How To Make a Laptop Perform Better for Gaming

Not happy with your current laptop’s performance in games? Do not worry.

Even laptops not built for gaming can still provide many enjoyable experiences. And if you’re on a midrange to high-end laptop, you can probably make it even better with a few tweaks.

How to improve the performance of a laptop for gaming

There are several ways to boost the performance of gaming laptops to squeeze every bit of power out of it, as well as other laptops that can run more games with the right configuration.

Add an SSD

An SSD can have a major impact on your gaming experience if you’re still not using one. Even if you still need an HDD to store your games, installing the OS on an SSD gives a huge performance boost.

SSDs have faster read and write speeds, which means that all system software applications will run faster.

This translates to your gaming experience.

Some games rely on fast read speeds to load assets into memory. Therefore, installing SSD games on SSDs greatly affects some loading and rendering times.

Clean the laptop

There are two ways to clean a laptop. You should perform both hardware and software cleanups from time to time.

Adware, malware and even non-malicious apps can pile up on your laptop. Whether you’re running low on storage space or have too many apps running in the background, there’s a good chance your laptop’s performance will drop.

Running some scans and deleting unused files and apps will contribute to a small performance boost.

Then you have your hardware clearing. This one can be tricky if you’re not familiar with how a laptop works.

But you have two options. You can take your laptop to a professional cleaning service or watch some YouTube video tutorials and do it yourself.

It is important to remove the dust and replace the thermal paste to avoid overheating. When components get too hot, they don’t perform as well and can even cause the laptop to shut down in the middle of your gaming session.

add RAM

A laptop with only 8 GB of RAM is nothing special these days. It’s enough to run many games, but adding another 8GB stick can have a huge impact on gaming performance.

You don’t have to go overboard here either. Very few games use 32GB of RAM, so it’s often more than enough to make sure you have at least 16GB installed.

Update the drivers

Drivers are a unique category of software for applications that tell hardware components how to behave.

Not keeping drivers up to date, especially for the graphics card, can be the difference between playing a game and not being able to start it.

Updating drivers is just as important for older generation graphics cards as it is for new ones. While the latter may not be as affected by the driver version, older cards often get more significant performance gains that keep them relevant in gaming applications.

Consider overclocking

Many years ago, laptops could not be overclocked without serious technical knowledge. This is no longer the case.

While overclocking CPUs and graphics cards is primarily a desktop PC endeavor, laptops come with unlocked components that can be overclocked.

AMD and Nvidia graphics cards are configured for specific power consumption and clock speeds. But software like Afterburner from MSI can help you change the memory and core clock, voltage, current limit, and fan speed on a laptop graphics card.

This assumes the card is designed to support this.

Keep in mind that overclocking can seriously overheat components and traditional laptop cooling is not powerful enough to support sustained increases in power consumption and clock speeds.

Optimize energy settings

Some laptops are not configured properly to unlock their true potential. The Power Settings window is a good indicator of whether your laptop is holding back.

Changing the setting to High Performance will drain the battery faster, but should improve CPU performance.

Here’s how to optimize power settings.

  1. Press the “Start” button.
  2. Go to Settings.”
  3. Select ‘System’.
  4. Navigate to the “Power and Sleep” section.
  5. Go to “Additional power settings”.
  6. Select ‘High performance’.
  7. Confirm the new subscription settings.

Disable background services

There are a number of background services that run by default on every Windows laptop. While each alone has no significant impact, multiple services can unnecessarily strain CPU and RAM usage.

Disabling the following services should boost your in-game FPS.

  • Application Layer Gateway Service
  • Bluetooth support service
  • Connected user experience and telemetry
  • Downloaded Maps Manager
  • Enterprise App Management Service
  • Fax machine
  • Share internet connection
  • Touch keyboard and handwriting panel service
  • Windows biometric service
  • Windows Insider Service
  • Windows Mobile Hotspot Service
  • Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service

Here’s how to disable services in Windows.

  1. Type “Services” in the Windows search bar.
  2. Click to open the “Services” app.
  3. Right click on a service.
  4. Click on ‘Properties’.
  5. Click the “Stop” button.
  6. Click ‘Apply’.

Change the graphics card settings

Normally, you can adjust the display and graphics settings for any game to the desired performance or visual quality.

However, that will not always result in the best FPS of your laptop.

Changing the graphics card settings from the driver panel can provide an extra boost. This is because the laptop does not automatically reserve extra memory for computer functions that you do not use.

Launch the main controls for your AMD or Nvidia graphics card and tinker with the image quality, texture, and performance settings until you reach a higher frame rate.

If you already have a few profiles to peruse, make sure you choose the highest performance over balanced or high-quality options.

Switch to an Ethernet connection

Owning a gaming laptop is handy, because you can game anywhere with a stable internet connection and a backup power outlet.

But wireless gaming isn’t always fun.

If you spend most of your time in single-player games, the internet connection doesn’t matter. But online games, especially competitive titles, require a stable connection with low latency.

Switching to an Ethernet connection at home will immediately improve performance in your online games.

It won’t increase your FPS, but it can fix any slowdowns and connection issues.

Using Windows 10 Game Mode

Game Mode is a pre-installed Windows 10 app designed to make changes to your system so that it can deliver superior performance in gaming applications.

This tool makes specific adjustments to memory usage, disables background processes and services, and allocates resources in various ways to give you higher FPS in games.

For example, it can temporarily disable updates, notifications, and other background activities that you may not think about while gaming. Once you exit game mode, your settings will be restored to their previous configuration.

It doesn’t do anything fancy, but it automates many of the things that can take you 30 minutes to an hour for each gaming session.

Change the resolution

High-resolution gaming makes any game more impressive. Unfortunately, high resolutions can kill your FPS.

Lowering the resolution by one or two levels, as the game accepts, can improve performance.

Can I use an external graphics card on my laptop for gaming?

Usually, gaming laptops come with a dedicated graphics card, enough to make them powerful enough to run various titles.

However, graphics cards for laptops are not comparable to graphics cards for desktops. The small size, limited cooling and limitations on power consumption make it difficult for even the strongest gaming laptops to match the performance of similarly configured desktop PCs.

Then there’s the problem of some gaming laptops with disappointing entry-level graphics.

But since swapping the graphics card in a laptop is not a piece of cake compared to swapping desktop components, there is another way to improve laptop performance.

Modern laptops can use an external graphics card without compromising or overloading the power supply.

You need a few things to make this work.

  1. A special external housing for a graphics card.
  2. An external graphics card power supply.
  3. A compatible Thunderbolt cable port on the laptop.

With this setup, you can enable a laptop to recognize and use many desktop version graphics cards and turn a productivity laptop into a powerful gaming machine.

The biggest advantage of using external graphics cards on laptops is that they don’t disrupt internal power consumption or cause overheating.

But there are more drawbacks to using an external graphics card on a laptop. First, not all of them work with Thunderbolt cables.

Second, setting up an external graphics card is a hefty investment, including purchasing a special case and power supply.

Then you may encounter hardware and software incompatibility.

Is this possible? Yes. Does it always work, or is it worth it? Undoubtedly, no.

Not all system configurations produce the same results

If you want a better gaming laptop without buying a new one, your best bet is to try and squeeze all the performance out of yours by making some software and hardware tweaks.

The ideal configuration can increase performance by 20% to 30% under the right conditions.

Which of these suggestions had the biggest impact on your gaming experience? Let us know in the comments below. Feel free to share any additional tips you may have to get even better results.

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