Game consoles have the advantage of forcing game developers to optimize their creations to meet stringent criteria. With PCs though, the variety in hardware and configuration plus software makes it an impossible task to truly optimize a game to run on all settings. Nevertheless, if you have a gaming PC that is reaching its expiry date, the first thing to do is not to upgrade your graphics card or other hardware.
Granted the graphics card is what mostly causes bottlenecks in PC gaming but it isn’t always the culprit. Before you go and install a brand new graphics card, you may want to boost fps using these five strategies first and if nothing works then maybe your hardware does need a serious upgrade.
Latest Graphics Card Drivers
It is astonishing just how many negative reviews for games come from folks who do not actively upgrade their graphics card drivers. This is probably the first area you want to investigate if you are having fps issues. Old drivers are never really a good idea if you want the best performance but people tend to forget these things. Thankfully, Nvidia makes driver update easy by prompting the user whenever a new version is available for their graphics card.
First thing to do therefore is to find out what graphics card you have and then check the Windows version running on your PC. To do this you can navigate to the Device Manager in the Control Panel and find Display adapters. It should list your graphics card model under here.
Next step is to figure out Windows version and to do this simply right click on My Computer. Then select Properties or go via the System setting in Control Panel. This tells you if you have a 32 bit or 64 bit OS of Windows.
The final step is to visit your graphics card website. This does not mean Sapphire, Gigabyte, MSI or Asus. No, instead visit the chipset maker’s website such as Nvidia, ATI or Intel. Download the drivers for your graphics card directly from the chipset maker website by selecting your card’s model number plus the operating system.
Once you have the drivers, install them and reboot your PC if you are asked to do so. In some games, simply updating from old drivers to the latest edition tends to provide a sudden 30% boost to gaming performance!
Another useful check is to see if your game has any new updates that you haven’t installed. For games that you download through Steam or Origin, this is an easy task as updates are automatically applied to the games. For any third party games that do not rely on such applications, you may have to see the game developer’s website for update details. And finally, do not forget to update Windows as this too can cause fps drops.
Optimizing In Game To Better FPS
Drivers do play a major role in game optimization but they don’t provide the greatest fps gains. This comes from proper tweaking of graphics settings within the game.
Ideally you want to run all your games at the native resolution of your monitor. For most modern age PC monitors this is 1920 by 1080 but for laptops it can be 1366 by 768 too. The simplest way to figure out what resolution your monitor works on is to simply right click anywhere on the desktop and choose screen resolution. Under the dropdown for resolutions, the highest often is what your monitor is designed to operate at. Additionally, it can have recommended written against it too.
Remember that with resolutions, lower settings will provide better frames per second but do not adjust the settings from the desktop options. Instead, enter your game and search around under the graphics settings for resolution and tweak it there.
Another in-game setting that often drains the graphics card is Anti-aliasing. AA is a handy feature that helps remove jagged lines but it is a resource hog too. Usually, you should see sliders or numbers like 2x, 4x and so on. Try with AA completely disabled and then gradually move it up. Find the sweet spot where the AA helps smoothen frames but doesn’t drastically drop the fps. Your sole objective is to maintain a fps of around 25 or more.
This particular tweak applies to every other graphics setting too such as shadows, lighting and draw distance. All of these features look great but can use a lot of resources. Unless you are adamant of a graphical show, reducing some of these options can help improve the fps to a great extent. Just make sure you spend some time tweaking the settings around.
In our experience, this is mostly a case of trial and error.
Use Benchmark Tools
Without some sort of fps readout, it can be hard tweaking your gaming experience. Most modern age PC games offer in-game FPS simulations but for those that do not come with such add-ons you can download free third-party utilities such as FRAPS. This will tell you the minimum, maximum and average fps you get. Your target again is to maintain a steady 25 fps.
Do you know why 25 fps is the standard minimum necessary frames for fluid gaming? It is because our eyes process the real world in terms of snapshots that are refreshed every few milliseconds. Anything above 25 frames per second appears as moving images to us and that’s why 25 and above is as good as 125 fps and above. Remember, fps depends a lot on what’s happening in the game. In some situations, it can drastically drop and in others it will shoot up.
Overclocking Hardware To Improve FPS
While this isn’t something you should be doing, if you know what overclocking is and how to do it, then by all means push your hardware to provide you that additional clock speed. With nearly outdated hardware, this is the last resort to squeeze some extra life out of it. The faster your graphics card, RAM and CPU operate, the more fps you can receive in-game.
The first item to overclock, if you ever decide to do so is the graphics card. It has the most direct impact on fps. Unfortunately, the option to overclock may not be evident. To overclock GPU, visit the driver utility in Windows. If you don’t find anything there then get a third-party software for the same. Most graphics card makers offer their own software for this purpose.
As for RAM and CPU, overclocking is easy as it is done through the BIOS settings. Just press Delete when your system reboots and you will be taken to the BIOS screen.
Windows continues to run several programs in the background as you game and all these programs, applications eat up resources such as CPU time and memory. Using PC optimization utilities, you can cut down on resource hungry background programs when you game and thus free up resources that might help increase FPS. This however, won’t produce any significant improvement unless you truly run a lot of resource hungry background apps.
While Windows has its own optimization utilities, you could try Razer Cortex – a popular third party Windows optimization software.