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3 Simple Ways to Optimize Your Laptop for VR Gaming

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Learn how to get better performance from your laptop for VR games.

Battling with low frames per second (FPS) is every gamer’s worst nightmare. When it comes to VR gaming, regardless of whether you’re using Valve Index, Oculus Rift S, or Windows Mixed Reality, the effects of low FPS can be even more pronounced.

If this is an issue you’re struggling with, there’s no better time to give your laptop some tender, loving care, and keep it performing at its peak by fixing your laptop’s VR issues. Lagging graphics and audio and sluggish loading times can seriously affect the enjoyment of your favorite VR games, and your budget might not allow for a better laptop or gaming PC.

Luckily, we’re here to offer you some simple tips on how to improve your laptop’s performance and give you the VR experience you rightly deserve!

1. Update Your OS

Using an outdated version of your operating system, be it Windows, Mac, or even Linux or Ubuntu, can dramatically slow your laptop’s performance. Apps that have been designed for a specific operating system version won’t be able to function properly, and even malware will have an easier time embedding itself in an OS that hasn’t been updated with the latest security patches.

If you’re a Windows user and you’re running Windows 10, you’re already well on your way to having a VR-optimized laptop. However, we’d suggest searching for updates just in case.

To search for updates on Windows 10, select the Search Windows option in your taskbar and type ‘Update’. Select ‘Check for updates’ and click the corresponding button in the Settings window. Any updates that are available for your OS will download automatically. If you use another operating system, there are plenty of guides available online that outline how to update your system for the best VR gaming experience.

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2. Update Your Graphics Drivers

Your laptop’s graphics card will probably be designed for the newest build of Windows. If you update your operating system, you’ll need to update your graphics card drivers too.

Drivers are the tools that enable your hardware to communicate with your operating system. If your graphics card and your OS are speaking different languages, so to speak, there may be confusion and malfunctions as a result. The right driver acts as a translator to ensure that everything runs smoothly, which is of course essential for smooth gaming.

AMD and Nvidia, the two largest GPU producers in the world, update their graphics card drivers regularly, especially when new games hit the market. If your VR gaming graphics are less than optimal, check out AMD’s Gaming Evolved application, or the GeForce Experience app from Nvidia, depending on the build of your GPU.

If you want to update your drivers in GeForce Experience, select the Search Windows field in your taskbar. Select GeForce Experience from the list of options, and click on the Drivers tab at the top of the window. You’ll be able to choose ‘Express installation’ or ‘Custom installation’, depending on your level of experience and your personal preferences.

If you select ‘Express installation’, Nvidia will automate the entire process. If you would rather choose your own settings, choose the Custom option. The Gaming Evolved app from AMD works in much the same way.

3. Clean Up and Defrag Your Hard Drive

Depending on the age of your laptop, you may have a hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive (SSD). If you have an older hard disk drive, it will use a physical platter and a needle to read any data stored on it. It will also need different methods of care to ensure proper performance, especially when gaming.

Tips for HDDs

If your gaming laptop is full of old, unused programs, temporary files, cached images, and cookies, this clutter can seriously impair your VR experience. It’s almost guaranteed to leave you dealing with infuriating lag. You can use the Windows 10 Programs and Features tool to remove unnecessary apps and speed up your device.

Right-click on your Start button and select ‘Apps and Features’. Uninstall any applications you no longer need or use. If you want to remove other junk like internet files and caches items, use Disk Cleanup by searching for it in the Search Windows field in your taskbar. Select the disk you wish to clean, and your operating system will permanently delete unneeded files once you have given it your final permission.

If you have an HDD instead of an SSD, you can also use the Windows 10 defragmenting tool to recollect files and allow them to run faster and more efficiently. In the Search Windows field, search for ‘Defragment and Optimize Drives’. Select the drive you want to optimize and click ‘Defrag’.

Tips for SSDs

If you have a new laptop with a solid-state drive, you’ll want to enable TRIM on your hard drive from the get-go. If you have an older laptop with an SSD, you can also do this at any stage.

TRIM collects junk files on your SSD and acts as a modern alternative to an HDD defrag process.

To enable TRIM, type ‘cmd’ into your Search Windows field. Right-click ‘Command Prompt’ and select ‘Run as Administrator’.  Type ‘fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify’ and hit the Enter key. If you get ‘DisableDeleteNotify = 0’ as a response, TRIM is already enabled. If you get ‘DisableDeleteNotify = 1’, type ‘fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify 0’ and hit Enter to enable it.

Certain SSD builds like Samsung use custom software that will automatically optimize your SSD’s performance. Check your drive manufacturer’s official website to find any specialized software that can help to improve your gaming sessions.

Some Additional Tips

We’re not done yet. Here are a few extra handy tips for optimizing your laptop for VR gaming.

  • Boost your graphics with Nvidia and AMD software. Both GPUs come with custom apps that allow you to optimize your in-game settings.
  • Adjust your power plan. Windows 10 already offers built-in power adjustment options that help your laptop balance its performance and power usage. When gaming, you can set your power plan to high performance under your Power Options settings.
  • Change your laptop’s virtual memory page file. If your device is running low on RAM, it can use a specialized file called a page file that serves as virtual RAM. Don’t set page files to over 1.5 times higher than the total amount of RAM already on your laptop!
  • Make a few registry changes. A word of warning: editing your registry can cause serious computer issues, so only do this if you are knowledgeable about laptops and have made a full backup beforehand.

You could set the priority of your VR games above other PC processes to improve their performance, minimize Windows animations, lower VR resolution and refresh rates, or disable hibernate mode on your SSD, among other edits. You can find more information about how to achieve this on Windows forums.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do to optimize your VR gaming experience. Just make sure you follow the steps compatible with your laptop’s OS and hardware, and if you get stuck, you ask a professional for help. There’s no reason why you need to deal with substandard VR gaming if your laptop is capable of a lot more.

By LaptopNinja Editorial Team

The LaptopNinja editorial team are dedicated to helping you choose the right laptop for your needs and spreading knowledge about everything tech. Founded in 2012, our motley crew of tech specialists spend countless hours every week scouring the best deals across the web to help save you time and money based on more than half a decade of experience researching and recommended the top value for money and high performing laptops on the planet.

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