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HP Notebook PCs - Computer Locks Up or Freezes When Playing a Game

This document pertains to HP Notebook PCs with Windows 7 and Vista.
When playing a game, the computer may lock up or freeze. The lights stay on the mouse and keyboard, but the screen freezes and doesn't respond to keys that are pressed. This can occur after few hours of playing, and other times before the game has completely started. In some cases, the game can be stopped and restarted. In other cases, the computer must be shutdown and restarted.
There are actions you can take depending on if the computer locks up or freezes with one specific game, or with more than one game. Use the troubleshooting steps according to your problem.

If the problem occurs with only one game:

Perform one or more of the following procedures to resolve the problem of computer lockups that occur while playing a specific game:

Update the game's software

Game manufacturers frequently release patches on their web sites to repair known bugs, flaws, compatibility, and game play issues.
  1. Consult the game manufacturer's web site for updates, patches, and other support information.
  2. If the game manufacturer's site does not offer patches or other support for the game, go to the Microsoft website and search on the text "problem with game name."
  3. Download and install the patches or updates according to the instructions provided.
  4. After installing the manufacturer’s update, try playing the game again to determine if the problem still occurs.
  5. If the Microsoft or manufacturer's web sites do not offer any solutions, or if the problem persists, continue to another section of this document for more troubleshooting tips.

Check the software requirements

Before playing a game, read the printed software material that came with the game for system requirements.
  • Locate the minimum system requirements in the printed documentation that accompanied the game.
  • Compare your computer’s specifications to the game’s minimum system requirements.
  • If the computer does not meet the minimum requirements, you may need to upgrade the needed components, or find a game that is compatible with the computer.
  • If the computer meets the minimum system requirements, and the problem persists, continue to another section of this document for more troubleshooting tips.

Read the Readme file

Before playing a game, read the game's Readme file for any known problems and solutions.
  1. Insert the game disk. Close the game if it starts to load automatically.
  2. Click Start and then Computer.
  3. Right-click the disk drive containing the game disk, and select Explore.
  4. Double-click the Readme file and follow the instructions contained in the file. (The file name may be similar to readme.txt, readme.doc, etc.).
  5. If the Readme file does not contain a solution for your problem, or if the problem persists, continue to another section of this document for more troubleshooting tips.

Update system software

If you experience a consistent problem with multiple games or programs on the computer, a software patch may be available for updating the BIOS and video card software.
To learn how to search for updates and drivers using HP Support Assistant, see Using HP Support Tools to Update HP Software, Drivers, and BIOS with Windows 7.
If no updates are available for the BIOS or for the video card, or if the problems persist, continue to another section of this document for more troubleshooting tips.

Change the video display settings

Many games require a specific screen resolution or color setting. To change the video display settings to match the minimum display requirements for the game, perform the following actions:
  1. To open the Display Settings panel, right-click an open space of the Windows desktop (not on an icon), and then click Personalize, Display Settings.
  2. Change the colors and screen area resolution to match the game’s recommended settings. (See the software package for minimum display requirements.)
  3. Click OK to accept the change. If prompted, accept the new settings. The display will revert to its prior settings if the settings changes are not accepted.
  4. If prompted, select the option to restart the computer, and try playing the game again. If the problem persists, continue to another section of this document for more troubleshooting tips.

If the problem occurs with more than one game

Perform one or both of the following procedures to resolve the problem of computer lockups that occur when playing any game:

Close unneeded programs to increase system resources

It is possible to increase the system resources without adding memory. Many programs or processes start in the background when the computer starts up. Most of these processes are needed by commonly used applications, but can slow the gaming performance. To close any unnecessary programs, follow the steps below.
  1. Close any programs that are not needed to play the game. Be sure to close, rather than just minimize, any word processor or e-mail or IM programs.
  2. To temporarily close programs running in the background (which will start running again when the computer is restarted), follow the steps below.
    1. Press ctrl+alt+delete. Click Start Task Manager.
    2. Select a program name and click End Task to close all programs, except the game being played.
    3. If the problem persists, continue to another section of this document for more troubleshooting tips.

Removing and reinstalling the display adapter

Through regular use, it is possible that programs or files may have altered the display adapter settings. To restore the default settings, remove the display adapter from device manager and reinstall it.
  1. Click Start, enter hardware in the search field and select Hardware and Sound from the list.
  2. Click View hardware and devices with device manager.
  3. Click Continue if prompted.
  4. In the device manager window, double-click Display adapters to expand the list and select the display adapter that appears below it.
  5. Right-click that display adapter, and select Uninstall from the menu that appears.
  6. Click OK when the confirmation appears.
  7. Click the Scan for hardware changes button on the Device Manager taskbar.
  8. Windows Vista scans your computer for hardware and supplies default drivers for any hardware that is lacking drivers.
  9. After reinstalling the adapter, try playing the game again to see if the problem is resolved. If the problem persists, continue to another section of this document for more troubleshooting tips.

Install the latest video chipset drivers

Updating the video driver can fix a wide variety of video problems and software compatibility issues. Follow the steps below to install the latest video driver updates.
  1. Before installing drivers connect the PC to the AC adapter and a working outlet.
  2. Go to the HP Software and Drivers Download site for your model notebook.
  3. Select your Operating System and scroll down to the Driver - Graphics section.
  4. Download and install the latest graphics driver.
If the troubleshooting tips in this document have not solved the problem, contact the software manufacturer for further assistance.

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