Gaming laptops are the perfect choice for PC gamers who love to game on the go. However, sometimes they underperform and leave gamers frustrated and searching for ways to improve gaming performance.
If you are dealing with a low-end or old laptop, it is particularly important to enhance its performance for gaming. Otherwise, you will be running into all kinds of performance issues such as lags, FPS drops, and your laptop suddenly shutting down.
Optimizing your laptop for gaming will make games run faster, increase FPS, and boost its speed overall.
In this article, you are going to get some actionable tips that you can use to boost the gaming performance of your laptop.
Let’s get started!
Ways To Improve Performance On A Gaming Laptop
With modern games such as Resident Evil, Apex Legends, and GTA becoming more and more hardware intensive with each new release it is important to optimize your PC’s performance. Here are some of the ways you can do that:
1. Tweak Your GPU Settings For Higher Laptop FPS
Tweaking your graphics card’s settings can make a huge difference in terms of increasing your laptop’s frame rate (FPS). It is possible to adjust the settings of your GPU through the GPU’s control panel.
For new gamers, the setting on Nvidia or AMD control panels can be a bit confusing. Fortunately, there are lots of tutorials available online that show you step by step on how to optimize your GPU for optimal gaming performance.
Usually, you can access your GPU’s control panel by right-clicking on your desktop. The video below shows how you can optimize your Nvidia control panel for gaming.
The control panel allows you to change color, resolution, image settings, and much more. For instance, under 3D settings, you can turn antialiasing, ambient occlusion, and anisotropic filtering on or off.
Adjustments to the CUDA GPUs and maximum pre-rendered frames can also be made. With a bit of tweaking, you can boost your gaming FPS and gaming performance.
2. Upgrade Your Laptop’s Ram To At Least 8GB
Random Access Memory (RAM) is the physical hardware on your computer that temporarily stores program instructions as well as the assets those instructions operate on. It serves as your computer’s “working memory”.
PC games are essentially large programs. When you launch a game, its instructions and assets (maps, 3D-models, textures, etc.) are loaded into RAM as they await processing by the CPU.
RAM is preferred over the hard drive because it is much faster and is specially designed to store temporary data. These fast speeds enable the CPU to access and update data at a fast rate when a game is running.
If you happen to run out of RAM, your computer is forced to fetch data directly from the hard drive which is much slower. As a result, you may experience lags, stutters, and performance losses.
For gaming, it is recommended that you have at least 8 GB of RAM for the best gaming experience. If you also do a lot of multitasking or like to enable graphics features such as ray tracing, then 16 GB RAM will boost your performance.
3. Close Unnecessary Programs When Gaming
Having lots of unnecessary programs running in the background causes your computer to utilize lots of CPU and RAM resources. In addition, some programs such as antivirus constantly scan for new updates, slowing down your PC.
To free up some memory and processor resources go to your Windows Task Manager by pressing the keyboard shortcut “Ctrl+Shift+Esc” or just right-click on the taskbar and then select “Task Manager”.
This will instantly open the Windows Task Manager. A list of all the processes that are currently running will appear. Right-click on the processes you want to close and in the pop-up menu that appears click on “End Task”.
Don’t close processes whose function you’re not sure of. Even though you may be unfamiliar with some programs they might still be important and closing them might cause more issues instead of improving performance.
To find out what a particular process is responsible for, visit ProcessLibrary.com, type in the name of the process in the search box, then hit “ENTER”. Alternatively, you can do a quick Google search of the process before attempting to close it.
Furthermore, consider running anti-malware software such as Malwarebytes. Malware slows down your computer’s operating system and can cause sudden crashes.
4. Reduce Game Loading Times By Upgrading From HDD To SSD
If you have an older laptop, it is more likely that your gaming laptop has a Hard Disk (HDD). If you are using a modern gaming laptop, then you probably have both a Solid State Drive (SSD) and an HDD.
Gaming laptop manufacturers install SSDs because they know their fast speeds improve gaming performance. SSDs are 5-10 times faster than regular HDDs depending on their interface, NVMe or SATA.
However, because SSDs are more expensive than HDDs, they opt to install both SSD and HDD to lower the price of the laptop. The SSD is meant for the installation of the Operating System (OS) and games while the HDD is used for bulk storage.
Normally, a 128 GB or 256 GB SSD is installed, and sometimes this is not usually enough for the installation of all your games, especially considering how big today’s games are. Consider Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, for example, requires 175 GB of free storage space.
Unlike HDDs that have moving parts, SSDs use flash memory, which not only makes them faster but also more power-efficient. Therefore, by upgrading your HDD to SDD you’ll be able to load games a lot faster, improve your laptop’s response time, and overall performance.
5. Set Your Power Plan To “High Performance”
The processor and graphics card in gaming laptops are very power-hungry. So if you have your computer’s power plan set to balanced or power-saver, the power to these devices will be restricted and they may not perform at their optimum.
The high-performance power plan prioritizes performance over power consumption. Switching to this plan gives your processor the power it needs to operate at high clock speeds.
To change your power plan to high performance on Windows 10 follow the following steps
Press Windows+X and then select Power Options
Click on Additional power settings,
Then select the High-performance option.
Note: If you can’t find a high-performance option, you can add it to your power plans by clicking on ‘create a power plan’.
Next, select High Performance.
Enabling the high-performance power plan will help boost your laptop’s performance slightly, especially if you are playing CPU intensive games.
It improves performance by removing any power limitations on your CPU and GPU. The downside is that your laptop’s battery will drain a lot faster. Therefore, you will need to keep your laptop connected to a power outlet.
6. Update To The Latest GPU Drivers And Directx Version
The two main graphics card manufacturers, AMD and Nvidia, constantly release new updates as new games get released in the market. These updates not only fix bugs and introduce new features, but also enhance performance.
The increase in FPS you can get just by updating your GPU drivers can be quite significant. Check out the video below by Linus Tech Tips on GPU updates and their impact on gaming.
You can manually update Nvidia graphics card drivers by going to the Nvidia Geforce Driver download page. Use the drop-down menus to specify your GPU model and then click on “Start Search”. To get AMD graphics card drivers, you can use AMD’s Driver auto-detect tool.
Another important driver to keep updated is DirectX. It is a Microsoft software that allows games to work directly with video and audio software, thus enhancing your overall multimedia experience.
DirectX is automatically downloaded and installed through Windows updates. To ensure you aren’t running an outdated version of DirectX consider running Windows updates.
7. Make Sure The Dedicated GPU Is Being Used For Gaming
Gaming laptops have both an integrated graphics card (iGPU) and a dedicated graphics card. Between the two, the dedicated graphics card performs better because it has its own separate memory and is specifically designed to process intense graphics.
When games run on the integrated graphics card, they may lag or stutter, especially if they have heavy graphics, resulting in a poor gaming experience. Therefore, you need to ensure that games run on the dedicated graphics card to get better performance.
You can set the dedicated graphics card as the default graphics card from your GPUs Control Panel.
For Nvidia Geforce graphics cards go to: 3D Settings> Manage 3D Settings> Global settings tab> Preferred Graphics Processor> Select High performance NVIDIA processor
For ATI/AMD Radeon cards, go to Graphics > PowerPlay> Set both Plugged In and Battery to Maximum Performance> Click Apply. There are many versions of the AMD/ATI Catalyst Control Center so the steps may be slightly different.
8. Activate Windows 10 Game Mode To Optimize Your Laptop’s Performance
In Windows 10 creators edition, you have the option to activate game mode to improve your gaming experience. When the game mode is activated, gaming becomes the focus of your PC.
Game Mode works by stopping system background activities such as random antivirus scans, notifications, and automatic Windows updates. This allows more processor and graphics card resources to be allocated to a game, resulting in a more consistent gaming experience and an increase in FPS.
To activate Game Mode use the keyboard shortcut, Windows + G to open the Xbox Game bar > Select Settings in Game bar > in the General tab, check the game mode checkbox. That’s it!
If you can’t find the option to enable game mode, click on “Edit more preferences in Windows Settings”. Next, select game mode then Click to enable.
9. Keep Your Laptop Plugged In While Gaming
When not plugged in, most laptops use all kinds of power management methods to help increase the amount of time they can run on battery. This includes switching to power saving mode which throttles back performance.
This is usually bad for gaming since high-performance processors and graphics cards need a lot of power to perform at their optimal levels. In fact, in some cases, the battery alone is not able to provide this power.
It’s possible you’ve noted a sudden performance drop whenever you unplug your laptop’s adapter from the power source. Keeping your laptop plugged in provides it with all the power it needs to run games smoothly.
10. Check Your Internet Speed When Gaming Online
If you notice that you mainly struggle with gaming performance when playing games online, it is very likely that your internet connection is to blame. Online gaming requires you to have a fast, stable connection for the best gaming experience.
With a poor internet connection, you might notice a delay between the time you press a key or button to perform a certain action and the time it takes the server to respond. This problem is known as latency (or lag).
You can try fixing your internet connection by getting a better router or switching to a wired Ethernet connection. First, use SpeedTest to check if your internet speed could be the problem.
Also, even if you have great internet speeds but the game server is overloaded, performance will take a hit. However, this is rare since online game services such as Steam, XCloud, and PlayStation Now go to great lengths to ensure their services are running smoothly.
11. Replace Thermal Paste To Improve Heat Transfer
Thermal paste, also known as a thermal compound, is a special fluid that helps computers dissipate heat better by improving heat transfer from the CPU and GPU to the heat sink.
When laptop internal temperatures go above 80°C, most laptops will start to throttle in order to prevent permanent damage to the CPU or GPU. CPU and GPU throttling negatively impact gaming performance.
Part of preventing throttling includes replacing your laptop’s old thermal paste with a new one, especially if you’ve had your laptop for a few years.
After some years thermal paste loses its effectiveness and might be the reason why your laptop is underperforming. Poor application of thermal paste or low quality thermal paste being applied at the factory are also some other reasons why you should consider replacing the thermal paste.
You can also opt to replace the old thermal paste with liquid metal which is much better at conducting heat. Since liquid metal is highly conductive, care should be taken when applying it because any leaks or spills could short circuit the motherboard.
12. Clean Your Laptop Every 6 Months To Prevent Overheating
A laptop’s internal components such as the processor, motherboard, and graphics card are usually crammed in a small chassis. This significantly restricts airflow and hence air circulation has to rely heavily on spinning fans.
Unfortunately, in an attempt to draw in air, fans also pull in dust and other particles into the laptop’s interior. Sometimes this dust collects around fans and clogs air intake and exhaust vents.
This restricts airflow further and causes heat build-up in the interior, increasing the likelihood of your laptop overheating and throttling.
It is therefore important to clean your gaming laptop at least once a year and get rid of this dust. Less overheating results in better performance.
13. Lower Game Graphics Settings To Boost FPS
Sometimes to improve your frame rate you may have to compromise a little bit on the graphics quality, especially if you are gaming on a low-end or old laptop.
With every new game release, game developers constantly try to offer more realistic looking images in games. However, this usually puts a lot of stress on the graphics card and can result in drops in the frame rate (FPS).
To counter this, you might have to disable certain features such as shadows, Anti-aliasing, Ambient Occlusion, and textures to get better frame rates.
Game resolution is also another setting that has a huge effect on FPS. Rendering images at 4K resolution will be more tasking on the graphics card than rendering them at 1080p resolution.
To increase FPS, you want to set the resolution to a lower value that fills your screen and do away with some of the graphics features that aren’t absolutely necessary. You can do this from a game settings menu.
14. Disconnect External Monitors And Unnecessary USB Devices
Having lots of devices such as keyboards, external hard-drives, monitors, and modems connected to your laptop will certainly slow down your laptop.
These devices need power and CPU and RAM resources to operate that could otherwise be used for gaming. External devices impact performance differently, some more than others.
For example, having a high-resolution display connected will definitely push your laptop’s processor and graphics card to the limit. On the other hand, having only an external keyboard and mouse connected will impact performance only slightly.
Unplugging unnecessary external devices is a good way of improving your laptop’s performance.
While overclocking your graphics card using software such as MSI Afterburner can improve performance, it may not work well with all laptops.
Overclocking usually increases the likelihood of overheating and since the cooling mechanism of laptops is not as robust as that of desktops, your laptop may start to throttle.
Also, avoid using a can of compressed air in an attempt to clean your laptop without taking it apart. What this usually does is dissipate the dust inside your laptop’s interior instead of getting rid of it entirely.
The best way to clean your laptop is by first taking it apart. If you aren’t very tech-savvy, you can have it cleaned by a computer technician. Before trying to take your laptop apart refer to the manual to ensure you aren’t violating any terms that may void the warranty.
Conclusion- How To Increase Gaming Laptop Performance
Basically, improving laptop performance involves solving software and hardware and software issues that may be holding your laptop back. You can improve the gaming performance of your laptop by taking the steps discussed in this guide.
If you have an older laptop and none of the tips seem to help your situation, it may be time to upgrade to a new gaming laptop with better hardware.