We all know that one of Microsoft’s big pushes with the release of Windows 10 is gaming. That’s great news. But if you are serious about gaming, you can’t just leave Windows 10 alone before you start up your favorite game. After all, you want the very best performance you can get, don’t you? Just like past versions of Windows, Windows 10 needs a little tweaking before you start your gaming life, which is especially true if you are running on a cheaper gaming laptop and need to squeeze the most performance possible out of your PC.
Today we will take a look at several different tweaks you can do to your system to optimize Windows 10 to provide the best gaming performance possible. Once finished, you will have a system that is ready to tackle even the most graphical intense games available, assuming you have hardware that is up to the task.
Before we begin, please take note that many of these tweaks will require a restart to take effect. I wouldn’t recommend making all of them at once and then restarting, either. Don’t worry, most of them won’t take very long at all so the added time of a restart really isn’t that big of a deal.
Remove Old Files
One of the easiest things you can do to speed up your machine and get it ready for a good gaming session is by cleaning up all the useless files on your computer. These could be movies, word documents, pictures, music, whatever. If you aren’t using them anymore, get rid of them. If you want to save them just in case you need them, then back them up to an external drive or maybe a USB flash drive. Whatever you do, don’t leave files you never touch on your machine. The most space you have, the more room you have for more games, after all. If you aren’t sure where your files are, I would check the Documents folder and the Downloads folder. It wouldn’t hurt to go through the files on your Desktop, either.
Remove Old Applications
Once you have finished removing all those old files you no longer need, it is time to take a look at the apps you have installed. First, you should go to Control Panel < Programs < Uninstall a program. Look through the list and get rid of any old applications you don’t need. If you don’t use it, get rid of it. Remember, after certain app installs, a reboot will be required to completely remove everything.
Once you have finished looking in the Control Panel for unused apps, now it is time to take a look at your Universal Apps. You can easily do this simply by going to the Start Menu. Look in the main Start Area at your Universal Apps and go through the full list of your apps as well. Here you will find all the news apps, etc. that have come with your Windows 10 system or ones that you have downloaded. Get rid of any you don’t use by right clicking on them and selecting Uninstall.
Once you have finished removing everything that you don’t use from your computer, give it a good reboot just for good measure.
Run All Windows Updates
First, you should know that Windows 10 is very good at keeping itself up to date, although it does require some tweaking. But we will get to that later. First, we want to make sure your computer is completely up to date. Go to Start < Settings < Update & Security. Press the Check for updates button and then run anything that shows up. When it is finished, it will probably make you reboot. If it doesn’t, go ahead and reboot it anyway just to be safe.
Run Virus and Malware Scans
Malware, spyware and viruses are notorious for running in the background and slowing down your system. If you go on the Internet, chances are you have, at the very least, picked up some adware tracking along the way. Running a virus and malware scan on your system can clean up that junk so it doesn’t run in the background. It’s also a good way of getting rid of anything that could be damaging to you or your computer as well. For malware, we recommend Malwarebytes. It is one of the best removal tools out there for malware that won’t necessarily be caught by your antivirus application.
If you have been using Windows 10 for a while, chances are you have a lot of temporary files and other installation files hanging out on your hard drive. You can easily get rid of these old files that you don’t need simply by running Disk Cleanup on your system.
To run Disk Cleanup, press the Windows Key + R. In the dialog that opens, type in cleanmgr and press Enter. Once the dialog comes up, go through and check any section that you want to purge from your system. This can include log files, temporary files and much more. Once it is complete, I recommend you run it again and then press the Clean up system files button. This will take you to a new section that will allow you to purge old versions of Windows and even update files that are left after installation.
Optimize Your Disk
Now that you have removed all the old files and apps from your system and you have cleaned up any temporary files and installation files, it is time to optimize your disk. In most cases, Windows 10 will do this for you on a set schedule. However, after making so many changes, I recommend you go ahead and do it yourself. This will defragment your hard drive so it can run faster and your machine can locate the files you need much more quickly.
To optimize your disk, go to Start > Settings. In the search box, type in “Defrag” and the choice will be displayed to access the application. A list of the hard drives attached to your computer will then be displayed. For this guide, we are focusing on the C Drive, as that is the drive that powers Windows and is most likely the drive where all your games will be installed.
Highlight the C Drive and then press the Optimize button. Then be sure the C drive is still selected and press Optimize again. This will start the process. Be careful, depending on how fragmented the drive is, it could take some time. You may want to start this before you head to bed or will be away from your computer for an extended period of time.
Adjust Your Power Settings
Computers today can be quite advanced when it comes to their power settings. Often you can set them to use less power, which is great for your utility bill but no so good for your performance, as it sacrifices speed in order to use less power. If you are a gamer, you are going to want to set it to the best possible performance to make the most of your hardware.
Press the Windows + X key and go to Control Panel > System and Security > Power Options. Once here, check the radial button for High Performance if it isn’t already checked. Then close the window. That will set your computer to its best possible speed. Remember, this will use more power although the difference will only be small on your electric bill, but it will be there. If you have a high-end system, it could pull more power than other systems. That’s what you want, of course. But I felt I should make you aware that it will use more power in your home.
Adjust Windows 10 Visual Effects
The graphical user interface of Windows 10 is definitely impressive. It’s easy on your eyes and beautiful to behold. Its effects make using Windows 10 a real pleasure. However, these effects come at a cost of performance. Windows will make extra use of your resources to display all these effects that really aren’t necessary to a good quality performing machine.
If you like them, by all means leave them on. However, if you are more concerned with power for gaming, then I recommend turning them off. Go to Start > Settings. Once there, in the search box type Performance. Then select Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows. In the box that comes up, uncheck any effects you don’t want to use and leave the ones you like active if you want. You can also use the presets created by Microsoft for best performance although you still may want to take it a little farther if you are serious about the performance of your games.
Disable Automatic Update and Restart
Windows 10 is great at updating itself, but it isn’t very good at doing it at a time that is convenient for you. For best performance, you really don’t want it downloading and installing updates unless you tell it to do it. You may or may not be able to do anything about it. If you have Window 10 Pro, you can change all the settings you want on your system. However, Windows 10 Home is handicapped in this regard.
Go to Start > Settings > Update and Security. If you can turn it off, do it. Just remember if you do that you will be responsible for running updates on your system. If you can’t change it, then try adjusting the active hours it will update by clicking on Change active hours. This will allow you to set the times when you don’t use your machine for updates. While not a perfect solution, it will definitely help stop those accidental interruptions while you are gaming.
Disable Nagle’s Algorithm
What’s that you ask? Basically, Nagle’s Algorithm bundles data packets together at the cost of a smoother Internet connection. In most cases, this isn’t a bad thing as it makes the connection more stable and you just don’t notice the speed if you just surf the Internet. If you are gaming, however, and you experience latency issues, this could be the cause.
To disable it, you will have to change the Registry. Before you proceed, remember that editing the registry can harm your computer and even destroy your install of Windows if you aren’t careful. So make sure you only edit exactly what I tell you.
To open the registry, go to Start > type regedit > Regedit. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\Interface. Under Interface, you will see letters and numbers that correspond to your IP Address. Match your IP Address with the numbers listed under DhcpIPAddress. If you don’t know your IP Address, open a Command Prompt and type ipconfig. It will tell you the IPv4 address. Right click on that folder and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Create two DWORD values. Name the first TcpAckFrequency and the other TCPNoDelay. Double click each one and set their parameter value to 1. If you have any problems with your network after these changes, return to them and set the value to 0 to disable them. When you are finished, reboot your machine.
Update Your Drivers
If your drivers aren’t up to date, you are going to have problems, especially if you play the latest and greatest games available. This is especially true for your video card drivers. Although I would suggest keeping an eye out for all the drivers on your system. Windows 10 will update some of them itself, but if you want the latest and greatest, chances are you are going to have to go find them yourself.
While it is hard to tell you how to do that for every single different piece of hardware out there, the one area I can focus on in this guide is your video card drivers. Windows will find these too. However, they aren’t always the most recent. For that, you will have to visit your manufacturers website.
There are two main video card manufacturers out there – Radeon by AMD and NVIDIA. First, you need to identify the type of card you have by clicking Start > Typing Device Manager. Once there, you can see the type of video card you have.
Once you have found that information, you need to visit the website for your manufacturer. If you have a Radeon card, click here. If you have a card from NVIDIA, then go here. Let the site search and identify your card and download the drivers for you. Install them and then reboot your machine.
Chances are, you already have this version if you have been running Windows 10 for any amount of time. However, sometimes, people don’t. Check your version and if you don’t have it, run Windows updates and make sure it is installed on your system. Currently, there is no standalone installer for the software, you have to get it through Windows Update. To check the version of your software, go to Start > Run > dxdiag > DirectX Version. If you have 11 or even something older, upgrade immediately to take advantage of the new features available in DirectX 12.
While not really a tweak I felt we should at least mention this option as well. Depending on the type of your computer you have, you may be able to update some of the hardware to improve performance. In some cases, you may be able to add RAM or even change over to an SSD Hard Drive. In other cases, you may even be able to put a new video card into your system, although this isn’t usually possible for laptops.
Still, upgrades are worth a look. You could add a little more RAM, for example, so more can be loaded into memory. The result is often a slightly faster load time on games and other software. If you don’t have an SSD, I would recommend getting one. They are just so much faster than traditional drives every gamer should be playing their games on them. Trust me, if you don’t have one, get one. You will be glad you did. If you can upgrade your video cards, then definitely go for it. Graphics manufacturers are releasing new cards every year so if you want to stay current you will need to upgrade. That way you can always play the very best games that come to the PC.
We love PC gaming here at LaptopNinja, and we want your Windows 10 gaming experience to be the very best it can be. These tweaks will help you do just that. I recommend you try all of them or, at the very least, some of them to improve your overall gaming performance. I believe you will be glad that you did.
If your laptop just isn’t up to the task of gaming and you need something new, then head over to Best Gaming Laptops Buying Guide to find the perfect laptop for your gaming needs. Even if you buy something new, I still recommend you go through it and run all these tweaks for the best possible performance while you play.
Did I leave any tweaks out that you think should be a part of this guide? If so, comment below and let me know so I can get them up here for everyone to enjoy.