21 Windows 10 Gaming Tweaks That’ll Improve Gaming Performance

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Windows 10 Gaming Tweaks

Gaming on a laptop has its advantages over console gaming. For one, you can optimize things to get the absolute best possible performance for playing your favorite MMORPG or battle royale games. Another is Windows 10; it’s a fantastic OS (operating system) for gamers with support for retro titles, and even Xbox One streaming. But you’ll need to make some adjustments to enjoy the best possible experience from high definition, feature-rich games. Whether you’re a casual player or a hardcore gamer, try these Windows 10 gaming tweaks to increase game FPS and boost your laptop’s performance.

1. Turn on and Optimize Game Mode

Windows Game Mode is one of the easiest performance tweaks you can make for gaming. It focuses your laptop’s resources on the game you’re playing and boosts FPS. Here’s how to get better FPS performance by turning on Windows Game Mode.

To enable the Game Mode feature in Windows 10:

  1. Press the Windows key + I for the keyboard shortcut to open the settings app.
  2. Click Gaming.
  3. Once you’re on the Gaming screen, click Game Mode.
  4. Switch to On to take advantage of Game Mode.

If your laptop supports Game Mode, then Windows will suspend updates while Gaming Mode is activated. All your laptop’s resources will now focus on providing your game with higher frame rates.

2. Update and Configure GPU Drivers

Updating your graphics card driver to boost performance is another one of the most effective ways to increase gaming performance; updating drivers can help the GPU operate at 100%. You’ll notice a significant FPS increase. In fact, Nvidia reported a 23% performance increase by updating GPU drivers.

Here are some ways to update GPU drivers for Nvidia GeForce, ATI Radeon and Intel HD Graphics:

Nvidia GeForce: The GeForce driver website shows you everything you need to upgrade Nvidia GPU drivers. Find your graphics card and version of Windows. Then select Start Search. Beta drivers aren’t 100% finished, but they should be stable enough to work well. And since they’re newer, you can expect an even stronger FPS boost.

ATI Radeon: Select your device on the AMD software downloads website. Here, you can download the latest official driver for your GPU. Or you can try a newer beta driver to get the latest features and a bigger FPS increase.

Intel HD Graphics: While earlier models weren’t much of a consideration for gaming, Intel’s latest GPUs can deliver adequate performance with modern games. The Intel Download Center’s graphics website has all the latest drivers you need.

3. Tweak Your In-Game Graphics Settings

While we’re on the subject, you can tweak a game’s graphics settings to improve performance. Try adjusting some of the following settings to see if you can make more improvements to the FPS.

  • Graphics details: Turn down textures, shadows, lighting and reflections. While you’ll sacrifice some impressive visuals, you should notice a boost in FPS.
  • Anti-aliasing: This feature smooths the edges of various in-game objects. You don’t have to turn it off completely. But try disabling it first, then slowly turn it up and stop when you start to lose FPS.
  • Draw distance: This sets the minimum distance at which your game starts rendering objects in the distance. Turning it down gives the GPU fewer things to do, thereby improving FPS.
  • Graphical effects: If your GPU is struggling to output a minimum of 30 FPS, stick to the basics. Dial down the bells and whistles like motion blur, lens flares, fire and so on.
  • VSync: This technology is intended to prevent your display from showing parts of multiple frames at once by matching your game’s frame rate with your display’s refresh rate. But it can negatively affect FPS. Try to see if you can play without it.

4. Tweak Nvidia Control Panel

Did you know that Nvidia drivers include a handy control panel where you can tweak graphical settings to boost FPS and increase gaming performance?

Right-click on your desktop and choose Nvidia Control Panel. Select Manage 3D Settings from the menu on the left to open additional settings and get more FPS.

  • Maximum Pre-Rendered Frames: This limits the number of frames your CPU will prepare before sending them to the GPU. A higher number can smoothen gameplay. But it also can introduce keyboard and mouse lag. To eliminate this, try setting it to 1 and keep adjusting to dial in the perfect balance.
  • Thread Optimization: Set this to On to optimize games for modern multi-core CPUs.
  • VSync: While we did suggest disabling this for smoother game play, it could lead to rendering errors. So, turn VSync off only if your display or the monitor you’re using has a refresh rate that’s higher than your game’s FPS.

5. Tweak AMD/ATI Control Center or Radeon Control Center

If you have an AMD graphics card, the AMD/ATI Control Center is your ticket to more FPS. Right-click the desktop and choose Radeon Settings. Then select Gaming Settings.

You can configure the graphics settings on a per-game basis. But let’s head to the Global Settings to improve FPS for all the games you play.

  • Anisotropic Filtering Mode: This setting sharpens distant textures at the cost of a higher workload for your GPU. Only mess with this if your game doesn’t have an anisotropic filtering setting in its own internal menu.
  • Anti-aliasing mode and method: As we said, anti-aliasing smooths out the edges of in-game objects. If the objects in your game look jagged, activate the Override method with an anti-aliasing level of 2 to 8.
  • Morphological Filtering (MLAA): This is AMD’s own version of anti-aliasing. You’ll want to turn off the games anti-aliasing and the standard anti-aliasing before tinkering with this option.
  • Texture Filtering Quality: AMD says this will adjust the quality of textures in games. Give it a shot, but don’t expect to see astronomic differences.
  • Surface Format Optimization: In older games, this setting sacrifices some graphical fidelity for a small FPS boost. In modern games any difference is unnoticeable. So, you can go ahead and turn it off.
  • Wait for Vertical Refresh: This is your VSync, which links your FPS to the refresh rate of your display. Turning this off can introduce screen tearing. This is when your screen displays parts of several frames at once. Turn this off only if your screen’s refresh rate is higher than the FPS.

6. Delay Automatic Windows Updates

Automatic Windows updates are generally a good thing, they often contain security fixes. But when an update happens during the middle of an intense melee, it can rip off the bandwidth you need for gaming.

Not only that but the automatic update feature has a bad habit of automatically restarting a system once certain updates are complete, without your permission. Again, it’s not really a problem unless you’re in the middle of an important gaming session. But even if it doesn’t restart your laptop, downloading updates in the background can still reduce your network speed.

While you can’t disable automatic restart, you can delay it to make your laptop faster for gaming. Here’s how:

  1. Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Click Update and security, then Windows Update.
  3. Next click Advanced options followed by Update Options.
  4. Disable Automatically download updates, even over metered data connections (charges may apply).

7. Disable Steam’s Auto-Updates

Many Windows users install games via Steam. While this is convenient, one of the disadvantages of Steam is that it automatically updates all your games. Even the ones you don’t play often. As with all background updates, this can eat up valuable resources, including processing power, memory, and limit network connectivity.

To stop Steam from updating games without your permission, you’ll want to visit your Steam client access. Then go to Steam > Settings > Downloads and make sure that Allow downloads during gameplay is unchecked.

8. Disable Notifications

While were disabling things, this tip has no direct effect on the performance of your laptop. But disabling notifications will keep you from distractions while you’re gaming. Here’s how to disable notifications so you can focus on gaming.

9. Disable Nagle’s Algorithm

Nagle’s algorithm improves internet connection by reducing the number of packets sent over the network. While it’s helpful for slower connections, it comes at the cost of a smoother internet connection and can contribute to latency issues when playing online games.

With modern internet connections often running into the hundreds of Megabits per second, disabling it can reduce latency. You’ll need to tweak the Windows registry to disable this function:

  1. Go to Powershell.
  2. Enter ipconfig and note your IPv4 address.
  3. Open Windows Registry Editor (regedit) and navigate to the folder: HKEY_LOCL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\Interfaces. Then you’ll see several subfolders.
  4. Click through each until you find the DhcpIPAddress value in the right pane that matches your IP address.
  5. Once you find the correct folder with your IP address as the DhcpIPAddress value, right-click and create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value in the same folder.
  6. Then, name it TcpAckFrequency and give it a value of ‘1’.
  7. Restart your laptop and there you have it, Nagle’s algorithm is disabled.

10. Disable Mouse Acceleration

Mouse acceleration (known as Pointer Precision by Microsoft) is a fantastic feature that’s useful for working with text editors and navigating between GUI (graphical user interface) elements in Windows and other programs – it makes the cursor move faster depending on how quickly you move your mouse.

But it can adversely affect mouse precision in games. Disabling this feature can help optimize your gaming. We’ve written extensively on just how to do that here, here, here and here.

11. Lower the Resolution

If your laptop is a high-end beast, you likely don’t need much tweaking to get the best performance. If, however, you’re like the rest of us and have to make do with what you can afford, you’ll need to make some sacrifices in the graphics department if you want smoother game play.

Just how does, turning down the resolution do this?

Lowering a game’s graphical settings lets your GPU output more frames per second. With fewer pixels to worry about, the GPU can focus on boosting FPS instead. You can usually find the resolutions settings in a game’s options menu.

Also worth noting is that most dedicated laptops can handle a 1080p resolution at 60 FPS in most games. But some might struggle to support 4K or even a 2K resolution. Non-gaming machines might struggle with 1080p gaming.

We’re just saying that it’s worth it to try out a few resolution settings options to find the right balance between graphics quality and higher FPS.

12. Tweak Visual Effects

GUI animations could be a hinderance to your laptop’s CPU performance, thereby preventing you from getting the highest FPS in your most demanding titles. By default, the Windows 10 visual settings are set to impress. But the result is that the games you play can run into conflict with GUI.

To adjust the visual settings:

  1. Press the Windows key + I to open the settings app.
  2. Select, Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.
  3. Select the radio button Adjust for best performance.
  4. Then click Apply and OK.

13. Install and Update to DirextX 12 Ultimate

DirectX is Microsoft’s collection of Windows gaming APIs (application programming interfaces). It’s a front-runner for the Microsoft operating systems, and a key element of the Windows 10 gaming experience.

Microsoft revealed that by using DirectX 12, you get an extra 20 percent improvement in frame rates. It accelerates multimedia applications like 3D games as well as video playback. If you’re using an outdated version of DirectX, you could be missing out on an FPS boost and other gaming perks.

The latest version is DirectX 12 Ultimate. It offers support for multiple GPU and CPU cores, better frame rates, lower power consumption, and enhanced graphical effects. Windows updates generally keep the DirectX version updated. But make sure you check it manually by hopping over to the DirectX diagnostic tool. To do that, open the Run dialogue box (Windows key + R), type dxdiag, and hit Enter.

14. Overclock the Graphics Card

Often, low FPS is the cause of a struggling GPU. Before upgrading the graphics card, try overclocking the GPU by increasing its clock frequency and voltage first to get more FPS for free.

MSI Afterburner is one of the most popular free tools used to tune GPU settings. It’s reliable, works on all brands of graphics cards and allows you to monitor your hardware in real-time. It also offers a fan speed control for the right balance between performance and temperature.

The MSI Afterburner’s OS Scanner feature helps you automatically find the highest stable overclock settings for your graphics card for a smooth experience with higher FPS, even for your most demanding games.

Even a moderate overclock of no more than 15 percent will safely boost performance. While overclocking does give greater performance, it also causes higher internal temperatures. So, you’ll want to keep a watchful eye on the GPU’s temperature as you overclock to avoid unsafe heat levels.

Increase the GPU speed incrementally. This can be incredibly time consuming because you’ll be checking how your laptop responds to each tweak before making further adjustments. But it’ll keep your machine from burning up.

15. Upgrade the Graphics Card

If overclocking the graphics card didn’t achieve the results you wanted. Maybe it’s time to bite the bullet and get a new graphics card to get the ultimate gaming experience.

For example, if you want to boost FPS over 60 with 4K resolution. You’ll need a top-of-the-line graphics card like the GeForce RTX 3080. You might even consider an SLI configuration, which links two graphics cards together – an SLI configuration combines the processing power of two graphics cards into a single output.

16. Defrag the MHD

Another easy way to improve gaming performance is by improving access times for apps like games by defragging your hard drive. As you create new files and delete old ones on your mechanical hard drive, files become spread out in pieces across the disk (fragmented). This slows down your hard drive. Thereby, slowing down your laptop.

Windows 10 offers a built-in defragmentation option. You can access it by searching for Defrag in the Windows Search Box. If you want more control, you can also download and install CCleaner’s Defraggler, It’s a free defrag tool that’ll give you more power-user options.

A word of caution: defragging only works on MHDs. SSDs don’t get fragmented. Defragging an SSD will reduce its lifespan. While they don’t get fragmented, SSDs can become de-optimized over time. Cleaning your SSD makes your drive faster and better optimized for gaming.

17. Upgrade to an SSD

If you’re current laptop only has an aging MHD (mechanical hard drive). One sure fire way to boost performance is by swapping it out for an SSD. Not only will a solid-state drive slash loading times, but it’ll make your laptop much faster overall.

When choosing a new SSD, capacity is important. We recommend 512GB. Why? Because modern games require a minimum of 50GB. Add on an extra 30GB for the Windows operating system. And it’s wise to think about all the other files you store on your laptop before making your final choice.

This is an important one because the hard drive is where all your games are stored permanently. SSDs increases data retrieval time, thereby accelerating gaming speeds.

18. Upgrade RAM

While you’re at it, you can add more RAM to increase gaming performance. Think of RAM as an agile workspace for all active tasks. It’s the hardware in your laptop most responsible for managing everything the system is currently working on; it’s your laptop’s flexible, short-term memory.

More RAM offers you more headroom for gaming and other tasks. To boost FPS up to 60 or more at high resolutions, you’ll want at least 16GB of RAM (but to fully realize this power for gaming requires an equally competent graphics card).

Check to see the RAM you currently have. Whether you’re adding new RAM or upgrading all your RAM modules, don’t mix and match. That is, if you’re adding more RAM, add more of what you already have. And if you’re upgrading RAM, ensure it’s all the same RAM module.

19. Disable SysMain and Prefetch

SysMain (previously SuperFetch) and Prefetch are a built-in Windows features that work to decrease start times for the Windows operating system and apps, which is good. But they can also increase game load times and drive-up background activity, which is bad. You can optimize gaming performance by turning them off.

Turning off SysMain and Prefetch can improve gaming performance. However, disabling SysMain is redundant if your laptop is equipped with an SSD. MHD laptops will see the most performance gains. This is how to disable SysMain (SuperFetch).

Disabling Prefetch, however, requires digging around the Windows registry. Type regedit in the Windows search bar and open the registry editor. Navigate to the following key using the left pane: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ Session Manager \ Memory Management \ PrefetchParameters. Then double-click EnablePrefetcher in the right pane and change the DWORD (32-bit) Value to 0.

NOTE: Again, this process involves making edits to the Windows registry. If not done properly, it may accidentally cause errors to your laptop.

20. Don’t Let Your Laptop Get Too Hot

As your laptop heats up, it cools itself down by limiting performance. You can get more FPS while gaming by keeping your laptop cool with these tips:

  • Clean the fans and vents. Regularly cleaning dust from your laptop’s air vents can help keep temperatures cool. If you can, open up the laptop to clean the fans directly. Caution: Opening your laptop could void your warranty, however.
  • Use your laptop on a smooth, flat surface. Setting your laptop on a flat surface helps air circulate around and the device, keeping things cool.
  • Use the power cable. The battery generates heat while powering your laptop. Using an external power supply from time to time will keep your laptop cool by giving your battery a break.
  • Purchase a cooling stand. Laptop cooling stands have a built-in fan blowing cool air against the bottom of your laptop. They’re relatively affordable. And most will connect to your laptop via the USB port.

21. Use High Performance Mode

Some power settings can throttle the CPU. But selecting a performance-focused power plan can optimize your laptop for gaming.

To do this, right-click the battery icon on the notification tray and select Power Options. Then click Show additional plans and enable a high-performance option. Or in the taskbar, move the slider all the way to the right to select the Best performance setting.

You’ll want to try this quick process with your laptop both plugged into a power outlet and unplugged to optimize your laptop for gaming in both cases. Note that this will effectively shorten your laptop’s battery life, but it’ll gives you all the power you need to increase FPS.