Game On: Useful Tips And Apps To Optimize Windows For Gaming

Matt Smith 12-02-2013

optimize windows for gamingGaming is among the most demanding tasks a consumer PC will ever be asked to handle. Even today’s quickest systems are sometimes tasked by spectacular games running at high resolutions. Slower systems may even struggle with titles that are a few years old.


Updating hardware is expensive, so many users look for optimizations that can improve performance for free. The truth is that many of these tweaks are barely more than snake oil. They rarely (if ever) work and provide little benefit when they do. There are just a handful of tactics that make a real difference.

Update ALL The Drivers!

optimize windows for gaming

Drivers allow hardware to talk to software. Companies often push out revisions to drivers that make this conversation more efficient. As a gamer, you may already know to update your video card drivers by visiting AMD’s or NVIDIA’s website. But have you updated your other drivers as well?

Many components including your motherboard, hard drive and network card may benefit from a driver update. Check the manufacturer website for each to find out if a new driver has been released. This information is usually found on the company’s support page. You can also try a driver finding app like Device Doctor Update Your Hardware Drivers For Free With Device Doctor Read More , SlimDrivers or DriverMax.

Kill Background Processes

windows 7 optimized for gaming


Windows is much better at managing background processes than it was back in the XP days, but problems may still occur. To see what is running on your PC, open Task Manager via the Ctrl-Alt-Delete keyboard shortcut or through a Windows search.

One Task Manager is open go to the Processes tab and sort by Memory. This will tell you what programs are eating up RAM. Common memory hogs include backup software, some antivirus programs and cloud-connected services. Shutting down these programs with End Task may help games run smoother, though do use discretion. Shutting down the antivirus, for example, will make your PC much less secure.

Many processes start automatically when a computer boots. If you’d like to stop them permanently you can open and modify msconfig How To Make Windows Boot Faster Than Ever Before One… two… three… how many minutes does it take your computer to start up? Hopefully not more than three, but it wouldn’t surprise me if you said it surpassed that time. The thing is, our... Read More . Uninstalling the program responsible for the pesky process works, too.

Install Games On Your Quickest Hard Drive

windows 7 optimized for gaming


Gamers often obsess over framerates to a fault. Though this is important, smooth gameplay also relies on a player’s hard drive. New levels, textures and other data must be loaded from it – so the quicker, the better!
You’ll reduce load times and improve gameplay by installing games on your quickest hard drive. If you’re not sure which drive is the quickest you can determine that by using free benchmark software The 10 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows Use these fantastic and free benchmark software for Windows to troubleshoot your system and keep it updated. Read More  like SiSoft Sandra, ATTO or HD Tune.

If you own not only a mechanical hard drive, but also a large USB 3.0 flash drive and USB 3.0 compatible PC, you might be able to reduce game load times by installing the game on the flash drive.

Overclock Your Video Card

windows 7 optimized for gaming

Your system’s video card is responsible for rendering a game’s graphics. Overclocking it can provide a slight improvement in a game’s frame rate – perhaps enough to make a game playable.


AMD’s overclock utility is known as Overdrive and is bundled with AMD drivers. NVIDIA calls its solution nTune and provides it as a separate download.  Both of these officially supported applications are free and can be used to overclock a card in just a few steps. We even have a guide to Overdrive How To Overclock An ATI Video Card With ATI Overdrive Read More that will help you with an AMD card.

Remember, overclocking is not without risk. Going too far can cause system instability or damage hardware. When adjusting your card’s speed you should do so in small steps and test each step with FurMark Test Your Graphics Card Stability With Furmark In this guide to FurMark, we explain how to use FurMark to test your graphics card. We'll also help you interpret the results. Read More . If a card can run FurMark for ten minutes it should be stable in games – if it can’t, you’ll need to step the card’s speed back down until stability is achieved.

Adjust Windows Settings

ow to optimize for gaming

Many of the snake oil solutions involve deleting this or that registry file, adding more virtual RAM and other miscellaneous tweaks. A decade ago such advice might be valid, but Windows has been much better at managing its own resources since the release of Vista. Still, there are a few actions that might help.


First check your computer for any maintenance that might need to be performed. Do a Windows search for “troubleshooting,” click on Troubleshooting result and then open the System And Security sub-section. Now open and run the System Maintenance troubleshooter. It will automatically run through any necessary tasks that have been ignored.

Next do a Windows search for “power” and open Power Options. Change your power management plan to High Performance, if it’s not already selected, and then close the window.

Finally, do a search for “uninstall” and open the Uninstall A Program result. Go through the list and get rid of any software that you no longer use. This can free up hard drive space and get rid of programs that may be running in the background.

You Can Only Do So Much

In theory, overclocking a video card can increase its speed by 15% to 25% and moving files to a quicker hard drive can make games load several times more quickly. In truth, the results vary and some users may see no noticeable improvement at all.

Even though you optimize windows for gaming, it may not be enough. Software tweaks won’t magically make your processor quicker or fabricate additional video RAM out of thin air. In fact, the nature of PC performance makes the gamers most in need of help the least likely to receive it. A 15% boost to game already running at 40 frames per second may be noticeable. The same boost to a game running at 14 frames per second may not make a difference at all.

Still, these tweaks can and hopefully will help your PC. If nothing else they should reduce load times and make your games less likely to momentarily hang or freeze.

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Overclocking.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Zaid Mark
    February 20, 2013 at 7:58 am

    i never know how easy it is to optimize PC for gaming. Great Tips

  2. Nickolas Afg
    February 14, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    good, but unfortunately I can't update my GPU driver. cause Nvidia and Sony doesn't support my graphic dirver.
    It's a shame.

  3. João Laranjeira
    February 14, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Thanks for the tips. Maybe now i play CoD Black Ops without crash my PC..... :)

  4. Rudi Niemand
    February 13, 2013 at 9:37 am

    I know it's only a small detail, but the actual shortcut for getting up the Windows task manager is CTRL + SHIFT + ESC. Another point, killing explorer.exe (Windows Explorer) does help with freeing up a few CPU clock cycles and some RAM when playing games. Just remember to re-start it after exiting the game by bringing up the task manager and starting a new process, type "explorer" and hit enter.

  5. bardwso
    February 12, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    All very well and good but until Microsoft fixes the internet slowdown wreak of Windows 8 I can't even download my games down from Steam.

    Yes, have tried everything.

    • epiquestions
      April 26, 2013 at 11:28 am

      I am on Windows 8 and my internet speed was not affected. I can download fine from Steam, applications, torrents etc. It might be your configuration. Try installing a bandwidth monitoring software

  6. Asif Mistry
    February 12, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    You have mentioned to change the power options but does it matter in terms of performance for a desktop pc

  7. Humza Aamir
    February 12, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Gamebooster is a good application for gaming, although it may disable certain background processes that we may want to continue. My biggest problem though, are the AMD drivers and their updates. Mine's an HD 6770m and currently works with drivers from early 2011. I can't get the newer ones to work, although AMD does claim the support for it. I'm sure if I could update them, my games would improve alot.