How to reduce gaming performance issues

Performance issues in game such as “lag”, “high ping”, and “FPS – Frames per second loss” can happen for a multitude of reasons. Bottom line, many components and settings in your PC contribute to these issues. Following this guide will help you reduce these problems and move on to enjoying your game more often. Some of these procedures should be followed regularly (*) such as at the end of every week or as often as needed.

 

Throughout this guide you may see an “*” asterisk symbol next to a procedure. This marking will indicate it’s best to run said process regularly as advised in the above statement.

 Overview of this guide

 

Section 1……. Free the clutter and protect your PC

Section 2……. Cut the load and flush it out

Section 3……. Optimize connectivity to the internet

Section 4…… Summary and conclusion

 

 The guide section 1 will begin on the next page, however, I’d like to offer this basic bit of information on how computers work in easy terms to help paint a picture of why our PCs have these problems in the first place.

Every day that your PC runs and is online via wireless or hardline connection it will run over thousands of operations on the system which sometimes include reaching out to the internet.

Terms:

  • RAM – Random Access Memory
  • CPU – Your PC’s Processor
  • GPU – Graphics Processing Unit (Your graphics card E.X. Nvidia GTX 960)
  • DNS – Domain Name Servers
  • Infection - Multiple types of infections like “Malware” “Virus” “Spyware” and “Adware” there are many more, however, the term infection is general for any time of malicious code or behavior.
  • Modem – A network device usually provided by your internet provider to gain access to the internet
  • Router – A network device used to provide internet to your PC and other devices wirelessly and or hardwired
  • Gateway – A 2 in 1 device that has both a Modem and a Router as a combination
  • Default Gateway – An address of numbers that lead to your Router or Gateway network device’s configuration page to make changes (Usually to the wifi settings or other controls)

Some of the operations performed regularly:

  • Run automatic system updates
  • Anti-virus / malware scans
  • Move data between your Hard Drive and RAM (Your PCs Memory)
  • Create temporary data (Also called Temporary files or we may say “Junk files”)
  • Programs and Services (A background process you can’t see) will move temporary data for it to access onto your RAM
  • Run very basic system maintenance that doesn’t quite cut it for most PC gamers

 

 

 

 

 

Section 1

In this section, you will need to download and install two free tools on the internet to keep on your PC.

  1. Malwarebytes v3: https://downloads.malwarebytes.com/file/mb3/
  2. CCleaner: https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download/standard

Once you have the above tools downloaded and installed let’s follow these steps below on freeing up the clutter off your PC then protect your PC by checking for infections.

Process #1 *

  • Open CCleaner, there should be a shortcut on the desktop of your PC for it.
  • Go to the “Tools” tab on the left side. By default, the “Uninstall” section should be selected.
  • Inside the “Uninstall” section is a list of all the programs installed on your PC. Start from the top to the bottom of the list and work on uninstalling any programs you no longer use or want on your system. To select a program just click it then select “Uninstall” to the right
  • Note: As you select “Uninstall” on Programs you will notice the designated Uninstaller Window will open. Most of these are straight forward and you can easily follow them through. If you get an uninstaller that wants you to restart your PC at the end it’s best to select no and complete the list as we will eventually reboot your PC in Process #2
  • While in CCleaner go to the “Cleaner” tab on the top left and ensure only the following is checked for each section
    • Temporary Internet Files
    • Cookies
    • Other Explorer MRUs
    • Thumbnail Cache
    • Taskbar Jump Lists
    • Temporary Files
    • Clipboard
    • DNS Cache
    • Internet Explorer:
    • Windows Explorer
    • System
    • Advanced – Do not check anything here

Move to the “Applications” Tab at the top, the list continues:

  • Firefox (Only if installed)
    • Internet Cache
    • Cookies
    • Last Download Location
    • Session
  • Google Chrome (Only if installed)
    • Internet Cache
    • Cookies
    • Last Download Location
    • Session
  • Applications – Do not check anything here
  • Internet – Do not check anything here
  • Multimedia
    • Flash Player (If installed)
  • Utilities – Do not check anything here
  • Windows – Do not check anything here

Now click on “Run Cleaner” at the bottom right

These steps in the “Cleaner” section will remove junk files and help speed up the process next. On a side note: If you know a thing or two about systems and software you may check other items in CCleaner. If not then stick with the list in this guide.

Process #2 *

  • Open Malwarebytes. There should be a shortcut on the desktop for it.
  • Go into “Settings” tab on the left
  • Move to the “Protection” tab at the top
  • Under “Scan Options” ensure “Scan for rootkits” is on it should be green if not click it to turn on.
  • Now, go to the “Scan” tab on the left side.
  • Select “Threat Scan” your scan should look similar to this:

  • At the end of the Threat Scan you will see a results window. It’s best to remove all the infections if any found. Skipping or unchecking an item you believe is a false positive can be very dangerous if you’re not 100% sure of its origins or intentions with your system. IF prompted to reboot your PC from Malwarebytes, do so before moving to section 2 of this guide.

 

Section 2

This section will focus on the importance of reducing overall load on your system. Load is easily explained as the applications and services on your PC using resources regularly. Some of these items may be running on your system right now and could be running up your CPU and Hard Drive usage which is another contributing factor to gaming performance issues.

Process #1

Let’s start off by clearing out the un-necessary startup items. Startup items are programs and services that automatically start and use your system when you sign on to your PC for the first time after restarting or turning it on for the day.

  • Open CCleaner again
  • Go to “Tools” on the left
  • Select “Startup”
  • Review the startup items in the “Windows” and “Scheduled Tasks” tabs at the top

Here is a safe list of items you can disable:

  • Adobe (Anything Adobe Related)
  • Quick Time
  • iTunes Helper
  • Apple Push
  • Skype
  • Google Chrome
  • Spotify Web Helper
  • CyberLink YouCam
  • Evernote Clipper
  • Microsoft Office

To learn more about this list visit: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/make-windows-start-faster-10-non-essential-startup-items-can-safely-remove/ in short, many of the above applications are great, however, they do not need to starting up with your system. Note: Be very careful on disabling other programs or services from startup. If the above list is not all found on your PC it’s best to leave it alone and move on with this guide.

Process #2*

  • On your desktop, anywhere in the open area, right mouse click and go to “New” then select “Shortcut”
  • For “What item would you like to create a shortcut for?” enter in:

%windir%\system32\rundll32.exe advapi32.dll,ProcessIdleTasks

                                                Then click next

  • For “What would you like to name the shortcut” you can simply name it “Flush Memory” if you wish then click “Next”
  • You can now click on the shortcut you made on the desktop to flush your memory cache (It’s safe to leave this shortcut on your system for routine maintenance)

More info: http://helpdeskgeek.com/windows-7/easily-flush-the-windows-memory-cache/

When you have completed Section 2, you have decluttered any issues effecting performance during startup of your PC which in then is less un-necessary usage to your system during game time.

 

 

 

 

 

Section 3

In this section, we will be optimizing your network from the top down by learning what settings you can adjust for a benefit and what you can change on simply on your PC’s network settings to continue a safe and fast method of online usage like web surfing and online gaming. In the first process, we will be working on Wireless (WiFi) settings on your router. If you’re not using wifi and are using an Ethernet Cable to your router/modem then skip over process 1 unless you have wifi and wish to optimize it for others on your network.

Before we begin the first process in this section we need to make sure you have some information required to actually make this work:

  • The default gateway of your router or gateway
  • The username to access the default gateway
  • The password to access the default gateway

Let’s find your Default Gateway address now:

  1. Look for the network icon at the lower right of your task bar on your screen it will look like one of the following:

If using wireless:

If using hardwire:

  1. When you have located your network icon right mouse click it and select “Open network and sharing center”
  2. Inside the Network and Sharing center window you will find a “Connections” section more toward the right side under “View your active networks” if there are multiple locate the only one next to your Wireless Connection or Hard Wire connection. If on wifi you will see “Wireless Network Connection” or if on hard wire you will see “Local Area Connection” the screen shot below is an example of what we need to look for using a hard wire connection, the same area applies for wifi:

      4. When you have located the connection in the area shown above for your wifi or hardline network click on it. Note: In the sample image above clicking on the highlighted area on your PC is the proper method.

      5. In the status window select “Details” then write down or remember the numbers next to “IPv4 Default Gateway”

Now that you have your default gateway address you can close down the windows you were instructed to open so far and next locate your configuration page’s username and password.

The username and password can be easily located on most routers or gateways by looking on a label physically printer on the box (device) usually on the back or bottom. If not, you could always try using the manufacturer’s default user / password by looking it up on google “What is the default login for netgear router WNR1000v1” in example. You may also visit: http://www.routerpasswords.com/ to assist you in locating a default login.

Note: Most often for Netgear and Linksys (Cisco) routers/gateways use a default login of: admin for the username and password for the password.

Now that you have the Default Gateway address and the login information for that device you can now easily follow these next processes.

 

Process #1

We’re going to be ensuring that the security mode and wireless channel settings are optimal. Having the correct settings here will help ensure you do not get dropped from the network frequently via wireless and help deliver faster performance for most users.

  • Open your internet browser (Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Firefox is fine)
  • At the top address bar enter in your default gateway address you noted in example: 192.168.1.1 (Do not type the leading http:// or www) and once you’ve typed that address in press enter or go to it
  • You will be prompted for a username and password, you must know this to get in
  • Once inside your configuration page find the area for “Wireless” or wifi settings below is an example:

 

  • Depending if you have a Dual Band or Tri Band wifi router or gateway you may see 2 or more sections next. Look at this sample below:

 

  • Looking closely at the configuration displayed in the sample image on the previous page you will need to follow a similar setup on your own wifi settings in the following areas:
    • Wifi name should be distinct such as “Guest 2” for the 2.4GHz name and “Guest 5” for the 5 GHz network. Having both bands, the same name for example “Guest” will cause most or all of your devices to periodically lose wifi signal or connection to the internet. This is a common issue that can be easily fixed by following this step
    • Next, the channel for 2.4GHz only should always be set to “Auto”, it’s best to leave it on auto so that your wifi router/gateway can find the best channel for you to use at all times. Setting a channel manually can cause some devices to disconnect periodically
    • The security options or sometimes known as security mode should always be set to WPA2-PSK [AES] OR WPA-PSK [AES] for older routers. If you have [AES] + [TKIP] (an older security method) enabled instead of only [AES] you’re decreasing your security plus it is known that having [TKIP] enabled as well can cause your wifi speeds to perform slower than they could be than if you had [TKIP] off
  • Some side notes for wifi settings:
    • 5GHz is faster only if your wifi device you’re trying to connect to is compatible with 5GHz wireless and when very close to the wifi router. Most cases even being in the next room over is an issue for 5GHz for some users, it’s totally dependent on some basic factors:
      • Material in the walls of your home like metals cause signal loss
      • Microwaves
      • Other wireless devices
      • Nearby Stereo systems in your home
      • Many other factors

Bottom line, 5GHz is a hit or mist for most users. In addition, you have to be much closer to your router / gateway to get decent or full performance of the 5GHz wifi network

  • In order to get the best signal and speed all the way around your home is to centrally locate the wifi router / gateway. If your family room for example is in the middle of your home then that is the most optimal location for your router or gateway.
  • Lastly, wireless no matter how hard you try to adjust your settings or follow the above steps, it may not ever provide you with the performance you need as a gamer. If you followed our tips today in this guide for your wifi gaming and you do not have any success you should invest in buying a long enough ethernet cable. Hard wire connections will always deliver the best. (If your router is really close to your gaming PC and the speeds are bad, lookup the wifi card installed into your PC from the manufacturers site or manual and see if it is Dual Band and preferably also AC compatible. If not, you can upgrade this by plugging in a newer card into a USB port by purchasing an upgraded card at your nearest electronics retailor for less than $50 USD in most cases.

 Process #2

In this very last process of the guide we’re going to optimize your DNS performance. Every day your PC is online it will make thousands of DNS request to a “DNS Server” the DNS server will give your device requesting information an “IP Address” used to connect you to a website when browsing the internet or playing a game online requires such address.

And IP Address is similar to the numbers on your home being a location identifier to be found easily. A DNS server being the phone book for these addresses will provide the IP back to the request. Below is a flow of how this works:

  1. You’re in your web browser you go to “google.com”
  2. Your PC using the DNS server will ask it: What is the ip for google.com?
  3. DNS server will look up the IP and read back: Google.com ip is: 8.8.8.8

When you have a good DNS server set to be used on your PC these requests will process faster thus delivering you a faster internet experience. This mostly applies to browsing websites, however, there are online games that will still utilize DNS to lookup servers to get updates or even to connect you to an online match or lobby with friends.

More about google DNS for the next steps: https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns/docs/using

  • Looking back at Section 3, Step #1 in this guide you were shown how to get to your connection “Status” window let’s go back to that window and this time click “Properties” as shown below:

  • Inside the “Properties” window you will have a list of items. Don’t worry, we will only be modifying two easy items:
    • First one will be: Internet Protocol Version 6
    • Second one will be: Internet Protocol Version 4
  • Let’s go into Version 6 by clicking on it (do not uncheck it) then click “Properties” you will then change the DNS information as follows:
    • Preferred DNS server: 2001:4860:4860::8888
    • Alternate DNS server: 2001:4860:4860::8844

All together it should look like this:

 

  • Next, let’s configure Version 4 by clicking on it as well (remember to not uncheck just select) then click “Properties”
    • Preferred DNS server: 8.8.8.8
    • Alternate DNS server: 8.8.4.4

All together ipv4 should look like this:

Section 4 - Conclusion

After completing all the steps in this guide be sure to definitely restart your PC to apply changes primarily for DNS.

When we perform all the steps in this guide we create a better gaming experience by knowing that you have successfully de-cluttered your PC of junk files, programs and infections.

Some other tips:

  • Don’t run more than 1 Anti-virus software on your PC as it will cause conflict and possible system issues including performance problems especially while playing PC games
  • Don’t install free software you’re not 100% of it being safe and clean
  • Update your passwords for every service, game login and other form of web based login periodically. It’s best to use different passwords for each as much as possible
  • Use a security product for Anti-Virus that you trust and don’t cost you an arm and leg each year to renew
  • Keep your system and Anti-Virus up to date
  • Perform regular maintenance
  • If you’re the type to keep your PC powered on 24/7 then you should consider rebooting your system normally (not the power button) every 2-3 days as your PC will release any processes or junk holding up the system (This is best to do for heavy PC users that game 24/7 as well)