When we talk about PC as a gaming platform, Windows immediately comes to mind.
macOS isn’t quite tailored for gaming, so Windows 10 holds the monopoly in this case.
Unfortunately, a lot of people hate dealing with Windows because of the bugs, optimization issues, and those annoying automatic updates.
But if you happen to be a PC gamer, there is no need to worry.
We’ve gathered a bunch of tips and tricks to help you out.
So let’s find out how you can improve gaming performance in Windows 10.
#1: Keep Everything Updated!
We know this first tip sounds quite obvious. But you would be surprised to find out how many people overlook this simple aspect. Keeping everything up-to-date is extremely vital to a frustration-free gaming experience. Windows 10 does a good job of automatically installing updates, but many users turn this feature off.
If it’s been a while since you last received a Windows 10 update, you should go and check manually. Click on start and type the word “updates” in the search bar. An option called “Check for updates” should pop up. Click on this and it should take you to the update settings.
Click on the “check for updates” tab and Windows should search for any updates that are pending. If an update does pop up, click on download and install. Remember to restart of reboot your system after the update.
Update GPU Drivers
Here’s another simple fix to make Windows 10 faster for gaming. If you are experiencing game crashes, stuttering or freezes, the issue could be related to the graphics card. Although GPU drivers also have an automatic update option, they rarely detect new updates as soon as they come out.
If you’re having issues in-game, you will benefit from doing a clean install of the GPU drivers. To erase all trace of the previous drivers uses the DDU program to fully clean up.
After that just go to Nvidia or AMD’s site, depending on your GPU, and find the most recent driver update. Download and install, and make sure to reboot your PC afterward.
Verify Game Files
If you’re having issues in a particular game, try this quick fix and see if it works for you.
- First off, restart your computer and launch Steam.
- Go to your library and right-click on the game that is troubling you.
- Select “Priorities” from the menu that pops up and then click on the “Local Files” tab.
- Select “Verify integrity of game files” and steam will validate every file for that game.
- This process might take a few minutes.
#2: Windows Game Mode
For some reason, a lot of people haven’t updated Windows 10 since it first came out. If you’re one of them, you might have missed out on the various creator’s updates over the years. Back in 2017, the creator update introduced a Windows 10 gaming mode which is quite simply called “Game Mode”.
Newer Triple-A video games use up a lot of resources and if you have apps running in the background then that can hinder performance. Game Mode detects these apps and restricts them from using up a lot of resources or disables them temporarily.
- Simply go to Start and type in Game Mode in the search bar.
- Toggle the switch on to optimize Windows 10 for gaming.
- It does a decent job but it really shines on older or dated hardware.
Unfortunately, it’s not the perfect solution and won’t magically give you a boost in framerates. It’s still worth checking out and if it doesn’t work for you then keep reading on.
#3: Change the Windows 10 Power Plan
Depending on the power plan you have enabled, power management can be a hit or miss in Windows 10. This option is helpful for laptop users who might want to save on battery life. But Desktop users don’t need to worry about this restriction so we can set it to high-performance mode.
- To do this, open the Start menu and type in power plan in the search bar.
- Click on “Choose a power plan” and select “Show additional plans”.
- After that just switch the power plan to high-performance mode.
This is another trick that can help people with older hardware to tweak Windows 10 for gaming and even productivity. It most likely won’t have a major effect on gaming performance for people with higher-end hardware.
NOTE: If there are no High Performance plan any more. You can manually create and activate high performance plan in power options on Windows 10.
#4: Disable Visual Effects
All those silky smoothe animations you notice when opening or closing a window serve as good eye candy. Although they make the user experience a bit better, they can hinder gaming performance in some cases.
This isn’t great for gaming as visual effects can take up a bit of the processing power. We want any resources we can get a hold of while gaming, so turning visual effects off can help you a bit. Again, this tweak will mostly help people with older hardware or slower systems.
- Hit the Windows+Q key to bring up the search feature.
- Type in “advanced system settings”, and open the first option that comes up.
- Click the settings option under the Performance tab.
- Choose the option called Adjust for best performance.
#5: Switch the Game API
This is one of the best tweaks you can make to get better performance in games, especially in 2020. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s answer the question in your head. What is an API exactly?
Well, you’ve probably heard of OpenGL, DirectX, and Vulkan. All of these pieces of software are categorized under APIs. The API is a software interface that allows the processor and graphics card to communicate with the game.
Depending on the hardware and the game you are playing, different APIs will give you different results in performance. For example, DirectX 12 is the successor to DirectX 11, and it uses less power yet gives better performance in a lot of games. The list of games that support DirectX 12 is growing longer every day.
Certain games also work better with the Vulkan API. A prime example is Red Dead Redemption 2, as a lot of people report they get better performance with Vulkan. AMD cards also tend to take advantage of Vulkan in its full capacity compared to Nvidia GPUs.
You could be pleasantly surprised by how much this improves gaming performance in Windows 10. Most games have the option to switch the API under visual or graphics settings. Whether you have an older system or a newer one, this tweak can help make Windows faster for gaming.
#6: Disable Automatic Windows Updates
We know this sort of contradicts our previous point in which we told you to always keep Windows update. However, we admit just how annoying automatic updates can be in Windows 10. While you should always stay updated, it’s better to do so manually.
When you’re playing a game and get a pop up to update Windows, or Windows just decides to update itself, it is frustrating. So if you don’t want to bang your head against the wall every time you start Windows, it is probably a good idea to turn off automatic updates.
- Press Windows+i key to open up settings and then open “Update & Security”.
- Click on advanced options then disable automatically download updates in the options.
- This will prevent the notorious sudden Windows update.
While we’re here, make sure that the option called “We’ll show a reminder when we’re going to restart” is enabled. This will let you know when Windows is going to restart after an update.
More in-depth guide to disable automatic windows update.
#7: Prevent Downloads In Steam While Gaming
If you are a PC gamer these days, the chances are likely that you use Steam to buy and launch all of your games.
While Steam is popular for good reason, it can eat up a lot of resources.
If you leave the automatic downloads option enabled, it can cause a lot of lag in online games.
- Open the Steam client and head over to the settings.
- Go to the downloads section.
- Untick “allow downloads during gameplay”.
#8: Pick up an SSD
We know you are probably thinking that adding a Solid State Drive (SSD) won’t have a major impact on games, in terms of performance at least. Yes, you are correct but this guide isn’t just exclusive to making games run better. We want the best possible experience and an SSD is a good step forward to achieving that goal.
SSDs are impressively faster than your traditional hard drive. If you have never used one before, the difference in load times will be hilarious to you when you accept it. Once you do get the taste of a fast storage drive, you won’t want to go back to a hard drive.
Older laptops use painfully slow 5400rpm hard drives, so you’ll benefit even more in that situation with an SSD. Since flash storage has gotten cheaper over the years, you can pick up a great SSD with decent capacity for not much money.
You will notice much faster load times in games, and Windows boots up quicker too. So if you want to truly improve the overall experience, an SSD could be vital.
#9: Disable Mouse Acceleration
This is another tweak that doesn’t impact performance in any way, shape or form. But it does enhance the overall experience, and you’ll thank us for this one later. Mouse acceleration is a feature in Windows which moves the cursor depending on the speed of the mouse movements.
Also Check: Best Mouse for Gaming in 2020
This can hinder precision in first-person shooting games by quite a lot. We all know how important timing your shots are, and if you don’t have the best precision, you’re going to be in a bit of trouble.
- Go to start and bring up the search bar.
- Type in “mouse pointer” and open the option that comes up. In this window.
- Go to the pointer options tab and untick the option called “Enhance pointer precision”.
- This will disable mouse acceleration and give you better precision in every game.
#10: Clean Out the Registry
The registry is unknown to most people and can slow down windows 10.
That is why it is also not very common to clean it on a regular basis because windows do not have its own registry cleaning program.
So, we have to rely on third-party software or do it manually.
If you have not really cleared your registry before, you might suffer from poor performance.
We recommend a software called CCleaner to clear up your registry and cache.
CCleaner comes with a premium package, but the free version is good enough to clear your registry and other useless files.
When you have CCleaner installed on your PC, just run the program, select the files you want to clean and watch the junk go off your PC.
Remember: If you are doing it for the first time, it may take a while to clean up your PC.
#11: Defragmenting Your PC
Well, it is not a widespread method of optimizing your windows, though it is extremely easy to follow.
If you’ve had your windows 10 installed for a while now, and not defragmented it, then this might help to boost the performance.
Steps to Defragment drives:
- Search for “Defragment and Optimize Drives” in the menu and open it.
- From here, select the windows drive of your system. (Mostly the C: drive.)
- Click “Optimize”, and let the program do its job.
- It may take some time, so we recommend doing this only when your PC isn’t busy somewhere else.
Defragmenting the drive organizes all the files, so your computer can access it quicker.
It also makes sure that all the files are in place, and nothing is missing.
Windows 10 can be quite frustrating to deal with at times.
But with these tips and tricks, you should be able to avoid a lot of headaches.
Remember, if you don’t have decent hardware, upgrading is always the way to go.
- Bogorad, N. (2020). Optimize Windows 10 for Gaming in 10 Easy Steps. Retrieved from https://www.movavi.com/learning-portal/optimize-windows-10-for-gaming.html
- Cawley, C. (2019). How to Optimize Windows 10 for Gaming and Performance. Retrieved from https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/optimize-windows-10-gaming/
- Edmonds, R. (2017). 12 days of tech tips: How to optimize Windows 10 for PC gaming performance. Retrieved from https://www.windowscentral.com/12-days-tech-tips-how-optimize-windows-10-pc-gaming
Furqan has expertise in all technology stuff with main interests in monitors, peripherals, GPU, PC cases, & smartphones. He has been surrounded by technology since he was a kid; with the original NES being his first ever experience of the world of gaming. When he is not working, he prefers spending his time tinkering with the gadgets he has or writing. Read More