5 Solid Tweaks to Optimize Your Computer For Gaming

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It’s a sad fact that gaming hardware is quickly outdated. Turn your back for a few days, and the previous minimum specs have already been left behind.

Of course, there’s a good chance your computer isn’t even running at its optimum performance. A cluttered hard disk or outdated graphics card can go a long way to slowing down your gaming system.

Below are a number of tips to optimize your computer for gaming, and allow you to play more games with your current set up. Have a slightly outdated computer? There might still be some hope for you!

1. Regular (Preventive) Maintenance

Although this seems rather obvious, a lot of people still neglect to maintain their hardware. Like with a car, if you don’t take care of it, it’ll slowly start to deteriorate. There are a few things we need to optimize your computer and to take care of it keep it up and running.

Hard Drive Space

First and foremost, make sure you still have some space left on your hard drive. I know a lot of people who operate at, or even above 95% of maximum storage capacity. Not only does this give you little breathing room, your computer will also run slower because of it. Admit it, you don’t need half of what’s stored on your hard drive right now. So get rid of it.

Defragmenting

When using a hard drive, space is used wherever available. As such, some files are fragmented all over the disk. The defragment utility analyzes your hard drive, and attempts to consolidate those fragmented files, in an attempt to optimize your computer and speed up your system.

optimize computer for gaming

You can find the Disk Defragmenter under Start -> Accessories -> System Tools. Optimally, you can also set a defragmenting schedule. This is done by default on a number of computers, but double checking doesn’t hurt.

Installed Applications

The same story of the hard drive is true for applications. More installed applications results in a slower running computer. Go to Control Panel -> Uninstall a program and get rid of all those applications you once installed, but in fact rarely use.

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Updates Updates Updates

Contrary to popular belief, not all Windows’ updates are intended for your displeasure, discomfort, or to keep a tab on your every digital move. Some of them actually improve your system’s performance by fixing known bugs. Imagine that! It’s often best to let the update utility do its thing. If you’ve got your Windows updates turned off, at least check them manually once in a while.

2. Efficient Use Of Processing Power

A computer, although an amazing piece of engineering, can only run so many tasks. Modern games can already be incredibly complicated, so there’s little sense in straining your system. Use common sense in determining what is possible.

Unless you’re on a very slow system, Notepad probably won’t hurt, but at least shut down Photoshop and MS Word before firing up that MMORPG.

optimize computer for gaming

Look in your system notification bar at the downright corner of the screen to view programs that are running in the background. Although they aren’t visibly performing any tasks, they’re still leeching off your processing power. Close down as many of those as you can, but leave sound and graphics controllers alone.

A final tip. Do shut down your instant messaging program. Even on stronger systems, an aggressive message notification can minimize your game at critical moments, exponentially increase your ping (the response time between computer and server, ‘lagging’ is caused by this), or even outright crash your game.

If necessary, there are special in-game messaging alternatives like XFire, Ventrilo and Steam.

3. (Custom) Graphics Card Drivers

Your graphics card is an essential part of your gaming system. It does the heavy lifting when 3D graphics are rendered. As such, it’s an absolute must to keep your graphics drivers updated as well.

optimize your computer

Although the chip sets are predominantly made by ATI or NVIDIA, the graphics cards themselves are sometimes built by secondary companies. Check your box, or on the graphics card to get the necessary details and go to your manufacturer’s website to look for the latest drivers.

optimize pc for gaming

In case your graphics card has trouble keeping up, you can always use custom gaming drivers. Omega Drivers have added customizability, and a number of optimizations and internal tweaks to give them that extra edge over normal drivers, which “are often tailored for synthetic benchmarks”, according to the Omega Drivers headsman.

4. Put Your PC In ‘Gaming Mode’ With Vista Services

Vista Services (don’t be fooled, the application works like a charm on Windows 7 as well) is a nifty little freeware system optimizer. Alas, we’re only going to use it for one specific feature; Gaming Mode.

optimize pc for gaming

As expected, gaming mode temporarily optimizes your computer for playing games. This is done by shutting down a number of trivial and unnecessary Windows services. This will give your computer that extra boost for playing games. Other features of the Gaming Mode will help you close unnecessary programs and tune down Windows visual effects.

5. Tinker With Your Computer’s Hardware

Are you still stammering on the lowest possible graphics configuration, and do none of these software solutions seal the deal for you? Perhaps it’s time to upgrade your PC’s hardware. A great place to start out is our free PDF guide on How To Build A Gaming PC, even if you’re just looking to replace a part or two.

optimize pc

Don’t feel like you’re up to tinkering with your own PC? You can nearly always find help in your local hardware store, or one of the bigger ‘offline’ franchises. It’s a sad fact that gaming hardware gets outdated quickly.

Do you have any other tips for our fellow gamers? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Comments (25)
  • jujdred

    Regardless of what those ‘theorists’ try to get you to believe, simple little tips such as this as well as certain programs running to help boost system performance where it counts like Memory free space utilization, cpu cache settings, HDD In\Out settings and others have allowed me to successfully continue playing even modern day games that call for multiple cores with 2+ gigs of RAM and super uber VGA’s with my trusty old socket 939 single core with 2 gigs and a 9800gtx, with no problems.
    And yes, defragmenting DOES help if you do it right. It’s a fact that the outside of a drive is faster than the rest of it, and the less your head moves the less wear\tear on your drive\system and improved throughput in general.
    So these tips are not newbie only, I’ve been doing this for 12 years and still holds water to this day. So don’t knock it for the little guy just because you can afford an uber buff rig. Hell, all my stuff is hand me downs anyway.

  • Nibir Farhan

    @jeff66

    I didn’t understand the idea of “giving games their own partitions”. u mean creating separate partitions for every single game?

    I have a software “3d analyzer”. it’s a kinda virtual graphics card. It uses some RAM as graphics memory and creates a virtual graphics card. U can have the test of 4 graphics card with this soft – NVIDIA GeForce Ti4600, NVIDIA GeForceFX 5900 Ultra, ATi Raedon 8500, ATi Raedon 9800 Pro. There are many tweaking options inside. This soft already supports vast amount of games without hassle. it may not support all the games in the world but if u are a tech savy and have good knowledge of graphics card features, u might be able to make it work with this soft. This software doesn’t modify the main graphics card files. If u don’t have a high level graphics card to play certain games, u can have a try on this.

    If anybody needs this software and muo allows me, i can give mediafire link.

  • Nibir Farhan

    @jeff66

    I didn’t understand the idea of “giving games their own partitions”. u mean creating separate partitions for every single game?

    I have a software “3d analyzer”. it’s a kinda virtual graphics card. It uses some RAM as graphics memory and creates a virtual graphics card. U can have the test of 4 graphics card with this soft – NVIDIA GeForce Ti4600, NVIDIA GeForceFX 5900 Ultra, ATi Raedon 8500, ATi Raedon 9800 Pro. There are many tweaking options inside. This soft already supports vast amount of games without hassle. it may not support all the games in the world but if u are a tech savy and have good knowledge of graphics card features, u might be able to make it work with this soft. This software doesn’t modify the main graphics card files. If u don’t have a high level graphics card to play certain games, u can have a try on this.

    If anybody needs this software and muo allows me, i can give mediafire link.

  • hardikjakharia

    Vista services seems like a nice app.. will try it later at home PC..

    - Hardik Jakharia

  • xartz

    I usually keep the whole Programs folder in separate partition. I think it works!
    And for the defragmenting Tuneup is the best, as for any software for that you have to do it regularly.
    Turn off or set to manual , the useless services in widows like printer spooling if you dont have a printer!
    Good luck.

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.