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7 tips to tune the performance of a Windows 11 gaming PC

7 tips to tune the performance of a Windows 11 gaming PC

A group playing on a gaming PC.
Image: Microsoft News

Thousands upon thousands of people receive a new desktop or laptop during the holiday season. Many of these new systems will run the Windows 11 operating system, and more than a few of these computers will be designated for gaming. Unfortunately, this is where so many people make the mistake of thinking that default settings and configurations are sufficient for gaming performance.

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Whether you buy your new Windows 11 computer from Best Buy, Dell, or an online store, it needs to be customized and optimized for gaming. By taking a few simple but important steps at the beginning to prepare your new PC for gaming, you will turn an ordinary PC into an extraordinary PC that reaches its full performance potential.

Top 7 Windows 11 gaming computer tips

The following tips and suggestions have been covered individually before on TechRepublic, but the true benefit of these ideas occurs when they are used together.

1. Turn on game mode

Windows Game Mode will use significantly more resources for a game application, turn off notifications and turn off or slow down most background activities, thus improving performance. CPU stealing background apps like file indexing, feature updates and malware scanning have to wait while you play your games.

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Open the Windows 11 Settings menu and then click the Games item in the left navigation bar. On the Game Settings screen, open the Game Mode item and move the switch to the On position, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

On the Game Settings screen, open the Game Mode item and move the switch to the On position.
Photo: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

2. Prioritize GPU in specific games

While on the Game Mode screen, click the Graphics item to display another default setting you may want to change. For graphically intense games, you’ll likely specify that you always want to use the high-performance GPU during gameplay.

As shown in Figure Bclick the Change The Default Graphics Settings option and turn on hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling.

Figure B

Click the Change The Default Graphics Settings option and turn on hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling.
Photo: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

3. Turn off enhanced pointer precision

This next gaming performance tip is probably the most obscure. Through the Improved Pointer Precision setting, Windows 11 tries to improve the user experience with a specific set of improvements for the mouse. However, many games do the same, and they can conflict with each other, causing less efficient mouse pointer movement – the opposite of what is intended.

For gaming PCs, it is best to turn off Enhanced Pointer Precision. Search for “mouse properties” in the desktop search, then select Additional mouse settings from the Related settings section, as shown in Figure C. On the Mouse Properties screen, select the Pointer Options tab and turn off Enhanced Pointer Precision.

Figure C

Search "mouse properties" in the desktop search and then select Additional Mouse Settings from the Related Settings section.
Photo: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

4. Update the GPU driver

Drivers for GPUs, regardless of manufacturer, are constantly updated and improved for better and more reliable performance. Graphics cards from NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel perform at their best when using the most up-to-date drivers, so you need to update your gaming computer regularly.

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The graphics card drivers installed at the factory are probably several releases behind, so it is important that you take a few minutes before you start installing games to update your drivers.

5. Update Windows

Likewise, it’s important to update Windows 11 before you start installing applications and games on your new gaming PC. The factory version of Windows 11 is likely several versions behind the current release, and new security protocols must be in place for your protection.

Also remember to check for additional and optional updates, because the drivers for chipsets, network cards and other hardware can be several releases behind. To achieve top performance, all systems must be up-to-date and secure.

6. Disable non-gaming, non-essential startup apps

Depending on which company put together your new Windows 11 gaming machine, you may have just a few unnecessary or advertising applications, or you may have a dozen or more. Although these apps are mostly harmless, they can hinder the performance of a gaming PC if not removed.

Open the Start menu and find your apps. While scrolling through the list of apps, right-click on the ones you want to uninstall. Start with the obvious advertising apps from third-party developers, then consider other applications that aren’t practical for a gaming PC. The list of removable candidates will be personal to you and your situation.

7. Enable the optimized power plan with high performance

The final performance tip for a new Windows 11 gaming PC requires us to bypass the usual Settings menus and open the Control Panel. Type “control panel” in the desktop search box and select the appropriate item from the results. From the list of settings on the control panel, shown in Figure Dselect Power Options.

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Figure D

Select Power Options from the list of settings on the control panel.
Photo: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

On laptops, you’ll probably only want the Balanced option by default. To see other options, click Create a power plan from the list in the left navigation bar.

As you can see in Figure E, you now have a few more options. For a gaming PC, choose the option that gives you the best performance, but remember that the setting will use more energy and drain the battery faster.

Figure E

For a gaming PC, choose the option that gives you the best performance, but remember that the setting will use more energy and drain the battery faster.
Photo: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

There is a potential power setting called Ultimate mode, which would be ideal for a gaming desktop running Windows 11, but that setting requires a special procedure and a hack of the Windows registry file.

Optimize for gaming

Getting a new computer is an exciting event for most people. Getting a new computer to use for gaming is even more exciting, but getting that computer ready for the performance needs of modern gaming requires some preparation and optimization. Take a few minutes to prepare your new computer before you start loading games and other programs onto your new computer.

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