Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Do you find that your computer doesn’t run games as well as it used to? Don’t worry, because we’re here to help you optimize your PC for gaming.
Software and hardware both play major roles in how your system performs. So you can take several steps to optimize your PC for gaming for free or less than the cost of a new computer.
Follow these gaming PC setup tips to make sure your computer is running to its maximum potential.
1. Maintain Your Machine
The biggest problem most people have with their rig isn’t a lack of money, but time. As the years go by, all PCs become slower. Whether that’s due to bloatware, hardware issues, or dated components, games eventually stop running as well as they used to.
In order to keep your computer at peak working conditions—no matter the setup—you’ll need to perform regular maintenance on your PC. See our list of the most important Windows maintenance tasks for guidance.
If you have an SSD (as most do nowadays), you don’t need to worry about defragmenting your drive. However, you should know how to manage your Windows 10 startup folder to prevent unnecessary programs from running in the background while you’re gaming.
It’s also vital that you keep your Windows drivers updated, especially your graphics drivers. Installing the latest updates from Nvidia or AMD can often lead to better visual performance.
2. Optimize Windows 10 for Gaming
Windows 10 includes lots of gamer-friendly features that you should know how to take advantage of. Game Mode, for example, optimizes your computer for gaming with one toggle. However, you should also be aware of settings that can interrupt your playing.
See our complete guide detailing how to optimize Windows 10 for gaming. This shows you how to prevent Windows Update from interrupting a great round and other tricks to help Windows 10 perform better.
Even if you only use your PC to play games, it’s still important to make sure the underlying operating system runs at its best. While the above won’t magically turn your PC into a souped-up gaming machine, they’re necessary steps in getting your machine working at peak condition.
3. Make Sure You Have the Right Hardware
If you’re a casual PC user, you probably have no desire to fix what’s not broken. For avid PC gamers, however, part of the fun is modifying your PC to meet your wants as well as your needs. Hardware is vital when it comes to your gaming computer setup.
PC hardware upgrades come in many forms; some are simple and some more complex. We have previously provided a few straightforward tips on what hardware upgrades have a lasting effect on your PC.
Upgrade to an SSD
This goes without saying in the enthusiast community, but if you’re a new PC gamer, you might not be aware of this. Storage disks come in two main types: hard disk drives (HDD) and solid-state drives (SSD). HDDs offer more storage space for a lower cost. However, they’re much slower than SSDs.
If you don’t already have one, the best upgrade you can make to your PC is adding an SSD. This will speed the entire system up from booting to shutdown. You’ll also find that games load much more quickly.
Not sure what to get? Give the Samsung 860 EVO a look; it’s an affordable option from a reliable line of SSDs.
Install More RAM
Next, you should check to see if you’re making the most of your motherboard’s RAM capacity. This is another simple and relatively inexpensive way to boost your PC’s gaming performance. RAM allows you to run more processes at the same time. If you don’t have enough, more intensive games may stutter or even refuse to run altogether.
Unlike the SSD, we can’t provide a specific recommendation here. This is because not all motherboards support the same amount or types of RAM. You’ll need to check your motherboard specifications in the manual or online before you decide what RAM to get.
However, there are a few general RAM upgrade tips to note. The current minimum for gaming is 8GB of RAM, which should handle most games. If you want to future-proof your build, springing for 16GB is a good idea. 32GB or beyond is only necessary for hardcore players.
To take advantage of dual-channel memory slots in most modern computers, it’s better to have two sticks than one. So if you want to upgrade to 16GB of RAM, you should buy two 8GB sticks instead of one 16GB stick. The same idea holds true if your motherboard has four RAM slots.
Review Your Graphics Card
In many cases, your graphics card determines what games you can play and the graphical settings you can enjoy them at.
If you’re gaming on integrated graphics, you should look at upgrading to a dedicated graphics card right away. Integrated graphics are very limited for gaming, so you’ll run into a brick wall before long.
Have a graphics card, but not sure if it’s any good? We have previously looked at how to find out what games your PC will run. These services also let you compare your hardware to that of other users, so you can get an idea of how powerful your system is.
4. Consider Overclocking
Modern overclocking is simple, safe, and quick. While it’s not a fail-safe way of boosting PC performance (even we’ve had issues with overclocking software), you can potentially boost the performance of any computer component a generation upward. That’s a serious improvement for a few mouse clicks.
Keep in mind that not everyone will receive such fantastic overclock numbers. Rarely, however, will you end your overclock journey empty-handed. Besides, it doesn’t cost anything to try.
Check out our guide detailing how to safely overclock your GPU to get started.
Get Your Gaming PC Game-Ready
With these tips to optimize your PC for gaming, you don’t have to own a maxed-out PC to enjoy gaming. Upgrading certainly goes a long way, but in many cases, basic software maintenance can help squeeze better performance out of your machine. Put these tips into practice and see if your favorite games run a little better.
If you’ve concluded that your PC is just too old and you need to start fresh, follow our guide detailing how to build an affordable gaming PC.
And to make sure you enjoy your experience even more, take a look at the best gaming accessories for all gamers.
Image Credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock