Did you just get a new Windows laptop and are planning to use it for gaming? You’ll need to know how to optimize your laptop for gaming performance. Thankfully, optimizing your PC for gaming is fairly easy to do, although can take a while. We’ve compiled the top 18 things you can do right now to increase and optimize your PC for gaming.
No matter what type of Windows PC you have, including 2-in-1 laptops or gaming laptops with long battery life, there’s always something you can do to run games on your laptop with higher FPS, more efficiency, and smoother gameplay.
Let’s hop right into it!
What Is Optimization?
In short, optimization is the process of changing settings on your PC to get the best performance that you can for your gaming PC. There are many things you can do to optimize your PC – with the result aiming to create the best gaming experience for you.
An optimized gaming PC will offer you smoother gameplay, higher frames per second, and will allow you to run your game’s graphics settings at the maximum settings. If you’re interested in optimizing gaming performance for your Windows PC, then make sure to read through our 18 steps to optimize your laptop!
18 Ways To Optimize Your Windows PC
As we’ve mentioned, there are certain tricks and tips that you can fiddle with on your Windows PC to improve gaming performance. Optimizing your PC for gaming isn’t the only reason you would want to optimize your rig.
If you plan on going into the data science field or video editing Youtube videos, optimizing your device is also an excellent way to get the most out of it. Grab your Windows laptop, whether it’s a 2-in-1 laptop or a gaming rig, and let’s hop right into it.
Turn on Windows “Gaming Mode”
There are already built-in settings that allow you to optimize your laptop if you have a Windows device. Windows knows that its users are very likely to be gamers, so there’s already a game mode available for you to use. Your Windows PC supports game mode, so follow these simple steps to activate it:
- Open up your Windows Search Box, and type “Gaming“.
- This should take you to Game Mode Settings, click on it.
- Open you’ve navigated to the Game Mode Settings, turn on “Gaming Mode“
Turn off your Notifications
While this may not directly optimize gaming, turning off notifications on your Windows PC is a must if you want to play games uninterrupted. The worst feeling is playing League and then getting a notification to upgrade Zoom to the paid version. Here’s how to turn off your notifications:
- Open your Windows Search Box, and type “Focus Assist“.
- Once there, navigate to the settings and change your notification settings to “Do Not Disturb“.
- You can also turn on the setting, “Turn on Do No Disturb Automatically” to ensure that you never have to touch these settings again.
- You can also exempt the notifications to only be turned off when you’re playing games, click “when playing a game“.
Turn on Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling
If you’ve purchased a laptop that comes with a high-end GPU, there’s plenty you can do to optimize the performance of your device and reduces latency. Navigate back to your Game Mode as you did in the first step and complete the following:
- Search for Graphics Settings.
- Turn on Hardware-accelerated GPU Scheduling.
- From there, you can navigate to your “graphics performance preference” – which you can change settings for depending on the game. We recommend changing it to high performance for each game where you want to maximize your performance.
Remove enhance pointer precision/mouse acceleration
One of the most complementary devices you can have for a Windows gaming laptop is a gaming mouse. If you want to upgrade your mouse game and change your mouse settings, follow our step-by-step guide.
- Open up your classic Windows Search Box and type “Mouse Pointer“
- From there, click on mouse pointer display or speed and find the setting that is marked as “motion”.
- Once you’ve found the setting, untick the “enhance pointer precision” option. Then select apply. This should allow for your mouse to refresh quicker, disable mouse acceleration, and function at a higher level – this is also useful if you’re studying computer science.
Update and Expand Your Drivers
If you’re like us, sometimes we forget to update your operating system. If you have a gaming laptop, then you also have to update your drivers too! By updating your drivers, you can gain access to more system resources and also work more efficiently together.
If you have an Nvidia graphics card, you can download GeForce Experience and then update your drivers from there – you just need to check on it regularly. Turn them on and you’ll be notified of when your graphics cards need updating.
If you’re planning to use your laptop as a monitor for playing PS4 games, then we especially recommend that you do this!
Turn on Nvidia G-Sync
Nvidia G-Sync is a beautiful tool that matches your monitor’s refresh rate with the frames per second that you’re receiving when you’re playing games. This is a real treat when you’re gaming and ensures that your screen doesn’t tear or have visual glitches as you play.
Head over to your Windows Display Settings, following the steps we’ve outlined previously, and then simply turn on your G-Sync from there. Any games that you play should match your display settings and the refresh rate of your monitor.
We also recommend that you remove any stickers from your laptop that you have, as this will also affect your displays if they’re on you’re screen.
Adjust your monitor’s refresh rate
Sticking on screens and display settings for a moment, you’ll want to adjust your monitor’s refresh rate as well. If you have a new external monitor with your Windows gaming laptop, you’ll need to change the screen to reflect the gaming laptop’s refresh rate or you’ll be capped at about 60Hz. Here’s how you do it:
- Navigate to your Display Settings, which you may already be on if you followed our previous steps, from there find the advanced display settings.
- Find the refresh rate of your monitor, click the icon that lets you change it, and choose the highest one that your screen will allow.
This is important to do as even if you have a beautiful 4K monitor, it may still be restricted in both its resolution and refresh rate without some input from your end.
Use Ethernet Instead of Wifi
If you’re planning to play games online with friends or by yourself, you’re going to need a strong wifi connection. If you’re connected through wifi, you’ll still only get a portion of the data that you’re supposed to – this can be fixed with an ethernet cable.
An ethernet cable lets you connect directly to your internet connection and achieve the maximum number of data packets per second so that you don’t experience any lag on games that you play.
Ethernet cables are cheap and will last you a long time, just make sure your laptop has the proper port free for it to connect to!
Lower Your Games Resolution & Graphics
Not everyone can afford the latest and greatest gaming laptop that has hit the market. Most gamers will likely have a mid-range and more affordable gaming laptop with a graphics card that matches the price. If that’s the case then you’ll want to lower your game’s graphics settings for optimal gaming performance.
You can easily do this when you open settings in the game you’re playing, and we recommend that you lower the graphics settings and the visual in-game settings if you prefer maximum performance when you’re gaming.
Disable SuperFetch & PreFetch
SuperFetch & PreFetch are both part of the start-up process that your computer goes through when you tap the “On” button, and you can change settings on your computer to improve this functionality.
Having this feature turned on won’t necessarily help your gaming experience, but turning it off will allow you to not be bothered by applications booting up – if you’re planning on working around people on Google Classroom this can be useful. Here’s how to disable SuperFetch & PreFetch:
Open up Windows Task Manager and go to Run New Task. From there you’ll want to type “services.mse” and you should be shown a long list of Windows services. You’ll want to scroll down until you find SuperFetch.
Once you’ve located it, right-click on it and select Properties. Search for a section of the pop-up window called Start Up Type and select Disabled. Click Okay and you should be all good!
Disabling PreFetch is slightly more difficult than SuperFetch because you’re going to have to dive into the Windows Registry to do so but don’t worry, we’ve outlined the steps for you to do so:
As you’ve done before, open up your search bar and type in “Regedit” which should open up your registry editor. Using the left-hand side options, you’re going from System to CurrentControlSet, then Control, Session Manager, Memory Management, and finally Prefetch Parameters.
Find “EnablePreFetcher” and change the 32-bit value under the data column to “0“.
Remove Bloatware From Your PC
If you want to use Windows 10 for gaming, then you need to be aware of the bloatware that comes with the operating system. Whenever you engage in a Windows update, certain programs will add themselves to your laptop and hinder gaming performance.
Bloatware is obtrusive because it saps your PC’s storage and processing power. It can also impede playing games online with annoying notifications that pop up consistently. If you want to remove bloatware and optimize Windows 10 and above, you don’t need a computer science degree – simply follow our steps to get rid of annoying bloatware.
- Navigate to your Control Panel and head to Programs and Features. You should be presented with a long list of programs and features that are currently on your device.
- Find the programs that are commonly referred to as bloatware, for Windows 10 some examples include QuickTime, CCleaner, uTorrent, etc. You can find a comprehensive list of bloatware for your operating system easily online.
- Click Uninstall and confirm their removal. Repeat this for each piece of bloatware that you find.
Optimize power settings
Gaming needs as much of your CPU and GPU processing power as it can get, so ensuring that your Windows laptop is set for PC gaming is a must. Thankfully, Windows already has additional power settings for you to optimize your power settings to create an excellent game performance. Follow these steps to do so:
At the bottom left of your screen you should see a little battery icon, right click it and select “Power Options“. Once there, you should find a setting that says “Show additional plans” and select the high-performance power plan your device has.
If you have a desktop computer, you won’t see the battery icon. You can optimize your setting under your device’s Control Panel underneath Power Settings. The next steps from there should be the same.
This also will allow your computer to operate better overall, making using apps like Cricut Explore Air 2 and Adobe Illustrator much easier to use.
Disable Steam’s Auto-Updating
One of the most common game libraries is Steam, which holds a wealth of modern games for you to buy and play. However, one small nitpick of Steam is that it may begin to update games while you’re playing, hindering your gaming performance.
When a game updates, it uses storage, your internet connection, and the processing capabilities of your PC to do so. You can see why turning this off would make sense.
All you have to do is open Steam, then navigate to its Settings (usually in a drop-down under the “Steam” icon). From there, go to Downloads and ensure that “Allow downloads during gameplay” is unticked. Steam should have it this way as the default but it’s always good to double-check.
Remove Nagle’s Algorithm
No, Nagle’s Algorithm isn’t a mathematical theorem but a way for slower latency computers to get the most out of a small internet connection. It’s mainly used to reduce the number of packets your router or ethernet cable sends to your computer, but a bad idea if you’re playing an online game.
For better performance for your laptop and its processor, here’s how you turn off Nagle’s Algorithm. You’ll want to open up Windows Powershell, which you may have used already to remove bloatware before. enter “ipconfig” and make a note of your IPv4 Address.
Open up your Windows Registry, and find the folder Interfaces under the Parameters. There should be quite a few folders within Interfaces, but the one that you want is “DhcpIPAddress” with the corresponding IP Address matching your own.
Next, and you’ll need to pay special attention to do this correctly, but right-click while in this folder and add a new Dword 32-bit folder named “TcpAckFrequency” and give it a value of “1“. Do this again, naming the second folder “TCPNoDelay“, also with a value of “1“.
After this, exit out and restart your PC – Nagle’s Algorithm should be disabled for good!
Overclock your GPU
If your Windows PC is already running well, but you still find that your pc gaming performance is slow or stuttered, then overclocking your GPU is the next step.to get the most out of all your games.
You’re only going to need a free overclocking tool like MSI Afterburner and a Directx diagnostic tool to keep track of your PC’s temperature and speed. Overclocking makes your PC performance quicker by increasing its clock frequency (more actions per second), as well as increasing the fan speed and processing ability.
Keep an eye on the temperature of your device while you’re doing this as overclocking can overheat your PC. The best part is that all laptop’s GPUs can be overclocked, whether you have your laptop for gaming or for studying in college, it works with all modern multi-core processors.
Keep your PC Cool When Gaming
When your laptop is in game mode, your GPU drivers are running hot, and your gaming performance is demanding, it’s unsurprising that your PC will get quite hot to the touch as it’s running everything.
There are quite a few different ways to ensure that your PC is kept cool, including purchasing a cooling pad to place your laptop on or adding a cooling loop to your desktop PC. We also recommend that you clean your laptop or desktop PC regularly with canned air and a brush.
Keep it clean and cool are words that PC gamers live by, so make sure to follow suit and stop your graphics processing unit (GPU) from overheating.
Add more RAM
Finally, one of the best ways to get the best gaming performance out of your gaming laptop is to add more RAM to your device. Additional RAM will allow your PC to draw upon more temporary memory and speed up the background processes that your PC goes through when you’re gaming.
Certain laptops and most desktops offer the option to upgrade your RAM storage, giving you the chance to enter game mode without worry that your storage will be used up quickly. This method of optimization is probably the most expensive out of all the methods we’ve mentioned but is a worthy investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve covered quite a few ways to optimize your Windows laptop and we do not doubt that if you follow our tips and tricks, you’ll be able to enjoy better game performance overall. Throughout this article, you may have had certain questions about gaming performance and optimization, and we’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions below for you to peruse through.
If you’re happy with the results, then feel free to read our other articles about the best SSD laptops under $500 and the top gaming laptops under $300.
How Do I Increase My FPS For Gaming?
If you have a powerful laptop that’s still struggling to run games at a decent FPS, then following our tips will help bring them up to a decent amount. Keep in mind that certain games have very demanding requirements to play and your laptop may not be as compatible to run them. Here are some things that can help increase your FPS:
- Lower your game settings from High to Medium or Low.
- Add more RAM to your device.
- Enter Windows Game Mode for a more efficient experience.
You can also add an in-game FPS counter to see if there are any moments where your FPS drops dramatically.
How Do I Maximise Optimization For Windows PC
By following the steps on our article page, you should be able to maximize how much your Windows PC is optimized. If you’re not a gamer, there’s still a lot of value to gain from optimizing your PC.
We recommend always checking for updates and drivers as they will improve gaming performance and non-gaming performance. Always keep tabs on your storage and RAM, upgrading them if necessary. And remove any bloatware that is added to your PC with each operating system update.
How Often Should I Optimize My PC
Great question! We recommend that you check on your PC about once a month, to see if everything is working smoothly. You can run your GPU through its paces using an Nvidia control panel and see the temperature of your PC with a diagnostics tool.
You should physically clean your PC during this time too, paying special attention to the screen, keyboard, and the spaces where dust and debris may accumulate.
Get out there and optimize! When you purchase a new PC, it’s easy to settle in and accept what you’ve bought but your PC often has more potential than you think. Optimization is harmless if done right and can only increase the usefulness of your device, Google Chromebook, or HP laptop.
And once you’ve learned how to do it, there’s not stopping you from helping younger and older members of your family with optimizing their Windows PC too!
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.