While consoles might be more popular for gaming, if you want the best and fastest experience from today’s advanced programming, graphics, and surround sound capabilities, you really need to be thinking about playing games on a laptop or desktop.

Consoles like Xbox and PlayStation may indeed be relatively powerful but the nature of their production runs – plus the ongoing battle between Windows and Sony on price points – means the tech used in consoles dates quickly, and manufacturers simply can’t keep pace with the options available from building your own gaming PC.

If you’re looking for the ultimate gaming experience, read on for some top tips to get the best out of your available tech.

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Cut the background processes

No matter how powerful your machine might be, it can be all too easy to keep running background processes that can drain the capabilities of your processor, sound, or graphic cards. Before you fire up your game, be sure to close any open programs you’re not using to free up your PC’s resources.

While more modern versions of Windows now come complete with a specific in-built Game Mode that hands over CPU resources to the game you’re currently running, you can still lend the Operating System a helping hand by closing background processes. For example, it would be a bad idea to keep processor-hungry apps like Adobe Photoshop or Google Chrome running while you’re playing – so shut them down.

Also, be sure to check that Game Mode is enabled on your PC. While Windows should automatically switch to this setting, there’s no harm checking, so head to Settings/Gaming/Game Mode and ensure it’s set up properly.

If you like online gaming, consider reverting to ethernet

One of the primary considerations (particularly with modern games) is speed and frame rate, so if you’re finding your online gaming is suffering from lag, think about moving back to a wired ethernet connection. While its true Wi-Fi has improved considerably in recent years, operating wirelessly just means putting one extra potential barrier or speed reduction point between you and your internet feed.

Using ethernet shouldn’t be an issue with laptops, but if your desktop computer isn’t next to your router, you may well need to find another solution. Wiring ethernet around your home can prove a big hassle. Instead, you could try using power adaptors that run your ethernet through the existing wiring in your home.

Max out the potential of your graphics card with the latest drivers

The majority of PC components upgrade and optimize drivers automatically but graphics card manufacturers often release updated drivers without insisting users install them. To be sure you’re definitely running the latest drivers for your graphics hardware, head to the manufacturer’s site and search for the latest drivers for your particular card. If you’re not sure how to find the graphic card you’re using, follow these instructions.

If you want to game better and more competitively, keep your energy levels high

Gaming has evolved far beyond the old arcade days and today’s fast refresh rates and immersive environments mean you need to keep your wits about you and your attention on-point – particularly if you’re playing against other users from around the world in online gaming.

While gaming could never be considered an especially physical activity, it will nonetheless drain your energy, so think about buying a mini-fridge and stocking it with juice and snacks like Command energy drinks to keep your reactions sharp and your attention levels high.

Before trading up graphics cards or monitors, check your display settings

Today’s games feature cutting-edge graphics, optimized for the greatest performance, but you’ll have zero chance of taking advantage of these enhancements if you haven’t set your display options right.

Unlike consoles, PCs require a little bit of manual work to truly benefit from the power of their components. If you feel your gameplay is laggy or stuttering, try looking at your display settings to check that your refresh rate is set as high as possible.

To verify whether you’re using your hardware to its true potential, have a look at Settings/System/Display/Advanced Display Settings and make sure you’re running your display at its highest settings.

Check your in-game graphics settings

All games vary however, you’ll typically find there are in-game menus that will allow you to optimize game performance to match it to your particular hardware. Run these settings too low, and you’ll see a degradation in the quality of the graphics – run them too high, and you’ll normally see lag or frustratingly slow, jerky performance.

You should try experimenting with in-game graphics settings for all the games you play, changing everything from motion blur and shadow quality to the detail of particles and water. These settings will vary from game to game but, the good thing is, you only need to set them once, and once saved, they’ll be remembered next time you play the game.

Don’t forget your mouse settings

As mentioned above, PC hardware takes a little more tinkering to get the best performance than typical console systems. In most games, your mouse and keyboard will be your primary interface and controller in the game, so taking some time to check settings is important if you’re to get the best, fastest performance. This is particularly important for First Person Shooters (FPS) where every second counts, and delays can mean the difference between winning a battle or starting over.

Depending on how long you’ve owned your laptop or desktop, it’s very likely you’ll have become extremely familiar with how your mouse reacts and moves across the screen, but some settings are better suited to work-oriented tasks compared to gaming.

To optimize the performance of your mouse, you’ll need to explore the menu found in Settings/Devices/Mouse/Additional Mouse Options to specifically improve gaming performance. As a general rule, you should check that the ‘pointer speed’ is set to 6 notches from the left and also ensure that Enhance Pointer Precision is disabled.

As an additional measure, also check the settings menu in each game you play to see whether it supports specific mouse sensitivity options.

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