Whether you have a brand new gaming PC (opens in a new tab) or an existing one, you should optimize Windows for better gaming performance with a few simple tweaks. Windows isn’t perfect for gaming by default, but with a few tweaks to its settings, you can be sure nothing will get in the way of you and your games.
To preface all of this, you need to understand that the biggest impact on performance is weak hardware. An old graphics card is going to drop your frames per second much more than just a setting in Windows. A gaming PC with only four to eight gigabytes of RAM will have the same hold on your fps in many modern games. Before you change anything, consider upgrading first and set your expectations for how Windows settings will impact your gaming experience. It’s not a lot, but it can add up.
How to Disable Windows Game Mode
Windows Game Mode is causing a lot of anger because for a long time it has been dragging down your performance when playing games. Game Mode used to mess with your system’s CPU resources to funnel everything into your game. Now it’s basically like enabling a Do Not Disturb mode for your PC with a nebulous promise to improve the performance of certain games.
Game Mode for Windows 10 and 11 will prevent Windows Update from performing driver installations and sending reboot notifications. It also “helps achieve a more stable frame rate depending on the specific game and system,” according to Microsoft’s website. (opens in a new tab). It’s unclear which games and systems are supported, but in our tests (opens in a new tab)gaming performance is the same whether it’s on or off.
To disable it, right-click the Windows Start menu icon and select Settings. From there, choose Games, then choose Game Mode. Disable the slider and you won’t have to worry about that anymore.
How to Disable “Save What Happened”
Windows now has a built-in feature that can record footage of your games. It’s kinda buried in your system settings, but if you have separate software for it, like Nvidia Shadowplay, you can disable it to save some system resources.
To do this, you need to press your Windows key, type Capture and click Capture Settings, or alternatively, right-click the Start button icon, click Settings, select Games, then click Captures. If you are using Windows 10, disable “Record in the background while I play a game”. Windows 11 users should disable “Record what happened”.
How to Disable Xbox Game Bar
Like Windows Game Mode, the Xbox Game Bar doesn’t really affect your performance, at least not more so than other overlays, like Nvidia’s Shadowplay. “Save What Happened” will do a lot more for your games than Game Bar, but if you want. Access your settings by right-clicking the start button icon and selecting Settings. Tap Games, then choose Xbox Game Bar. Turn off the switch and you will have no overlay on your games and you might see a few FPS increase depending on the game.
How to Enable High Performance Mode in Windows
You can upgrade to the Windows High Performance Power Plan to improve your gaming experience a little or a lot if you’re using a gaming laptop. The actual impact varies a lot between games. The default balanced mode is fine for most uses, but if you want to tweak it to see if your PC will keep your CPU running at a consistently high clock speed, make this simple change.
Right-click your Windows start button, tap Settings. Choose Power & sleep, then select Additional power settings at the bottom of the page. In this window, select High Performance.
How to Clean Windows Services for Better Performance
Your gaming PC may be struggling simply because of the number of apps running in the background. Chances are you have a lot of them running automatically when you start your PC. You can always reduce this list to the essentials to save RAM and CPU usage.
It is easy to do. Press your Windows key and type run or right-click Windows and select Run. In the new text box, type msconfig. Head over to the Services tab, check Hide all Microsoft services, and browse the list to see what’s going on. Uncheck the services you don’t want to run and press Apply. Be careful though. Some services are required for certain programs to run on your PC, so it’s worth researching them before disabling them.
You can also prevent these services from starting in the first place by heading to Task Manager. Right-click on the Windows Start button and press Task Manager. Then select Startup, go through the list, and disable whatever has the most impact.