Now that you have set up your new gaming PC, you’ll want to ensure that Windows is set up correctly so you get the best performance possible. These easy tweaks within Windows will allow you to squeeze extra fps (frames per seconds) to help your son or daughter have the best gaming experience possible.
In a previous post, we learned how to set up Windows 10 from scratch after building your gaming pc. This post focuses on making a few small adjustments within Windows which can add up to a noticeable benefit.
Change your power plan
By default, Windows 10 is set up with a balanced profile that incorporates a number of different power-saving settings. These power-saving settings can compromise performance while gaming so those of us who are focused on gaming may want to consider changing to a high-performance plan instead. This will allocate more power to your PC allowing it to operate with performance, rather than power saving in mind.
To change this setting, hit your Windows key and search for “power”. From the options that appear, select “Choose a power plan”.
The next window will allow you to change the power setting we are looking for. By default Windows 10 will favour a balanced setup but we want to optimise it for performance. I have selected the “AMD Ryzen High Performance” plan. You can configure these settings further by going to the “advance power settings” but for most users, the suggested plan will be sufficient.
Change when your display turns off and the computer sleeps
Now that we have made the change to the power plan, I’d click “Choose when to turn off the display” on the left hand side.
You’ll now be able to specify when the computer turns off the monitor to save power and also when the computer goes to sleep. Allowing your computer to go to sleep is a useful power-saving feature that will place your computer in a state where it consumes minimal power without switching it off entirely. If you press the power button while it’s in a sleep state (or it can be configured to move the mouse/keyboard) the computer will burst into life and you’ll resume where you left off.
I have my settings to turn off the display after 5 minutes and automatically go to sleep if the computer is left idle after 15 minutes. These are the settings I have found to be most convenient for my needs.
If you prefer, you can set your computer to sleep when you press the power button by clicking on “Choose what the power buttons do” and changing the drop down under “When I press the power button” to “Sleep”.
Turn off Game Mode
Windows 10 has a feature built-in and turned on by default. It’s called Game Mode and it’s designed to detect when you are playing a game and prioritise your gaming experience by reducing processes in the background taking away resources that might be better directed to the game. Sounds great right? Wrong. Some people have found that their games can actually run more smoothly by having this feature turned off. Although this sounds counterintuitive, many people found that it introduced stuttering or freezing so it is recommended that this setting is switched off.
You can acces game mode by pressing your Windows key and search for “game mode”.
Turn off Xbox Game Bar
The Xbox game bar allows you to press Windows + G to open an overlay that can record gameplay and share it with friends, who also use the Xbox Social chat functionality. While this might be useful for some people, it can impact performance and as it’s functionality I do not intend using I decided to disable this. However, if you feel your son or daughter might want to record clips it might be worth leaving enabled. The interface is very easy to use.
After turning off Game Mode, click on “Xbox Game Bar” on the left hand side. You can then turn this off at the top of the screen.
Tweak the NVIDIA Control Panel
You may have chosen either an NVIDIA or AMD graphics card. Each manufacturer will provide access to the software as part of the graphics card driver’s installation which will allow you to tweak the settings.
To access the NVIDIA control panel, right click on your desktop and select “NVIDIA Control Panel”.
From here, select “Manage 3D Settings”. You now have the option to apply different settings globally (i.e. to everything) or to a specific game. In the example below I have changed:
- OpenGL Rendering GPU – to my graphics card (GeForce RTX 2070 Super)
- Power Management Mode – Prefer Maximum Performance
- Vertical Sync – Off
Under specific game settings I have enabled image sharpening to some of the games I play.
Enable the correct refresh rate of the monitor
This is less of a tweak and more ensuring that you get the most out of the components you have purchased. After the graphics card and monitor drivers have been installed, the refresh rate will be set to the standard 60Hz. This is fine for most users who are using their computers for browsing the internet and office applications, but those of us who are gamers would be missing out on an important feature of the monitor. By selecting a monitor with a high refresh rate (the number of times an image updates per second) when we are playing games with fast-moving images the movement looks much smoother. If this is set to the optimum setting (i.e. 144Hz for example) we can take advantage of more image updates per second resulting in smoother gameplay (60Hz compared to 144Hz).
To enable this setting, right click on your desktop and select “Display settings”.
Ensure your resolution is set to the correct setting (1920×1080 for 1080p monitors and 2560×1440 for 1440p) but continue to scroll down to Advance display settings.
Within here you can set your refresh rate to the correct setting.
Keep track of how your PC is performing
Built into Windows is a handy tool called Task Manager. You may have seen this if you press Control + ALT + Delete to terminate a frozen process. Within Task Manager is a performance monitoring view that allows you to keep track of how your computer is performing in real-time. This will display how much of your resources are being taken up and the temperatures of some components so you can see if there are any issues. For example, if a game is taking up all of your memory then you might consider either trying to tweak the game to use less memory or add additional memory to the system. If the CPU is spiking to 100% then something in the background might be taking valuable resources away from the game. Monitoring the performance is a useful tool to help you troubleshoot.
You can access it via Control + ALT + Delete > Task Manager > Performance or right clicking the tool bar > Task Manager > Performance.
The screenshot above shows my gaming PC running while playing Warzone. You can see it’s very intensive on the graphics card and less so on the processor.
There are other solutions that arguably look better such as MSI Afterburner (which will also allow you to Overclock your graphics card) or NZXT’s CAM. It’s sometimes hard to beat the built-in Windows performance monitor for convenience although other tools will allow you to see different/more data points.