The single most disappointing thing about playing a brand new game for the first time is when you recognize that your gaming rig is closer to the minimum system requirements than the recommended. Now you must choose whether to upgrade you systems and which components may or may not be dragging your system down. While you are deciding, here are five tips for squeezing out a few more FPS from that aging system.
The first and most important things to look at when considering non-hardware performance tweaks are graphics settings and system performance. Be sure to check the system requirements of the games you are trying to load into to be sure that your gaming rig is above the minimum requirements. These tips will not be able to help a system that is not designed to play the game in the first place.
Tip #1: VIRTUAL MEMORY
Virtual Memory is your computer’s way of protecting itself from running out of physical memory by setting aside a chunk of main media storage as an overflow or extension of the physical memory. By increasing the total virtual memory available on your system, you can make sure that the programs you attempt to use will have enough physical and virtual memory to be able to perform at an optimal level. Most systems set aside between 2 to 3GB of media storage for virtual memory, but an older system with a smaller storage drive may have significantly less. A good target number for a virtual memory setting will be 3GB, but remember, if you have a larger main storage drive, restricting the virtual memory to a specific number could throttle your performance. Consider this change carefully.
Tip #2: DRIVER UPDATE
The easiest fix for performance issues in newer games is updating the graphics card drivers. The most prominent graphics card makers, NVidia and AMD/ATI, release regular updates for the devices they make and, more often than not, will release new drivers with specific performance increases for new games. Be sure to use your device’s upgrade systems or go to the manufacturer’s website and search for the proper graphics card update there.
Tip #3: ADJUST GAME SETTINGS
Every game you purchase will have it’s own set of graphic choices and options. Lowering these settings may have the effect of increasing performance, but at the cost of quality. Try to make sure that you have optimized your gaming rig first before lowering graphics settings as to make sure you are able to run the games of your choice in the best possible way.
SET VISUAL EFFECTS
Graphics settings can be adjusted by both the in-game settings and the device driver through the operating system or included manufacturer’s control panel. You have the option of throttling performance through the Windows or manufacturer’s control panel so that performance stays at a certain level. Be aware that directly setting graphics through the Windows OS or manufacturer’s control panel can, on occasion, affect the performance of some games.
Rendering shadows is both the best and worst possible action that your graphics card can perform. On a high-end system, the rendering of shadows will make a normal or plain game look significantly better. However, attempting to render shadows on a low-end system will take a marginally well-performing game and turn it into a 3-5 frames-per-second slideshow. As your gaming rig ages you should consider lowering or disabling all together the ability of the game to render shadows. The setting for shadows can normally be found within the graphics options of the games you are playing.
Anti-aliasing is the little touch that takes plain graphics rendering and makes it look smooth and clean. Anti-aliasing smooths out the rough, pixelated edges of a rendered item but at a significant cost to low-end systems. Consider turning this setting off in either your Windows control panel, manufacturer’s control panel, or inside the graphics settings of the game itself.
Tip #4: GAME PATCHES
From time-to-time, game developers will release updates to their games designed to fix in-game issues as well as performance problems. These patches can contain specific fixes for graphics card performance and will significant increase the performance of a game that has been suffering from issues that were not hardware related. Most games will automatically update to the most recent patch when your gaming rig is connected online and you open up the game. However, some games do not actively use the online environment so patches must be manually located and downloaded from the publisher or developer of the game.
Tip #5: READ OUR PREVIOUS PERFORMANCE TIPS
Over the last few months, I have posted a number of system tips and tricks for improving the performance of a gaming PC. Make sure that you have considered each option from the posts below: