So you finally joined the gaming laptop club? Your excitement can’t be contained thanks to the sleek beauty and power of your portable device. It’s the pinnacle of portable computer technology, after all. But that gaming laptop won’t be performing at its maximum potential without some tweaking and a bit of care.
There’s quite a lot you’ll need to set up before you can start playing games. Depending on your gaming laptop specs or your internet speed, these rule-of-thumb procedures might take a few dozen minutes to an hour.
Thankfully, you only have to do this sequence once. It’s pretty similar to setting up your newly bought Android smartphone or iPhone, but more technical and heavier on the applications.
Make sure to follow these steps to get your gaming laptop in working or gaming shape.
Check the Screen for Any Defects
Laptop screens are so thin and bezel-less these days, that they tend to sacrifice overall quality and durability. The result is that some of them might have some hidden factory defects or handling damage that you will need to check, especially since your gaming laptop is presumably brand new.
The most obvious and glaring problems that can plague a laptop screen (or just about any monitor) are dead pixels. These are single-colored pixels that don’t disappear regardless of what’s on display. They can also be a sign that the screen is dying as they may or may not increase in numbers over time.
Checking dead pixels is easy enough. There are websites like this which allow you to easily spot dead pixels. They also come with their own set of instructions. Heck, you can even check for yourself using just Microsoft Paint and a white or single-colored background.
Backlight bleed is less noticeable than dead pixels. LCD and LED screens both require a source of light on their edges or corners to control brightness. Usually, these light sources are hidden by the bezels or plastic around the screen but as the bezels kept getting thinner, backlight bleed became more and more noticeable.
Thus backlight bleed is most apparent when the screen is dark, such as when viewing a dimly-lit movie or game. There are acceptable levels of backlight bleed, but some are too invasive such as the image above.
To check your screen’s backlight bleed, go to this website. You’ll want to perform this test with the room lights off and in the darkest room lighting as much as possible.
Depending on the results, you might also want to contact your laptop’s retailer or manufacturer and ask them about their backlight bleed return or exchange policies. Some might not cover it as dead pixels are bigger problems.
Update Windows & All Drivers
Since we’re talking about gaming laptops, we’ll assume you have one that uses a Windows operating system. And Windows can get rather meticulous with its updates. Older versions of Windows OS might have some bugs or poor security or performance.
So we recommend updating Windows as often and as soon as possible after checking the screen integrity. This is a simple process. On the Windows search bar (the one with a magnifying glass icon), just type “windows update settings” and click it. Windows will present you with an update interface; let it do its self-care.
Updating Display Drivers
Drivers are also important to update here and the most crucial one to update is your display driver.
For laptops with Nvidia graphics cards, go here. You’ll need to input your laptop’s specs for the correct driver.
For laptops with AMD graphics cards, this is the proper website. Again, make sure you input the correct specs.
Just download and install these drivers so that your graphics cards function properly.
If you don’t have a dedicated graphics card (Nvidia GeForce or AMD Radeon), then that means your laptop isn’t for gaming and a display driver update won’t do much to help with gaming performance.
Download or Update Manufacturer Drivers
Each laptop uses different parts and components, depending on the brand. Thus, they might have some brand-specific features that rely on regular updates.
To be on the safe side, check your laptop brand or manufacturer and visit their website then go to the “Support” section of the website. This is usually where the “Drivers” page is located but each website might be different.
Once there, download some of the latest driver updates and try to install them. If the installer says you have a more recent version already installed, then cancel the installation. If not, then proceed with the update.
Certain retailers also perform this update on the spot after your purchase. If they have that option, then take it and then skip this step.
Set up Windows Security
The beauty in current Windows installations and versions these days is that they don’t need an anti-virus. Windows Defender (Windows 10 & 11) already offers ample protection from most threats without slowing down your computer too much.
Besides, common sense remains the best form of anti-virus these days. Don’t open suspicious files or links, and avoid shady websites (such as porn sites) and you’re safe for the most part.
You’ll still want to ensure that your Windows Defender settings are complete. The application usually complains if there’s one thing amiss, but if you want to configure it manually:
- Search for “Windows Security” in the Windows search bar and click it.
- Go to Virus & threat protection.
- Click “Manage settings” under Virus & threat protection settings.
- Make sure everything is “on” like in the image above.
Configure the Startup
Most laptops already boot or start up in less than ten seconds but some of them might encounter a millisecond hitch due to some programs and applications insisting that they also open as soon as the computer starts.
Naturally, you’ll want to deny them this entitlement. To check just how many programs insist on starting up at the same time as Windows:
- Open the Task Manager by pressing ctrl + alt + delete.
- On Task Manager go to the Startup tab. If the tabs are hidden, press the “More details” button.
- In the Startup tab, you can see which programs are “Enabled” to start at the same time as Windows.
- You can disable most of them, but don’t touch Windows Security or anything about Audio.
This ensures a smoother Windows startup, perhaps even a couple of seconds shaved off the startup time.
Run Some Benchmarks and Stress Tests
After everything is optimized, it’s time to check if your gaming laptop hardware is up to scratch. You can do this by benchmarking and stress testing. Basically, you’ll run some programs designed to push your hardware to its limits to see if it will perform as advertised.
You can achieve the same with some graphic-intensive games, but benchmarking offers a more consistent metric and working condition.
Stress-testing the CPU & GPU
One of the best applications you can use to see if your laptop can handle heavy temperatures is FurMark aka Eye of Sauron. It’s a simple program that you can run indefinitely to see how high your laptop’s CPU or GPU temperature will go or how much its cooling system can handle.
It’s also a good way to see how noisy your laptop’s cooling system can get under the heaviest of loads. Initially, FurMark was just a stress test for the GPU or graphics card but they’ve added a CPU stress test section.
Benchmarking is different than stress-testing as the former measures framerate or performance rather than stability. This way, you can make sure that your CPU or GPU performs as advertised or the same as other peoples’ identical hardware.
For general benchmarking, UNIGINE Superposition offers a good metric for both the GPU and CPU (since the CPU can affect the results). Hence, it’s overall a good representation of gaming performance. Plus, you can compare your scores online against other people who use the same hardware.
Install Basic Applications
Last but not least, you might want to ensure you have the latest basic or necessary applications before you dive into gaming. After all, some games require updated .NET Runtimes or frameworks to run.
Other essentials include browsers, WinRAR, Zoom, or even VLC. There are a lot of them, so if you want to save the trouble, you can use all-in-one installers such as Ninite so you don’t have to download them in separate places. This also works for updates.
After that, you can rest assured that you have an optimized gaming laptop ready for the games you want to play.