In the previous post here we had a look at things that we can do with the hardware of our computer so as to tune it up optimally. Now we will have a look at changes that can be made from inside the software.
Disable Unwanted Devices
You can speed up your boot times by switching off peripherals that you don’t want to use. Enter Device Manager, find the hardware you don’t want to be accessible and simply select ‘disable’ from the right click context menu.
This will prevent the drivers from being loaded and treat the hardware as if it does not exist until you re-enable it. Just remember not to disable anything that you are not sure about.
Disabling a crucial part of the hardware could prove disastrous for your system’s ability to operate!
Disable Acoustic Mode
Recognising that some people get annoyed by loud hard drive noise, some BIOSs have special low noise modes, which prevent mechanical hard drives from making a lot of noise.
Unfortunately, it does this by preventing them from spinning up to full speed, which will slow down your access time and prevents applications from launching as fast as they could.
If you want to make sure acoustic mode is not enabled, then you will have to look around your BIOS, The exact location varies, but it will probably be in a storage option or performance menu.
When you find it, You want to make sure that the option is set to ‘Performance’ and ‘High Speed’ rather than ‘Quiet’
Install new Graphics Card Drivers
The Graphics card is the most important component in a gaming system, So it really pays to keep it in good shape. That means making sure that you have the right drivers installed so games can take full advantage of the hardware. Older and out dated drivers even if they are a couple of months old – can mean that the latest titles are not getting the power they deserve.
A simple Graphics Card driver upgrade can give around 10-20% improvement in gaming performance in latest titles provided that your graphics card is not a under powered one.
There is virtually no reason to not have the latest drivers installed.
Clear out your hard drive
If you have a mechanical hard drive that is almost full and increasingly fragmented you will see a performance drop represented quite directly in how your system runs. Defragmentation fixes that.
The first thing to do is, make sure that your hard drive has plenty of space available, If at all possible, make sure that it has at least 20% of its space unused.
Then run a full defrag on it. Defragging a drive will order the contents so free space is kept together, making it faster to read and write from, which means games and applications wont be as badly held up by the drive access times.
Kill Background Processes and Software
As an operating system, Windows is particularly bad for allowing programs to run stuff in the background without letting you know. Sometimes every program you install seems to think that it needs a helper app running at all times. It does not take long before they stack up and start to grind your system down.
To see your background processes, You can press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and look at the process manager to see what is running so you can uninstall any you don’t want and turn off those that you don’t require to be running in the background
Overclock Your Graphics Card
If you are using a laptop then do not do this. Period. Overclocking your GPU, RAM or CPU is almost certain to improve performance, but it can be intimidating especially if you are worried about having to apply extra cooling. Even a small overclock might be worth trying out if you have a normal cooler that is in good condition.
Overclocking the CPU and RAM usually requires BIOS tweaks, which feel serious, but graphics drivers often allow overclocking in software.
So that you can increment the card’s speeds in 5% jumps and perform stress testing benchmarks after each turn to test the stability.
Remember that overclocking can damage your hardware, so it is done at your own risk an will almost certainly shorten the lifespan of your components.
Disable Superfetch and Prefetch
Superfetch and Prefetch are services designed to reduce application loading times, but they are only intended for use with mechanical hard drives.
If you are running an SSD, they are actually getting in the way out of smooth operation. To switch them off, Go into the services area of your control panel and find the entry for ‘Superfetch’ set it to disabled so it stops running. Disabling prefetch is a little trickier – Open Regedit and navigate to the key
Double click on ‘EnablePrefetcher’ in the right hand panel, and then change the ‘Value Data’ to ‘0’ – The default setting being ‘3’
Disable Graphics V-Sync
On all graphics cards, You will find a setting known as ‘V Sync’. This refers to Vertical Sync and means making sure that your graphics card sends an update synchronously with your monitor’s refresh rate.
Disabling V-Sync can lead to a visual phenomenon known as screen tearing where the problem is essentially that your screen has updated while only half of the image was drawn in the graphics card.
But it also means that games have a slightly faster frame rate, because they are always churning thorough the next frame, not waiting for the monitor to update. The image below shows how screen tearing looks like when V Sync is off in a game.
Put Your SSD in AHCI mode
Not all SSDs are configured correctly, and sometimes AHCI will be disabled when it should not be. AHCI allows your SSD to take advantage of native command Queuing, which is a SATA specific technology that stops larger, slow tasks holding up smaller, faster ones. To check it, Open the Windows Device Manager and look for the tree entry marked ‘IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers’.
Expand it and see if one lists AHCI. If it does not, Your system isn’t in AHCI mode. Note that this might be because you only have a mechanical hard drive, in this case it is perfectly fine.
If you have an SSD and want to switch AHCI on, Use Regedit to change the following values to ‘0’:
You can then enter BIOS and set your SATA mode to AHCI to complete the process