How to Make Games Run Faster on a Laptop
On a desktop PC, you can easily improve game graphics by swapping out your old graphics card. But in most laptops, the graphics chipset is integrated into the system board and can't be removed or replaced. So newer PC games may not run smoothly on your laptop, and you may experience choppy graphics.
However, there are many ways to make games run faster on a laptop. Instead of spending your hard-earned money on a new notebook, try the tips below to improve gaming performance.
1. Adjust 3D Graphics Settings
Most notebooks allow users to manage and tweak 3D settings via a separate graphics control panel.
You can access 3D settings on your AMD or Nvidia-powered notebook by right-clicking on your Windows desktop and choosing Graphic Properties.
Intel’s Graphics and Media control panel, on my Acer laptop, lets me adjust 3D settings by moving a slider between "Performance" and "Quality." Click on "3D" and "Global Settings" to find the slider. Moving the selector toward "Quality" improves 3D graphics, but may lead to slower frame rates and choppy performance; moving it towards "Performance" will enhance gaming performance. I always choose "Performance" over "Quality" to ensure a stutter-free gaming experience.
This Intel HD Graphics and Media Control Panel has custom settings as well as preset options. Below, I show my laptop’s 3D settings to explain each custom setting. You may apply these settings to your own graphics panel for a smoother gaming experience.
Custom settings are commonly found in all graphics panels, including Intel HD or NvIdia/AMD. Common options include texture quality, vertical sync, and anisotropic filtering. You can tweak these settings or leave them as they are. Here are some tips:
1. Texture Quality: Tweaking this option will sharpen pixels in a texture (texels). On my Intel HD Graphics control panel, I had to choose the “Performance” preset option to lower texture quality. This greatly improved graphics performance, although it resulted into blurry visuals. You can keep it in "Balance" mode if you don’t wish to tinker with this option.
2. Anisotropic Filtering: Adjusting this graphics setting will improve the sharpness and clarity of textured objects in a game. But I always keep it under “Application settings” and prefer not to change it. Keep it as it is.
3. V-Sync: When playing graphics-intensive games, you may be experiencing screen stuttering and tearing, especially when playing a first-person shooter game. This normally happens when the frame-per-second rate in a video game is higher than your laptop’s refresh rate. To avoid stutters, turn on V-Sync via the graphic cards control panel when the frame-per-second rate is higher than the refresh rate, and turn it off when it is less. Enable V-Sync when playing games like Crysis 2.
2. Tweak In-Game Settings
Adjusting in-game settings is one of the best ways to make PC games run faster on your laptop. You can get access to these settings by pressing the ESC button while playing. Some games let you adjust display settings via a separate launcher at the start of play.
Adjusting display settings improves gaming performance, but may reduce texture quality.
The screenshot above shows the display settings of Batman: Arkham City. Almost all options are configured to provide a smooth, stutter-free gaming experience.
I have set Detail Level and anti-aliasing to low, enabled V-sync to improve frame rate, and turned off options such as motion blur, ambient occlusion and dynamic shadows. Also notice the resolution. If you have a low-end notebook, then set the resolution to the lowest (640 x 480) and play it in windowed mode. While this may not provide the most visually satisfying gaming experience, it will improve performance.
3. Consider Third-Party Game-Boosting Programs
Game-boosting programs are an option if the above tips don’t work, or you are scared to tweak settings manually. These third-party applications tweak graphics settings, disable processes, defrag your system, and even over-clock your CPU to improve performance.
Essentially, these programs offer way to tune up all settings automatically at the click of a mouse, instead of manually tweaking every setting.
Warning: While game-boosting apps have the potential to improve frames per second by tweaking key settings, they can be risky because changes in settings may affect the registry. Use them at your own risk.
IObit’s Razer Game Booster
IObit’s Razer Game Booster improves game performance by disabling non-essential processes and services on your laptop. Game Booster’s single-click boosting feature makes it easier to use even for non-computer savvy people. The listed processes can be disabled all at once, or selected one by one. Developers claim that the app cleans up RAM and enhances CPU performance.
When I enabled Game Booster, I noticed a slight difference in frame rate per second, a +2 increase.
Razer Game Booster is a good program that lets you shut down unwanted processes, but for the best overall game performance, you will still have to tweak the in-game settings as well as graphics control panel settings.
After I closed the game, I had to restart my laptop to turn back to normal settings after closing the game. I even had to manually switch back to my laptop's power previous settings.
An application called Game Gain also makes gaming performance faster and smoother on your PC and laptop. Game Booster is free, but Game Gain costs money. You can try out the trial version first, and then buy the full version if you are satisfied with its performance.
Additional Tips to Improve Gaming Performance
- Update graphic drivers regularly. For AMD and Nvidia-powered notebooks, new drivers are available at the official websites. If your laptop is powered by Intel, you can search for new driver versions via Device Manager > Display Adapters > Intel HD Graphics > Update.
- Use programs like CCleaner to get rid of unwanted registry items and disable unnecessary startup items. With this program you can also get rid of memory dumps. Using such programs optimizes PC performance, which ultimately leads to smoother gaming, but make sure you are aware of the implications of disabling key startup items. Do a Google search to find out which items can be safely disabled.
- Use anti-virus programs that have a built-in gaming mode. While playing, most users turn of antivirus programs to ensure smoother performance, because these programs hog resources, especially on older systems. However, programs like Avast Antivirus and ESET Nod/Smart Security do not take up resources on your laptop, are lightweight, and have a nifty gaming/silent mode that lets you play your game while the program silently runs in the background.
These are some tweaking tips to improve gaming performance. Do you know any other trick to make games run faster on a laptop? Share your tips and suggestions via the comment box.
Screenshots by the author.