Make Games Run Faster on a Laptop

On a desktop PC, you can easily improve game graphics by swapping out your old graphics card. But in most laptops, the graphics chipset is integrated into the system board and can’t be removed or replaced. So newer PC games may not run smoothly on your laptop, 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 the tips below to improve gaming performance.

1. Adjust 3D Graphics Settings

Most notebooks allow users to manage and tweak 3D settings via a separate graphics control panel.

You can access 3D settings on your AMD or Nvidia-powered notebook by right-clicking on your Windows desktop and choosing Graphic Properties.

Intel’s Graphics and Media control panel, on my Acer laptop, lets me adjust 3D settings by moving a slider between “Performance” and “Quality.” Click on “3D” and “Global Settings” to find the slider. Moving the selector toward “Quality” improves 3D graphics, but may lead to slower frame rates and choppy performance; moving it towards “Performance” will enhance gaming performance. I always choose “Performance” over “Quality” to ensure a stutter-free gaming experience.

This Intel HD Graphics and Media Control Panel has custom settings as well as preset options. Below, I show my laptop’s 3D settings to explain each custom setting. You may apply these settings to your own graphics panel for a smoother gaming experience.

Custom settings are commonly found in all graphics panels, including Intel HD or NvIdia/AMD. Common options include texture quality, vertical sync, and anisotropic filtering. You can tweak these settings or leave them as they are. Here are some tips:

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 option 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 objects in a game. But I always keep it under “Application settings” and prefer not to change it. Keep it as it is.

3. V-Sync: When playing graphics-intensive games, you may be experiencing screen stuttering and tearing, especially when playing a first-person shooter game. This normally happens when the frame-per-second rate in a video game is higher than your laptop’s refresh rate. To avoid stutters, turn on V-Sync via the graphic cards control panel when the frame-per-second rate is higher than the refresh rate, and turn it off when it is less. Enable V-Sync when playing games like Crysis 2.

2. 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.

The screenshot above 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 the most visually satisfying gaming experience, it will improve performance.

3. Consider Third-Party Game-Boosting Programs

Game-boosting programs are an option 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 your CPU to improve performance.

Essentially, these programs offer way to tune up all settings automatically at the click of a mouse, instead of manually tweaking every setting.

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

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