(Pocket-lint) – So you bought yourself a shiny new gaming PC or built yourself one from scratch and you’re ready to start playing. But just because you have a fresh copy of Windows installed and your games downloaded doesn’t mean your PC is necessarily running at its best.
There are still a few things you can do to optimize your PC for an even better gaming experience. Just a few tweaks to Windows settings can make all the difference.
We’ve written before about how to get more FPS out of your graphics card and game engine, but here we’re talking about further optimizing it for the gaming edge.
1. Turn on game mode
Windows is already conveniently built for gaming. Microsoft knows that PC users love to play games. This is why Game Pass is so popular. As standard though Windows still needs some tweaks to optimize performance, one of these includes game mode. This is a setting that manages system resources for better performance while gaming.
To turn on Game Mode, follow these steps:
- Press the Start button on your keyboard and type Game
- Click Game Modes Settings when it appears at the top of the Start menu
- Click the button to turn on Game mode
2. Disable notifications
Optimizing your PC for gaming is great, you know what else is great? Not to be interrupted while you play. Windows has a setting to turn off notifications at specific times or when certain things happen. So no more annoying pop-ups to ruin your fun.
To access the settings, follow these steps:
- Press the Windows start button on your computer or keyboard and type Focus Assist
- In the focus settings click on notifications – “app and system alerts, do not disturb”
- Find the “turn on do not disturb automatically” setting
- Check “playing game”
Alternatively, you can choose specific times of the day for the do not disturb mode to turn on. This works if you know you always play in the evening for example. Just set the time and enjoy blissful gameplay without notification.
3. Turn on Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling
Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling allows your machine to optimize performance and reduce latency. If you have the right hardware (recent graphics card) and are running Windows 10 or 11, then you can easily turn on this setting, as well as Game Mode:
- Press the Start button and search for Graphics Settings
- Then click to turn on Hardware-accelerated GPU Programming
- Scroll down and look at the settings for “graphics performance preference” from there you can select the app to set your preference. For Nvidia, this is the Nvidia Control Panel. You can choose this as a desktop app or Microsoft store via the menu
- Click on the app, click on options and select high performance
- Repeat for any game where you want maximum performance
4. Adjust for best performance
As standard Windows is set to focus on the best possible appearance. So it looks stylish with all the different animations and shiny edges. However, these quality settings can have a negative impact on gameplay. So it might pay to turn them off or at least adjust for performance instead of looks.
To do this:
- Press the Windows start button on your computer or keyboard and type appearance and performance
- Click “Adjust the performance and appearance of Windows” when it appears
- Look for the setting that says “adjust for best performance”
- Select that and click apply
- On the advanced tab click to verify that best performance is set for apps and not background tasks
5. Turn off enhanced pointer precision
You may have purchased a high-end gaming mouse to give you an edge over the competition, but that mouse may have its performance hindered by Windows settings.
Windows has various settings related to the mouse pointer and one, in particular, can be a problem, so we need to disable it:
- Press the Windows start button on your computer or keyboard and type mouse pointer
- Click on “change the display or speed of the mouse pointer”
- Under the setting marked “movement” uncheck the option “improve pointer accuracy”
- Click apply
While we’re at it, we’d also recommend checking your mouse software. Many modern gaming mice have high polling rates. Click to select whichever is the highest – 1,000 Hz, 4,000 Hz or 8,000 Hz – in your software so that your signals reach your computer faster and there is less latency.
6. Update your drivers
If you want the best performance, we find it’s important to not only make sure Windows is updated regularly (preferably outside of your gaming hours), but that your graphics card drivers are also up to date.
We’ve written before about how to update Nvidia drivers and clean install them for the best results, but it’s also worth just staying on top of the updates so you have the latest drivers.
The easiest way to do this with Nvidia graphics cards is to use GeForce Experience. Once that is downloaded and installed, there is an option to automatically download and install drivers. Click to turn that on and install the latest whenever they are released.
7. Turn on Nvidia G-Sync
If you have a compatible monitor and a new graphics card, then you can and should turn on G-Sync. We’ve written before about how to do this, but basically G-Sync makes sure your monitor’s refresh rate matches the frames per second your graphics card is putting out for the game you’re playing.
Turn on G-Sync on your monitor and within Windows settings and this will prevent screen tearing and guarantee smooth gameplay while you play. We would also recommend adjusting your game’s display settings to match your monitor’s refresh rate and limiting the maximum FPS to the high end of your refresh rate.
8. Set your monitor refresh rate
Windows does not always default to using the maximum refresh rate for your connected display. If you’ve got yourself a fancy gaming monitor with a high refresh rate, then you need to turn on the setting both on the monitor and in Windows.
Otherwise, the monitor defaults to only 60Hz. So follow these steps to choose your maximum refresh rate:
- Right click on your desktop and click display settings
- Scroll down until you see “advanced display settings”
- Then scroll down to refresh rate and click on the drop down menu. From there select your monitor’s maximum refresh rate.
If you don’t see the setting you expect, then chances are you’re using the wrong cable. Some monitors might only output a maximum refresh rate via a DisplayPort cable, otherwise, HDMI 2.1 might be worth looking at.
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9. Initial settings
Many of the applications you install will automatically force themselves into startup processes. So when you turn on your computer and log in to Windows, those programs will be waiting for you. Sometimes this is not useful because the programs then become background processes that waste processing power and resources.
Fortunately, it is quite easy to disable these programs and not only speed up your computer, but also optimize it when you play games. Follow these steps:
- Press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC to launch Task Manager
- Look for the Start tab and click on that
- Search the list of apps and look for something you don’t use regularly
- Right click on the offending programs and click disable
Alternatively, in Windows 11 you can access these settings by clicking the start button and searching for Startup apps. Click on that system setting and you can then go through and turn apps on and off.
Writing by Adrian Willings.