As gamers, we’ve all played a game all night or simply fell asleep with the thing running in the background.

Depending on your settings, your PC might pull the plug while you’re drooling in your gaming chair, completely lost to the rest of the world, or it might not. 

PCs have several settings that allow you to control what happens when your computer is idle for a certain amount of time. 

Most of us use them to a minor degree because no one really considers face planting on their keyboard and leaving everything running while we’re off to never-never land.

However, we do have to deal with those excruciatingly long updates or game downloads.

Is It Bad To Leave A Game Running On Your PC Overnight?

A gamer asleep beside his computer

So long as your PC isn’t running too hot or the cooling system isn’t running full out to keep your PC from overheating, it’s generally okay to leave a game running on your PC overnight. However, it’s not a good idea to make it a habit. Keep in mind that all PC components do have a lifespan and the amount of heat they are subjected to can play a large part in determining how long they live. 

There are a lot of reasons to let a PC just do its thing while we snooze the night away, whether it’s downloading multiple updates, DLC, new games, or something you need to do in-game. 

Just be sure that your fan isn’t running so hard that it’s liable to wake the neighbors and it should be fine. 

There’s always the potential for a power surge and, most of the time, you don’t have anything to worry about, especially if your PC is connected to a surge protector. 

There is a strong possibility that if you make a habit out of running it all night that PC performance will decrease as you chew through the lifespan components over time.

In other words, don’t make a bad habit out of sleeping all night with a PC game running in the background.

Unless you have a good reason for doing it, it’s not in anyone’s best interest to leave it running. While it may not hurt anything in the short term, there is also the fact that it wastes electricity while you’re counting sheep.

If you must regularly run your PC throughout the night – to run games or otherwise – at least make sure your computer is free of dust. If your PC is clogged with dust it will be much more prone to heating up.

For virtually all of the fans within your PC, a few blasts from a can of compressed air will remove most dust. Just make sure that you are aiming the blasts of air so that you are blowing dust out into the environment and away from the internals of your computer.

Also, consider your monitor. Monitors have limited lifespans that are directly impacted by how long their backlight is left on and how bright it is set to. So, try to switch your monitor off, even if you have to leave your PC running.

Related Article: Are All-In-One PCs Good For Gaming? (What You Should Know)

Can I Put My PC In Sleep Mode While A Game Is Running?

You can put your PC in sleep mode while a game is running, however, many games will probably end up dropping off at some point. 

Some won’t. It just depends on the game and what its operating parameters are. For example, Elden Ring won’t quit but it will dump you off the network from time to time while the PC is in sleep mode. 

It also depends on the PC. You might be able to put it in sleep mode and a different PC will let you do the same thing but will drop the same game.

Simpler games, such as Minecraft will probably keep running no matter what you do, with the exception of turning your PC off, while other games might restart since the connection is lost. 

Remember, when you put your computer in sleep mode, you are essentially putting everything in sleep mode with just enough power to keep the RAM going. That means you are essentially putting your game into sleep mode as well. How the game handles that depends entirely on the game. 

Games don’t control the operating system settings that you have going on your PC. So, if you were downloading a game and worried that your PC will peace out right in the middle of it, you will have to go into your settings and change how often your PC dozes off. 

If you’re worried that it will hurt your PC if it goes into sleep mode while a game is running, you needn’t be.

Worst case scenario, your game will freeze up because it is the type of game that is almost wholly dependent on a network connection and it loses its mind whenever the connection is lost.

Is It Bad To Leave A Game Running On Your Laptop Overnight?

It is bad to leave a game running on your laptop overnight only if it is a processor-intensive game, meaning it is putting a lot of strain on your GPU and causing your laptop to increase its cooling measures. You don’t want those fans running in overdrive all night long.

Due to their compact design, laptops usually don’t handle cooling or resource-intensive processes as well as desktop computers. So unless you know your laptop is exceptional at both of these things, I wouldn’t leave a game running on it overnight.

If your cooling system bugs out while you’re dreaming on the couch, you might have more problems than you care to have when you wake up in the morning. Also, as we mentioned above, every component on your laptop or desktop has a finite lifespan. Use that lifespan up at your own discretion. 

However, using it up by leaving it on for no reason may not be the best idea. One of the original assumptions was that every time you turn your PC on, there is a surge of power and it will shorten the lifespan of the PC or laptop. 

To be honest, there is a small surge of power but it’s not going to shorten the lifespan of your laptop.

Sure, you shorten the lifespan of some of your components if you consistently have games running in the background all of the time and laptops aren’t the world’s best at cooling.

Components running hot hour after hour are going to have a much greater impact on your laptop’s lifespan.

However, as long as you’re not running something that seriously tasks your GPU’s capabilities, there’s not much harm in it. Gamers already know that shortening the lifespan is only relevant if the laptop is going to be upgraded once every ten years or so, which is not how long gamers wait to upgrade.

But as long as you have a stable computer that isn’t too underpowered and doesn’t randomly crash, you will arrive back to it in the morning exactly the way you left it the night before.

If the game you left running is heavy on the GPU or CPU your electric bill will go up about as much as if you left a couple of lights on overnight, not much.

For How Long Can I Leave A Game Running On My PC?

You’re not going to find a requirement on your PC that states, “turn the PC off if you go to sleep for the night.” As long as your PC isn’t screaming hot with your cooling system firing on all cylinders, you’re completely fine to leave a game running on your PC for as long as you want to. 

You run into some of the long-term issues that we mentioned above, of course, but it’s not too big of a deal if you don’t make a bad habit out of it. There’s no set limitation on how long you can allow your game to run. 

Okan Kaya, a Sydney, Australia sales manager, once ran a session of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 for over 135 hours straight, which is a world record for those who keep track of such things.  

Before that, Christopher Gloyd and Timothy Bell of Canadian fame had the record with 120 hours of Resistance on the Playstation 3. Of course, someone once died by playing Diablo 3 for over 40 hours, so seeing how long you can run a game on your PC might not always be the best decision in the world.

Is It OK To Leave My PC On All Night To Download Games

It is OK to leave your PC on all night to download games as long as it’s not too regular of an occurrence. As in, doing it every other day versus doing it occasionally when the situation merits it, it’s perfectly fine to leave your computer on all night while downloading games, updates, or DLC. 

In today’s world, it’s not like downloading the original Super Mario Bros. Some of these games are absolutely enormous and it can take quite a while to download one, especially if your internet speeds aren’t the most robust in the world.

Just check out the size of some of these newer titles:

  • ARK: Survival Evolved including all DLCs: 275GB
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: 231GB
  • Quantum Break: 178GB
  • Destiny 2: ShadowKeep: 165GB
  • Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War: 165GB
  • Red Dead Redemption 2: 150GB
  • Final Fantasy XV: 150GB
  • Hitman 2: 149GB
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege: 131GB
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator: 127GB

As you can see, if you just downloaded these top ten games (in terms of file size), you could eat up half of your hard drive in a hurry, assuming you have a couple of TB worth of storage capacity. 

Not only that but depending on your internet speed, all of these can take a pretty long time to download. So, if you want to catch a prolonged nap while these download in the background overnight, you can get away with it, so long as you aren’t doing it all of the time.

All Things Considered

If you have an expensive rig, it’s understandable that you might be a little concerned about doing it damage by having a game running all night. It’s hard not to want to physically place a force field around your $2,000 setup. 

In the grand scheme of things, however, you’re probably going to upgrade those components long before you choke the life out of them. So, feel free to rest your face on your desk for the night as the gaming world goes on. You can clean up the drool in the morning. Just don’t get it on your keyboard.