Your premium gaming laptop will never reach the performance of a similarly-priced gaming desktop. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t play the latest games. Instead, it puts extra pressure on you to ensure that your laptop is optimized for gaming.
With desktop computers, you can upgrade the hardware. Laptop users have limited upgrade options. So, what can you do to improve laptop performance? How can you make your laptop faster for gaming?
Here are 10 ways to optimize your laptop gaming setup on Windows. We’ve arranged these from the first and easiest thing you should do to the most complicated and expensive step, so be sure to read until the end!
1. Game With the Charger Plugged in
The easiest answer to “How to increase laptop performance for gaming?” is by plugging it in. Some laptops tend to throttle performance or refuse to activate the discrete GPU without the charger plugged in, so make sure to keep an eye out.
The difference in performance is massive when playing on battery power vs. playing with the charger plugged in. Your laptop fans will run at maximum speed unless set otherwise, and your laptop’s hardware will perform at its peak, giving you the best frame rates and lag-free gameplay.
2. Play Games on a Suitable Surface
After a long day, you may feel like enjoying your favorite RPG or MMO game while chilling on your sofa or bed. However comfortable it may be, playing games while keeping your laptop on a cushiony surface like a bed or couch can harm your device.
When you place your laptop on a soft surface like a bed, your computer’s vents may get blocked, leading to heat build-up within your device as the heat produced by the hardware cannot escape.
This affects the output your device produces, and more importantly, playing games on an irregular, soft surface can significantly hamper the health of your device in the long run. You should always play games on a hard surface like a table.
3. Adjust Your Gaming Laptop’s Power Settings
Few devices can enjoy improved operation without effective power management. When it comes to laptops—devices intended for use away from a permanent power source—power management is important.
Check your Windows power settings in Windows:
Click Start > Settings (or WIN + I)
Go to System > Power and sleep > Additional power settings
Select High performance
Click Change plan settings > Change advanced power settings
Confirm the power settings are set to the optimum levels
Note that with some gaming laptops, battery settings are automatically managed. Whatever your system, avoid less-than-optimum power settings when squeezing gaming performance from your computer.
4. Speed Up Laptop Fans to Avoid Heat Throttling
Heating is a significant issue that has troubled laptop gamers for ages. Although modern-day laptops come equipped with multiple fans, heat sinks, and other cooling technologies, when not configured correctly, your computer can still touch higher temps, which reflects in the gaming performance it produces.
A simple yet effective trick to getting lower to moderate temperatures when gaming is to keep your fan running at maximum speed or turn on turbo boost if it’s allowed. This ensures that your laptop’s fans hit their maximum rotations per minute (RPM) and actively cool down your device.
5. Close Background Apps for Increased Laptop FPS
We assume you’re running Windows 10 or 11 for many of these tips. If not, you can make a manual change to your laptop before you launch a game—ensure all other apps are closed before you launch a game.
Once you’ve done that, look at the System Tray. This part of the Windows taskbar lists apps running in the background. Right-click each icon and close it unless it is relevant to your game experience. For example, keep your graphics card management app open.
6. Check Your Network Speed If You’re Playing Online Games
Gaming performance for your laptop is mostly determined by your hardware, drivers, and how your computer is configured. But if you’re playing online games, your internet connection speed is another element to consider.
Lag is the usual cause of trouble with online gaming, whether caused by internet connectivity or a slow connection between the laptop and wireless router. In most cases, your wireless network card will have the most up-to-date drivers, thanks to Windows Update or whatever system updates your OS has downloaded.
If there’s no change after applying updates, consider a wired Ethernet connection to the router. You should also consider getting one of the best routers for gaming, allowing your network to prioritize gaming data over other traffic. This will help you get the best performance for your online games, even if others use your network while you’re playing.
Using a gaming laptop? If your system has a Killer network device, the Intel Killer Control Center can be installed to optimize online gaming.
7. Choose the Right Power Settings for Your GPU
Unlike gaming desktop setups, laptops are shipped with a few different power modes for the discrete GPU. These power modes affect the performance your GPU can deliver and the power usage by your machine.
Improper power settings for your GPU can massively affect the FPS output, thus hampering your gaming experience. While the power modes available on laptops differ from one make and model to another, every computer offers two basic modes: Power Saving mode and Standard mode.
When gaming or doing anything that requires your PC to perform at its peak, make sure to switch the power mode of your GPU to the maximum setting available on your laptop. Similarly, turn the power mode to Power Saving to preserve battery life when watching YouTube or surfing the web.
8. Change NVIDIA Settings for Maximum Performance
If your laptop has an NVIDIA GPU, you should change its power management settings in the NVIDIA control panel. Sometimes it may be set to power-saving mode. Open the NVIDIA control panel and switch it to Prefer maximum performance to get the best FPS output from your NVIDIA graphics card.
Note that if you are playing on battery power (not recommended), you should tone down this setting to power-saving mode. Otherwise, there’s no reason to play on power-saving mode with the charger plugged in.
9. Tweak Texture Settings to Optimize Your Laptop Graphics Card
If you have tried everything so far and still want to know how to optimize your laptop faster for gaming, it’s worth looking at your graphics card driver settings. This is particularly true if you need to run a certain game.
In the graphics card driver settings, you’ll find master controls for texture and shader details, which will determine how your games look.
The memory available to your laptop’s GPU limits the options available, so select a configuration that offers performance over looks. In short, high-resolution textures will consume RAM, impacting frame rate. You can also give individual games their own texture and shader preferences here.
Wondering how to increase gaming performance on older or low-spec laptops? It’s easy: just lower textures and frame rates. It can take a while to find the optimum video settings for games. Once you’ve established that performance-quality trade-off, however, you’ll see that it was worth the effort. If you’re unsatisfied with how the game looks and feels on the low settings, maybe it’s time to upgrade your laptop.
10. Turn Off Vsync in Games
Vsync is a useful feature that can reduce and fix screen tearing. However, if you don’t face screen tearing, keeping Vsync turned on could massively limit the maximum frames per second (FPS) you get while gaming.
The core functionality of Vsync is to lock a game’s frame rate to match your display’s refresh rate. If your display is 60 hertz, with Vsync turned on, you will never be able to cross 60 FPS while gaming, even if your hardware can produce over 100 FPS.
This often leads to gameplay and input lag, which could be detrimental if you’re into competitive gaming. So, as a rule of thumb, always keep Vsync off unless you absolutely need to use it.