There's nothing more frustrating than trying to play a game that stutters, freezes, or crashes, especially if you're currently unable to really update your current hardware or aren't sure where exactly the problem is.
We know that eradicating game performance issues can sometimes be like hitting your mouth with your settings, but there are effective methods everyone should try to improve the performance of their favorite games. Let's go through what works.
Note: If you don't have any performance monitoring tools yet, we strongly recommend that you choose one for your PC so that you can check performance while playing.
Update platforms and drivers
Daniel Martin / screenshot
It's amazing how many problems can be solved by making sure everything is updated! If you haven't tried this for a long time, check Windows 10 for updates by typing "Updates" in the search bar and selecting "Check for updates". Also make sure your game is updated if necessary.
You also want to check if your GPU needs an updated driver. GPUs are updated regularly to improve power consumption, fix bugs, and optimize performance for a variety of gaming conditions. These updates can improve FPS issues and fix incompatibility issues between your game and your graphics card.
However, GPU drivers are not updated automatically. To check for the latest version of your GPU driver, we recommend installing and activating Nvidia Update or GeForce Experience for Nvidia's GeForce GPUs. Use the automatic driver detection tool for AMD's Radeon GPUs.
There are cases where updating a driver can cause problems instead of solving them. This may be due to bugs or problems with new driver features that are not compatible with the design of the game. In this case, you can either reset the GPU driver to an earlier version or download the original driver again. Just don't update it for now.
Activate Windows game mode
A few years ago, Microsoft updated Windows 10 with a game mode setting. Previously, you could tweak processor behavior, battery power allocation, and GPU handling to determine if any of these things helped your game.
The game mode "prioritizes processor and graphics card resources" essentially for the game running in the foreground. In other words, background services that Windows 10 does not currently need are temporarily suspended, so your CPU (and GPU) has less non-gaming work in the queue. This system management aims to provide a stable average frame rate, which is more advantageous for lower price systems.
To activate game mode, type "games" in the Windows search bar and select "game match" under "best match". After opening the Settings app, make sure that game mode is activated. You must restart your computer if you are currently activating this function.
Note that when you run game mode on a laptop, there may be an increase in power consumption. You should therefore keep it connected. You should probably keep your laptop plugged in while you play because power management throttles performance to extend battery life.
Optimize your game settings
This can be a complex step because the settings of the games and the optimization options for games differ. However, you should always visit the in-game settings menu and see what is there, especially if the game is having problems. Look for options that do the following:
- Optimize performance.
- Switch to high performance settings.
- Here you can deactivate special effects and post-processing (or set them to low).
- Here you can adjust the render spacing and texture quality.
- Disable anti-aliasing.
Adjust your GPU settings
This is another step that requires additional work. However, you should familiarize yourself with the internal settings of your GPU and how their changes can affect your gaming performance.
One of the best examples is changing Nvidia's settings to maximize performance. Try this by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Nvidia Control Panel from the pop-up menu. After opening the application, under 3D Settings, select Manage 3D Settings on the left, and then click the Global Settings tab on the right.
Next, scroll through the list until you find power management mode. Make sure this feature is switched from Adaptive to Prefer Maximum Performance, and then click the Apply button. Check to see if this will fix any slowdowns or FPS problems.
We'll also ask AMD for a really great guide to all the different graphics features that you can adjust in their settings, what they do, and why you might want to turn them on or off depending on your goals. Find out more about tessellation, your shader cache, surface format optimization and many other settings that may be exactly what you are looking for. Sure, this can involve some trial and error, but you'll end up being a professional at performance.
Choose a lower screen resolution
This is a blunt force correction. However, if your game can barely run, try changing Windows screen resolution settings.
First, right-click on the desktop and select Display Settings from the pop-up menu. With the Settings window open, scroll down to Display resolution and choose a lower resolution than the recommended setting. For example, if you switch from UHD to Full HD, your game may run better.
Likewise, you may want to lower the game resolution to increase the frame rate. Performance may also improve if you play in full-screen or borderless mode and turn off all secondary displays connected to your PC.
Use the recommended game API
Current graphics APIs allow direct communication between the game engine and the driver of your GPU. These include OpenGL, DirectX and Vulkan, which each serve the same purpose, but have different approaches and functions. These APIs can be updated or switched.
Upgrading an API – for example, from DirectX 11 to DirectX 12 – is often a great way to reduce power consumption while improving performance.
Switching to another API is also possible. Some APIs just work better with different graphics cards. AMD, for example, tends to prefer Vulkan for performance. Some game engines also prefer certain APIs and perform much better when used on top of each other. Game engines can also add API support over time or recommend a specific API change to improve game performance.
However, get ready to put on your research goggles as changing your API can also change the performance of your GPU and cause some additional problems that you will need to solve over time. However, if you're experiencing major performance issues right now, switching APIs may be worth the effort. See what your gaming community recommends for the best results.
Get a game booster
Don't cut down a good game booster app. Similar to Windows 10 game mode, these apps reduce background activity and improve game features so there are no FPS issues. If you want to try this out, we recommend Razer's Cortex Game Booster software, which works automatically and also includes excellent FPS tracking.