Maximizing your Gaming Performance

Maximizing your Gaming Performance

Dell gaming laptops and desktops are capable of rendering the incredible visuals that many modern games are known for. However, new games are constantly pushing the envelope when it comes to beauty and complexity, and cutting-edge gaming requires cutting-edge gaming hardware. If you’re not satisfied with your performance in the latest high-end games, you might consider upgrading to a newer, more advanced model. If, however, you’d rather stick with your current laptop or desktop for a while longer, the tips in this article will help you squeeze every last drop of performance out of your machine.
NOTE: These tips should be performed in the order presented below.

Updating Drivers

Keeping the drivers updated for your graphics card/chip and processor ensures that you always get the best performance from your gaming computer. Click the appropriate links below to download the latest drivers:

Adjusting your Settings in Windows

There are several options and tweaks within your operating system that, while they may not provide the biggest boost in gaming performance, are easy to implement and cost nothing.

  • Disable Windows’ "visual effects." These visual effects are largely decorative, and disabling them can give your computer a minor speed boost. To do this, complete the following steps for your operating system:

Windows 10

  1. In the search bar, type "performance" and select Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows from the results.
  2. In the Visual Effects tab, select Adjust for best performance. Alternately, select Custom and choose which effects you want to disable.
  3. Click Apply.

Windows 8/8.1

  1. In the search bar, type "adjust visual" and select Settings, followed by Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows
  2. In the Visual Effects tab, select Adjust for best performance. Alternately, select Custom and choose which effects you want to disable.
  3. Click Apply.

Windows 7

  1. Click the Start button and then click Control Panel.
  2. In the search bar, type "performance information and tools" and then select that search result from the list of results.
  3. Click Adjust visual effects.
  4. In the Visual Effects tab, click Adjust for best performance, and then OK.
  • Close all non-gaming applications to free up memory and processing power. Web browsers and other applications can tie up your computer’s resources and slow down your game. Close out of everything else before starting your game to get a noticeable boost in performance.

    Windows 10 users with the Creators Update can take advantage of Game Mode, which gives your game priority access to your system's resources. To learn more about activating Game Mode on your computer, check out the Xbox Support article.

Adjusting your Settings In-Game

Virtually all games come with a menu of graphics features that can be accessed from within the game. Adjusting the settings for these features can deliver a significant framerate boost at the cost of some detail quality.

The easiest way to optimize your game’s settings for your computer is to use the official apps from your Graphics Processing Unit (GPU – also called a graphics or video card) manufacturer. These apps will scan your computer for installed games and create an optimal settings profile for each game based on your computer’s gaming potential. This allows you to go straight to playing with the best possible balance of performance and quality.

If you want to adjust your game’s graphics settings manually, keep in mind that some features have a bigger impact on performance than others, and the features that you should adjust first can vary from game to game. Generally speaking, the following resource-heavy features can be turned down or even off to boost your performance without making a significant visual difference:

  • Shadow effects
  • Reflection effects
  • Ambient occlusion
  • Motion blur
  • Depth of field
NOTE: NVIDIA and AMD may also offer optimization guides for certain popular games on their websites.


To "overclock" a component is to increase its clock rate beyond the manufacturer’s specifications. A faster clock rate means more operations per second, so gaming enthusiasts will often overclock their processors or GPUs to squeeze a little extra power out of their existing hardware.

Dell does not support manual overclocking in its gaming laptops and desktops, due to the risk of damage to components. However, certain Alienware models can be ordered "factory overclocked" from Dell; these computers come with Dell-approved overclock profiles that can be activated using the instructions in the Alienware Overclocking article.

Upgrading your Components

If you have tried all of the above options and are still unsatisfied with your gaming experience, you may need to upgrade to newer, more powerful components. Upgrading will provide the biggest boost in performance, but it is also the most expensive option, and potentially the most complicated.

Before you Upgrade

Protect your investment in your Dell gaming computer by taking the following precautions before you start upgrading your components.

Warranty Limitations

Your Dell-branded gaming computer is covered by a limited warranty, as are any components bought through the Dell website. If you upgrade your computer with a component from Dell, it will be covered under the computer’s original warranty. If, however, you purchase your component from a third-party, it will be covered by the component manufacturer’s warranty. While the act of upgrading your computer does not violate your Dell warranty, you should consider the following limitations:

  • In troubleshooting your computer, Dell technicians will likely ask you to first remove any third-party components.
  • If you send your computer to Dell for repairs, you must first replace the third-party component with the Dell-branded original.
  • If you damage your computer while installing a third-party component, the computer’s original warranty will not cover repairs.

Preventing Electrostatic Discharge

Upgrading your computer will involve opening up your computer and touching its internals. Without the proper precautions, you risk causing electrostatic discharge (ESD) damage to your computer and to yourself. Watch the video on how to Avoid ESD Damage to learn how to properly ground yourself and your computer before opening it up. (English-only video, with subtitles available for several languages)

Component Compatibility

Before you order a new component for your computer, make sure it will work with your existing system! To find out what kind of components your computer already has, go to the Product Support page for your computer and find the proper document on the Manuals and documents tab. You can also get some of your component specifications from the product description on the Dell store page for your computer.

Once you’ve found your specifications, take note of the details in the Video, Storage, and Memory categories. They will guide you as you shop for compatible upgrades.

NOTE: Users in the some countries/regions can utilize the Parts & accessories tab on the Product Support page for their computer. This tab will provide direct links to upgrades that are guaranteed to work with your system.

Upgrading your GPU

Modern games demand a lot from your GPU, so upgrading this component will usually provide the biggest boost in gaming performance. However, upgrading your GPU is also the most expensive option, and is only an option for desktop computers. Laptop owners cannot upgrade their GPUs, although certain Alienware models may be able to utilize the Alienware Graphics Amplifier. See the product page in the Dell Store for more details about the Alienware Graphics Amplifier.

NOTE: Although the Alienware Alpha models are listed as desktop systems, their GPUs cannot be removed or upgraded.

See the guides below for specific instructions on replacing your GPU:

Adding a GPU (SLI/Crossfire)

If you’ve already got the latest and greatest GPU in your computer – or if you’re not quite ready to purchase the latest and greatest – adding another GPU to your system is a great way to take your gaming to new heights. It really is as simple as "more GPUs = more gaming power," although setting up a multi-GPU system used to be an experimental technique practiced only by hardcore gaming enthusiasts. Now, official software from NVIDIA and AMD makes going multi-GPU relatively easy.

Upgrading your Hard Drive

Tired of staring at loading screens? Solid State Drives (SSDs) are several times faster than traditional spinning hard drives (HDDs), meaning you’ll rarely wait more than a few seconds for your game to load. As an added bonus, everything installed on the SSD gets a significant speed boost, including your Windows operating system. This is a great way to make an old, slow computer feel better-than-new!

Upgrading your hard drive is an option for both laptop and desktop owners. See the guides below for specific instructions.

Upgrading your Memory

For random-access memory (RAM), games usually have a "minimum" and "recommended" specification. Meeting the minimum specifications for RAM will get you into the game, but having the recommended amount of RAM can deliver a smoother gameplay experience. Meeting that recommendation may require adding more RAM to your laptop or desktop, but a RAM upgrade will also allow your computer to run more programs simultaneously. A solid investment, to be sure.

When adding RAM to your computer, there are two important considerations:

  • Maximum supported RAM. Your computer can only recognize so many gigabytes of RAM; this limit is listed on the product’s page in the Dell store and in the manual.
  • Compatibility. If your new RAM is not compatible with your computer, you may have trouble using your machine at all. From the Product Support page for your computer, you can click Parts & accessories and select Memory Upgrades to see a list of compatible RAM upgrades.

For instructions on upgrading your Alienware computer’s RAM, visit the Installing and Replacing Parts in your Alienware Computer article, select your Alienware model from the list, and then click "Memory."

Quick Tips content is self-published by the Dell Support Professionals who resolve issues daily. In order to achieve a speedy publication, Quick Tips may represent only partial solutions or work-arounds that are still in development or pending further proof of successfully resolving an issue. As such Quick Tips have not been reviewed, validated or approved by Dell and should be used with appropriate caution. Dell shall not be liable for any loss, including but not limited to loss of data, loss of profit or loss of revenue, which customers may incur by following any procedure or advice set out in the Quick Tips.

Article ID: SLN306723

Last Date Modified: 04/23/2020 03:48 AM

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