Gaming has always has its own select cult following. Over the past couple of decades, with the advent of modern console gaming, PC Games have to keep up with an opposing force that grows greater by the year. In turn, gamers today have to keep their systems top-notch and consistently updated to ensure the ever-elusive optimal gaming experience. However, even with the best hardware in the market today, it can be tough (and most of the time, impossible) for a gamer to do an annual overall hardware update or keep his/her pace with the ever-shrinking bytes. Of course, the easier option in this case would be to buy a console. There are always rewards in the puritan approach. There’s also the added advantage of not worrying about upgrading your hard disk, RAM and GPU every two years to play the latest instalment of your favourite game series (that is, until the next generation of console comes out and yours joins your laptop in the ‘things of yesteryear’ pile… But pros and cons, right?); And still, without the feel of a keyboard and mouse in FPSes just doesn’t feel the same.
How to optimise your gaming experience
Hold your own and suck out the most possible performance from your system, or in the very least, add to your gaming.
So keeping that option aside, and assuming you aren’t one of those millionaire geeks, there are some techniques out there to hold your own and suck out the most possible performance from your system, or in the very least, add to your gaming.
Let’s start with the obvious stuff, shall we?
Admittedly, the computer is a masterpiece of technology, but not unlike anything else mechanical, it can only do so much with the hardware installed. Games today are already very complicated, so there’s no point in overworking your computer. Be a little smarter and use some common sense when setting up your system for gaming.
Update your graphics drivers. I’m sure it’s hard to remember. And if that is the case with you, check the settings of your graphic card’s driver interface - There’s an option that states ‘automatically update drivers’. If you have a bad memory, let the computer remember to do it for you. It’s not that hard, and it’ll give you one less thing to consider when you’re wondering why Nomad is taking so long to fire his weapon.
Close unnecessary programs. Shut down your instant messaging clients. Even if you’re playing on the best system money can buy, a message notification can randomly your game at critical junctures, causing your game to handle like a sluggish drunk on a Saturday night. That is, presuming your game doesn’t just crash.
If your social life can’t take a break for a while, check out in-game messaging clients like: XFire (http://www.xfire.com/), Raptr (http://raptr.com/) and Steam (http://store.steampowered.com/). Lower the load on your RAM and GUI. Unless you’re on an incredibly slow system, programs like notepad probably won’t make a dent, but the least you can do is shut down your Adobe suite and Microsoft office before cranking up your game. Shut down whatever programs you have running as background tasks. Check your task manager to end the processes you won’t use for your game. Sure, they aren’t visibly performing any tasks, but they’re obviously leeching off your processing power in some small way. Remember to leave your sound and graphics controllers alone, though (yes, as I stated before, this is the obvious stuff).
Optimise gaming through FRAPS:
FRAPS is a useful tool if you’re one of those gamers who likes to review their style to improve their skill - or simply one of those people who like uploading walkthroughs and gameplay videos on YouTube. Be as it may, it’s always good to be familiar with FRAPS. This video game capture software is undoubtedly the biggest name in the professional game recording community. We that its mainly because it offers great quality videos, excellent video compression and above all, it’s the easiest software available online with respect to controls and usability.
FRAPS, (Frame Rate Per Second) stays true to its name. One of its main features is the yellow numbers that you have the option to disable or show in any corner of your desktop. This is a siample way of measuring the consistency of the frame rate (which is part of the benchmarking process). The game-recording software gives you complete control over audio-visual recording as well as screenshots which help set benchmarks for gaming reviewers.Its simple interface marks it high on the user-friendly scale. The one constant complaint about FRAPS is the monster size of the video files it captures. You can record up to 4GB of footage at a time, and to take full advantage of this software’s high quality recording using high frame-rates and still avoiding issues concerning lag, one should be prepared with a good processor. If you intend to go on for a few hours, we would recommend a USB 3.0 hard drive for storage, as a precaution.
Overall, FRAPS does just enough to set itself apart and at the same time, lay the benchmark for other software of the same nature without breaking a sweat.
How to optimise gaming through Raptr and NVIDIA GeForce Experience:
Raptr was started back in 2007 by Dennis Fong (of XFire fame) and played a huge role in pushing online gaming to the level it is in today. It gave gamers worldwide a common hub to come together - gamers’ own personal social networking website. Its primary function when it was created was an umbrella like leaderboard for gamers to get a platform where their skills in the field are appreciated and understood.
Of late, since Raptr launched its desktop app, it connects members and their gaming effectively, giving people convenient, consistent and mobile connectivity.
Meanwhile, in relatively more recent news, NVIDIA launched its own all-in-one PC Game optimiser. NVIDIA GeForce Experience is, admittedly very useful with the games it supports.
Features: It primarily works as a jack of all trades. When installed, it scans your system for detailed specifications of your computer, correlates that to the recommended system requirements for the games already installed on your PC, and tells you what configuration would be suited best for running the game on your system. Its Shadowplay feature, when enabled, it leverages the NVEnc fixed-function encoder built into Kepler-based GPUs and automatically records the last 20 minutes of gameplay. players also have the option of manual control. This is a great replacement for software-based solutions like FRAPS, for people who record their gameplay, which reduces the load on your host processor.
Enter the Gaming Mode:
Almost all antiviruses today have an option called ‘gaming mode’ during which they switch to either minimum or zero consumption of your laptop’s resources. It’s a handy tool to have, and goes a long way to amp up your game performance. Freeing the RAM and the little GPU memory that they consume, it can make the difference between smooth sailing and jerky gameplay with an overheated unit
Virtual Private Networks:
LogMeIn Hamachi is one example of several VPN (Virtual Private Network) creating software available online. Hamachi specifically is easy-to-use to set up a VPN that’s sophisticated enough for a small network of gamers online. Admittedly, Hamachi isn’t an enterprise-grade VPN like Juniper and Cisco, but it’s reliable enough to ensure that your VPN is secure. It is comparatively much easier to set up, so it’s a great option for a small group of users The free version is a cheap and convenient for people who want to game on a closed LAN-like network. It has string security and does very well emulating a virtual Local Area Network. And if required, Hamachi also has a premium paid version for those who can afford it
Other free options in VPN providers which have comparatively easier interfaces include TunnelBear and VPNBook.
Optimize your in-game graphic settings:
If you’re all too familiar with the terms V-Sync, FXAA and Anisotropic Filtering, then you can skip this last segment of the article. For those who don’t, here’s a short segment explaining what to do with those settings in your Video/Graphic settings in your in-game Options menu.
Vertical Sync: It fixes the tearing (misalignment of pixels) of the screen due to a discrepancy in your refresh rate. Put it on only if you experience this.
Screen Resolution: Adjust the resolution of the game within the maximum resolution of your own system. Sometimes this difference in resolutions can cause some major lag issues in your gaming.
Anti-Aliasing and FXAA: AA smoothes out jagged pixels in a game when the game’s resolution is on a much lower one than that of the screen. It’s effective, but we suggest you only raise the AA of the game after maxing out the appropriate resolution of the game. If the game is having issues with speed, you should just switch this feature off. FXAA stands for Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing. It does the same thing the AA feature does, but using lesser power from your processor. The downside is, instead of jagged edges in an environment, you end up having blurry edges. So use this feature in accordance to your preferable visual sacrifice.
Anisotropic Filtering: This tweak deals with textures of distant objects in your game’s environment. Graphic cards today can handle high levels of this filter, so feel free to keep that at a maximum. However, if you think it is causing a drop in frame rate, keep it on 2x instead of completely off. It shouldn’t cause much of a difference in performance, and would enhance your experience considerably.
Shadow Quality, Field of View and Texture Quality: As the names suggest, these features deal with the quality of your environment from the point of making it more realistic. While setting these (usually on high, medium and low), you should do so at your own preference and discretion. Set these on maximum first, then bring each down a notch in descending order of what you’d like to give up. The reverse may also work.
Gaming today has more options. Keeping up with new features may take time and effort, but it’s all worth it. Game On.