While PCs have multiple functions, some believe that even the most basic equipment can run the most demanding games on the market, but that is quite the opposite. Every piece of hardware has an expected use, and gaming falls into its category.
OEM or workstation builds may theoretically have all the hardware needed for light or intermediate gaming. Still, without software and hardware optimizations, the performance on the said device would be dismal. Learning to configure the proper settings in Windows 10 and 11 systems will give your PC a performance advantage with optimized settings.
This article covers everything you need to know for an optimized Windows gaming experience.
Optimizing Your Windows 10 or Windows 11 PC’s Settings for Gaming
There are many avenues for hardware and software optimizations for PC that support Windows 10 and 11. This article does not cover older operating systems like Windows 8 or 7 due to increased security risks and their incompatible or poor performance with most modern games.
Enable Gaming Mode
Windows 10 and 11 have a gaming mode that is on by default. Check the “Game Mode Settings” in the Windows search bar and if the optimization of your system is set to “ON.”
Update Any & All Drivers
and Important hardware like the motherboard, graphics card, and any connected 3rd party hardware. Some outdated drivers will cause a blue screen of deaths, and some bad drivers could cause frequent stuttering.
Windows 10 and 11 have integrated notification systems that programs can utilize this notification system without ”tabbing out” or switching the focus to a new window on the screen. However, some programs running in the background may take the opportunity to force a tab out during gameplay.
This behavior can be detrimental to any gaming experience, so stop programs like that from running in the background while gaming.
Turn On High-Performance Mode
Separate from gaming mode, high-performance mode enables the battery on laptops specifically to draw more to supply the GPU, CPU, and RAM with enough power to be performant during more demanding games.
Adjusting your power setting while on battery for laptops will enable an unhindered gaming performance. You should change this in the control panel under hardware, sound, and power options. High performance also applies to desktops unless you are undervolting/overclocking your system. In any case, test which settings are best for you before committing to one of the others.
Disable Nagle’s Algorithm
To those who have never heard of Nagle’s Algorithm, it is a protocol used primarily by Windows to gather smaller bits of importation before waiting to send a packet to a server. This networking protocol also applies to some networking services for video games, causing ping upwards of 300ms in some instances.
While some games may account for this algorithm and adjust their networking protocol, others do not; Learning how to turn off this option leads to significant latency decreases.
Close Unnecessary Background Processes
If you have an entry-level gaming CPU, playing a game with background processes like multiple web tabs, live streaming applications, or other processor-intensive activities.
Closing extra web tabs or live streams that require CPU and RAM processing will make games run faster as the CPU can focus on the game at hand.
Install / Update to DirectX 12.
Depending on your hardware, your system may qualify for a DirectX 12 upgrade. Going back to 2015, upgrading the GTX 600 series cards and upwards with DirectX 12 capabilities came with getting most Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10.
Adjust Your Start-Up Settings
On start-up, your PC processes all the necessary components for Windows to operate, followed by any 3rd party apps whose default state is to run in the background. Depending on the program, this can significantly tank your performance.
Programs like game launchers or security programs will often have an option to not run on start-up, making their impact within the first 5 minutes of the system being on significantly less stress.
Use an Ethernet Cable, Don’t Go Wireless
Internet preferences when playing multiplayer competitive games are a large part of the gaming experience. Ethernet is a general way to reduce ping and keep the connection between your PC and the game server.
That said, if you have to go wireless, ensure you are close to your modem to keep the signal strength consistent.
Adjust Mouse Settings for Greater Precision
FPS is everything to get the best game experience. Sensitivity options control the finer player movement in the menus of all games, which can make or break a game spending on your established DPI and mouse settings.
Depending on the game, there may be an arbitrary slider with no values; other games like CSGO have a value system up to 7 decimal points for minute input changes for pros.
Adjust Monitor Refresh Rate
Monitor refresh rates play a role in the overall smoothness of a game's frame rate. Capped refresh rates or FPS vary from game to game as some games depend on their engine restrictions.
Typically most competitive games triumph by having the highest refresh rate and FPS to have the most accurate data onscreen at any given time. Other games may limit FPS and refresh rate because game physics is tied to FPS, requiring a locked frame rate.
Enable Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync
The primary manufacturers of GPUs have their monitor side firmware to enable a seemly hand off between the GPU and monitor. This relationship is due to screen tearing which occurs when the FPS experienced is low or too high over the monitors' refresh rate.
You can check whether your monitor has G-Sync or FreeSync via the multiple lists available for AMD and Nvidia. Not having FreeSync or G-Sync isn't the end of the world, but instances of frame stuttering or screen tearing will be less evident.
Uninstall Unnecessary Programs & Bloatware
A typical practice for large system integrators or older Windows installs is to have an accumulation of unnecessary or optional 3rd part programs or what is known as “bloatware,” which takes away from the PC processing power over time.
Depending on how many programs there are, a new install of Windows may be to relieve all the bloat from unnecessary programs once and for all.
Defragment Your Hard Drive
If your storage device’s speed is lacking, defragmenting your disk may be a possible solution. Defragmenting consolidates the free space on your hard drive or SSD and moves large areas of free space together instead of in separate locations on the drive.
This process allows the system to reduce latency by cramming all programs into the available space. Hence, the physical laser head or NAN controller takes precious milliseconds to switch to a new data set on the other side of the disc.
Overclock Your Hardware
To hardware that supports it, overclocking your system is a great way to gain extra performance. Game performance depends on critical components like the CPU and GPU support overclocks. The effects of an ill-executed overclock cause GPU artifacts, blue screens of death, and in extreme cases,
Adjust Visual Effects
Games will have additional virtual effects in the video settings menu. These settings may contribute to the significant utilization of the GPU and CPU in addition to running the game. Adjusting settings like anti aliasing and turning on DLSS will enable quicker frame times at a fraction reduction in detail.
While some games vary from others, understanding your system's limits and capabilities will go along with getting the best playable experience at a preferable resolution.
Check Broadband Speed & Latency
Along with using an Ethernet cable, checking your overall wireless and wired speed will ensure no issue between your modem and PC and your connection with your internet service provider.
Sometimes a “Coax Splitter” will slow down the inbound data rate to give cable capabilities to the rest of the household or apartment. If you are an internet-only household, disconnect the coax from the house and connect it to the modem.
If your Windows 10 installation has been going on for a few years, it may be time to reinstall Windows. While it may be tempting to keep all your files, the best solution is to cherry-pick the files you would like to bring over and create a back of them.
The reason beyond this is that the C: drive(also known as the primary OS drive) has collected multiple programs over the years that have asked for access to the operating system on its drive, leaving years of forgotten cached files or other programs that do not see significant use.
Hardware Upgrades for Better Gaming PC Performance
As listed above, the combination of hardware and software changes will enable more performance over a wide range of games.
The easiest and most significant upgrades to the GPU and the RAM to support the CPU and motherboard better. Additional upgrades like better storage, a more robust power supply, and other 3rd parties PCIe devices will boost your system performance and capabilities.
Make Sure You Optimize Each Game’s In-Game Settings.
Depending on your resolution and in-game settings, finer adjustments within the game's graphical settings will become warranted. Monitor resolution comes into play when scaling the resolution or allocating a texture budget to your GPU VRAM.
Options like DLSS(Deep Learning Super Sampling) allow the GPU not to work as hard to display images on larger resolutions like 4k, thereby boosting the frame rate.
Summary of Optimizing Your PC for Gaming
There are multiple avenues to optimize your PC for gaming that are hardware and software related. The most popular software charges are taking the time to reinstall Windows and or change specific settings. Taking the time to swap out components that might be bottle necking your system is a worthwhile endeavor for outdated hardware.
At Apex Gaming PCs, we pride ourselves on having a large amount of computer knowledge regarding our Ready to Ship or customizable gaming PC configurations. We also have an active guide on everything you should know about maintaining your system on our YouTube channel. Whatever your optimization needs, we hope to be of service at Apex!
Written By William Wilson
Header Photo: Pavan Bhakta