Windows 10 has been out for nearly three years now and is the operating system of choice for gamers. However, if you’re a gamer, you may not be using Windows 10 to its full potential. In this article we’ll take a look at how to optimize Windows 10 for gaming.
Included in this article are tips on how to speed up Windows 10 in general, as well as how to make Windows 10 faster for gaming.
A Summary of Optimizing Windows 10 for Gaming
These are the Windows 10 optimization and tweaks that we’ll be looking at:
- Keep your GPU Drivers Updated
- Set your Active Hours
- Don’t let Steam Download While You’re Playing
- Upgrade to an SSD
- Lower your Visual Effects
- Set your Power Plan to High Performance
- Use Game Mode
Keep your GPU Drivers Updated
Playing with outdated drivers is a bad idea. Bad performance, visual glitches, and even game crashes can occur if you don’t use the latest drivers. The worst that ever happened to me with an outdated GPU driver was a random BSOD.
Taking care of dedicated GPU drivers is one of the few things that Windows 10 doesn’t do well automatically. Which is why you’ll have to do it manually.
Just go to your manufacturer’s website, choose your GPU model, then download and install the appropriate drivers.
After that, you can reboot your PC and if everything went well, you should now have the latest GPU drivers.
At this point, chances are that you won’t have to worry about keeping your drivers up to date anymore as most GPU control panels will check for updates automatically.
Speaking of GPUs, check out our Best GPU for the Money buyer’s guide to help you find a new video card for your system.
Set Your Active Hours
Windows 10 automatically downloads and installs updates when you’re not using your computer and it automatically restarts during your non-active hours.
If you don’t set your active hours properly you might find your computer restarting in the middle of your gaming session like this guy:
And while this may not be a big deal for casual gamers, it certainly can be a disaster for competitive gamers.
That’s because you’re not only ruining the game for yourself but for the other 9 people or so who are playing with you at that moment.
So, do make sure that your active hours are set properly in order for your computer to only restart when you’re not using it.
You can configure your active hours by going to your settings -> update and security -> change active hours.
Some people recommend to completely turn off Windows Updates, but I wouldn’t recommend it as it leaves us open to security exploits.
Yes, this way of updating is rather aggressive from Microsoft’s part, but it was necessary as people wouldn’t update their previous versions of Windows and that led to numerous infections.
Don’t let Steam Download While You’re Playing
There is a setting in Steam where you can allow Steam to update or download games while you’re playing something else.
This is not harmful if you’re an offline gamer. But, when it comes to multiplayer, you’ll see huge ping spikes with this setting. So, it might be better to just turn it off.
It should be turned off by default, but you better check just to make sure. You can adjust this setting by going to Steam -> settings -> downloads.
Upgrade to an SSD
Upgrading to an SSD for gaming is more on the hardware side of things, but it’s still a great way to speed up Windows 10.
Don’t get me wrong, an SSD won’t significantly increase your in-game performance. It will only assist in reducing loading screen times.
Just do keep in mind that SSDs are way more expensive than HDDs. So, if you can’t afford a big SSD for both your OS and games, then you can still opt to use a small SSD for your OS and a big HDD for your games.
You may think that loading screens are not a big deal. However, as time goes on, games are getting bigger and bigger in size which can make loading screens longer.
For an example, back in the day, GTA SA was taking about 2 gigs of disk space. GTA IV, which is a newer release, needs about 18 gigs of space and GTA V needs more than 76 gigs of space.
To mention actual user experience and not numbers, after I switched from an HDD to an SSD, Dirt 3 went from 30-35 seconds of loading time to 3 seconds. Skyrim (Heavily Modded) went from 20-25 seconds to 4-5.
Lower Your Visual Effects to Speed Up Windows 10
Everything mentioned from here until the end of this article only refers to extremely low-end computers.
A high-end gaming PC shouldn’t be affected by most of these settings as they are just too powerful for that.
So… moving on…
Windows 10 has some fancy visuals which might slightly affect low-end computer performance. Especially if you’re using an iGPU or an APU.
If you think that your PC takes a performance hit with the visual effects of Windows, you can turn them off by typing “advanced system settings” on the search bar of your dock, then click on performance settings -> adjust for best performance -> apply.
Before making changes, find out how much vRAM you have and need for a perfect gaming experience.
Set Your Power Plan to “High Performance”
Windows 10, by default, uses the “Balanced” power plan setting. Which means that your computer will adjust its CPU frequency so that you will only use as much power as your current task requires.
The “High performance” power plan keeps the CPU frequency on its highest levels at all times. Many people have noticed small performance improvements while using that plan.
It also helped me with my very old Pentium 4 machine, but it doesn’t seem to affect my Core i5 machine.
To select a power plan type “Power plan” on the search bar of your dock, then choose the plan of your choice.
If the high-performance plan is not available, on the left side of the screen, click on “create a power plan” and choose the high performance one.
Use Game Mode
Game Mode is a feature that Microsoft created to increase gaming performance by focusing the resources of the PC on to the game that’s running in the foreground.
Most people mentioned that they didn’t notice any significant improvements after enabling it, but you can still give it a try.
To enable game mode, press the Windows key on your keyboard and the G button simultaneously, then click on “Use game mode for this game”.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for ideas on how you can optimize Windows 10 for gaming, the ideas listed above are a good place to start. They will help you make Windows 10 faster for gaming, as well as to make your operating system faster in general.
This article is a guest post by George Kasiouras of WindowsChimp.com—a resource site that offers tips, tutorials, and guides on using Windows.