set up your new gaming laptop:
So, you’ve just unwrapped your biggest present of the year, and – surprise – it’s a brand new gaming laptop. It’s got a beefy GPU, a powerful processor, a lovely display and plenty of important specs that make it one formidable and portable gaming beast. Now it’s time to start playing some games…
But hold up just a second. Before you start booting up the latest and greatest titles from across the PC gaming land, you’ll need to take a quick and excitable breather and read our guide to configuring Windows 10 for your gaming needs and the best tools to download.
With these at your disposal, your interactive escapades will be even better.
1. Adjust your update options
Whatever your gaming pleasure, no one wants to find themselves about to win a match in a hero shooter or in the midst of the endgame in an RPG, only for your laptop to suddenly power down as it starts downloading and applying the latest updates for Windows 10.
In order to stop this irritating and needless experience, open the Update & Security menu (press ‘Windows’ + ‘Q’ and type in ‘updates’) and select ‘Windows Update’.
From here you can adjust your Active Hours (so any updates are applied outside these hours) or click ‘Advanced Options’ and select ‘Pause Updates’ to halt them.
2. Turn off mouse acceleration
Windows 10 comes pre-optimized with all manner of features right out of the box, but while many of them genuinely make the operating system a more enjoyable experience, they don’t help if you want your machine to be gaming hub.
One of these utilities, known as mouse acceleration, can affect the sensitivity of your mouse in-game, so play smart and turn it off.
To do this, press ‘Windows’ + ‘Q’, type ‘pointers’ and select ‘Change the mouse pointer display or speed’. From here, uncheck ‘Enhanced pointer precision’.
You can now adjust the speed of your mouse movement in the respective menu of each game, without an external set of settings influencing its performance.
3. Update GPU drivers
When your gaming laptop boots up for the first time, it’ll have all its factory settings in place as default. That includes the standard drivers that ship with your GPU and those will almost certainly be out of date and in need of an update.
Because if you try and play a game without it, your GPU won’t be performing anywhere near the level it should.
Depending on whether you have an AMD or an Nvidia graphics card in your machine, you’ll need to visit one of those two links and download the latest patch.
Make sure each driver is applied, then you’ll be able to really get that gaming laptop playing the best games money can buy.
4. Switch off Windows 10 visual effects
Windows 10 is a huge step forward for Microsoft’s long history of operating systems, but there are certain features that are just a drain on processing power.
The visual effects that are active by default are one such issue, so you’ll need to switch them off if you want to avoid needless slowdown and frame rate drops.
Press ‘Windows’ + ‘Q’. type ‘advanced settings’ and click ‘View advanced system settings’. From there, selection ‘Performance options’ > ‘Visual effects’ and ‘Custom’. You can now uncheck everything from removing thumbnails to smoothing window edges and save all that unnecessary UI window dressing.
You’ve bought a gaming laptop over a full PC setup for a reason, and you want to head out into the real world and enjoy some gaming goodness wherever you can.
However, a certain feature in Windows 10 will automatically attempt to connect you to the nearest Wi-Fi signal or hotspot – even if it’s not secure.
Considering the amount of money you or your loved ones have just dropped on a laptop, this is the last thing you want to risk.
The feature that causes this issue is called Wi-Fi Sense, and to disable it you’ll need to press ‘Windows’ + ‘I’ and select ‘Network & Internet’. Now choose ‘Wi-Fi’ then uncheck all the options under Wi-Fi Sense to switch off this needless utility.
6. Download and sign up to Steam
While there are more delivery platforms than ever for PC gamers, Steam still remains the largest and most popular. And for good reason too.
There are thousands of games to choose from, ranging from indie hopefuls to the biggest triple-A fare. You’re bound to find plenty of games to give your gaming laptop a serious workout.
Head on over to the main Steam page and download the Steam client to your desktop. Not only will this ensure the platform is always up to date, but it provides a way to access all your games from one central library.
You’ll need to sign up to use it, but it’s free and well worth the short questionnaire it takes to do so.
7. Set up Steam Guard
Whether you’re new to Steam, or a long-term user, your library of digital games is going to grow (especially with those ridiculous Steam sales), so you need to make sure those titles are protected from hackers.
To do this, you’ll need to take advantage of an additional service known as Steam Guard.
To activate it, open Steam then selects ‘Settings’ > ‘Account’ > ‘Manage Steam Guard Account Security’ and click ‘Steam Guard’.
This will add two-step authorization for your account, which will drastically reduce the chance of anyone accessing your library without your permission. You will need to download and use Valve’s Steam app as well in order to complete the setup.
8. Connect with friends on Discord
While Skype is just about hanging in there for business use, any PC gamer worth their salt used Discord as a way to party up and chat with friends.
It’s just such as easy service to use, with plenty of customization options, that it’s an absolute must if you want to create friendly chat rooms and VoIP-based parties.
You can download Discord for free, but you will need to sign up before you can use it (don’t worry, it’s free to use as well). You can set up your own group, but in order to join existing ones, you’ll need to be given a specific invitation link. It’s an ideal app to have set up, and a must for your PC gaming laptop.
You’ve got a beefy GPU in your new gaming laptop, and it’s time to squeeze as much juice out of it as you can.
If you want to enjoy the likes of Shadow of the Tomb Raider or Hitman 2 at their most gorgeous and smooth, you’re going to need a piece of software designed to overclock your graphics card to its fullest potential. Enter MSI Afterburner.
It works with most brands of GPU and effectively enables you to control and increase the voltage of your card. This can increase the performance of your graphics card, giving you more juice for your games.
Just be careful, as adjusting these settings can seriously heat up your GPU, so use in moderation.
10. Razer Cortex: Game Booster
Another really clever little piece of free software is the Razer Cortex: Game Booster, which enables you to optimize your new gaming laptop for the better.
Despite being made by peripheral manufacturer Razer, the app can be used with any gaming PC or laptop and will automatically scan your machine and adjust your GPU, CPU and memory settings in order to configure for stronger performance.
It’s really easy to use, and while there are the occasional adverts for Razer’s own products and premium services, you can easily ignore them and make the most of this little gem of a.
Top tips for gaming on laptops:
Gaming on a laptop is never going to be perfect – at least not when compared to playing your favorite shooter on a desktop PC. There are inevitable compromises which are made in order to cram components into a relatively small notebook chassis, slimming them down by a large amount, and making sure the whole caboodle doesn’t overheat.
But those compromises don’t mean that gaming on a notebook isn’t a worthwhile pursuit. Far from it – after all, it’s the only way you can enjoy a blast of PC gaming while you’re out and about, maybe on a long and deadly dull train journey. And there are definitely ways of making your laptop gaming experience a better one, which is exactly what we’re going to look at in these tips.
1. Don’t overreach
It pays to pick games with lesser spec requirements, as obviously enough, these will run far more slickly on a notebook (particularly a cheaper or lower-end laptop). That means games with undemanding graphics, or perhaps older titles.
This doesn’t mean you have to play rubbish games, as there are some great contemporary indie efforts which aren’t CPU or GPU-intensive – think Cuphead (pictured above) or Thimbleweed Park – and some classics which are still, er, classics. In the latter case, you could try something slightly older like The Sims 4 (which actually has a ‘laptop’ mode for smoother running). Check out our feature which lists a load of resource-light games.
2. Resolve your resolution
For best performance, particularly with more demanding games, it’s a good idea to turn down the screen resolution. After all, it’s better to have a smooth moving shooter where you can actually aim and hit the bad guys, than a gorgeous looking slideshow in which you’re stuttering and jerking around the level, with no hope of hitting a barn door.
Drop the display resolution down as much as you can go without getting silly, accounting for your own personal tolerance for lower quality graphics. Equally, visit the in-game menu to turn down detail levels, and be sure to get rid of fancy effects like anti-aliasing, detailed shadows, water ripple effects and so forth.
3. Keep everything in order
Over time, your laptop – or indeed any PC – slowly accumulates more and more detritus which makes it more sluggish, as you install more games and software. You can clean house, and make your Windows notebook run a bit faster, by firing up Disk Cleanup (simply type that into the Cortana/search bar, next to the Start button on Windows 10, and click on the icon to start it). Alternatively, you may prefer to use a free utility like CCleaner or similar; we’ve got you covered with options on that front.
Also ensure that you aren’t using any other apps or services you don’t need when playing a game, as they will eat resources the game could otherwise use. Close all running apps, and you can also look at the Task Manager (press Ctrl-Alt-Delete together, then click on Task Manager) to see which apps are using the most CPU, memory and disk space. It’s also possible to close background processes, but be careful not to shut down anything critical to the operation of Windows (if you aren’t sure of what something does, leave well alone).
Finally, as ever, it’s also a good idea to make sure the drivers for your notebook’s hardware are all up-to-date, particularly the graphics drivers – that’s really crucial and can make a big difference to the performance of some games – if you have a discrete GPU (i.e. not integrated into the processor).
4. Stay in control
Rather than trying to get by playing games on the keyboard, or indeed with the keyboard and a portable mouse – which can be difficult when space is at a premium, say, on a cramped train table – invest in a console gamepad (or just use your existing one if you already own a console). Many games play really well with a gamepad, once you’re acclimatized; and some are even best with a pad.
Microsoft’s Xbox One controller is, unsurprisingly, fully natively supported in Windows and the best choice in that respect, although the PS4 controller works just fine as well.
5. Bright idea
As well as taxing your components, games can also sap your battery, and when you run out of juice, it is, of course, game over. One easy way to help conserve power is to lower the screen brightness, at least as much as you can while still having a palatable gaming experience.
On a related note, make sure your power plan (Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options) is set to balance and not high performance, as the gains the latter makes aren’t worth it in terms of the added battery drain. Also, don’t forget you can buy a portable battery charger for notebooks to give you additional longevity while on the move.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License