As games become more complex and resource-intensive, PC gamers can experience situations wherein their rig can’t keep up with their game. After all, not everyone can afford fully-fledged gaming loadouts like the folks at Reddit’s /r/battlestations.
All is not lost, however! With these simple tips, we’ll make your PC — high-end or not — ready for games in no time.
Maintain Your Machine
The largest problem most users have with their rig isn’t money, but time. Over time, all PCs become slower. Whether that’s due to bloatware, hardware issues, or dated components, games won’t run like they used to.
Before you continue to optimize your PC, consider benchmarking (or stress-testing) it first. While your current frames per second (FPS) count is almost never good enough, finding where exactly your PC is suffering could determine which course of action to take next.
1. In order to keep your rig at peak working conditions — no matter the setup — you’ll need to perform regular maintenance on your PC. While the specific programs you should use are up to you, tasks like regularly defragmenting your PC are a must. If you have a hard disk drive as opposed to a solid-state drive, Windows should already do this for you automatically.
There are a few key parameters all users should keep in check:
- Fragmentation is created over the normal course of software installations, and occurs when files become scattered across your hard drive (as opposed to ordered in easy-to-access sections). This only affects traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) and is not an issue on solid-state drives (SSDs).
- Bloatware is the term for unnecessary, pre-installed — or default — programs. These programs may create popups, update, and cause memory conflicts at startup or during regular use.
- Startup programs activate when your PC is turned on. These programs may interrupt foreground processes and take up processor power regularly. Some may even be virus infections, initiated from the get-go and lurking in the shadows while you use your PC.
To prevent these and more problems from occurring, check out the article on maintenance provided above.
2. Have you ever been playing a game on a Windows 10 machine, only to have it update during a round? Suffer from networking issues even though your PC is brand-new? You can prevent this and more from happening by adjusting certain adjusting certain Windows parameters.
While Windows 10 is a great operating system and highly favored among gamers, there’s always room for improvement. Our guide linked above shows how to do just that: improve Windows 10 so games run better for longer.
THANK YOU WINDOWS FOR REBOOTING MY MACHINE AND INSTALLING AN UPDATE IN THE MIDDLE OF A RANKED OVERWATCH GAME.
— Richard Maxwell (@JodiTheTigger) February 17, 2017
Maintaining your PC and ensuring it is bloatware and virus-free are a must before using it as a gaming machine. 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.
Modify Your PC
I get it: you’re a casual PC user, with 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 performance needs.
PC modding comes in many forms — some are simple and some complex. All the methods we provide here are secure, easy to learn, and can have a lasting effect on your PC’s gaming performance.
The Most Important Modifications
3. Before anything else, ensure you have maxed your motherboard’s RAM capacity. This is often the simplest — and cheapest — method of upgrading a PC’s general performance. RAM, among other things, controls the overall speed at which your PC commits tasks. A boost from, say, a 2 or 4 GB stick to 8 GB of RAM will provide a major performance boost both in-game and when using your computer for other tasks.
Not all motherboards can support the same amount of RAM or the same RAM types. Double-check your motherboard specifications before springing for that 32 GB RAM stick. The current AAA-rated gaming norm is 8 GB of RAM, with a 16 GB standard for heavier PC users. Most modern motherboards, including many budget motherboards, support up to 16 GB.
4. Modern overclocking is simple, safe, and quick. While it’s not a fail-safe way of boosting PC performance (even I have had issues with overclocking software), you could conceivably boost the performance of any single component a generation upward. That’s a serious improvement for a few mouse clicks.
Keep in mind, not everyone will receive such fantastic overclock numbers. Rarely, however, will you end your overclock journey empty-handed. Besides, it’s free!
5. If you want to take a walk on the paid upgrade side, there are three essential component upgrades to consider: graphics card, CPU, and storage. While deciding on uniform component upgrades is difficult — since it requires prior knowledge of your motherboard, budget, gaming taste, etc. — finding upgrades is a fairly simple process.
While installing PC components may seem dangerous to some people, at times it’s as simple as unplugging and re-plugging a component.
If you’re not familiar with your PC’s hardware components, Speccy provides a great interface to view component names and models. For upgrades, I would suggest using PCPartPicker. Its library is extensive, the website automatically searches for compatibility issues among components, and you can save your configuration for later viewing or editing.
Get Game Ready!
There are PCs, and there are gaming PCs. The difference? The user, mostly. You don’t have to own a maxed-out PC to enjoy every in-game pixel the virtual world has to offer, so optimize your PC and get to gaming now!
Image Credit: Syda Productions via Shutterstock.com