Created by an elite team of Digital Storm technicians, DS Unlocked is an exclusive blog featuring useful and honest expert advice for enthusiasts and hardcore gamers. We'll be posting videos, articles, how-to guides, and reviews on the latest and greatest technology!
Feb
9
2013

5 Ways to Boost Your Gaming Laptop's Performance

Laptops are often considered a second choice for gaming because despite their mobility, there just doesnít seem to be as much room for tweaking and upgrading when compared to desktops. In truth, this isnít always the case, and there are some methods that can squeeze some extra power and life out of your gaming laptop.

1.  Update Drivers

Sound cards, video cards, and other components often have driver updates for their hardware to ensure that they deliver the best performance and reliability. This is particularly the case for graphic cards because both NVIDIA and AMD want to endear themselves to the gamer and make sure gamers are able to enjoy the highest frames per second on the latest titles for a butter smooth experience. This means that they may release updated drivers on a frequent basis, so itís important to check regularly and see if the manufacturers have developed new ways to get better performance out their hardware.

2.  Shut Down Background Applications and Utilities

Too many programs running in the background can reduce a lot of precious resources and hinder performance. This can include everything from chat programs to web browsers or anything else that automatically loads on startup. If youíve had your computer for a while, before you realize it, these types of programs seem to creep into your startup process, and it may be time to re-establish some boundaries.

You can eliminate this drain on your resources either by manually shutting them down before you start gaming or by tweaking your Windows configuration to stop loading them every time you start the computer. Either option is valid, but be careful with the changes you make. Some of these applications are essential, and too many modifications can affect the functionality of the laptop if you donít know what youíre doing. Before you start messing around with tools such as MSCONFIG or SERVICES.MSC, you should either really understand what youíre doing or consult a technician.

3.  Upgrade Physical Memory

Enthusiasts never seem to have enough memory, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that there simply isnít enough memory to satisfy a hardcore gamer. The more memory the laptop has, the less it has to write to the Windows paging file on the hard drive, which can save a lot of time and seriously boost speed. The average, off-the-shelf laptop comes with a 8GB configuration nowadays, which is enough to take care of a causal web browser or app user. A 16GB configuration isnít rare, and the more serious user will often upgrade to that, but if you really want the best gaming laptop, you should have a 16GB configuration, which leaves plenty for Windows resources, applications, and for your most intensive gaming sessions.

4.  Upgrade to an SSD

A solid-state drive (SSD) can be a bit of an investment, and while it doesnít necessarily have a direct impact on frames per second for a game, it can increase speed and provide an overall zippy Windows user experience. While a normal HDD is capable of speeds of 140 MB/s, itís actually rare to see it get that high. An SSD, on the other hand, can reach speeds between 200 MB/s to 600 MB/s. This is great for people who do a lot of large file transfers, and it can help decrease boot times and program startups drastically.

The most noticeable improvement in gaming, however, is in how an SSD can impact the rendering of graphics and detailed textures. When your laptop tries to load some huge graphical components from the hard drive, it can cause some hiccups or delays in the rendering. The speed of an SSD can help eliminate those moments so you can stay fully immersed in the game.

5.  Overclock the Processor

Weíve discussed overclocking the processor before but we bring it up again because this is simply one of the most effective ways to boost a laptopís performance. Once again, this is something that could invalidate your warranty with the manufacturer, so if you arenít exactly sure what youíre doing, consult with a technician first. Youíll need to have an unlocked processor and your laptopís BIOS must support overclocking.

Basically, overclocking is the process that lets you push the CPU past the factory settings to increase speed and performance. When you do this to a laptop though, there are some extra concerns of which you should be aware. Pushing the processor speed past the factory recommendations means you will be producing a lot more heat than usual. In a regular PC, this isnít a big deal because there are a lot of options for upgrading the cooling system. However, there arenít quite as many alternatives for laptop cooling (until the liquid cooling systems are more commercially available), so if you go this route, be sure to keep a close eye on the system temperatures and if you have stability issues, try to reduce the overclock on your processor.

Make sure you also check out our entire line of gaming laptops.

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