If you are anything like I am, I am an avid gamer and will not settle for anything but the maximum performance from my gaming rig. We will review what I do, after a fresh windows install, to make sure my rig performs the best. Here are some Tips and tricks to help you squeeze the most out of your rig.
This is not a definitive guide, and not inclusive, and some of my methods may have better ways of achieving the results or even in some cases better results but these are simple, easy, quick ways to make sure your PC is not being handicapped by standard default settings that, for the average PC user, help optimize power savings and other things along these lines but for the avid gamer, kills the performance of your PC.
This blog will be dedicated to Windows 10 Users and Nvidia Graphics.
I will be directing you to various settings windows using a cleaver search bar feature of windows 10 located in the bottom left of your desktop. Simply type the place you would like to navigate too and it will pop up. Nifty.
Basic, Standard, Boring Stuff
Before we move onto the things you may or may not know about, here are the basic things you need to do before we begin:
- Update your motherboard drivers. This can be done by navigating to your motherboards support page, finding the download section and downloading and installing the drivers. The most important ones being, Sound Card Drivers, USB Drivers, LAN Drivers, WIFI Drivers etc.
- If your Sound Card is external to the motherboard, update it! You may be shocked at the amount of crashing issues that can simply relate to soundcard drivers being out of date. Have you ever had an explosion sound in game crash your game? Yea that’s a driver issue buddy.
- Update your graphics driver to the latest and greatest release. Go figure.
- We will not be covering custom bios tweaks, advanced overclocking of CPU and GPU as this is more advanced we will however cover an easy method for modest overclocking on intel CPU’s.
If you are one of the lucky ones who have a monitor that supports a higher refresh rate, are you sure you have the windows settings set to take advantage of it?
Here is a simple check.
Search Bar –> Display Settings –> Advanced Display Settings
Make sure you have the correct monitor selected, if you run dual monitors, and click on the “Display adapter properties for Display x”
Click List All modes this will list the display resolutions available for that monitor and the refresh rates.
Simply select the desired resolution and refresh rate combo. Typically the maximum supported for both. Click OK and you are done.
If you have a monitor that supports 100+ Hz and you didn’t adjust this option yet, the difference should be night and day.
PS: Don’t tell me the human eye blah blah max 60Hz blah blah, its all BS, trust me get a 100+ Hz monitor and see for yourself.
Windows Power Settings
Search Bar –> Power & Sleep Settings –> Additional Power Settings
By default, Windows prefers a “Balanced Power Setting” which does things such as sets the PCI Express slogs to prefer a “LOS State” lowest power state, when idle, it also does something similar by throttling your processor you a lower clock speed, when not being used, to save on power. This sounds all fine and dandy but I’m my experience, causes issues when attempting to game such as lost frames, micro stutter and intermittent freezing. This is due to the processor switching between these “Power States” and each switch is a noticeable hit to performance and gaming experience.
Under the “Additional Power Settings” Option you can select “Show Additional Plans” and expose the “High Performance” setting.
This setting turns the idle link state of PCI Express slots off and sets the CPU to 100% minimum power state eliminating the throttling to the processor clock speed.
End result, your PC is supplying full power to the GPU and CPU at all times. Below I will illustrate the difference I am pointing out.
Example #1: Balanced Power Setting
My CPU is an i7-5830k 3.50GHz base clock speed, I have it currently overclocked to 4.45GHz however, the balanced power state is throttling my CPU since it detects a light load, all the way down to 2.35GHz.
Example #2: High Performance Power Setting
With this one single change my CPU now runs within 5% of my overclock at all times.
Nvidia Power Settings
Similar to Windows Nvidia also wants to help the planet by throttling your GPU. This to me is a bit silly since Nvidia is in the business of moving pixels to screens as fast as possible, but, here we are.
The below changes will turn off filtering and post processing effects meant to make your games have higher fidelity however, if you are like me, and prefer max performance please continue.
Either right click the desktop and go to Nvidia Control Panel or navigate to your system tray, right click Nvidia icon, and click Nvidia control panel.
On the top left select “Adjust Image Settings with Preview”
In the right pane, select Use my preference emphasizing: Performance. This will adjust the global Nvidia settings to, well, prefer settings that increase performance.
Next click Manage 3D Settings
In the right pane, under global settings tab, select “Power Management Mode” and set it to “Prefer Maximum Performance”.
This will turn off post processing and texture filtering options, or minimize them to enhance performance and frames. You can also do this on an individual application basis if you prefer but i set it to the global settings, i find it easier.
Modest Safe and Easy Intel CPU Overclocking
If you have a decent air cooler, all in one water cooler or custom loop, you may want to overclock your CPU but, like most, find it a bit daunting. There are a lot of settings, things to consider and risk that can go into it if you are inexperienced.
If you enjoy tinkering, there are plenty of guides online to help you overclock and get every last drop of performance. If you are like me and want a quick and dirty method for overclocking that’s practically risk free and easy and achieves 80% of a custom overclock.
I present to you: Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel XTU) –> DOWNLOAD HERE <–
Make sure your specific CPU is listed on the list of supported CPU’s.
Once you download it will ask you to reboot and once you open it up will look like this.
Navigate to Basic Tuning, yes you heard me right, basic tuning, this is because its:
- My grandmother could do it
- low risk
There is a standard intel disclaimer about screwing around with power settings on a CPU could damage it yada yada, but like I said earlier, we are not doing anything custom here so its very safe.
We are following a 3 step, auto overclock utility published by intel.
Step 1: We click the Run Benchmark, this is simply going to give us a baseline of how our CPU is performing right now to compare against after the overlock.
Clicking Run benchmark will begin the benchmarking process.
After Benchmarking is complete you will be given a Score, just a way to measure the relative performance. Mine is 1771 Marks. (Mark must be a popular guy)
Step 2: After this is complete at the top right, it will show (2) values. Processor Core Ratio and Processor Cache Ratio. Who cares what these mean, higher is better but, like I said, we are going with simple here, and if nothing went wrong there should be a Default column and Proposed column.
In the Step 2 Section make sure the Core Ratio and Cache Ratio are matching the proposed ratio from your results. (Do not copy mine, its on a processor by processor basis)
Step 3: After you have confirmed the ratios are correct, and matching YOUR PERSONAL proposed score from earlier. Click the Run Benchmark Button to get your final score.
And once it displays the new score, hopefully better, you are all done.
Note my score is practically the same as the original benchmark because I have already overclocked my CPU to 4.5GHz.
You can optionally check task manager performance tab to make sure your CPU is registering the new overclock. Mine is running 4.33 – 4.5Ghz a 28% improvement over the base clock. Not bad.
There you have it, some quick tips to get a little extra performance out of your rig that you may have not known about. There are many more things you can do but I find these to be easy for most users and common across most intel/nvidia based gaming PC’s.