Gaming Windows

How to Optimize Windows 10 for Gaming and Performance

Christian Cawley Updated 18-05-2020

Windows 10 is a great OS for gamers, mixing native games, support for retro titles, and even Xbox One streaming. But it isn’t perfect straight out of the box.

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Some tweaks are required to enjoy the best gaming experience Windows 10 has to offer. Here are several ways to optimize your Windows 10 PC for gaming.

1. Optimize Windows 10 With Gaming Mode

Optimize Windows 10 for better gaming performance

Looking for another option to squeeze the best gaming performance out of Windows 10?

Later releases of the operating system feature a gaming mode, built-in optimizations for Windows 10 gamers. To find out more:

  1. Press Windows key + I
  2. Type game mode
  3. Click Game Mode settings or Turn on Game Mode
  4. On the Gaming screen, click Game Mode
  5. Switch to On to use Game Mode

If your PC supports Game Mode, resources will be managed to achieve the optimum frame rate. Additionally, Windows Update will be suspended.

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While this is one way to improve gaming performance on Windows 10, Game Mode is not perfect. Keep reading for more Windows 10 gaming tweaks.

2. Disable Nagle’s Algorithm

Nagle’s algorithm essentially bundles data packets at the cost of a smoother internet connection. It’s useful but having Nagle’s algorithm enabled on your computer may contribute to latency issues when playing games online.

To disable this and improve gaming performance on Windows 10, start by checking your IP address:

  1. Hit Windows key + X
  2. Select Windows PowerShell
  3. Enter ipconfig
  4. Look for “IPv4 address” to identify your PC’s IP address

With the IP address noted, edit the Windows Registry:

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  1. Click Start
  2. Type regedit
  3. Select Registry Editor (Tread carefully when fiddling with the Windows Registry How Not to Accidentally Mess Up the Windows Registry Working with the Windows registry? Take note of these tips, and you'll be much less likely to do lasting damage to your PC. Read More )

In the address bar, copy and paste the following path:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\Interfaces

In the left-hand pane, you’ll see a collection of folders, with filenames comprised of letters and numbers. To access the correct file, match your IP address with the one listed against DhcpIPAddress in one of these folders.

Disable Nagle's Algorithm for better online gaming network speeds

When you find your matching folder:

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  1. Right-click on the folder
  2. Select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value
  3. Name this TcpAckFrequency
  4. Click OK
  5. Select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value again
  6. Name this one TCPNoDelay.
  7. Double-click on each and set their parameters to 1

Doing so disables Nagle’s Algorithm. If you run into any problems, reset their parameter values to 0 and they will be disabled.

3. Optimize Windows 10 Online Gaming With Faster DNS

If you’re playing online multiplayer or relying on a remote server for Windows 10 gaming, network traffic can cause problems.

While upgrading to faster internet can help, it’s quicker and cheaper to just make some networking tweaks.

  1. Hit Windows + I to open Settings
  2. Find Network and Internet > Change Adapter Settings.
  3. Right-click on your wireless network
  4. Select Properties
  5. Highlight Internet Protocol Version 4.
  6. Make a note of the two DNS entries for future reference
  7. Replace them with 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1.
  8. Click OK, then Close.
  9. Restart your default browser

Your internet should now be faster, which will help with online gaming.

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4. Disable Automatic Updates for Better Windows 10 Gaming

Windows 10 will automatically update your OS and schedule a restart without your permission. While this feature doesn’t activate often, you never want to be caught unaware and risk your game save.

Not only can automatic updates restart Windows without warning, downloading updates in the background will limit your network connectivity.

While you cannot disable automatic restart, it can be delayed. To reduce the chance of Windows Update downloads interrupting your gaming performance:

  1. Open Settings with Windows key + I
  2. Click Update and Security > Windows Update
  3. Look for Advanced options then click Update Options
  4. Disable Restart this device as soon as possible when a restart is required to install an update.
  5. Enable Show a notification (Windows will give plenty of warning when the system is going to restart following an update)
  6. Use Pause updates to delay installation of updates for up to 35 days

Limit Windows Update to improve game performance

By specifying when you’ll be using Windows 10, you can prevent Windows Updates downloading and installing during active hours.

5. Disable Notifications in Windows 10

The Focus Assist feature in Windows 10 lets you specify how and when you receive notifications.

Popups and chimes usually accompany notifications, but these can interrupt games. The solution is to minimize the impact of notifications, using Focus Assist. It’s basically a feature that lets you manage what level of focus you devote to your work.

  1. Hit Windows + I to open Settings
  2. Click System > Focus Assist
  3. Select Alarms Only to hide all other notifications
  4. Close the Settings screen

Disable notifications to improve Windows 10 gaming

6. Prevent Steam Auto-Updating Games

If you use Windows to play games, you’re probably buying and installing games via Steam.

One of the largest annoyances with Steam is its update feature. This blocks you from preventing automatic updates across all your games. This may eat up memory by updating games you don’t play or limit your network connectivity with background updates.

To prevent Steam from updating games in the background:

  1. Launch the Steam client
  2. Open Steam > Settings > Downloads
  3. Uncheck Allow downloads during gameplay

Tweak Steam for Windows 10 gaming optimizations

You can also prevent Steam from downloading updates for largely unused games:

  1. Open the Steam Library
  2. Right-click an underused but installed game
  3. Select Properties and find Automatic Updates
  4. Change Always keep this game up to date to Only update this game when I launch it

Disable automatic updates in Steam for optimized Windows 10 gaming

With Steam correctly optimized, Windows 10 will be ready for AAA gaming.

7. Tweak Windows 10 Visual Effects for Game Improvements

Your graphical user interfaces (GUI) can be a hindrance to your processing power. By default, your Windows 10 appearance settings are set to impress.

Games running in the foreground may conflict with a shiny GUI running in the background. Adjust these settings to optimize Windows 10 for gaming performance.

  1. Open Settings with Windows key + I
  2. Type performance
  3. Select Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.
  4. In the settings box, select Adjust for best performance
  5. Click Apply
  6. Click the Advanced tab
  7. Ensure that Adjust the best performance of is set to Programs
  8. Apply again, then OK to confirm

8. Tweak Your Mouse Settings for Windows 10 Gaming

Could you mouse be impacting gaming performance on Windows 10? To find out, it’s a smart idea to optimize your mouse settings. A feature called pointer precision (AKA mouse acceleration) can impact how your mouse performs in games. Disabling this can help to optimize gaming in Windows 10.

  1. Open Settings
  2. Click Devices > Mouse
  3. View the Pointer Options tab
  4. Clear the Enhance pointer precision checkmark
  5. Click Apply
  6. Click OK to exit—you might also adjust the pointer speed to suit

Disable mouse enhancements to optimize Windows 10 gaming

If gaming has improved, your mouse was almost certainly slowing things down.

9. Max Power Plan to Improve Windows 10 Gaming Performance

Power options are often ignored due to their supposedly negligible effect. Some gamers claim adjusting for higher performance works, while others fail to notice any difference changing their PC power settings.

The only way to know for sure is to test it out on your PC. To change your power settings:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Type power
  3. Click > Power & sleep settings > Additional power settings
  4. Select the high-performance option
  5. If none is available, use Create a power plan to configure a new, custom power plan

This option will allow your PC to perform better at the cost of higher energy consumption and temperature levels. For this reason, it’s better to activate this Windows 10 optimization on the desktop rather than laptop PCs.

10. Keep Your Windows 10 Drivers Updated for Improved Gaming Performance

Your GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is the core of your PC gaming experience. However, the GPU requires the latest Windows driver to keep it working faster and better.

All graphics cards, no matter how old or new, benefit from continually updated drivers.

To check your GPU name and specs:

  1. Right-click Desktop
  2. Select Display settings > Advanced display settings
  3. At the bottom, find Display adapter properties

Optimize Windows 10 display settings for improved gaming

You can download driver updates through this window under Properties > Driver > Update Driver. Alternatively, visit the manufacturer’s website to ensure the driver is up to date.

Manufacturers will often provide free gaming and update software to keep your drivers up to date automatically. An example is AMD’s Gaming Evolved client.

For optimal performance, it is highly recommended that you install the chipset and LAN drivers for your motherboard as well. Since these are crucial for optimal gaming performance, this makes sense.

The easiest method to check chipset drivers is to open Windows PowerShell (right-click Start to find it) and enter:

wmic baseboard get product,Manufacturer,version,serialnumber

Your motherboard’s manufacturer and the product name will appear in the command prompt.

List your manufacturer and product name to search for your drivers online. You should find the necessary software on the Support page of the manufacturer’s website.

Along with the chipset drivers, you will also find your on-board LAN drivers for an optimal internet connection.

11. Install DirectX 12 to Optimize for Gaming

DirectX 12, the latest version of Microsoft’s popular API tool, is a key element of Windows 10 gaming.

It delivers support for multiple GPU and CPU cores, better frame rates, lowered power consumption and enhanced graphical effects.

To check if you have the latest version of DirectX:

  1. Open Windows PowerShell
  2. Type dxdiag
  3. Tap Enter

Moments later, you’ll see the DirectX Diagnostic Tool.

Ensure DirectX 12 is installed to ensure game optimizations for Windows 10

Don’t have DirectX 12 installed? There’s a small chance this can happen if you have upgraded from Windows 8.1. Fix this by:

  1. Opening Settings with Windows key + I
  2. Select Update and security
  3. Find Windows Update > Check for updates
  4. Wait while the updates install

DirectX12 will automatically optimize many gaming settings in Windows 10.

Optimize Windows 10 for Gaming With These 11 Tweaks

Windows 10 is a legitimate delight for the modern gamer (and now, so is Linux, thanks to these technologies and services that have saved gaming on Linux 12 Technologies and Services That Saved Gaming on Linux Thinking about switching to Linux for gaming? Here's how gaming on Linux evolved from a few open-source clones to AAA releases. Read More .)

With a towering game selection, Xbox One compatibility and software specifically designed for gaming, it’s clear the gamer community has a special place in Windows 10’s future. However, nothing’s perfect. Reach closer to gaming perfection with these Windows 10 gaming optimizations:

  1. Windows 10 Gaming Mode
  2. Disable Nagle’s Algorithm
  3. Use faster DNS servers
  4. Disable automatic updates
  5. Disable Notifications in Windows 10
  6. Prevent automatic updates from Steam
  7. Tweak visual effects for performance
  8. Adjust mouse settings to improve gaming speeds
  9. Use maximum power settings
  10. Keep drivers up to date
  11. Install DirectX 12

Gaming on your laptop? You’ll benefit from these extra tips to improve gaming performance on your Windows 10 laptop 10 Ways to Improve Gaming Performance on Your Laptop Want improved laptop gaming performance? Here's how to improve laptop performance and ensure you can easily run the games you want. Read More . Do you also need a special router for a better gaming experience? Let’s see if gaming routers are worth it What Are Gaming Routers and Are They Worth Buying? Think you've got all the top gaming hardware? What about a gaming router? Here's what you need to know before you buy one. Read More .

Related topics: Gaming Tips, Windows Tips.

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

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  1. Breno
    July 12, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    Thank you very much, great article.

  2. John
    May 15, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Nagles algorithm should not be disabled in any case, this is terrible advice.

  3. Joe
    July 29, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    The Nagles "hack" is completely pointless as a well coded game will only use UDP packets, not TCP which means you are needlessly INJECTING extra packets in your traffic.

    For MMO's this is completely pointless and for shooters it would take some packet sniffing and looking at tinygrams to properly set the delay.

    Just because you game doesn't mean you are an expert an understanding actual tech underneath the hood and literally everyone should just leave this setting alone.

  4. Robert Crombie
    April 14, 2019 at 1:36 am

    I am not a gamer, but I detest the slowness of windows 10.
    There is a free utility called Winaero, that allows you easy access to tons of settings, including ones that MS don't want you to have.
    I use it to turn OFF Windows Update.
    I also turn off Windows Defender.
    In earlier Windows versions you could install say Avast Free, to effectively disable Windows Defender. Then at needy times you could disable Avast until the PC restarts.
    However in W10, Windows defender will quietly activate itself after a period, when it notices Avast is disabled.
    Thus get Winaero and turn OFF Windows Defender

    Rob

  5. pooper
    February 15, 2017 at 1:57 am

    This makes a world of difference. Thanks!

  6. Anonymous
    June 5, 2016 at 12:48 am

    Wow I can already feel the difference in my browser with the Nagle's Algorithm settings. Thank you Christian :)

    • Christian Bonilla
      June 5, 2016 at 2:07 am

      Glad I could be of assistance!

      • sinha
        September 29, 2016 at 9:46 am

        can you help me with how to enable DHCP and my ip address shows in regedit is different then my details shown on internet ip4 ip address how can i make it right so my gaming perfomance will improve

        DHCP Enabled: No
        IPv4 Address: 10.60.63.172 its shows under internet detai;s

        in regedit : DhcpIPAddress 192.168.1.102

        please help me out i am new to this

        • Craig
          February 6, 2019 at 5:26 am

          Hey Man
          Two things
          1) unless your PC is set to a static IP it automatically receives an IP from your router or in a large corporate network by a DHCP server.
          Which means your pc/laptop relies on DHCP to get an IP by default.
          2) you basically make use of two IP addresses. one being your internal network IP and the other your external IP given buy the service provider.
          Before you make any changes please ensure that the "in regedit : DhcpIPAddress 192.168.1.102" is not related to your service provider or their DHCP server.

  7. martin
    June 4, 2016 at 1:20 am

    i found that disabling Nagle’s algorithm may negatively impact large file transfers in a very high latency network.

  8. Axle Grease
    June 4, 2016 at 12:10 am

    I disabled Nagle’s Algorithm as you described. I just added the TCPNoDelay key and set it to 1. By default , the key TcpAckFrequency was already there, and was already set to 1.

    • Christian Bonilla
      June 5, 2016 at 2:21 am

      Good to hear! Don't forget that, although network tweaks like disabling Nagle's Algorithm provides short term relief from latency issues, things like keeping drivers up to date and tweaking Steam settings will ensure your long-term satisfaction with Windows 10 gaming.

  9. chris
    June 3, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    this really made a huge difference. thanks for conveniently posting this. Is there negative effects to messing around with nagle settings?

    • Christian Bonilla
      June 5, 2016 at 2:18 am

      To be honest, Nagle's Algorithm has been a thorn in the paw of Windows gamers since Windows XP. Changing or altering "naggling" on your PC is very safe, as it only alters the size of the data packet transferred to your PC. It may, however, slightly affect file transfer speeds on your PC. If file transfer speeds are an issue, simply set the TcpAckFrequency and TCPNoDelay values to zero and they will be turned off completely, thereby enabling "naggling" again.

      Very glad I could help!