How to Optimize Your Windows 11 PC for Gaming
Sick of lag and stuttering graphics ruining your game? Figuring out which Windows settings will improve your gaming experience and which won't is challenging. With a few key software tweaks, you can change that.
We're here to cut through the noise. Our guide laser-focuses on the tweaks you need to elevate your PC gaming experience.
1. Update your graphics card for better gameplay.
Keeping your graphics drivers current is crucial for optimal gaming performance. Games depend on them to add depth and reality to the gameplay. Updated drivers can elevate your FPS, providing a smoother and more immersive experience.
How to update your graphics card drivers
- Right-click the Start menu.
- Select Device Manager.
- Right-click your Graphics driver and choose Update driver.
No updates available? Head to your GPU manufacturer's website. We also have a complete guide on updating GPUs to walk you through the process. Also, simulator games rely heavily on your CPU, and you can also update that from Device Manager.
2. Turn on Windows Game Mode.
Windows offers built-in Game Mode to turbocharge your gameplay. Game Mode redistributes system resources, putting your game front and center. It stops background processes, including updates and pesky app notifications. More resources mean higher FPS and smoother play.
How to enable Game Mode:
- Open Settings: Press Win + I.
- Click the Gaming option.
- Navigate to Game Mode in the left menu.
- Switch on the Use Game Mode switch.
With Game Mode, Windows quits multitasking and pours all its energy into your game. It's like upgrading your gaming rig minus the hefty price tag.
3. Use Best Performance mode
Best Performance Mode is your PC's hidden beast mode. It changes your power plan to prioritize performance over energy savings. While the benefits on a desktop may be minor, laptop users see significant improvements in speed and responsiveness. This isn't just about gaming; it boosts performance across the board.
How to enable Best Performance Mode:
- Right-click the battery icon on your taskbar.
- Select Power mode.
- Choose the Best performance plan.
With Best Performance Mode engaged, your PC will consume more power but deliver maximum performance. Ideal for those moments when you need that extra kick to clinch victory.
4. Temporarily disable Memory Integrity and VMP to optimize gaming performance.
Microsoft's Memory Integrity and Virtual Machine Platform (VMP) are pre-enabled on Windows 11 and silently fight off malware and dodgy code. But sometimes, these features can put a drag on gaming performance. The good news? You can disable them while you're gaming and reactivate them later.
How to disable Memory Integrity
Memory Integrity is a Windows 11 security feature that protects your system from malicious code. To disable it:
- Select Start. Type 'Core Isolation' in the taskbar search box.
- Select Core Isolation from the search results to open the Windows Security app.
- Toggle off Memory Integrity. You may need to restart your device for the changes to take effect.
Don’t forget to turn it back on when you’ve finished gaming!
How to disable Virtual Machine Platform (VMP)
Virtual Machine Platform (VMP) is the engine that enables virtualization in Windows, letting you run multiple OSes, each in its own isolated environment.
- Click Start and type Windows Features in the search box.
- Choose Turn Windows Features on or off from the list that appears.
- Uncheck the box next to Virtual Machine Platform in the Windows Features window.
Turning off these features could up your gaming, but remember, you're sidelining some of your PC's security.
Just remember to turn them back on when your gaming session is over.
5. Remove bloatware
Bloatware is software that's often pre-installed and sits there, hogging valuable system resources. It can slow down startup times and generally make your PC sluggish. Unloading this digital deadweight can give your gaming rig a serious pep-up.
How to remove bloatware in Windows 11
- Press the Windows key or the Start button.
- Type Installed apps in the search bar.
- Find the app you want to delete.
- Click on the three dots beside it.
- Choose Uninstall.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the uninstallation process.
We've got a deep dive into what exactly bloatware is. So, ditch the bloatware, and you'll feel the difference in your next gaming marathon.
6. Minimize background apps
Background apps are software and services that run silently when you're not using them. They can hog your system resources, causing frame drops and stutters during gameplay. If your games continually lag, switch off background apps that use your PC's resources.
How to minimize background apps Windows 11
- Open Settings: Windows Key + I.
- Go to Apps > Installed apps
- Find the app you want to disable. Each app has a 3-dot menu on the right side. Select this.
- Tap Advanced Options. If you can't see it, this app doesn't allow background management.
- In the Background apps permissions section, choose Never under Let this app run in the background.
- Reboot to see the changes.
Watch out for the Xbox Game Bar and Game DVR.
Xbox Game Bar is like your gaming command center. It lets you capture screenshots, broadcast your gameplay, and chat with friends. It's super versatile but not always essential. Press the Windows logo key + G to open Game Bar and see if it's installed.
Game DVR is a specific feature within Game Bar. It records your gameplay, capturing those oh-so-epic moments. But this eats up resources, too.
Unless you're actively using these features, they're just siphoning off your PC's resources. Neither is a must-have for pure gameplay, and turning them off can make your games run smoother.
7. Use a faster DNS
A faster DNS (Domain Name System) can boost your network traffic if you suffer lag when playing online multiplayer games. Think of DNS as your internet's GPS. It converts domain names into IP addresses, determining how quickly you connect to game servers. The faster this happens, the smoother your gameplay.
Check your current DNS speed.
Before you switch, know what you're working with. Run a DNS benchmarking test to measure your current ISP's DNS performance. This gives you a baseline to judge other public DNS servers.
Top 3 DNS choices for gamers
1) Google Public DNS: Accessible, super reliable, with top-notch speed.
- Primary: 18.104.22.168
- Secondary: 22.214.171.124
2) Cloudflare DNS: Free service that prioritizes your privacy while still delivering on speed.
- Primary: 126.96.36.199
- Secondary: 188.8.131.52
3) OpenDNS: Strong on content filtering, a bit slower, but very reliable.
- Primary: 184.108.40.206
- Secondary: 220.127.116.11
How to change DNS on Windows
Switching your DNS server can give your gaming a speed boost. Here's how to do it on a Windows computer.
- Go to Settings: Press Windows Key + I.
- Select Network & Internet
- Click Properties on your active network connection.
- Scroll down and find IP settings. Click the Edit button.
- Change Automatic (DHCP) to Manual.
- Enter your chosen DNS server. For Google Public DNS, under Preferred DNS (primary), add 18.104.22.168 and Alternate DNS (secondary) 22.214.171.124.
- Click Save to apply changes.
- Restart your browser.
You're all set - you've switched your DNS. Run some benchmark tests to ensure you've picked the fastest DNS for your setup. Game on!
8. Disable your Nagle's Algorithm
Nagle's Algorithm aims to optimize network traffic but can slow down gaming. Disabling it can cut latency.
Before you tweak Nagle's Algorithm
First, you need to know your IP address. Here's how:
- Press the Windows key + X.
- Pick Windows PowerShell or Windows Terminal.
- Type ipconfig and hit Enter.
- Copy your IPv4 address. You'll need this to find the correct network adapter in the Windows Registry later.
How to disable Nagle's Algorithm in Windows
Editing the Windows Registry can be risky. Proceed only if you know what you're doing.
- Run Registry Editor: Press Win + R, type "regedit," and hit Enter.
- Go to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SYSTEM -> CurrentControlSet -> Services -> Tcpip -> Parameters -> Interfaces
- Look through the list to find the folder that matches your network adapter and IP address. Click each folder and look for the DhcpIPAddress key on the right pane that matches your IPv4 address.
- Right-click the folder > New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
- Name it TcpAckFrequency and set its value to 1.
- Create another DWORD, name it TCPNoDelay, and set its value to 1.
- Reboot your PC to apply.
Turning off Nagle's Algorithm can reduce latency in some online games but be cautious—always backup your registry before making changes.
9. Overclock your GPU
Pushing for more frames per second (FPS)? Overclocking your GPU is a quick way to juice up your gaming performance. But watch out—doing it wrong could void your warranty or fry your card.
- NVIDIA: MSI Afterburner or EVGA Precision X1
- AMD: WattMan or Radeon Overclocking Software
These tools offer one-click solutions to auto-tune your GPU, so you don't have to be a tech guru to boost your game. Want to dig deeper? Check our complete overclocking guide.
By taking these steps—from swapping out your DNS to overclocking your GPU—you're setting the stage for a killer gaming experience. Every tweak counts whether you're a casual gamer or an eSports contender. Don't forget to run some tests to ensure these changes give you the performance bump you're after.
Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.