Is your gaming PC running a little slow? Use these steps to boost overall performance.
If your PC is acting like an idle teenager who’s just been asked to take out the trash, then it’s time to take action and teach it who’s boss. We all know that a slow PC can be a pain in the behind, and as games become more resource-intensive, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest hardware.
Even though there are steps you can take to optimize your PC without having to spend a dime on a new graphics card or processor, no amount of optimization will allow you to run newer titles on a 10-year old PC. In this instance, you’ll need to invest in better hardware in order to upgrade your old gaming rig.
So, How do I optimize my computer for gaming?
Ensure Your System Is up to Date
Windows updates contain vital optimizations such as security updates/patches, bug fixes, and system enhancing updates. For this reason, it is important to ensure that your system is up to date. Here’s how to update Windows:
- Press the Windows Key + X then select Settings from the list
- Click on Update & Security
- Select Check for updates
Note: If there is an update pending, you may be prompted to restart your PC. If so, click on the Restart now button or Schedule the restart for another time.
Check Computer for Malware
Malware is like an infection; it slows you down and sometimes comes with other viruses – fun. If your PC used to be lightning fast and now struggles to even wake up, a common cause is the presence of malware.Thankfully, scanning for viruses is simple:
- Open Start, search for “Windows Defender Security Centre”, then click on the top result to open the app
- Click on Virus & threat protection
- Click on the Scan now button under Threat history
Remove Unwanted Junk
Like that one drawer you have full of random cables, 10 rolls of tape, and other assorted trash from all over the house, a computer can load up with junk over time. While you can manually go and declutter your computer, it’s best to use utilize Windows Disk Clean-up app.
- Open Start, search for “Disk Cleanup” and click on the top result
- Click on the Clean up system files button
- Select the files you wish to delete
- Click OK
- Click Delete Files
Defragment Hard Disk
Files become fragmented as data is written or deleted from your hard disk. To increase read times you’ll need to defrag your HDD:
- Open Start, type “Defragment”, then click on Defragment and Optimise Drivers
- Select your primary system driver then click Analyze
- Check the percentage of fragmented files under Current status
- To defragment your drive, click Optimize
- Once complete, your drive should say 0% fragmented
Note: Because of the differences between HDDs & SSDs, this can’t be done with an SSD.
Manage Startup Items
Programs that run automatically when your PC is turned on can take up processor power, inevitably slowing down your computer from the moment you turn it on.You can choose to either disable all startup items or remove certain apps from opening up on start:
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc together to open Task Manager
- Click on the Start-up tab at the top of the screen
- Click on More details to see more information
- Select the relevant apps then click on Disable
- Reboot your PC for changes to take effect
Disable Visual Effects
Would you rather have Windows look sleek but run like you’re still using dial-up? Or have a speedy performance with poor quality visual effects?
If the second part sounds like you, you can turn off all visual effects in settings for better performance:
- Press Windows Key + R together to open the Run command
- Type “sysdm.cpl” and click OK to open System Properties
- Select the Advanced tab then click on Settings under Performance
- Select the Adjust for best performance option to disable effects and animations
- Click Apply then OK
Change Your Power Settings
Another simple thing you can do to boost performance is to configure power options in settings. Doing this allows your gaming PC or screen to go to sleep after you’re inactive for a specific period of time – it’s like a power nap for your computer.
- Press the Windows Key + X, then select Power Options from the menu
- Under Screen, change how long your PC is inactive before your screen turns off
- Under Sleep, change how long your PC is inactive before it goes to sleep
Turn off Search Indexing
Indexing is an important feature of Windows, though it can take up system resources. If you don’t use Windows Search often, you can disable indexing completely. You’ll still be able to access search, you just won’t be able to fast search within apps.
- Press the Windows Key + X, then select Computer Management from the list
- On the left side of the Computer Management utility, click on the arrow next to Services and Applications to expand it
- Select Services from the dropdown menu
- In the list to the right scroll down to “Windows Search” and double-click it
- At the bottom of the popup if the service status is Running, click on the Stop button
- Now change the Startup type to Disabled by clicking on the box
- Click Apply then OK
Update Graphics Card Drivers
A graphics card driver allows your operating system and other programs to use your PC’s graphics hardware. Simply updating graphics card drivers can enable you to play on higher quality settings – because who wants to play on low settings?
- Press the Windows Key + X, then select Device Manager from the list
- Click on the arrow next to Display adaptors to expand the category
- Right-click on the name of your Graphics Card and select Update driver
- Select “Search automatically for updated driver software” to automatically install the driver
- Once finished, click Close
Note: NVIDIA and AMD often release new graphics drivers to boost performance for newer titles.
Scan for Driver Updates
Drivers work together with Windows and other essential programs to optimize your system processes. Therefore, out of date and faulty drivers can cause computers to run slowly, though updating them can be a pain. To take the easy route, you can use free online tools such as Slimware to automatically identify any updates.
It’s common for gamers to overclock their CPUs and monitors, yet GPUs are often overlooked. Overclocking a graphics card increases base clock speeds which in turn increases performance. While you should only do this if your GPU has the potential to surpass base clock speeds, overclocking will improving how your game runs.
You can use MSI’s Afterburner or EVGA’s Precision XOC software to overclock a graphics card.
Warning: Only overclock a card that is clean. If you attempt to overclock a dusty GPU, overheating and throttling can occur.
Upgrade your Graphics Card (GPU)
Upgrading a graphics card to fit the modern gaming standards will allow you can play newer, more demanding titles.
We have recommended some of the best graphics cards under $300 that you can take a look at – just make sure that whatever card you choose can fit into your system and your power supply has enough power to handle your new GPU.
Note: Make sure your monitor can keep up with your graphics card. If you have a 4k monitor and an older graphics card, your GPU will struggle.
Upgrade your Processor (CPU)
A CPU (central processing unit) sends signals to control other parts of a computer, just like how your brain controls your body. If your CPU is pretty new, you shouldn’t need to update it, though as games become more demanding over time, older hardware struggles to keep up.
Consequently, it’s necessary to ditch Intel Celeron microprocessors and opt for some of the best CPUs for gaming available. If you own an older model (not Celeron) you may try to improve performance for the time being by overclocking your CPU.
Note: You must make sure that the CPU you choose is compatible with your motherboard.
Lack of RAM can make your system run slow, however, you only really need to upgrade RAM if the games you play require more memory. But how much RAM do you need for gaming?
Alternatively, if you want to replace your RAM sticks completely, you might want to look at the best RAM for gaming in 2020. Different manufacturers produce various models of RAM cards and some of them are better than the others.
For most gamers, 8 GB of RAM is plenty, while others prefer 16 GB DDR4.
Adjust In-Game Settings
Many gamers cherish high-quality graphics and ultra high settings. Unfortunately, super high settings can cause a game to lag, and let’s be real, who doesn’t love smooth gameplay?
To increase FPS and reduce lag, change all in-game settings to low.
Reset your PC
If your computer is a complete disaster, it’s sometimes best to just reset your PC back to factory settings.
Completely wiping all of the data from your computer will resolve anything that may be slowing it down. This way, you don’t have to do the daunting task of going through all of our suggested fixes.
- Press the Windows Key + X, then select Settings from the list
- Click on Update & Security
- Select Recovery from the left menu
- Click on the Get started button under Reset this PC
- Select either “Keep my files” or “Remove everything”. If you wish to remove everything, backup personal files, and apps to an external drive
- Click Next when prompted with a Warning
- Click Reset
- Click Continue.
Warning: Resetting your PC back to factory settings will remove important files and applications. If you want to keep your files, back them up to an external hard drive.
How to Boost Gaming Performance: Summary
Although your computer’s performance will degrade over time, there are steps you can take to squeeze in some extra FPS (frames per second) and boost overall performance.
If your PC is outdated but you are on a tight budget, why not take a look at the best budget gaming PC available to make sure that newer titles run as smooth as butter.