Avast Academy Performance Gaming How to Increase FPS and Optimize Your Gaming PC

How to Increase FPS and Optimize Your Gaming PC

Console gaming has its advantages — turn it on and everything works perfectly. Gaming on PC isn’t as easy, since you also have to worry about keeping your computer in top shape. Learn how to increase FPS and optimize Windows 10 for gaming, then keep your computer tuned up with a specialized cleaning and performance booster tool.

Written by Ivan Belcic
Published on April 30, 2021
Reviewed by Sandro Villinger

From simple performance tweaks to expert-level hacks, the Windows 10 performance tweaks for gaming included in this guide will get you the blazing-fast FPS boost you’re after.

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    What is low FPS?

    Low FPS is when your gameplay becomes choppy and sluggish because the frame rate is too slow. Low FPS happens when your computer struggles to support the game, and as a result, the game slows down.

    Your graphics card renders your gameplay in a series of still images, or frames — measured in frames per second (FPS). When you play a video game, your CPU, RAM, and GPU work together to deliver a smooth gameplay experience. If there’s a bottleneck in any of these components, your FPS will drop. Most games will look fine at a minimum of 30 FPS, though many gamers won’t accept anything under 60 FPS.

    Boosting FPS is one area in which PC gamers win out over console gamers. Since you can’t modify a console, you’re stuck with whatever FPS you get. On a PC, you can boost FPS as high as your monitor’s refresh rate. Since competitive gaming requires ultra-fast FPS, many gaming monitors and new gaming laptops support refresh rates of 144 to 360 Hz.

    There’s a lot you can do to optimize your Windows 10 PC for gaming. Let’s find out how with these FPS booster tips, tricks, and tweaks.

    How to increase FPS: Easy tweaks

    The following techniques will help you improve FPS without expert-level knowledge or expensive hardware upgrades. Here’s how to optimize Windows 10 for gaming with a few easy tweaks:

    1. Turn on Windows Game Mode.

    2. Update your GPU drivers.

    3. Delay automatic Windows updates.

    4. Disable notifications.

    5. Tweak mouse settings.

    6. Lower your resolution.

    7. Tweak your game’s graphics settings.

    8. Install DirectX 12 Ultimate.

    9. Get rid of programs you don’t need.

    Turn on Windows Game Mode

    Windows Game Mode focuses your computer’s resources on your game and boosts FPS. It’s one of the easiest Windows 10 performance tweaks for gaming.

    If you don’t already have it on, here’s how to get better FPS by turning on Windows Game Mode:

    1. Step 1. Press the Windows key + I to open your Settings. Choose the Gaming category.

      Accessing the Gaming settings in Windows 10 from the Windows Settings menu
    2. Step 2. Click Game Mode in the menu on the left and make sure Game Mode is On.

      Enabling Windows Game Mode in Windows 10

    Windows Game Mode will automatically detect when you’re playing a game and optimize Windows 10 for gaming.

    Update your GPU drivers

    Help your GPU deliver 100% of its potential by updating your graphics card driver to boost performance. You should notice a significant FPS increase, as shown here by GPU manufacturer Nvidia. (Check out our full article on the best driver updater software for your PC.)

    Updating your graphics card driver can deliver up to 23% more gaming performance.Nvidia reported that a GPU driver update increased performance by up to 23%. Source: Nvidia

    Learn how to update your GPU driver for Nvidia GeForce, ATI Radeon, and Intel HD Graphics cards:

    • Nvidia GeForce: The GeForce driver website has everything you need. Find your graphics card and Windows version, then select Start Search. Any beta drivers aren’t 100% finished, but they should be stable enough to work fine. And since they’re newer, they’ll often give you an even stronger FPS boost.

    • ATI Radeon: Select your device on the AMD software downloads website. Here, you’ll be able to download the latest official driver for your GPU, or try a newer beta driver for the newest features and a bigger increase in FPS.

    • Intel HD Graphics: You’ll mostly find these in ultrabooks or tablets. While gaming on the HD 4000 or earlier might be a challenge, Intel’s newer GPUs can deliver adequate performance with modern games. The Intel Download Center’s graphics website will have all the latest drivers.

    Updating your graphics card driver is one of the most effective ways to increase FPS and optimize Windows 10 for gaming. And with Avast Driver Updater, you’ll never have to worry about doing it yourself. Enjoy automatic driver updates for all the hardware in your PC for consistently great gaming performance.

    How can I find out what graphics card I have?

    1. Step 1. Open the Start menu and type the phrase “device manager.” Select the Device Manager from the results.

      Accessing the Device Manager from the search box in Windows 10
    2. Step 2. Select the Display adapters category to view your graphics card(s).

      The Device Manager app in Windows 10, showing two graphics cards

    There are two Nvidia Titan Xp graphics cards in this computer.

    Outfit your GPU with an updated graphics driver to optimize your Windows 10 gaming computer for increased FPS.

    Delay automatic Windows updates

    Automatic Windows updates are a good thing, as software updates often contain security fixes. But when you’re downloading an update in the middle of an online gaming session, that can rip through your bandwidth.

    Here’s how to deactivate automatic Windows updates to make your computer faster for gaming:

    1. Step 1. Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings. Then, click Update & Security.

      Opening the Update & Security options in the Settings of Windows 10
    2. Step 2. Click Windows Update from the menu on the left, then select Advanced Options.

      The Windows Update settings in Windows 10
    3. Step 3. Set the toggle for “Restart this device as soon as possible when a restart is required to install an update” to Off, and set the toggle for “Show a notification when your PC requires a restart to finish updating” to On.

      The advanced options for Windows Update in Windows 10

    You can also elect to pause future updates, but we recommend that you always install software updates ASAP to reduce the risk of being targeted by security exploits.

    Disable notifications

    This tip is less of an FPS booster and more of a sanity-preserver, as no one needs to see notifications when they’re in the middle of a game.

    1. Step 1. Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings, then choose System.

      Opening the System settings in Windows 10
    2. Step 2. Select Focus Assist from the left-side menu, then click When I’m playing a game.

      The Focus assist settings in Windows 10
    3. Step 3. Set alerts to Alarms only, or Priority only if you’d like to see a limited set of notifications.

      Hiding notifications while playing a game in full screen in Windows 10

    Tweak mouse settings

    The pointer precision feature in Windows 10 makes your cursor move faster depending on how quickly you move your mouse, but you can optimize Windows 10 for gaming by turning pointer precision off.

    1. Step 1. Press the Windows key + I to open your Settings, then select Devices.

      Opening the Devices settings in Windows 10
    2. Step 2. Select Mouse from the menu on the left. Then, click Additional mouse options.

      Editing the mouse settings in Windows 10
    3. Step 3. Go to the Pointer Options tab and uncheck the box next to Enhance pointer precision. Click Apply, then OK.

      Deactivating pointer precision in the mouse settings for Windows 10

    Lower your resolution

    Lowering your game’s resolution lets your GPU output more frames per second. With fewer pixels to worry about, your GPU can focus on boosting FPS instead. Look for the resolution settings in your game’s options menu.

    Adjusting resolution settings to boost FPS in Dead Island.Adjusting resolution to boost FPS in Dead Island.

    Tweak your game’s graphics settings

    Resolution is just one setting you can adjust to get more FPS. Try tweaking some of the following settings and see if you can increase FPS even further.

    • Graphical details: Turn down the textures, shadows, lighting, and reflections. You’ll sacrifice some of the impressive visuals, but you should notice an FPS boost.

    • Anti-aliasing: This feature smoothens the edges of the various objects in your game. Disable it, then slowly turn it up until you start losing FPS.

    • Draw distance: This sets the minimum distance at which your game starts rendering objects in the distance. Turn it down to give your GPU fewer things to do (and improve FPS).

    • Graphical effects: Dial down the bells and whistles — motion blur, lens flares, fire, and so on. If your GPU is struggling to output a minimum of 30 FPS, stick to the basics.

    • VSync: VSync matches your game’s frame rate with your monitor’s refresh rate. It’s intended to prevent your monitor from showing parts of multiple frames at once, but sometimes it can negatively affect FPS. Try playing without it.

    Here’s how the graphics settings menu looks in Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition. Try reducing some or all of these for a few quick Windows 10 gaming tweaks.

    The graphics options in Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition for Windows 10

    Install DirectX 12 Ultimate

    DirectX is Microsoft’s collection of Windows gaming APIs (application programming interfaces). If you’re using an outdated version of DirectX, you might be missing out on an FPS boost and other perks. The latest version is DirectX 12 Ultimate.

    Here’s how to optimize Windows 10 for gaming by updating DirectX — first, check whether or not you have the latest version.

    Press the Windows key + G to open the XBox Gaming Bar, then click the settings cog in the top menu bar. Under Gaming Features, you’ll see whether or not your computer has (or can support) DirectX 12 Ultimate.

    Checking the DirectX version with the XBox Gaming Bar in Windows 10If it says DirectX 12 Ultimate, then you’re updated. If not, and if your computer can support DirectX 12 Ultimate, you’ll need to update DirectX.

    1. Step 1. Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings, then choose Update & Security.

      Opening the Update & Security settings in Windows 10
    2. Step 2. Click Check for updates and wait for Windows 10 to locate and verify an update.

      Checking for software updates in Windows 10
    3. Step 3. If Windows 10 finds a new update, click Download and install. This should update DirectX.

      Choosing to download and install a Windows 10 software update

    Get rid of programs you don’t need

    If you have a lot of programs installed on your Windows 10 gaming PC, they’ll compete for precious RAM — which means lower FPS while gaming.

    Avast Cleanup addresses this issue on two fronts: first, by uninstalling programs you aren’t using, and second, by preventing other programs from hogging RAM with background activity. Here’s how to get more FPS from your gaming machine with Avast Cleanup:

    1. Step 1. Download your free trial of Avast Cleanup.

    2. Step 2. Click Speed up to scan your computer for bloatware, other unnecessary programs, and performance-sapping background activity.

      The home screen for Avast Cleanup for Windows 10
    3. Step 3. Click Background & startup programs to clear out background activity and free up more RAM for your games to boost FPS.

      The Speed up screen in Avast Cleanup for Windows 10
    4. Step 4. Click Sleep next to a program to prevent it from running in the background, or click Put all to sleep to deactivate background activity for all the programs listed here.

      Putting background and startup programs to sleep with Avast Cleanup for Windows 10

    Avast Cleanup will hibernate these programs when you’re not using them, then wake them up when it’s time to dive back in. In the meantime, you’ll optimize Windows 10 for gaming and increase FPS thanks to more RAM and CPU power for your games.

    How to increase FPS: Advanced tweaks

    Here’s how to make your computer faster for gaming with a full range of expert-level tips, from upgrading your GPU and RAM to deep-dive Windows tweaks behind the curtain.

    Overclock your graphics card

    Usually, low FPS is caused by a struggling GPU. Before upgrading your graphics card, try overclocking your GPU to get more FPS for free. A moderate overclock of no more than 15% will safely boost your gaming PC.

    A GPU overclock as displayed in MSI Afterburner in Windows 10A GPU overclock can boost your FPS for free.

    Overclocking gives greater performance but causes higher internal temperatures. Monitor your GPU temperature while you overclock to avoid unsafe heat levels. If you’re overclocking your CPU, the same principle applies, and you’ll need to watch your CPU temps while doing so. 

    Don’t overclock by 15% at once — increase your GPU speed incrementally and see how your computer responds before going further. In our internal tests, a GPU overclock resulted in a performance boost of 10%.

    Upgrade your GPU

    Trying to get the ultimate gaming experience? If you want to boost FPS over 60 with 4K resolution, you’ll need a top-of-the line graphics card like the GeForce RTX 3080 — or two of them linked together in SLI, which combines their processing power into a single output. You’ll also need a 4K monitor with a high refresh rate to support 4K gameplay at a high FPS.

    It’s much easier to increase FPS at 1440p or 1080p, and you’ll be able to do so with a more affordable graphics card. The cost of building your own gaming PC comes down to what you put inside it — you can save a lot of money when building a gaming PC with a more modest, but still powerful, graphics card.

    Upgrading your graphics card to a GeForce RTX 3080 from a GeForce RTX 2080 can significantly increase FPS in some games.Nvidia’s tests show that upgrading to a GeForce RTX 3080 from a GeForce RTX 2080 can increase FPS by over 100% in some games. Source: Nvidia

    Upgrade your HDD to an SSD

    How to make your computer faster for gaming? Get a faster drive. Swapping out your aging hard drive for a crisp new SSD (solid state drive) will slash loading times and make your computer much faster overall.

    When choosing a new SSD, bear in mind that many modern games require a minimum of 50 GB. Add on 30 GB or so for Windows itself, and also think about all the other files you store on your computer. We suggest choosing an SSD of at least 500 GB.

    We installed a 480 GB SanDisk Extreme ($395) in our test computer, and the new SSD massively decreased loading times when compared to our stock HDD.

    Upgrading to an SSD shorten GTA V loading times considerably.Upgrading to an SSD can result in much shorter loading times.

    Upgrade your RAM

    Your computer uses its RAM (random access memory) to manage everything it’s currently doing. It’s your computer’s flexible, short-term memory: an agile workspace for all active tasks.

    Adding more RAM will help optimize Windows 10 for gaming and other tasks by giving your PC more power to work with. To boost FPS up to 60 or more at high resolutions, you’ll want at least 16 GB of RAM — though you’ll still need a powerful graphics card (or two) as well.

    Whether you’re adding new RAM or upgrading all your RAM modules, don’t mix and match. If adding RAM, buy more of what you currently have. And if upgrading to new RAM, buy one or more of the same RAM module. Check your current RAM to verify what you have and what your computer can handle.

    Defragment/optimize your disk

    As you create new files and delete others on your hard disk, files become fragmented — spread out in pieces across the disk — which slows down your drive. 

    SSDs won’t fragment your files, but they can still become de-optimized over time. Cleaning your SSD will make your drive faster and optimize Windows 10 for gaming.

    Here’s how to defragment or optimize your drive in Windows 10:

    1. Step 1. Type the word defragment into the Windows search box, then select Defragment and Optimize Drives from the results.

      Finding the Defragment and Optimize Drives app in Windows 10
    2. Step 2. Choose your drive, then click Optimize. If you’ve selected an HDD, Windows will begin the defragmentation (“defrag”) process. If you have an SSD, Windows will optimize it with the TRIM procedure.

      The Optimize Devices window in Windows 10

    TRIM is a set of commands designed to optimize your SSD, and it’s enabled by default on Windows 10. Check to make sure it’s turned on, otherwise Windows won’t be able to tune up your SSD.

    1. Step 1. Click the Start menu and type cmd into the search bar to open the Command Prompt. Select Run as administrator, then click Yes in the next window.

      Choosing to run the Command Prompt with administrator privileges in Windows 10
    2. Step 2. Enter the command Fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify, then press Enter.

      Confirming that TRIM is active in the Command Prompt for Windows 10
    3. Step 3. If you see a result of = 0, then TRIM is enabled. If not, enter the command fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify 0 and press Enter. If that still doesn’t work, you may need to update your firmware.

    Tweak the NVIDIA Control Panel

    Nvidia drivers include a handy control panel where you can tweak your graphics settings to boost FPS and increase performance for gaming. Check out the options and see if you can improve FPS even more.

    The Manage 3D Settings options in the Nvidia control panel for Windows 10

    Right-click on your desktop and choose Nvidia Control Panel to open it up. Select Manage 3D Settings from the menu on the left to open additional settings and get more FPS.

    • Maximum Pre-Rendered Frames: This limits the number of frames your processor will prepare before sending them to your GPU. A higher number can smoothen your gameplay, but it also may introduce lag with a mouse and keyboard. Try setting it to 1 to eliminate lag.

    • Threaded Optimization: Set this to On to optimize your games for modern multi-core processors.

    • VSync: Disabling this may lead to smoother gameplay, but you may also notice some rendering errors. You can turn VSync off only if your monitor’s refresh rate is higher than your game’s FPS.

    Tweak the AMD/ATI Control Center

    Do you have an AMD graphics card? If so, the AMD/ATI Control Center is your ticket to more FPS and an optimized PC for gaming. Right-click on your desktop, choose Radeon Settings, and select Gaming Settings.

    The AMD Radeon Graphics control center for Windows 10

    You can configure your graphics settings on a per-game basis, but let’s head to the Global Settings to improve FPS in most games you play.

    • Anisotropic Filtering Mode: This setting sharpens distant textures at the cost of a higher workload for your GPU. Only turn this on if your game doesn’t have an anisotropic filtering setting in its own internal menu.

    • Anti-aliasing mode and method: Anti-aliasing smooths out the edges of objects in your games. If the objects in your game look jagged, activate the Override method with an anti-aliasing level from 2 to 8.

    Adjusting anti-aliasing levels in the AMD Radeon control center for Windows

    • Morphological Filtering (MLAA): This is AMD’s own version of anti-aliasing — turn off the game’s anti-aliasing and your standard anti-aliasing, then try this.

    • Texture Filtering Quality: AMD says that this will adjust the quality of the textures in your games, but we struggled to tell the difference between High and Performance. Performance mode yielded a small FPS boost of 1 to 5 FPS, so try that.

    • Surface Format Optimization: In older games, this setting will sacrifice some graphical fidelity for a small FPS boost. You won’t see a difference in modern games, and even when we tested it in Age of Empires III from 2005, we didn’t notice any improvements. Go ahead and turn this off.

    • Wait for Vertical Refresh: This is your VSync, which links your FPS to the refresh rate of your monitor. Turning this off can introduce screen tearing, where your monitor displays parts of several frames at once. Only turn this off if your monitor’s refresh rate is higher than your FPS.

    Disable SysMain and Prefetch

    SysMain (previously known as SuperFetch) and Prefetch usually decrease startup times for Windows and other programs. But they can sometimes increase game load times and drive up your background activity. Turn these off to optimize Windows 10 for gaming.

    Warning: this process involves making edits to your Windows registry. Follow these steps exactly, or you may accidentally cause errors in your PC.

    1. Step 1. Type services in the Windows search box and select the Services app.

      Finding the Services app from the Windows 10 search box
    2. Step 2. Find and double-click SysMain.

      Finding the SysMain options in the Services app for Windows 10
    3. Step 3. Select Disabled from the list of Startup type options, then click Apply and OK. Close these windows.

      Disabling SysMain from the Services app in Windows 10
    4. Step 4. Press Windows + R to open the Run box, then type regedit and hit the Enter key. Select Yes to confirm.

      Opening the Registry from the Run box in Windows 10
    5. Step 5. Copy and paste the following path into the address bar of the window:

      Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters

      Press Enter.

      The Prefetch parameters in the Registry for Windows 10
    6. Step 6. Double-click the EnablePrefetcher entry and type 0 to turn off the Prefetcher, then select OK.

      Turning Prefetch off in the Registry in Windows 10

    Optimize your laptop for gaming

    Many of the PC optimization tips in this list apply to laptops too. Some laptops don’t permit GPU or RAM upgrades, but you can upgrade your Windows drivers, enjoy Windows 10 gaming mode, and speed up your computer with specialized PC performance optimization software.

    Use high performance mode

    To optimize your laptop for gaming, click the battery icon in the taskbar and move the slider all the way to the right to select the Best performance setting.

    Perform this quick process with your power cable plugged in and also unplugged so that your laptop is optimized for gaming in both cases. It’ll shorten your battery life, but give you every bit of power you need to increase FPS.

    Adjusting the power settings on a Windows 10 laptop for best performance.

    Don’t let your laptop get too hot

    As your laptop heats up, it’ll try to cool itself down by limiting performance. Get more FPS while gaming by cooling your laptop off with these tips:

    • Clean the fans and vents. Regularly remove dust from your laptop’s vents, and if you can, open it up and clean the fans directly — though doing so will likely void your manufacturer’s warranty.

    • Use it on a smooth, flat surface. It’s more accurate to think of your laptop as a “tabletop” — putting it on your actual lap prevents air from circulating and cooling your laptop down.

    • Use your power supply. Your battery generates heat when it’s powering your laptop. Use an external power supply to give your battery a break.

    • Buy a cooling stand. Laptop cooling stands have built-in fans that blow cool air against your computer’s casing. They’re relatively affordable, and most of them will connect to your laptop via USB.

    Clean up and speed up your laptop

    Your laptop can benefit just as much as your PC from a thorough tuneup. Avast Cleanup helps make your computer faster for gaming by preventing all your other apps from hogging RAM with background activity

    Automatically detect and remove unnecessary programs and get rid of all the junk files spread out across your drive. Try it now with a 30-day free trial.

    Turn off background Windows services

    Even without PC optimization software, you can still prevent some Windows apps from running in the background and draining your computer’s resources (and battery).

    1. Step 1. Type the phrase background apps in the Windows search box, then open Background apps.

      Opening the Background apps settings from the Windows search box in Windows 10
    2. Step 2. Set the first toggle to Off to block all apps from running background activity. You can also set permissions for individual apps.

      The Background apps settings in Windows 10

    Check your results with an in-game FPS counter

    Ready to see how much you’ve optimized your computer for gaming? An in-game FPS counter will let you see whether or not a certain tweak has boosted FPS or not. Many games include FPS counters, and on Steam, you can bring it up via the overlay by pressing Alt + Tab.

    Alternatively, install MSI Afterburner and RivaTuner to get an FPS counter you can use with any game.

    Enhance your gaming experience with Avast Cleanup

    Now that you’ve transformed your computer into an FPS-boosting gaming powerhouse, keep it that way with Avast Cleanup. Snooze background activity to conserve RAM and increase FPS, remove old programs and junk files to free up storage space, and improve your laptop’s battery life for extra-long gaming sessions. Try it risk-free with a 30-day free trial.

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    Ivan Belcic