How to optimise your PC for gaming

(Pocket-lint) – So you’ve bought yourself a shiny new gaming PC, or built one from scratch, and you’re ready to start gaming. But just because you’ve installed a fresh copy of Windows and downloaded your games doesn’t mean your PC is necessarily running at its best.

There are still a few things you can do to optimize your PC for an even better gaming experience. Just a few tweaks to Windows settings can make all the difference.

We’ve already written about getting more FPS out of your graphics card and gaming machine, but here we’re talking about further optimizing for the gaming advantage.

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1. Turn on Game Mode

Windows is already practically designed for gaming. Microsoft knows that PC users love to play games. That’s why Game Pass is so popular. By default, Windows still needs some tweaks to optimize performance, one of which includes Game Mode. This is a setting that manages system resources for better gaming performance.

To enable Game Mode, follow these steps:

  • Press the start button on your keyboard and type game
  • Click Game Mode Settings when it appears at the top of the Start menu
  • Click the button to activate game mode
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2. Disable notifications

Optimizing your PC for gaming is great, you know what else is great? Don’t get interrupted while playing. Windows has a setting to turn off notifications at certain times or when certain things happen. So no more annoying pop-ups spoiling your fun.

To access the settings, follow these steps:

  • Press the Windows start button on your PC or keyboard and type focus assist
  • In the focus settings, click on Notifications – “Notifications from apps and system, do not disturb”
  • Locate the “Turn on Do Not Disturb automatically” setting
  • Tick ​​”while playing a game”.

Alternatively, you can choose specific times of the day when you want Do Not Disturb mode to activate. This works if you know that you always play in the evenings, for example. Just set the time and enjoy blissful gaming without notifications.

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3. Enable hardware accelerated GPU scheduling

Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling allows your machine to optimize performance and reduce latency. If you have the right hardware (a newer graphics card) and are running Windows 10 or 11, you can easily enable this setting, similar to Game Mode:

  • Press the Start button and look for Graphics Settings
  • Then click to enable hardware accelerated GPU scheduling
  • Scroll down and look at the “Graphics Performance Preference” settings. From there you can select the app to set your preference. For Nvidia, this is the Nvidia Control Panel. You can select this as a desktop app or Microsoft Store app via the dropdown
  • Click the app, click Options and select High Performance
  • Repeat for each game where you want maximum performance
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4. Adjust for best performance

By default, Windows is designed for the best possible appearance. So it looks snazzy with all the different animations and shiny edges. However, these quality settings can have a negative impact on gaming performance. So it may be worth turning them off, or at least tuning them to performance instead of looks.

In order to do this:

  • Press the Windows start button on your PC or your keyboard and type appearance and performance
  • Click “Adjust Windows performance and appearance” when it appears
  • Look for the “Adjust for best performance” setting.
  • Select that and click Apply
  • Click the Advanced tab to verify that best performance is set for programs and not background tasks
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5. Disable Enhanced pointer precision

You may have bought a high-end gaming mouse to gain an edge over the competition, but Windows settings may be affecting the performance of that mouse.

Windows has several settings related to mouse pointer speed and one in particular can pose a problem, so we must disable it:

  • Press the Windows start button on your PC or your keyboard and type the mouse pointer
  • Click Change cursor display or speed
  • Under the Motion preference, turn off Improve pointer precision.
  • Click Apply

While we’re at it, we also recommend checking your mouse software. Many modern gaming mice have options for high polling rates. Click to select the highest level in your software – 1000Hz, 4000Hz or 8000Hz – to get your signals to your PC faster and with less latency.

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6. Update your drivers

If you want the best performance, we think it’s important to not only ensure that Windows is updated regularly (preferably outside of your gaming hours), but that your graphics card drivers are updated as well.

We’ve already written about how to update Nvidia drivers and install them cleanly for the best results, but it also pays to simply stay tuned for updates so you have the latest drivers.

The easiest way to do this with Nvidia graphics cards is to use GeForce Experience. Once that is downloaded and installed, there is an option to automatically download and install drivers. Click to enable and install the latest ones as they are released.

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7. Turn on Nvidia G-Sync

If you have a compatible monitor and a new graphics card, then you can and should turn on G-Sync. We’ve already written about how to do this, but essentially G-Sync ensures that your monitor’s refresh rate matches the frames per second that your graphics card is outputting for the game you’re playing.

Turn on G-Sync on your monitor and Windows settings to prevent screen tearing and ensure a smooth gaming experience during gameplay. We also recommend adjusting your game’s display settings to match your monitor’s refresh rate and capping max FPS to the high end of your refresh rate.

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8. Set your monitor’s refresh rate

Windows doesn’t always default to the maximum refresh rate for your connected display. If you’ve got yourself a fancy high refresh rate gaming monitor, you’ll need to enable the setting on both the monitor and in Windows.

Otherwise, the monitor will default to 60Hz only. So, follow these steps to choose your maximum refresh rate:

  • Right-click on your desktop and click Display Settings
  • Scroll down until you see “Advanced display settings”.
  • Then scroll down to refresh rate and click on the drop down menu. From there, select the maximum refresh rate of your monitor.

If you don’t see the setting you expect, you’re probably using the wrong cable. Some displays may output maximum refresh rate with just a DisplayPort cable, otherwise HDMI 2.1 may be worth a look.

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9. Startup Settings

Many of the apps you install force themselves into startup processes automatically. So when you turn on your PC and log into Windows, these apps are waiting for you. Sometimes this isn’t helpful as the apps then become background processes that waste processing power and resources.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to disable these apps and not only turn on your PC faster, but also optimize it for gaming. Follow these steps:

  • Press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC to start Task Manager
  • Look for the Startup tab and click on it
  • Browse the list of apps and look for things you don’t use regularly
  • Right-click the problematic apps and click Disable

Alternatively, in Windows 11, you can access these settings by clicking the start button and searching for startup apps. Click on this system setting and you can then go through apps and toggle them on and off.

Writing by Adrian Willings.

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