes with this solution, however, it’s worth attempting if you’re able to. Here’s how.
How do I solve this? Firstly, if you’re going to install more RAM, you need to do one of two things: You either need to install the SAME type of RAM in your PC (down to the clock speed, model and capacity) that you already have, or you need to install a fresh lot of RAM. This is for functionality purposes: Your PC won’t work well if you don’t do this.
More than that, if you’ve purchased RAM with a higher-than-normal speed, make sure it’s operating at that speed. For example, if you purchased 16GB of RAM that operates at 3,200 MHz, check if it’s operating at that speed in Task Manager, under the “Memory” section. If it isn’t, you’ll need to fix this through the XMP settings in your PC bios (We recommend Googling your motherboard model or your PC model if you need to do this, for a step-by-step walkthrough, as it varies from model to model).
If you’re using a prebuilt PC, only get compatible RAM. This should be easy to find if your prebuilt PC has a specific model (for Mac users, this is super easy).
How much RAM do I actually need? Speaking from experience, as somebody who recently upgraded from 16GB RAM to 32GB RAM (3,200 MHz), I found an immediate performance boost when using Google Chrome across two monitors. I’m able to have all the tabs I need open running at any given time. This much RAM has also allowed me to play a game on one screen while watching Twitch on the other.
Jumping from 16GB to 32GB didn’t provide more frames in gaming or make the system faster overall, but it did give me the option to have more things open at once without seeing speeds or frames drop, which is why it’s worth considering.