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Maximizing your Gaming Performance

Summary: Boost your gaming performance with this guide from Dell. Learn about optimizing your settings, installing new components, and overclocking.

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Article Content


Symptoms

Dell recommends SupportAssist to keep your computer in optimal condition for your gaming needs.

Optimize your System using SupportAssist

Duration: 00:32
Closed captions: English only


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 are not satisfied with your performance in the latest high-end games, you might consider upgrading to a newer, more advanced model. If, however, you would rather stick with your current laptop or desktop for a while longer, the tips in this article help you squeeze every last drop of performance out of your machine.
 
NOTE: These tips should be performed in the order that is presented below.

Cause

Updating Drivers

Keeping the drivers updated for your graphics card or 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:

  • All Dell drivers can be found on the Dell Drivers and Downloads section of our support site.   Please provide your service tag for the optimal experience.
  • For Intel drivers, browse to the Intel Drivers and Software page. External Link
  • For computers with NVIDIA GeForce graphics, browse to the GeForce Driver Download page. External Link
  • For computers with AMD Radeon graphics, browse to the AMD Support and Radeon Software page. External Link
    NOTE: When you are using an integrated and extended video adapter in your computer, install the driver for the integrated video adapter first and then the driver for the extended video adapter.

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 Window's "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 affects 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 affects 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 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 computer's resources. To learn more about activating Game Mode on your computer, browse to Use Game Mode while gaming on your Windows device External Link for more information.

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 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 games on their websites. 

Overclocking

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 that is 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 the above options and are still unsatisfied with your gaming experience, you may want to upgrade to newer, more powerful components. Upgrading provides 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 is covered under the computer’s original warranty. If however, you purchase your component from a third party, it is 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 involves 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, ensure it works with your existing computer! 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 have found your specifications, take note of the details in the Video, Storage, and Memory categories. They guide you as you shop for compatible upgrades. 

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

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 use 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 computers, 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 have already got the latest and greatest GPU in your computer - or if you are not ready to purchase the latest and greatest - adding another GPU to your computer 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 computer that is 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 will rarely wait more than a few seconds for your game to load. As a bonus, everything that is 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 feels 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 gets 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 GB 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, browse to the Installing and Replacing Parts in your Alienware Computer article, select your Alienware model from the list, and then click "Memory."

 

Resolution

Optimize Graphics Cards - AMD (Official Dell Tech Support)

Duration: 02:14
Closed captions: Available in multiple languages. Click the Settings icon and then click Subtitles to change the closed caption language.

How to Maximize Gaming Performance (Official Dell Tech Support)

Duration: 05:08
Closed captions: Available in multiple languages. Click the Settings icon and then click Subtitles to change the closed caption language.

Optimize Graphics Cards - NVIDIA (Official Dell Tech Support)

Duration: 02:20
Closed captions: Available in multiple languages. Click the Settings icon and then click Subtitles to change the closed caption language.

Article Properties


Affected Product

Alienware 13, Alienware 13 R3, Alienware 13 R2, Alienware 14, Alienware 15, Alienware 15 R3, Alienware 15 R2, Alienware 17, Alienware 17 R4, Alienware 17 R2, Alienware 17 R3, Alienware 18, Alienware Alpha & Alienware Steam Machine, Alienware Area 51Alienware 13, Alienware 13 R3, Alienware 13 R2, Alienware 14, Alienware 15, Alienware 15 R3, Alienware 15 R2, Alienware 17, Alienware 17 R4, Alienware 17 R2, Alienware 17 R3, Alienware 18, Alienware Alpha & Alienware Steam Machine, Alienware Area 51, Alienware Area-51 ALX, Alienware Area-51 R2, Alienware Aurora, Alienware Aurora ALX, Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10, Alienware Aurora R2, Alienware Aurora R3, Alienware Aurora R4, Alienware Aurora R5, Alienware Aurora R6, Alienware Aurora R7, Alienware Aurora R8, Alienware Aurora R9, Alienware M11x, Alienware M11x R2, Alienware M11x R3, Alienware M14x, Alienware M14x R2, Alienware M15x, Alienware M17x, Alienware M17x R2, Alienware M17x R3, Alienware M17x R4, Alienware M18x, Alienware M18x R2, Alienware Alpha R2 & Alienware Steam Machine R2, Alienware X51, Alienware X51 R2, Alienware X51 R3, Alienware Aurora, G Series, Dell G3 3579, Dell G3 15 3590, Dell G7 15 7588, Dell G3 3779, Inspiron 14 Gaming 7466, Inspiron 14 Gaming 7467, Inspiron 15 Gaming 7566See more

Last Published Date

14 Dec 2021

Version

10

Article Type

Solution