Does Antivirus Affect Gaming Performance?

Does Antivirus Affect Gaming Performance?

Since their popularization in the 1990s, antivirus software (and later security suites) have continued to convince an ever-increasing number of users, both individuals, and professionals. Even more necessary with the arrival of the Internet, there is however a public more reluctant to install these solutions: the die-hard gamers.

PC gamers are known to be demanding. On the one hand on the hardware with configurations that many image and sound professionals would dream of, but also on the software side by taking care to install and run only the minimum necessary so as not to waste the precious resources that games need to run at their best. As a result, antivirus software, which was known as a resource consumer ten or twenty years ago, has always been the worst enemy of gamers, but is this reputation really true?

Gaming and antivirus

Nobody likes to be interrupted in their task by an intrusive notification or an unexpected pop-up from an antivirus or security suite. Most of us can easily resume what we were doing in a few seconds without much consequence, but for a gamer, that second of inattention can be a matter of life and death. In addition to this, there is the common belief that antivirus software reduces the performance of the PC. That’s all it took for our dear PC users to avoid all security suites, some even going so far as to want to disable Windows Defender.

By doing a simple search on Google, we can find many posts on forums from players who want to know if an antivirus is compatible with the game or complaining about a drop in performance since installing or updating security software.

Computing power

With the computing power that the latest processors are capable of, antivirus does not take as much computing power from the system as it did a decade ago. When it is running, an antivirus generally has two states: inactive (idle) and active (when it is performing a scan). It is during a scan that an antivirus consumes the most resources and, once again, this is in the order of one to two percent of computing power in the majority of cases. When inactive, the antivirus only scans recently added or modified files.


To detect malware, antivirus software needs to compare files and websites with a list of “fingerprints” of known threats. These fingerprints weigh almost nothing, but there are about ten million threats, so the list is quite large, ranging from about 200 to 400 MB, depending on the antivirus. To access this list quickly, they need to store it in a place with a fast reading speed. RAM is ideal for storing the list and offering a reaction time of a fraction of a second to detect a threat.

Some rules to follow for a safe gaming experience

Even if the use of an antivirus prevents many nuisances, zero risk does not exist. Some simple rules can be applied to better protect you during your video game adventure:

  • Avoid pirated games that may contain numerous viruses and other malicious programs. With opaque installation processes and often insecure sites. Peer-to-peer, the protocol often used to ensure the download of pirated games, is known to be one of the most effective vectors for the spread of malware.
  • In the same way, the pirate (private) servers of your favorite games can also be potentially dangerous. These servers are often less secure, leaving loopholes for malicious people to exploit to retrieve data or even find a backdoor to enter your computer.
  • To buy games at low prices, it can be tempting to turn to key resale sites. But some of these sites are not very secure or have unclear terms of use that do not protect users. So avoid these sites and prefer certified resellers to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  • A strong password will save you a lot of trouble, especially in preventing brute-force attacks. Today, many platforms and games require a complex password to prevent brute-force attacks, but remembering multiple complex passwords can be difficult, and a password manager will help.
  • Finally, you should not share your login credentials to a distribution platform (Steam, Epic, or any other retailer) with your friends and family on non-secure chat channels so that they do not leak in any way.
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