Thanks to Windows and its plethora of hidden options for power saving and other “convenience” features, you can own a gaming laptop for years and never see its true potential. That is unless you spend a bit of time tweaking its gaming performance.
Turns out your gaming laptop could be capable of more, depending on what you can change and how much you haven’t activated.
Some gaming laptops come with their own “gaming” or “turbo” mode but oftentimes, these settings are just inelegant methods to provide an immediate and easy boost. If you want something more in-depth or personalized as far as laptop gaming performance goes, check out these following tweaks.
Plug in the Charger/Power Supply
The most obvious step you should take when gaming is to see if your laptop’s charger is plugged in. Because if it has a beefy or current-gen dedicated GPU, then chances are, the mere battery power won’t provide much juice to the component.
Gaming laptops starting in the mid-range category, after all, need a consistent and constant supply of power. So sadly, you’ll have to forego those electricity bill penny pinching, because gaming laptops often need to be plugged in, like gaming PCs.
Update Your GPU Drivers
If you find that your recently released game is constantly stuttering or running at low framerates, then you might have to update your GPUs drivers.
Updating your GPU’s drivers should also be performed regularly as a rule of thumb so you can easily eliminate drivers as a factor for poor performance during troubleshooting.
Turn off Power Saving Mode/Enable High Performance
There are two methods to enact this edict for your laptop. The first is by checking Windows’ power settings. Here’s the step-by-step:
- Click on Start, go to Settings.
- Under Settings, go to System, and select Power and sleep or just Power.
- Under Power, select Power mode or Additional power settings.
- Pick High performance in the drop-down or selection menu.
- If there is a change plan settings option, click on it, then go to Change advanced power settings.
- If there’s a slider that lets you set it to high performance, commit to that adjustment.
- Confirm the changes with Apply or Ok.
The second method is for those who have Nvidia GPUs. Open Nvidia’s Control Panel (usually by right-clicking and then selecting it or by double-clicking the Nvidia Settings icon on the taskbar.
- After opening Nvidia Control Panel, select Manage 3D Settings.
- Select the Program Settings tab.
- Scroll down and look for Power management mode.
- Select Prefer maximum performance.
- Click Apply or OK to confirm.
Depending on what settings you were using before, you might see some dramatic changes.
Double-check if All CPU Cores Are Being Utilized
This one is similar to tweaking the GPU performance settings but for the CPU. Old games or even the newer ones might have a hard time recognizing the dozens of new cores and threads on the new CPUs today; so if you suspect poor optimization or if your game will inexplicably slow down to a crawl for a couple of seconds, then this might be worth checking.
- While your game is running, open Task Manager.
- Under the Processes tab, look for your game or the specific main program you’re running.
- Right-click its name and select Go to details, then look for Set Affinity.
- Under Set Affinity, pick all the available cores and activate their check box.
- Confirm by clicking OK.
Do keep in mind that this method doesn’t always work and is mostly only applicable to bugged applications and Windows installations.
And you also shouldn’t worry that the fans might wear out since they’re easy and cheap enough to replace at least when compared to components that wore down due to excessive heat.
Windows’ Game Mode
Windows tends to make its own adjustments once it detects a laptop installation. But luckily, it also has a quick setting that can make it more suited for the typical gaming PC configuration in the form of Game Mode.
This will deactivate a lot of Windows resources and background processes that might divert a bit of the processing and computing power away from the games. To enable Game Mode, follow the steps below:
- Click Start and go to Settings.
- Select Gaming and select Game Mode.
- Make sure Game Mode is toggled on.
For older Windows installations, Game Mode might be under Xbox Game Bar, just look for it under that file UI region. This won’t always help, but every bit of resource and performance boost counts on a gaming laptop.
Close Unnecessary Background Programs
Speaking of closing unnecessary background programs, Windows Game Mode doesn’t always eliminate non-system applications during your game session.
Programs like Twitch, Discord, FPS counters, Google Chrome, recording software, or even Steam itself might cause some slowdowns or stuttering.
For better peace of mind, you might want to disable all unnecessary tools and applications if you want to squeeze the most out of your laptop’s performance. It’s as easy as checking them in Task Manager and ending their task.
Just use your phone for emergency browsing needs during gameplay if you really need that much performance on your laptop.
Turn the Fans High
There are times when slowdowns are caused by high temperatures since the computer has a failsafe where it throttles down its power to curb the overheating components. It’s quite a common occurrence for gaming laptops due to their subpar cooling.
So you’ll want to make sure that your fans are all running at their best speeds. If not the maximum, then it should be something closer to 90 percent fan speed; you can easily adjust this using the dedicated manufacturer application (these typically allow users to adjust the fan speed).
The downside, of course, would be the distracting or even irritating noise. Laptop fans can get loud and obnoxious. But that’s the price you pay for compact PC gaming.
Lift the Back of the Laptop
In addition to keeping the laptop as well-ventilated as possible, it’s also best to give it as much space available at the rear. Lifting the laptop up by an inch or two allows the bottom intake fans (if they’re there) to suck in more air; the higher the better.
It can also help the side and rear exhaust fans to blow out more air since there’s less obstruction.
Better still, you can purchase a laptop cooling pad instead for a better lift. Some of them even come with fans to blow more air into the intake vents.
Clean the Laptop
The effects of dust buildup inside your computer might vary, but the most common consequence is heat. Dust typically clogs up the vents (usually the intake) and it restricts airflow.
Your laptop will eventually struggle to cool itself with enough dust buildup and in turn, might cause some thermal throttling. Cooling and performance, after all, are positively correlated.
So cleaning the laptop regularly (maybe once per month, more if you have pets), should be part of your standard routine.
On a final note, when it comes to improving laptop gaming performance, it’s more practical to start with the software aspect before moving on to the hardware, especially if you’re feeling lazy.