Gaming laptops are a good choice for gamers who love to game on the go. However, sometimes they underperform and leave gamers frustrated and searching for ways to improve gaming performance.
Optimizing your laptop for gaming will make games run smoothly without lagging, increase FPS, and boost overall speed and responsiveness.
The following are some of the ways you can improve or optimize the performance of your gaming laptop.
1. Tweak Your Graphics Card Settings
Tweaking your graphics card’s settings can help you achieve higher frame rates (FPS) and smoother gameplay. These adjustments can be made from the GPU’s control panel which can usually be accessed by right-clicking on the desktop.
From the graphics card control panel you are able to adjust color, resolution, image settings, and textures. For instance, under 3D settings, you can turn features such as antialiasing, ambient occlusion, and anisotropic filtering on or off.
The more graphical features you have enabled, the more GPU memory (VRAM) is needed to process them. Therefore, if your goal is to get high FPS, you may have to trade off some graphical features.
This may require a bit of trial and error before you finally find that sweet spot between graphics quality and frame rate.
2. Upgrade RAM
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”.
If you happen to run out of RAM, your gaming laptop is forced to fetch data directly from the hard drive storage which is usually 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. Disable Unnecessary Programs
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 conduct random scans and updates in the background, slowing down your gaming laptop.
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”.
4. Replace Your HDD With An SSD
If you have an older gaming laptop, it is likely that it has a Hard Disk (HDD). Modern gaming laptops, now come with both a Solid State Drive (SSD) and an HDD.
SSDs are more expensive than HDDs, however, they are 5-10 times faster at sending and retrieving data (depending on their interface, NVMe or SATA). This is because they have no moving parts and instead use flash memory, which not only makes them faster but also more power-efficient.
Therefore, consider switching your HDD for an SDD to achieve faster loading times, better response times, and overall improved performance. While at it, you can also increase the amount of storage in your gaming laptop.
5. Change Your Power Plan To “High Performance”
The processor and graphics card in gaming laptops are very power-demanding. Therefore, if you have your power plan set to balanced or power-saver mode, the power sent to these components is restricted and they are unable to reach their peak performance levels.
Switching to the high-performance power plan prioritizes performance over power efficiency. This ensures the processor and graphics card receive the power they need to operate at high clock speeds.
The only downside of switching to the high-performance power plan is that your gaming laptop’s battery will drain a lot faster. Therefore, you should keep your gaming laptop plugged in.
To change your power plan to high-performance, 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.
6. Update 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.
Updating your GPU drivers alone can significantly boost your FPS.
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 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. Use The Dedicated GPU 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, you may experience lagging or stutter, especially if they are graphics-heavy, resulting in a poor gaming experience. Therefore, you need to ensure that you are using the dedicated graphics card for gaming 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
Windows 10 creators edition gives you the option to activate game mode and improve your gaming experience. With game mode 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 processor and graphics card resources to be allocated to gaming, resulting in a more consistent gaming experience as well as 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.
Other software that work similar to Windows Game mode include Razer Cortex and Game Fire 6.
9. Keep Your Gaming Laptop Plugged In
When not plugged in, the amount of power sent to the CPU and GPU is limited in order to increase power efficiency and extend the battery life of your gaming laptop. This includes switching to power saving mode which throttles 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.
It’s possible you’ve noted a sudden performance drop whenever you unplug your laptop’s adapter from the power source. You should leave your gaming laptop plugged in when gaming to ensure the processor and graphics card get all the power they need to run games smoothly.
10. Gaming Online: Check Your Internet Speed
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 that you 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 an action and the time it takes the server to respond. This problem is known as latency (or lag).
You can fix your internet connection by getting a better router, switching to a wired Ethernet connection, or subscribing to an ISP that offers better internet speeds.
11. Replace Old Thermal Paste
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 or GPU to the heat sink.
When a gaming laptop’s internal temperatures go above 80°C, it will start to throttle in order to prevent permanent damage to the CPU or GPU. CPU and GPU throttling negatively impact gaming performance.
Over time, thermal paste loses its effectiveness and could be the reason why your gaming laptop is overheating and consequently underperforming.
Removing old thermal paste and replacing it with new one, especially if you’ve had your laptop for a few years will definitely boost performance by improving heat dissipation.
12. Clean Your Gaming Laptop
In an attempt to draw in air, fans pull in dust and other particles from their surrounding into the laptop’s interior. This foreign material can clog air intake and exhaust vents and limit the amount of airflow in the interior of the laptop. Also, it sticks to the fans and forces them to work harder.
When airflow is restricted it can cause heat build-up in the interior, causing your laptop to overheat and throttle, thus negatively affecting performance.
It is therefore important to clean your gaming laptop every 6 months to get rid of dust and other particles that may restrict airflow. Keeping your gaming laptop cool will ultimately lead to better gaming performance.
13. Disconnect Unnecessary External Devices
Having lots of devices such as keyboards, external hard-drives, monitors, and other peripherals connected to your gaming laptop will certainly slow it down.
These devices need power, 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 gaming laptop’s processor and graphics card to the limit. On the other hand, having only an external keyboard and mouse connected will only impact performance slightly.
Basically, improving your gaming laptop’s performance involves resolving software and hardware and software issues that may be holding it back. 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.