How to Optimize Your PC for Gaming

How to Optimize Your PC for Gaming

Whether you’ve just purchased a new gaming PC (or built one yourself), or you’ve got an older desktop and you’re looking for ways to get the most out of it, there are a number of optimizations you can make that will help your system perform better.

In this guide, we’ll run through a number of different optimizations you can make to help your PC run at its best while gaming.

Windows Optimizations

Changing certain settings in Windows and updating older drivers can yield quick in-game performance gains. In this section, we’ll walk you through what settings you should turn on in Windows, as well as how to ensure you have the most up-to-date drivers.

Make Sure Game Mode is On

Game Mode in Windows is a feature that disables background apps when you’re playing games. It is turned on by default in Windows, but you might want to check and make sure it hasn’t been disabled.

To check:

  • Type in ‘game mode’ in the Windows search bar
  • Click on ‘Game Mode settings’
  • Make sure Game Mode is turned on

Windows Game Mode

Update Graphics Drivers

Keeping your graphics drivers up-to-date is an important part of ensuring you’re always getting the most performance while gaming.

There is no one-step to update your graphics drivers, though. The steps necessary to updating your graphics drivers will change depending on what kind of GPU have.

Here’s how you can update your graphics drivers depending on what GPU you have:

Update Chipset Drivers

Along with your GPU drivers, you’ll want to make sure that your motherboard’s chipset drivers are up-to-date. This may not give you an increase in your in-game performance, but it can help ensure that your system is running as it should.

To update your motherboard’s chipset driver, you first need to know what motherboard you have:

What Motherboard Do I Have? (How to Tell Quickly)

Once you know your motherboard model, search for it in Google and add the term ‘drivers’ at the end.

For example, I have an ASUS ROG STRIX B760-I Gaming WIFI motherboard. So, I’d search:

ASUS ROG STRIX B760-I GAMING WIFI drivers

Typically the first result will take you directly to the page where you can get the latest drivers for your motherboard. However, in my instance it doesn’t.

It’s the third result that takes me to the driver page:

Update Chipset Drivers

https://rog.asus.com/motherboards/rog-strix/rog-strix-b760-i-gaming-wifi-model/helpdesk_download/

From there, though, I can select what operating system I’m using, and I’ll be presented with a list of the latest driver updates. From there, download and install drivers you think are necessary.

Keep Windows Updated

It’s also a good idea to keep Windows updated. A lot of you may have automatic Windows updates turned on.

I don’t, because I don’t want to be interrupted when I’m in-game or doing something important.

But, I still keep Windows up-to-date by periodically checking for new updates.

This process is simple:

  • Type in ‘updates’ in the Windows search bar
  • Select ‘Check for updates’
  • Click the blue button that says ‘Check for updates’
  • Then hit ‘Download & install’ if there are any updates available.

Check for Windows Updates

From this screen you can also disable auto-updates:

  • Find the ‘More options’ section
  • Toggle the ‘Get the latest updates…’ switch to off

Turn On Hardware-Accellerated GPU Scheduling

In a nutshell, Hardware-Accelerated GPU Scheduling could potentially take stress off your CPU by offloading graphics-related tasks to your GPU.

Hardware-Accelerated GPU Scheduling is worth turning on and testing to see if it gives you a performance increase, but it will likely help users with older CPUs the most.

Here’s how to turn on Hardware-Accelerated GPU Scheduling:

  • Type ‘graphics settings’ in the Windows search bar
  • Click on ‘Graphics settings’
  • Click on ‘Change default graphics settings’
  • Toggle ‘Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling’ to on
  • Restart your computer

Hardware-Accellerated GPU Scheduling

Game Optimizations

Perhaps the easiest way to get more performance out of your PC is to change in-game settings. Sure, you won’t have as good of a visual experience, but you’ll get a higher framerate and, for some, that could make the difference between being able to even play a game and not being able to.

Dial Back In-Game Graphics Settings

Perhaps no method will produce as drastic of a boost to your in-game performance as will turning down in-game graphics settings.

The idea here is simple: reduce the demand the game creates on your system and, in turn, your system is now better able to handle what the game demands.

Or, in other words, by turning down your in-game graphics settings, your PC won’t have to work as hard.

If you’re having trouble running games, first start by lowering the game’s graphic preset options. Switch between the different levels of graphics options.

As an example, Fornite offers the following graphics preset options:

Fortnite

  • Epic
  • High
  • Medium
  • Low

Most games will offer similar graphics preset levels.

If you’re struggling to get good performance in specific games, it would be a good idea to test out all of these presets one at a time to see if you can find a balance between visual quality and performance.

Even if you have to play games on the lowest settings, that will be better than not playing them at all.

And, if you can’t run a specific game at its lowest setting, then there’s either something wrong on the software side (drive issue), you have faulty hardware, or your hardware is just not up to the task.

In the latter case, there’s probably not any setting you can change (whether in-game or out of game) to get better results. You’ll likely have to upgrade your hardware in order to see an improvement.

Prevent Steam from Auto-Updating Games

Whether you’re playing a game or not, the default setting in Steam is to update your games ASAP.

If you’re in a competitive online game and Steam starts auto-updating a different game, your ping is likely to suffer and you’ll be at a disadvantage.

One way to prevent this is to not have Steam open while you’re gaming. Of course, if the game is on Steam itself, this won’t be possible.

So, you’ll need to disable Steam’s auto-update feature.

Here’s how:

  • Launch Steam and login
  • Go into Settings
  • Select ‘Downloads’ on the left
  • Uncheck ‘Allow downloads during gameplay’

Overclocking

Overclocking allows you to force your hardware to work harder, which will provide better performance when gaming. Overclocking is a bit more of an extreme option compared to the other choices on this list and won’t be viable for some users.

Overclock Your CPU

Here are some helpful guides that will walk you through how to overclock your CPU:

Overclock Your GPU

Here are some helpful guides that will walk you through how to overclock your GPU:

Overclock Your RAM

Here are some helpful guides that will walk you through how to overclock your RAM:

Network Optimizations

There are a few things you can do to try and get the fastest and most stable connection out of your existing internet plan. We detail those below.

Use Ethernet Instead of Wi-Fi

Using an ethernet cable over a Wi-Fi connection will always provide a faster and more stable connection.

We realize this won’t be an option for anyone, but if you’re someone who plays competitive online games, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage by using a Wi-Fi connection over an ethernet cable.

Switch to A Faster DNS

More often than not your ISP (Internet Service Provider) doesn’t offer the most secure or fastest DNS (Domain Name System). However, Cloudflare offers one of the fastest DNS options around. And, it’s free.

By switching to Cloudflare’s DNS, you could potentially see lower ping in games.

Here’s how to set it up:

  • Type ‘network’ in the Windows search bar and hit enter
  • Click ‘More network adapter options’
  • Right-click your internet connection and hit ‘Properties’
  • Click on ‘Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)’ and hit ‘Properties’
  • Click ‘Use the following DNS server address:’
  • For Preferred DNS server, put: 1.1.1.1
  • For Alternate DNS server, put: 1.0.0.1
  • Hit OK
  • Click on ‘Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)’ and hit ‘Properties’
  • Click ‘Use the following DNS server address:’
  • For Preferred DNS server, put: 2606:4700:4700::1111
  • For Alternate DNS server, put: 2606:4700:4700::1001
  • Hit OK

This method will work in both Windows 10 and 11, but there may be some minor differences in the names of options.

You can also set this up in your router as well. Check out the guide on how to do so on Cloudflare.

Disable Nagle’s Algorithm

Nagle’s Algorithm was created to solve the problem of how inefficient it was to a continuous stream of small amounts of data over TCP/IP networks.

The problem with Nagle’s Algorithm is that it creates a higher latency in order to achieve better efficiency. For gaming, a higher latency means a higher ping (lag). And, if you’re playing competitive online games, having a higher ping will put you at a disadvantage.

So, if you want to optimize your PC for playing competitive games, it’s a good idea to disable Nagle’s Algorithm. It may not have a noticeable effect for all competitive games, but it is worth disabling just in case.

Nagle’s Algorithm is coded into the Windows Registry, so there is no easy setting to change to disable it. You’ll have to go inside the Registry in order to turn it off.

First, you need to make note of what your current IPv4 address is.

Here’s how to do so:

  • Type ‘command prompt’ into the Windows search bar and hit enter
  • In Command Prompt, type ‘ipconfig’ and hit enter
  • Take note of your IPv4 Address. Keep this Window open so you can reference it.

Now you can go into the Registry Editor and disable Nagle’s Algorithm. Here’s how:

Type ‘regedit’ into the Windows search bar and hit enter

Then, navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\Interfaces

There will be a handful of folders inside the Interfaces folder.

Click through each one until you find the one that lists the same IPv4 address as you displayed with you ran ipconfig in Command Prompt.

In THAT folder, you’re going to add two new entries. Here’s how:

TcpAckFrequency

  • Right-click in the empty space in the right-hand box
  • Click New
  • Select D-WORD (32-Bit) Value
  • Name this entry TcpAckFrequency
  • Open it and give it a value of 1 (in the Value data: box)
  • Hit OK

TcpNoDelay

  • Right-click in the empty space in the right-hand box
  • Click New
  • Select D-WORD (32-Bit) Value
  • Name this entry TcpNoDelay
  • Open it and give it a value of 1 (in the Value data: box)
  • Hit OK

Once finished restart your computer. Nagle’s Algorithm has now been disabled.

Upgrade Your Hardware

If you’ve changed everything you possibly can on the software and network side and your performance still isn’t up to par, the only thing left to do is upgrade your hardware. In this section we’ve provided you with a variety of upgrade options, ranging from quick cheap upgrades, to more expensive (but more powerful) upgrades.

Upgrade Your GPU

Out of all of the options on this list, nothing will give you more performance than will upgrading your GPU. The problem is that it is the most expensive option on this list (outside of just getting a new PC altogther.)

And, depending on how old your system is, you may have to upgrade other components (power supply, case, motherboard) before your system can even handle a significant GPU upgrade.

Add More RAM

While adding more RAM won’t give you as big of a performance gain as will adding a new GPU, it can help. And, it is an easier and cheaper upgrade to make. So, it’s worth trying to add more/upgrade RAM first, especially if you have an older system with 8GB or less memory.

Upgrade Your CPU

Your GPU will almost always have a bigger impact on your in-game experience than your CPU will (with the exception of certain CPU-intensive games). However, if you have an older system, upgrading your CPU should also give you a performance bump.

I’d recommend upgrading your GPU, CPU, and RAM together if you can afford it. If you can’t do it all at once, start with your GPU, then your RAM, then finally your CPU.

Also, as with upgrading your GPU, in order to make a significant CPU upgrade in your system, you may have to upgrade other components as well (motherboard, memory, CPU cooler, etc.).

Switch to an SSD

Switching from an HDD to an SSD will provide minimal in-game performance boost, but it will help your overall system performance. And, SSDs aren’t too expensive. So, while the ideal upgrade to make is to add a new GPU, CPU, and RAM, adding an SSD is still worth considering.

Get A New Gaming PC

If your existing PC is too old, the hard truth is that it might not make sense to upgrade it.

The problem is that, if you need a GPU upgrade and your system is so old that you’ll have to also upgrade multiple other components in order to accommodate a new graphics card, it’s probably a better idea to just spend a little more and get a brand new system.

We’d recommend building your own system to get the most performance out of your budget, but buying a prebuilt system is a viable option as well.

Hey, I’m Brent. I’ve been building PCs and writing about building PCs for a long time. Through TechGuided.com, I've helped thousands of people learn how to build their own computers. I’m an avid gamer and tech enthusiast, too. On YouTube, I build PCs, review laptops, components, and peripherals, and hold giveaways.

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