With latest breakthroughs in lithography and performance numbers packed into a small die, it’s not unusual to come across a laptop that might seem like an ultrabook but in essence it’s capable of delivering some good visuals when gaming. This tutorial will show you how to improve your gaming experience on your laptop.
1. Make sure you’re on the latest drivers for your GPU and where possible the chipset as well. In some instances you may need to perform a BIOS update for your laptop (if there are any pending) prior to updating your graphics drivers. If you’re unsure what GPU your laptop is equipped with, chances are you’ll find the right answer in Device Manager(if in Windows) or parse the laptop’s SKU into Google to find it’s specs.
For AMD, visit this site.
For Nvidia, visit this site.
For Intel, visit this site.
2. See if having the latest Direct X version installed on your laptop improves your laptop’s gaming experience. With the advent of the latest OS, you should have access to Direct X 12, provided your hardware meets that requirement. You can double check to see if you’re on the latest revision by tapping Windows Key + R, type dxdiag and hit enter. The resulting window should have 5 tabs, of which the Render tab is of importance to us. On the right pane, labelled Drivers, look for Direct3D DDI. This is the number for which Direct X version you’re on. By default on Windows 10, you should be Direct X 12 equipped. You will be on prior versions if your system does not have Direct X 12 compatible hardware. To date, Direct X 12 is only available on Windows 10 and updating the drivers will only take place via Windows updates.
3. You can disassemble your laptop and ensure that there aren’t any mini dust bunnies clogging the exhaust on your cooling assembly. While manufacturers do need to make the laptop as slim as possible for portability’s sake, it leaves some compromises on the table with some crammed cooling spaces. It’s for this reason regular maintenance on a laptop will aid in reduced fluff building up when cooling needs to be at its finest. If the surface area for heat dissipation across the fin stack are clean, they will dissipate heat optimally.
4. Changing the factory applied thermal paste and thermal pads in your laptop’s cooling assembly can also aid in increasing the amount of heat dissipated. The best route to take when choosing a top notch thermal paste is to cross reference a thermal pastes thermal conductivity. Due to setbacks, we suggest staying away from Liquid metal variants.
5. With your thermal solution covered up and revised, you can take a look at overclocking the GPU. The only downside to this route is that overclocking can and will produce more heat and if not done right, will result I damaged hardware or an unstable platform. If you do want to proceed, you can take a look at MSI’s Afterburner app which is compatible with AMD and Nvidia GPU’s.
6. You can go into your power profile management page and set it to high performance mode to set all limiters to off. The reduced power modes often set limiters to aid in better battery life, reducing performance stats for a lot of the hardware in your laptop. Please keep in mind that heightened power states can and will draw more power, drain your battery faster than usual which is why you should be connected off the wall outlet via the power brick where applicable.
To change the power options, go to:
Settings>System>Power and sleep>Additional Power settings, selecting High performance from the drop down menu options.
7. Turn off all unused apps in the background as well as any tabs/windows you may have left open so you have as much resources available for the game you intend to play. You can deal with background apps by taking a look at the System Tray, opening the arrow to reveal how many apps you have running in the background. Right clicking on each respective icons should allow to exit them for good.
8. By now you should be familiar with Windows 10’s Game Mode. What this inclusive Xbox app does is bring a number of gamer centric feature at the tip of your fingers instead of having to rely on third party apps. To activate Game Mode, all you need to do is tap the Windows Key + G, (provided you’ve got the game up and running) click on settings and in the General tab check the box with the option to Use game Mode for this game. Once enabled it’ll make sure that the OS is running with optimum settings for the game in question. Please note, that Game Mode can and will disable background tasks.
9. Once you’ve figured out that the software and apps aren’t the limiters and you’ve additionally verified that your GPU is up to the mark, you can take a look at your primary boot/game directory drive. If the drive is your conventional HDD or SSHD, it’d be a good idea to migrate to an SSD. Please keep in mind that reviews for SSD’s have shown how larger capacities tend to have better specs with read/writes and it is from this understanding where we suggest going for nothing less than a 250/256GB class SSD. Sure they cost a pretty penny but the load times for games is a good thing to have especially when you want to blaze through a campaign or have very limited time on your hands.
10. You can additionally see if you can max out your ram with a kit. It’s been seen how most games are now demanding not just more from the GPU and CPU but also from memory. Be sure to purchase a ram kit that corresponds with the highest frequency supported by your laptop’s motherboard chipset/CPU memory controller. Increased capacity with tight latency’s will also make your laptop feel snappier.
11. If possible you may want to delve into your respective GPU’s driver/settings and tinker with the texture, shader and detail settings. As a baseline its good practice to start with the lowest details and settings and then work your way up to see what can and cannot be achieved with your laptop. The settings to your respective GPU should be found within the shortcut icon in the System Tray. Finding the right balance might take more time than you expected but at the end, its well worth the effort as this should also aid in your laptops longevity when dealing with future titles.
12. Those of us who do online gaming might find it beneficial to see how much ping you’re going through. Speedtest can help verify the potentiality of your connection. You can likewise find a setting within your games to display the FPS and ping counter at the corner of your screen. For League of Legends, it’s as simple as tapping Ctrl + F. If you’re paired to a router wirelessly, you can try connecting via an Ethernet cable and see if that improves your ping, provided ofc that you’re on the latest networking drivers on your laptop and that your router is on the latest firmware revision.
13. Managing automatic updates for your apps will help save your bandwidth where it matters when gaming. If you’ve got Steam, you can look through Settings>, in the Downloads tab, check to see if the Allow downloads while gaming is enabled. If so, untick the box and click on OK. Likewise you can fine tune each games behavior when it comes to downloading by right clicking on the game in the Steam menu, select Properties>Updates. You will find options for Automatic updates as well as Background downloads. If you’re working with a limited plan from your ISP, this will be of use.
14. If you don’t have a dedicated GPU on your laptop and are merely dealing with an iGPU, then it’s possible to get your feet wet by using a PCI-E expansion pack that allows you to drop in a powerful discrete GPU. As long as you have a capable CPU to drive the entire jerry-rigged platform. Please keep in mind though that this will result in either you loosing wireless connectivity options, or your storage connectivity. It should also be noted that if you’re working off a laptop that doesn’t have a discrete GPU, it’s not meant for gaming as it’ll have a less than adequate cooling solution.
Hopefully you've gained an advantage with how you game on your laptop. For the steps mentioned above where you will need to disassemble the laptop, it’s advised to check and double check with your manual/warranty sheet to see if it voids your warranty ad if you’re within warranty period.