A high-end gaming PC is the most capable and versatile of all the gaming platforms, but PC gamers also have financial and upkeep costs that our console brethren don’t have to deal with. As your rig inevitably starts to show its age, its performance will gradually begin to decline.
All hope isn’t lost, though. Before you drop another $2,000 on an entirely new gaming PC, there are several things you can try to keep your current setup chugging along a while longer. Even if your hardware is still relatively new, you can make it work better and more efficiently with some fine-tuning.
In this guide for Windows 10 gamers, we’ll show you seven tips and tricks to optimize your system for gaming so you can enjoy it for several more years to come. Even if you have the best CPU for gaming, it will be thankful that you relieved it of a few duties.
#1 Keep Your System & GPU Drivers Updated
This is your top priority. In order to keep your gaming PC working correctly and efficiently, you need to keep both your system and GPU drivers updated. Even if you have the best graphics card for gaming on the market, your games might crash or run sub-optimally without proper drivers installed.
Windows 10 is friendly and usually makes it easy for you to keep your system drivers updated. It searches for new updates and installs them every time you are connected to the internet. However, if you want to be sure and need to check, you can follow these simple steps:
- Click on the Windows icon at the bottom left corner of the screen
- Click on the ‘Settings’ button
- Choose the ‘Update and security’ section on the bottom right
- Click on the ‘Windows Update’ tab on the left side of the menu
- Inside the menu, you can click on ‘check for updates’
- If there are any new updates to install, do it
- After you are finished, reboot your computer
Here’s How to Update Your GPU Drivers
First, I have to say that checking and updating your GPU drivers might be a complicated process that deserves a separate article. If you need a step-by-step walkthrough, check out our full guide.
- The first step is to figure out who manufactured your GPU and the exact model (If you don’t know the model of your GPU, you can find it under the ‘Display Adapter’ tab within ‘System Information,’ which can be found easily by typing it into the search menu)
- Go to the manufacturer’s website and search for drivers of the specific GPU model (series)
- Some GPU manufacturers (like NVIDIA) offer software (like GEForce Experience) that keeps your GPU drivers updated automatically
- Download the latest driver and install it
- Restart your computer to complete the process.
Now, your computer is updated and ready to go. For many people, that’s enough to fix their gaming problems, but there are other things you can do if you’re still having trouble.
#2 Use Game Mode
Game mode is there to optimize your whole system for gaming. While it’s turned on, it will suspend unnecessary processes such as updates and will allocate computer resources to a better gaming experience.
- Click on the windows icon at the bottom left corner of the screen
- Next, pick the ‘Settings’ option
- Click on ‘Game’ section under the settings menu
- On the left side of the list, click on ‘Game Mode’ tab
- Set the ‘Game Mode’ button to ON
Note that some of the best gaming monitors also have separate game mode functions. These will optimize the refresh rate and response times of your display while gaming.
With the Windows Game Mode turned on, you should expect a 10-15% increased gaming performance.
#3 Use the Maximum Performance Power Plan
Although not as likely to produce significant improvements as most of our other suggestions, you can try to speed up your PC by setting the power plan for maximum performance. It will make your PC use more energy, but it should increase performance.
- Enter the ‘Settings’ menu as in previous instructions
- Click on ‘System’ at the top left corner
- Choose ‘Power and Sleep’ tab on the left side
- Click on ‘Additional power settings’ on the right side of the menu
- Choose the ‘High Performance’ power plan
If there is no such option, choose ‘Create a Power Plan’ and create your own performance-oriented power plan.
If you’re using a laptop, this might not be such a good idea unless it’s plugged in. We’ve all heard about the infamous battery issues that modern gaming laptops have.
#4 Optimize Visual Effects Settings
If you have slower or older hardware, this should be a very effective way to improve performance while gaming. These steps will set your visual effects to reserve the computer’s resources for gaming:
- Open the search box and type ‘Advanced system settings’
- Under that menu, choose the ‘Advanced’ tab
- Within the ‘Performance’ box at the top, click on ‘Settings’
- Choose ‘Adjust for best performance’
- Click ‘Apply’
It is important to note that if this method helps, it usually shows the need for a RAM upgrade. If you’re unsure about how much RAM you need for gaming, you might need to upgrade to one of the best RAM sticks out there.
#5 Prevent Steam Auto-Updates
If you are using Steam to install and play your games, you should know that certain settings can hinder your gaming experience. If set to auto-update, Steam will download and update your games as soon as those updates are available.
More importantly, it will apply updates to your whole library. This can mean large downloads and memory usage for games you don’t plan on playing any time soon. Also, downloading an update while you play a game will hog your computer’s resources and internet speed. To optimize Steam automatic downloads, follow these steps:
- Open Steam client
- Select ‘Settings’
- Select ‘Downloads’
- Uncheck the box ‘Allow downloads during gameplay’
To prevent downloads for unused games:
- Open the ‘Library’ within Steam client
- Right-click on unused game
- Choose ‘Properties’
- Choose the ‘Updates’ tab
- Under the ‘Automatic updates’ menu choose ‘Only update this game when I launch it’
#6 Disable Nagle’s Algorithm
This optimization only works for online gaming. Nagle’s Algorithm makes the network you’re using more efficient by reducing the number of data packages that are sent. This algorithm can create latency problems while gaming. Disabling it can smooth out your online gaming.
Nagle’s Algorithm is disabled through the Windows Registry. It’s essential to be very careful when following these steps:
- Type ‘Regedit’ inside the search box and open Windows Registry
- Copy the following path inside the address bar
- Find the correct file (on the left side of the window) by matching the IP address of ‘DhcpIPAddress’ file (on the right side of the window) with the IP address of your computer
- Once you have found the correct file, right-click on it, choose New, and DWORD 32-bi Value
- Create two of these
- Name one file ‘TcpAskFrequency’ and the other ‘TCPNoDelay’
- Double click on each and set their value to 1
These actions will disable Nagle’s Algorithm for you. If you run into trouble, just go back and set values of ‘TcpAskFrequency’ and ‘TCPNoDelay’ to 0.
Alternatively, upgrade your network by getting one of the best routers for gaming and avoid any further connectivity troubles.
#7 Upgrade your memory to SSD
Although this is a guide geared toward Windows 10 OS tweaks, we still have to advise you to upgrade your hardware. If you are currently using an HDD, keep in mind that upgrading to one of the best SSDs for gaming would significantly accelerate your computer.
If you install Windows on an SSD, it will significantly reduce loading times since it can retrieve data much faster.
If your PC can’t keep up with the high demands of your favorite game or if you can’t afford any expensive hardware upgrades at the moment, you shouldn’t despair. Windows 10 is a fantastic OS that provides a lot of support for gaming. Try the tips we showed above and enjoy gaming with your aged PC.
You can also take a look at our best budget PCs for gaming. You might find one that fits your budget.