Every gamer wants to have the best possible experience in the game they are playing. In order to do so, sometimes you have to have the best gaming rig out there. Gaming rigs run from $2000 to $15000 and lets face it, there are a lot of us who either cant afford it or choose to spend our money elsewhere.
So what do we do? We optimize what we have. I know people with expensive rigs that have to optimize theirs from time to tim
e as new games come out based on technology that’s been released after their custom PC was built.
As time goes on we all install and uninstall software from our pc’s. This can cause your Operating Software (OS) to get bloated and your hard drive to become messy. Just because you think that your PC is running optimally doesn’t mean it actually is so you may want to read this article for reading sake.
1. Basic Training
That’s right, Boot Camp. You have to start somewhere. Where is your PC located? Is it on the desk, on a shelf or on the ground? If its on the floor, is your floor carpet, tile or wood? The placement of your PC determines how long its going to survive and during the tail end of its survival you’ll definitely see issues.
The best place is in an elevated, well ventilated space away from your Air conditioning vents. AC ducts accumulate dust and these fine particles can end up inside your PC to cause your fans to have to work harder and your components to get hotter than they should.
One major rule with PC electronics is heat is its enemy. Keep your PC off carpeting of any type because Static buildup can fry something in there. Keep your PC plugged into a Battery Back up on the Surge Suppressor side not on the regular outlet side.
Even if you have your PC in a perfect spot it is best to open it up once in a while to clear out the dust that inevitable collects inside it as no one lives in a 100% dust free environment and all of the components attract dust like magnets. Remember the first thing when doing so is to unplug your PC from its power source. All you need are three things to do this, a screwdriver, patience and common sense. For optimal cleaning have a can of compressed air handy. I suggest that if your’e not advanced, do not open up a laptop, however with care, your desktop should be safe.
a Unplug your PC from its power source. Unplug all peripherals. You can draw a little diagram on a piece of paper indicating where each plug you pull off goes to (one at a time).
b. Place it on a table top or other clear flat place that will allow you room to maneuver. Be aware of electro static discharge and wear appropriate clothing and footwear (especially if your’e standing on carpet).
c. Determine which side of the case comes off (or if both sides do) that will allow you access to the components. Lay the PC on its other side on the flat surface.
d. locate the screws at the rear of the PC that allows access to inside and remove them.
e. Identify the major problem spots for the accumulation of dust. They will be the CPU fan & heat sink (sometimes they have no fan), the GPU fan and heat sink (many times the heat sink is not accessible), the power supply fan (where your external power plugs into the PC), the case fan(s) and ventilation holes in the case. Minor accumulation may be found on your hard drive and other components. Basically look for dust.
f. There are two options at this point. The simple option is to blow on the major dust accumulated components to clean them off or use the can of compressed air. Never use household cleaning products or water as they can permanently damage your PC. Make sure you do not spray any moisture onto the parts, and if you do, give it time to evaporate before turning everything back on. Once done, skip the next step (g).
g. If your’e comfortable with it, you can locate the CPU fan connection to the motherboard and disconnect it and get better access to the heat sink.there are videos on how to do this. Do not take apart your video card to get access to the heat sink as this may void your warranty, you may take it off the motherboard to get better angles to getting any dust out.
h. Once you’re all done, put the case back on and plug everything back in where they go. Make sure everything is plugged securely in before starting up the PC.
2. Your Hard Drive and You (insert joke here)
We install and uninstall things on our PC’s. Be it some software to chat with friends online while we play that have been pushed aside for a better program, or a game that we picked up and haven’t played in months. The hard drive itself becomes cluttered and messy and if you’ve ever looked at your “Windows Experience Index” you’ll see that whats listed for your Primary Hard Disk is “disk transfer rate”. When your hard drive becomes messy, it affects the transfer rate.
When you uninstall a program, the hard drive frees up the space it was taking physically on the hard disk. Now if that something was installed a while ago, chances are you’ve installed something(s) since then. What happens is that there’s a space between one program and the next on your disk. When you install something after this your hard drive looks for the first available space and starts writing. When it runs out of room, it looks for the next and continues, and so on. This can cause the hard drive to work extra hard after this has happened a few times when running one or more of these programs. The more it has to search around for the entire program, the slower the performance of your PC.
Can this be fixed? The answer is yes and lies in “defragmenting” the hard drive (read the next 4 paragraphs before doing a defrag). Nowadays there are many programs that can “defrag” your drive for you. See our PC Optimization page about Razer Game Booster. Know what type of hard drive you have before you do this. A Solid State Drive (SSD) should never be defragmented. As stated in PC Mag “Defragging your SSD will indeed shorten its life because these drives have a finite number of writes. When defragmenting a drive, files are moved to areas of the SSD and that creates unnecessary writes.”
Before you defrag your Hard Drive, make sure and go into your control panel and uninstall anything that is on your computer that you don’t use. Think the old printer software that didn’t get uninstalled after the new printer was added, or that old game you played last year that you will probably never play again. If you don’t know what a program is, simply search for it in Google. Research different articles to see if removal hurt someone else’s performance.
Along the same lines is your registry. Do not ever do anything to your registry without a backup. If you somehow do cause an issue with a change to your registry, system restore will return it to a previous state where it worked and you wont lose any files on the PC. One stable tool I have used for years is called CCleaner. This tool will automatically scan your registry for issues and errors and will create a backup before making any changes. It will delete unused registry entries for the programs you uninstalled but were never taken out of the registry.
Both of these programs can delete other files you don’t need on your PC. Did you know, for example, that many of the sites you visit adds something to your hard drive? Temporary Internet Files is a folder on Microsoft Windows which holds browser caches. The directory is used by Internet Explorer and other web browsers to cache pages and other multimedia content, such as video and audio files, from websites visited by anyone using your PC. This allows such websites to load more quickly the next time they are visited. Not only web browsers access the directory to read or write, but also Windows Explorer and Windows Desktop Search. By deleting these files you help your hard drive when its roaming around trying to execute your game commands.
Anti virus, yes anti virus. If you’ve ever been surfing the web while your favorite game goes through its regular weekly update (or worse an emergency one **shudder**) you find that you may end up at sites that have slideshows or the latest gossip. Many of these sites cause you to download malware that piggybacks on your system resources to slow down your PC.
There are again, many solutions out there, both paid and free. Do a google search and find the one thats right for you. There is however, no substitute for smart surfing and staying up to date with your anti virus software, because many of these programs only work after someones been infected and the culprit was identified.
3. Whats in your Startup?
You don’t really need many of the programs running every time you start your PC. Many programs nowadays wants to run their own little process to automatically check for updates. These things slow your PC down when added all up and your resources can be used during gaming. (Note that if you use Razer Game Booster, this section may be unnecessary)
You can stop third party non essential services from running every time you start up your PC by doing the following:
a. go to the “run” dialogue window. you can hit the Windows Key and “r” at the same time or access it through the start menu. If you click “Start” and do not see it, then right click your start button and choose “properties”. Click in the “Start Menu” tab at the top middle of the window and then click the “customize” button in the upper right. In the new window that appears scroll down until you see “Run command” tick the box and click “ok”. Windows 8 users click here.
b. Type in “msconfig” (without the quotes) and hit enter (or click “ok”).
c. Click the “Services” Tab and Make sure the “Hide all Microsoft services” is checked. You can click “Disable all” however I recommend that you uncheck all of them one by one. Use Google to make sure you’re not shutting off software thats used by your graphics card for example, but for the most part unchecking everything here (note no Microsoft services should be altered) should have no adverse effects on your PC.
4. Pretty stuff
Windows has some nice visual themes that can use up resources – especially when you aren’t taking advantage of them. There are two ways to deal with this.
a. You can go to Performance Options under System properties and adjust for best performance. This disables all of the fancy stuff all of the time.
Start -> right click ‘computer’ -> click ‘properties’ -> Click ‘Advanced system settings’ -> click advanced tab -> click ‘settings’ button in the ‘Performance’ section.
b. You can find your game executable and right click it and choose ‘Properties’ . Go to the ‘Compatibility’ Tab and under settings place a check mark in “Disable Visual Themes” & ” Disable Desktop Composition”. This method will only turn off those things while the game is launched.
And there you go. With just a little knowledge you can make sure that your PC is optimized for that next raid or the clan match for bragging rights.