So you’ve got Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 installed, and you’re ready to download and install your free Windows 10 upgrade. Or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who’s gotten Windows 10 already and you’ve been tooling around with it, checking out the latest and greatest features. Whatever the case, if you’re reading Xbox Wire, you’re a gamer – and that means you’d probably love to know how to get the best performance out of your PC. Well, we’ve got a few quick and easy tweaks that should help you get a few more horses worth of power out of that box, without too much elbow grease.
Tip #1: NEVER Defrag Your Solid State Drive (SSD)
All of these cockamamie “tweak your gaming PC” websites will tell you to defrag your hard drive over and over. Fine! If you have a rotational media drive, that’s a good idea to do on a regular basis – and if you use a rotational media drive to store your backups or something, cool. Defrag it if you want! But if you’re a gamer, you’d best be installing your games onto an SSD, and you should seriously consider putting your Windows 10 installation onto an SSD (not the same one, though) as well. Solid state drives are just so much faster than rotational media – you’ll spend far less time waiting around for things to load.
On top of that, you don’t need to defragment them. Ever. In fact, defragmenting an SSD is just going to unnecessarily reduce its lifespan. So don’t do it!
And, seriously, real gaming talk: If you haven’t upgraded to an SSD for your games drive yet, you really should. You will love your life so much more, especially if you play a lot of big role-playing games or shooters that have long loading times. The only downside is that you might not have time to read the flavor text on the loading screens in-between levels.
Tip #2: Get Rid of Unnecessary Apps and Memory Resident Junk
No matter how good you are with your PC, you’re going to build up unnecessary programs, or traces of them, as you go about your daily Windows life. Fortunately, there are some quality third-party applications that can help you streamline your Windows 7 and/or 8 installations before you move up to Windows 10. The idea here is to get rid of the vestiges of old, or disused programs, or stuff that’s booting up when you start your PC that you never, ever use. You’ll free up memory by not booting that stuff at all.
MAGIX Software makes a program called PC Check & Tuning that can really dig deep into your Windows installation and make it easy for you to update drivers, streamline installations, and get rid of the stuff you don’t need. SUPERAntiSpyware is an absolutely fantastic, free tool to get rid of any little nasty bugs and spyware that might have found a way into your system (and could be slowing it down, or worse). And CCleaner by Piriform is an awesome free alternative to MAGIX PC Check, which can clean out your dead files and installs – as well as your Windows registry – safely. AVG makes an all-in-one “Uninstaller” and “Program Deactivator,” too, which can quickly and easily track down and kill anything you want to get rid of.
Tip #3: Slightly Overclock Your System
Note that this one entails a little bit of risk – if your system is already running hot or if you’re uncomfortable with overclocking, skip this step entirely. That said, most modern gaming rigs (especially if you’ve bought them from a reputable manufacturer) are more than capable of a 5-10% overclock with zero ill effects. Still, understand that overclocking always entails a risk.
If you’ve got a gaming-focused video card and/or motherboard, it should have come with some software that you can use to affect the clock speed. If so, go ahead and use that if you’ve got it. If not, check your video card manufacturer’s website for their recommended software. You can also use AMD OverDrive, which is AMD’s overclocking tool, if you have one of their chips. Intel makes an excellent stress-testing tool called Intel BurnTest that we recommend you use, to see just how much pressure you’re putting on your system with any given overclocking setting that you decide to use. You don’t need to be using an Intel processor to use it – but it works best with one.
However you decide to implement your overclock, we recommend not going over about 5-10% of the default setting (at most) for your CPU and memory clocks. Remember that overclocking adds heat to your entire system, not just the CPU and memory clocks. You don’t want to push things too much!
Tip #4: Install User Mods to Your Favorite Games to Improve Performance
You might be surprised to find out that a whole mess of folks have already created modifications to your favorite games that make them run faster, look better, and do all sorts of weird (but cool) stuff. These mods are available, often for free, from all sorts of places on the web. Check them out at the Windows Store, on Steam, or through your favorite communities and social media sites. Applying mods to games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin can greatly improve not only the games’ loading speeds, performance, and stability, but also the graphical fidelity and even the user interface.
Try these out, and happy gaming!