In a gamer’s life, there is nothing more interesting than the announcement of a title that’s been long awaited. I clearly remember being super excited right before the release of Battlefield 3 and totally charged up when DotA 2 was unveiled last August. However, my excitement was cut short by the realization that my PC might not be able to handle the load of these ‘heavy’ games.
While a game’s performance depends upon the specifications of the system (fellow geeks, read that as CPU, RAM, HDD, PSU & GPU), optimization is another facet that is frequently ignored by most gamers. Having the juice in your components and keeping the juice flowing when it matters are totally different scenarios, and I am going to focus on the latter one here. So, are you interested in getting the best possible performance out of your PC while playing your favorite games? Read on to find out how!
There are two aspects of optimization that I will be taking into consideration. While the first is a general improvement in the functioning of Windows, the second takes up specific aspects of the game for which optimization is required. With the following steps, I definitely reduced the number of catastrophic crashes while gaming, some of them as ill-timed as the one in Battlefield 3 below.
Hang on, Private! Before you take a look at the steps I used, there is one thing that you need to ensure. Your basic PC configuration should match the minimum requirements for the game. No amount of tweaking or tinkering can give you an improvement in the performance if your PC is not up for the challenge. The more you can meet the recommended requirements, the better it would be for your experience. Personally, I have designed a decent mix of minimum and recommended requirements, with the dough going to CPU, RAM and GPU, and the rest being maintained at minimum. Once you meet the system requirements, you can implement the following steps.
Step 1: Prepping Windows for the Assault
Oh, Wise Hero of Dire, there are four main steps that would ensure the assassination of the rival Hero of Radiant(Yeah, that gives a DotA 2 feel!). Perform these spells before installing the game and victory shall be yours!
- Fresh Windows Install: It might not be practical for some, but if possible, carry out a fresh Windows 7 install for Battlefield 3. Avoid using Windows Vista as it can create memory issues and unwanted stuttering. This would bring a substantial increase in the performance of the game, to an extent that you would personally thank me for suggesting it. (PS: I accept Battlefield 3 dogtags, DotA 2 custom items and costumes and gaming gear as tokens of appreciation!)
- Level Up Those Drivers: Yes, I know everyone keeps saying the same old thing again, but you need to update your drivers as frequently as you can. This not only increases performance by few percentages but also ensures that crashes due to driver problems are minimized. Head over to the vendor sites for your devices and get the latest versions (not the Beta) of drivers for all your components.
- Defrag That Disk, Lieutenant: If a fresh Windows 7 install is not convenient for you, don’t forget to carry out a complete defragmentation of the disk. It might sound like another hackneyed suggestion, but it definitely works for me every time!
- Clean the Registry: A dirty, unnecessarily choked registry is a reason for major delay and system slowdown. Make sure that you use a program and clean the registry for residual entries. I used CCleaner for cleaning and rectifying my registry thoroughly.
Step 2: Troubleshooting Your Way to Scoreboard Dominance
Other than the basic groundwork for a flawless performance, there are some specific nuances of games that need to be handled. Here are some issues I encountered regularly, and the steps I took to take them out.
LAG. This three letter word is the worst nightmare for all gamers, including me. Lag can arise from a variety of reasons, graphics, HDDs, network or Windows related problems. Here are two types of lag, and how to handle them:
Graphics related lag can be checked by seeing the FPS in the game. Let’s take the case of DotA 2 as an example. Press the ~ key and enter net_graph 1. This would show the FPS, or frames per second, that you are getting in a concise graph at the lower right of your screen. Anything below 60 is jittery, with values below 25 qualifying as graphics lag. It generally requires updating the graphics card drivers, lowering the visual settings or buying a new GPU for your system.
HDDs can also bring stuttering and framing in your game. I make use of HD Tune, a handy utility that can help with diagnosing any HDD related problems. The best way to resolve these problems is by replacing the faulty hardware. Personally, I would recommend that you check out SSDs as they can increase the performance of Battlefield 3 on Windows dramatically.
There are some software programs that usually accompany games for different reasons. For example, PunkBuster, or PB, is a program used by DICE for catching cheaters in Battlefield 3. Similarly, GGC, or GG Client, is a popular utility that is used by DotA players all over the world for streamlining their matchmaking process.
Unfortunately, these programs have their own share of troubles. One common trend that I noticed about these software programs was that they require timely updates and bug fixes. Ignoring updates of these ancillary programs can have drastic consequences, including crashes during the game as shown below.
Kit Up, Soldier
The outcome of the war for optimized gaming depends on your vigilance soldier and you should swear unwavering diligence and commitment to this task.
No, seriously, the best gaming experience can only be enjoyed when you implement all the above mentioned steps on a regular basis, especially the updates and maintenance of different aspects. With that, oh Wise Hero of Dire, I give you the power to command your PC and transform it into an optimized gaming machine.
If you find any of the above tips interesting, or want to add something, don’t hesitate to comment here. Now, if you will excuse me, my DotA 2 hero needs its master. Thanks for reading!