Gaming has become one of the most popular hobbies on the planet. The prize funds for popular games like League of Legends can be in the millions, which means we are beginning to see a new type of athlete emerge.
With more money, comes more innovation, and gaming tech is evolving faster than you can blink. Powerful technology becomes cheaper, replaced by the newest and fastest. Parts become smaller, designed to fit into high-performance laptops.
All of this accumulates to make gaming much more affordable for the masses. It has also become less of a hassle. You don't need to build a fully water-cooled custom behemoth of a desktop to play your games on the highest settings.
If you are one of those gamers who play on a laptop, this article is for you. We are going to give you some epic tips on how to maximize your laptops. This will help you squeeze the best performance from your rig.
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What is a Gaming Laptop?
For a long time, the only way to play high-end games was to build or purchase a gaming desktop PC. These huge towers needed to have high-powered cooling systems and bulky equipment to meet the system requirements for the newest games.
Nowadays, the world is focused on making things smaller, and this extends to computer components. This means that the technology we need for AAA+ games can fit into a small laptop chassis.
The result? Modern gaming laptops.
What Should You Look For in a Gaming Laptop
Graphics Processing Unit - GPU - Graphics Card
For your computer to be called a gaming computer, you will need to have a dedicated graphics card installed. This is one of the major differentiations between a standard laptop and a gaming laptop.
A dedicated graphics card is one developed by a tech giant like Nvidia or AMD that is then installed into a laptop. This replaces the common integrated graphics cards that come as a minimum on most laptops.
Your graphics card or GPU is responsible for taking data from your computer and transferring it into visuals. This means that everything you can see on your monitor has been processed at some point by your GPU.
If you want better FPS or frames per second, you should look at upgrading or overclocking your graphics card. If you cannot replace or overclock your card, then you might want to consider looking into an eGPU.
eGPU stands for external graphics processing unit. This is a box that you can install any graphics card into, then plug it into your laptop, giving you the same potential ability as if the card was installed inside your computer.
Central Processing Unit - CPU / Processor
Your processor is the king of your computer. It is responsible for the running of the realm. This means it makes thousands of decisions each second. This allows the parts in your computer to communicate and run efficiently. For everything to run smoothly, your processor needs to be as strong as possible.
The stronger your processor, the better the decision-making, meaning everything else works more efficiently. If your GPU is a high-end card, then you will need to match it with an equally powerful CPU, or you will run into a bottleneck that needs to be fixed. This will cap one of the parts at 70-90%.
If you have already bought your laptop and cannot install a new CPU, then a good way to boost its effectiveness is to re-install new thermal paste or liquid metal to allow the processor to run cooler. After you have done this, you can run an overclock on the processor.
Random Access Memory - RAM
Your RAM plays the most significant supporting role of any of your parts. Every other aspect of your computer can benefit by upgrading your RAM. It is also usually the easiest thing to upgrade, especially in a gaming laptop.
RAM or Random Access Memory is where your computer stores its instruction manuals. Every single time your computer processes a new decision, it adds to these instruction manuals. This means that the next time your computer has to make that same decision, it can access your RAM for a more efficient way to do so.
If you want to game and stream without issues then you need adequate RAM. A minimum of 8GB DDR4 RAM is a good start. If you want even better performance, opt for 16GB.
The Importance of Solid State Drive (SSD) over Hard Drive (HDD)
For a long time, the only storage solutions that we used were comprised of the HDD or Hard Drive format. These devices utilize a disk and laser system to store vast amounts of data.
They are extremely cheap to manufacture and can potentially save a huge amount of storage for minimal cost. They are, however, absolutely trash for modern gaming.
If you want to load your games quickly and spend less time at the loading screen, you need to ensure that you utilize the newer SSD or Solid State Drive format.
SSD drives utilize flash memory which allows them to transfer data at speed many times faster than an HDD. When you load your games off an SSD over an HDD, you will spend significantly less time waiting for things to load.
Gaming keyboards have better response time, tactile feedback, and anti-ghosting keys. These make an incredible difference when you are gaming competitively.
If you haven't yet bought a laptop, opt for one of the gaming laptops with a keyboard designed by brands like SteelSeries or Razer. These keyboards have mechanical switches and will give you a considerable boost.
If you already own a laptop, consider purchasing a plug-in gaming keyboard to improve your gaming performance.
Tips and Tricks to Improve Gaming Performance
Now let's talk about some simple tricks and tips that you can use to massively improve your gaming performance without any hardware changes.
Keep Your Laptop and Drivers Up to Date
This one is massively important. If you are one of those people who regularly skip your Windows update, then this could be holding your laptop back from its full potential.
Laptops running Windows 10 use this upgrade time to check for out-of-date drivers as well as updating the main BIOS.
If your drivers fall out of date, you will most likely run into problems like laggy, glitchy games. This is because developers always develop on the most recent software and hardware. This means that your games are designed to be played on a fully updated gaming PC.
Keep Your Laptop Clean - Monitor Dust Levels
Laptops are dust-magnets; there is no way to avoid that. The electric charge of the parts makes every laptop surface a magnet. This can quickly become a problem if you don't keep on top of it and can not only reduce your laptops performance, but also make it not last as long.
When your laptop heats up, the fans suck in cold air from outside in order to disperse the hot air inside. At the very least, this can wreck your gaming performance. At the most, it could ruin your GPU or other necessary hardware.
The easiest way to clean your laptop is to use a compressed aerosol can to clear out any blockages. If you want a more in-depth clean, you will need to take your laptop apart in order to clean it properly.
Destroy Your Limits - Overclock
Overclocking your hardware is a sure-fire way to increase gaming performance. When it comes to PC gaming, there is a massive community of overclockers who have done the same thing.
Overclocking can be very risky. For those who have never heard of it, overclocking is the practice of removing the limits that are placed upon computer hardware by the manufacturer. This allows people to control the power and voltage of the parts, boosting them to their full potential.
A bad overclock can cause serious damage, so we highly advise anyone considering it to do some serious research. Check the online forums and look for guides on your specific hardware.
If you want an easier method, you can download software like the MSI Afterburner or change the AMD Radeon Settings. These both allow for an automatic overlock that is within the safe parameters of your components at the click of a button.
Utilize Windows 10 Game Mode
With Microsoft owning Xbox, they installed a new feature into Windows 10 a few years ago. This feature is called game mode and allows you to optimize your laptop, record your gaming, and stream to any audience.
You can access game mode by pressing Windows + G. When the box opens, and you can head to game mode at the bottom right.
When this is enabled, your operating system will optimize windows and run the game with the best possible settings, and close other tasks that are not necessary to make sure you get the best possible performance while gaming.
Keep an Eye on Connection Speed and Stability
If you use your PC for gaming online, then you will need to make sure that your internet connection is as secure and stable as possible to maximize performance.
There are many frustrating problems that a poor internet connection can cause. The first and perhaps most irritating is lag. If you are using your PC for gaming online, such as for E-Sports games, then lag can be all it takes for your competition to crush you. In games where split-second decisions control the flow of the match, lag is the worst enemy you could face.
If your internet connection is acting up and the problem does not seem to be with the router or connection, then you may have some out-of-date drivers to install. This will be much more likely if you have skipped a couple of windows update prompts.
The best way to ensure that you get a strong, stable connection is to connect your gaming laptop to the router via an ethernet cable. This will provide the best connection. Doing this will stop things like connection drop out and interference.
Keep On Top of File Management
The more crowded your computer gets, the harder it is to run optimally. If you have thousands of files, pictures, videos, music, etc., then this might be slowing your computer down.
If you have too many games installed, this will have the same effect. We highly recommend trimming your files down until they only take up to 75% of your total storage. This allows enough space for your games to run smoothly.
Tweak In-Game Settings
One way to massively improve performance is to make sure that your settings are set up correctly in the games you play. If you are playing a game where your FPS needs to be high, like in League of Legends, you can drop the graphics settings to low. This will make your game less pretty but will massively boost performance, which is more important during games like this.
You can either do this in-game or in the settings for your dedicated graphics card. If you do the latter, you may be able to set up profiles for different games. This means when you open that game, your GPU will automatically load it with the best settings possible.
Manage Your Background Usage
If you are running into frame rate issues during games, it may be due to background apps taking too many of your computer's resources.
One major culprit for this is Google Chrome. Chrome dedicated a percentage of your RAM to each tab you have open instead of for the entire program. If, like me, you like to have a lot of tabs open, this means you could be using up to 80% of your RAM, just on Google Chrome.
Make sure that during gaming sessions that you close down any background apps that you don't need. This will ensure your resources can be used to increase performance instead.
Optimize your Power Settings
If you play on your gaming laptop while it is unplugged, you may be running into performance problems because the system power settings are throttling performance.
When unplugged, most Windows laptops will automatically use the "Power Saving" option instead of the "High Performance" option. Head over to your settings panel and search for "Power Settings" to change this.
Make Sure Direct X is Up To Date
The last of our tips is to check to make sure that your Direct X Software is updated to the latest version.
DirectX is a collection of tools that allow your graphics card to run via the Windows operating system. In order to play the games you love, you will need to make sure that DirectX is on the latest version.
If you want to check to see if you are already running the latest versions, then you should press "Windows + R" this will open the Run menu. Enter the phrase "dxdiag" and press enter. This will bring up the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, which will give you all of the information you need.
This isn't really a tip but a piece of advice. If you are struggling to get your old laptop to handle AAA+ games, it may just be because the hardware is not capable of it. When this happens, it may be tempting to try and upgrade the hardware or install fancy overclocks.
Sometimes it is simply better to buy or build a new gaming laptop. A new gaming laptop will come with modern, up-to-date hardware that will not require you to alter any of the settings whatsoever.
This will, of course, depend on your budget and needs. If you want the easiest method to play high-end AAA+ games, a new rig is the best option, although gaming laptops are notoriously expensive.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Does Having a Second Monitor Affect Gaming Performance?
This will depend upon what you are using the second monitor for. The more demanding the tasks you set the second screen to, the more your gaming performance will be affected. This will not be a problem if you have a strong enough dedicated graphics card.
Can an SSD Increase Gaming Performance?
Utilizing a Solid State Drive can massively increase your gaming performance. As they load a lot quicker than a standard HDD, they will allow you to load games faster and spend less time on the loading screen.
How to Improve Mobile Gaming Performance?
The best two ways to improve mobile gaming performance are to make sure there are no other background apps running and to make sure that you have enough storage onboard.
How to Improve Gaming Performance on Android?
Google Play has a range of apps that can boost gaming potential on your Android devices. Apart from this, you should make sure you have no background apps running and ample storage.
How Can I Make my Normal Laptop Into a Gaming Laptop?
The best way to do this is to purchase an eGPU or external graphics processing unit. This box allows you to plug any graphics card inside the enclosure then hook it up to your laptop to give you the same potential as if you had the card installed.
Gamers are a smart and sly bunch. Never content with what we have, we are always finding new ways to improve the performance of the parts we can afford. The tips in this article will allow you to maximize your performance.
If you have decided that your laptop is too old and the technology too outdated, you should check out some of our roundups on the best gaming laptops. In those articles, you can find some great advice and some amazing laptops for any price range.
Jake Redman is a UK-born-digital nomad & founder of Ultimate Quality Content, a collective of high-end copywriters formed to provide detailed insight into everything technology-related. Jake is the definition of a man-nerd. He gets excited over things like processor architecture, ray-tracing, & is an avid E-Sports fan, specifically League of Legends. When he isn’t writing detailed tech-related articles, Jake can be found performing fire-breathing shows & wields a dragon staff, or on the sofa playing Mario Kart.