Oct 052013
 
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Replacing an old graphics card with a new one is often the best way to improve gaming graphics. Proud desktop PC owners can easily swap out old hardware for newer, better components. But laptop users may find it impossible to switch to a new graphics card. In almost all notebooks, graphics cards cannot be changed. The onboard graphics chipset is integrated onto the system board and irreplaceable. In such cases, newer pc games won’t run smoothly and you may experience choppy graphics.

However, there are many ways to make games run faster on a laptop. Instead of spending your hard-earned money on a new notebook, try these tips to improve gaming performance:

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Adjust 3D Graphics Settings

Most notebooks allow users to manage and tweak 3D settings via a separate graphics control panel. My Acer laptop boasts Intel’s Graphics and Media control panel that lets me adjust 3D settings by choosing between performance and quality.

You can access 3D settings on your AMD or NVIdia-powered notebooks and do some custom tweaking to improve performance. As an example, I will show my laptop’s 3D settings to explain each custom setting. You may apply these settings to your graphics panel for a smoother gaming experience:

To access 3D graphics settings, right-click on your windows desktop and choose graphic properties.

Tweaking Intel HD Graphics Settings

Tweaking Intel HD Graphics Settings

The Intel HD Graphics and Media Control Panel has preset options and custom settings. Click on 3D and under global settings, you will find a slider that lets you choose between Performance and Quality. Choosing performance will enhance gaming performance, but will lower 3D settings. Moving the slider toward Quality will improve 3D graphics, but may lead to slower frame rates and choppy performance. I always choose Performance over Quality to ensure a stutter-free gaming experience.

Custom settings are commonly found in all graphics panel, be it Intel HD or NVIdia/AMD. Common options include texture quality, vertical sync and anisotropic filtering. You can tweak these setting or leave them as they are. Here are some tips that can be applied for setting:

Custom Settings

1. Texture Quality: Tweaking this option will sharpen pixels in a texture (texels). On my Intel HD Graphics control panel, I had to choose the “Performance” preset to lower texture quality. This greatly improved graphics performance, although it resulted into blurry visuals. You can keep it in Balance mode if you don’t wish to tinker with this option.

2. Anisotropic Filtering: Adjusting this graphics setting will improve the sharpness and clarity of textured object in a game. I always keep it under “Application settings” and prefer not to change it. Keep it as it is.

3. V-Sync: When playing graphic-intensive games, you may be experiencing screen stuttering and tearing. This normally happens when frame rates in video games is higher than your laptop’s refresh rate. Such tearing is noticeable when playing a first-person shooter game. To avoid stutters, turn on v-sync via the graphic cards control panel.

As a general rule, always turn on vertical sync when you get frames per second more than your screen’s refresh rate and turn it off when it is lesser that the screen refresh rate. Enable v-sync via the graphics control panel when playing games like Crysis 2.

In-Game Settings (Click to Enlarge)

In-Game Settings example

Tweak In-Game Settings

Adjusting in-game settings is one of the best ways to make PC games run faster on your laptop. You can get access to these settings by pressing the ESC button while playing. Some games let you adjust display settings via a separate launcher at the start of play.

Adjusting display settings improves gaming performance, but may reduce texture quality. Check out the screenshot to your right. It shows the display settings of Batman: Arkham City. Almost all options are configured to provide a smooth, stutter-free gaming experience.

I have set Detail Level and anti-aliasing to low, enabled V-sync to improve frame rate and turned off options such as motion blur, ambient occlusion and dynamic shadows. Also notice the resolution. If you have a low-end notebook, then set the resolution to the lowest (640 x 480) and play it in windowed mode. While this may not provide a visually satisfying gaming experience, it will improve performance.

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Use Third-Party Game-Boosting Programs

Game boosting programs should be your last bet if the above tips don’t work or you are scared to tweak settings manually. These third-party applications tweak graphics settings, disable processes, defrag your system and even over clock CPU to improve performance.

Essentially, these programs offer a one-click solution to tune up settings automatically. Instead of manually tweaking every setting, you can go for these apps to adjust them for you at a click of your mouse button. IObit’s Razer Game Booster is one of the top programs that may make games run faster on your notebook:

Razer Game Booster

Razer Game Booster

Warning: While game-boosting apps have the potential to improve frames per second by tweaking key settings, it can be a risky task because some changes may affect the registry. Use them at your own risk)

IObit’s Razer Game Booster optimizes your gaming performance by disabling key processes on your laptop. Razer Game Booster’s single-click boosting feature makes it easier to use even for non-computer savvy people. The program disables non-essential processes and services, thereby improving gaming performance. The listed processes can be disabled all at once or can be selected one by one. Developers claim that the app cleans up RAM and enhances CPU performance.

When I enabled game booster, I noticed a slight difference in frame rate per second. There was a +2 increase in FPS. While the program optimized settings, I had to restart by laptop to turn back to normal settings after closing the game. I even had to manually switch back to my previous laptop power settings.

Razer Game booster is a good program that lets you shut down unwanted processes. However, you will still have to tweak the in-game settings as well as graphics control panel setting if you looking for an overall good gaming performance.

There are very few game boosters out there. An application called Game Gain also makes gaming performance faster and smoother on your PC and laptop. Game Booster is free, but Game Gain costs money. You can try out the trial version first and then buy the full version if you are satisfied with its performance.

CCleaner

CCleaner

Additional Tips to Improve Gaming Performance

  • Update graphic drivers regularly. For AMD and NVIdia-powered notebooks, new drivers are available at the official websites. You can search for new driver versions via Device manager > Display Adapters > Intel HD Graphics > Update if your laptop is powered by Intel.
  • Use programs like CCleaner to get rid of unwanted registry items and disable unnecessary startup items. With this program you can also get rid of memory dumps. Every effort made to increase performance counts and using such programs optimizes PC performance, which ultimately leads to smoother gaming experience.
  • Make sure you are aware of the repercussions of disabling key startup items. Do a Google search to find out which items can be safely disabled.
  • Emsisfot is the highest rated anti-malware solution

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    While playing, most users turn off antivirus program to ensure smoother performance. Anti-virus programs hog resources and so gamers need to shut them down, especially on older systems. However, programs like Emsisoft’s Anti-Malware do not take up resources on your laptop, are lightweight and have a nifty gaming/silent mode that lets you play your game while the program silently runs in the background.

 

Those were some tweaking tips to improve gaming performance. Do you know any other trick to make games run faster on a laptop? Share your tips and suggestions via the comment box.

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