7 tips to optimize the performance of a Windows 11 gaming computer

A group playing on a gaming PC.
Image: Microsoft News

Thousands and thousands of people get a new desktop or laptop computer during the holiday season. Many of these new systems will run the Windows 11 operating system, and more than a few of these computers will be dedicated to gaming. Unfortunately, so many people here make the mistake of believing that default settings and configurations are enough for gaming performance.

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Whether you buy your new Windows 11 computer from Best Buy, Dell, or an online boutique, it needs to be optimized and tuned for gaming. If you start by taking a few simple but important steps to get your new PC ready for gaming, you can transform an ordinary PC into an extraordinary PC that performs at its full potential.

Top 7 Windows 11 gaming computer tips

The following tips and suggestions have already been covered individually on TechRepublic, but the true value of these ideas is revealed when they are applied together.

1. Turn on Game Mode

Windows Game Mode devotes significantly more resources to a gaming application, turning off notifications and ending or slowing down most background activities, improving performance. CPU-stealing background apps like file indexing, feature updates, and malware scans have to wait while you play your games.

Open the Windows 11 settings menu and then click on the Gaming item in the left navigation bar. On the Game Settings screen, open the Game Mode item, and then move the switch to the On position as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

On the Game Settings screen, open the Game Mode item, and then move the switch to the On position.
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

2. Prioritize the GPU in specific games

On the Game Mode screen, click the Graphics item to see a different default setting that you may want to change. For graphically demanding games, you’ll probably want to specify that you always want to use the high-performance GPU while gaming.

As shown in Figure Bclick on the Change default graphics settings option and then enable hardware accelerated GPU scheduling.

Figure B

Click the Change default graphics settings option and then enable hardware accelerated GPU scheduling.
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

3. Disable Enhanced Pointer Precision

This next gaming performance tip is probably the most obscure. With advanced pointer precision setting, Windows 11 tries to improve the user experience with a specific set of improvements for your mouse. However, many games do the same thing, and they can conflict with each other, resulting in less efficient mouse cursor movement – the opposite of what is intended.

On gaming computers, it’s best to turn off Enhanced Pointer Precision. In the desktop search, search for “Mouse Properties” and then select Additional Mouse Settings from the Related Settings section, as shown in Figure C. On the Mouse Properties screen, select the Pointer Options tab and turn off Enhanced pointer precision.

Figure C

Seek
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

4. Update the GPU driver

Drivers for GPUs, regardless of manufacturer, are constantly being updated and improved for better and more reliable performance. Graphics cards from NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel operate at peak performance when using the latest drivers, so you need to update your gaming computer regularly.

The factory installed graphics card drivers are likely several versions behind, so it is imperative that you take a few minutes before you start installing games to update your drivers.

5. Update Windows

Likewise, it is important to update Windows 11 before you start installing applications and games on your new gaming computer. The factory version of Windows 11 is probably several versions behind the current version, and new security protocols must be in place to protect you.

Also remember to check for additional and optional updates as drivers for chipsets, network cards and other hardware can be several versions behind. In order to deliver top performance, all systems must be up-to-date and secure.

6. Disable non-gaming, non-essential startup apps

Depending on which company assembled your new Windows 11 gaming computer, you might have just a few unnecessary or promotional apps, or you might have a dozen or more. While these apps are generally harmless, they can slow down a gaming PC’s performance if not removed.

Open your start menu and then search for your apps. As you scroll through the list of apps, right-click the ones you want to uninstall. Start with the obvious promotional apps from third-party developers, and then consider other uses that aren’t practical for a gaming computer. The list of removable candidates will be personal to you and your situation.

7. Activate the optimized, high-performance power plan

The last performance tip for a new Windows 11 gaming computer requires us to bypass the normal settings menus and open up the control panel. Type “Control Panel” in the desktop search box and select the appropriate item from the results. From the list of settings in Control Panel, shown in Figure Dchoose power options.

Figure D

From the list of settings in Control Panel, select Power Options.
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

On laptop computers, you probably only have the Balanced option by default. To view other options, click Create power plan from the list in the left navigation bar.

As you can see in it Figure E, you now have a few more options. For a gaming PC, choose the option that gives you the best performance, but remember that the setting will use more power and drain your battery faster.

Figure E

For a gaming PC, choose the option that gives you the best performance, but remember that the setting will use more power and drain your battery faster.
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

There is a potential power setting called Ultimate mode that would be ideal for a desktop gaming computer running Windows 11, but this setting requires a special procedure and a hack of the Windows registry file.

Optimize for games

Buying a new computer is an exciting event for most people. Getting a new computer to use for gaming is even more exciting, but getting that computer ready for the performance demands of modern gaming takes some preparation and tweaking. Before you start loading games and other applications onto your new computer, take a few minutes to prepare your new computer.

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