Does your computer randomly turn itself off when you're playing The Sims 3? Does it simply shut itself down mid-game? You may be experiencing an overheating issue. Find out how to identify it and how to correct it in this guide.
1. Is my computer at risk?
You may think that overheating should not be an issue for your computer because you have a great CPU (processor) and graphics card. The reality is, it is exactly these kinds of computers which are most at risk.
It all has to do with the number of frames per second the game is generating. Your eye is unlikely to notice any difference in frame rates above 60 frames per second for a game like The Sims 3. However, the game has no way of limiting the number of frames your graphics card will attempt to generate. So if you have a really great graphics card, it will generate a ridiculously high number of frames per second which will generate a lot of heat.
When your processor and/or graphics card becomes too hot, your computer will turn off to protect itself from damage. However, if your computer is repeatedly pushed to high temperatures, your graphics card or processor could still be damaged in the long term, despite this safety mechanism.
2a. Detecting overheating
If you're playing on a laptop, it may be very obvious that your laptop gets very very hot when it shuts off. You can feel that it is much hotter than normal.
On desktop PCs this isn't always obvious though, so you'll need a program to tell you how hot your computer gets.
Try using a program like CoreTemp or OpenHardwareMonitor to check the core temperature of your CPU. Check it before running the game, when your computer has just been switched on (ideally after being switched off for at least an hour). Then run the game for 10-15 minutes, and check the temperature again.
Recommended temperatures vary for different processors, but in general above 60C would be bad for a PC and above 70C would be bad for a laptop. If you're not sure about your CPU temperature, you can post in our forums for help.
2b. Detecting high frame rates
On my desktop, I struggled to find a core temperature monitor which was compatible with my hardware. So, instead of checking the core temperature, I monitored the framerate.
This is easily done by downloading a program such as FRAPS and setting it to overlay the frame rate onto a corner of your screen as you play.
Anything below 100 is not likely to be an issue. 100-200 fps is a little concerning, and over 200 is quite likely to cause problems. My frame rate hit 600 frames per second.
3. Limiting the frame rate
Once you've identified that overheating and/or a high frame rate is an issue for you, it's time to fix it!
Download FPS Limiter. This program was not created by us. It is provided as-is with no warranty.
Extract the contents of the archive to a folder on your computer, and run FPS_Limiter_GUI.jar
Click "search executable" and navigate to your The Sims 3 installation directory.
For Origin or disc installations this is usually C:\Program Files\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3\Game\Bin and the file you're looking for is TS3W.exe.
For Steam users, the folder is C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\the sims 3\Game\Bin and the file name is, as above, TS3W.exe.
If you are on a 64-bit system, you may need to look in Program Files (x86) instead of Program Files.
Choose a value for maximum fps. I chose 30, but 60 would also be a good choice. Then click the "create bat" button.
A new file called "TS3W.exe.limited.bat" will appear in the folder you extracted FPS Limiter to. This is the file that you now need to run when you want to play The Sims 3, instead of whatever you ran before. You can right-click it and choose "create shortcut", then drag it to your start menu or desktop for quick access.
As long as you always run from this new file instead of from the launcher or an old shortcut, your game's frame rate will be limited. If you continue to experience issues with your game, then the frame rate was not the problem.
If you are still experiencing overheating, your hardware may not be good enough to run the game, or your computer's cooling may be inadequate.
To improve your computer's cooling, try the following:
- Check the position of your computer in the room. Are any of the air vents covered up or restricted? Try to move it to a more open space if so.
- Open your computer's case and clean dust from your fans and from your system in general. A can of compressed air is particularly useful for doing this. A helpful guide is available here.
- If you use a laptop, consider purchasing a cooling stand with built-in fans. Using a cooling stand not only raises the laptop to a better position on your desk, allowing its ventilation to work better, but the built-in fans add extra cooling.
- PC users can also purchase better cooling. If you're not sure about how you can improve your PC's cooling, consult a local PC repair business or ask on our forums.
- Another tip for laptop users – do not play in bed! Or if you must, use a large tray to place your laptop on. Never place it directly onto sheets, mattresses, or duvets – these will block the air vents. Ideally, you should use your laptop at a desk.