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How to Optimize Windows 10 for Esports Gaming

Written by: DMG Webmaster
How to Optimize Windows 10 for Esports Gaming

No matter how hard you try through software, whether changing specific settings or installing performance-boosting programs, your FPS in esports titles will remain capped by the hardware you use. Instead, it’s much easier to focus on reducing distractions and factors like latency that can affect your gameplay.

In today’s article, we’ll show how tweaking programs and system settings in Windows 10, which we all know to be the best operating system for esports gaming, can improve the performance of your favorite esports games.

Disable program and system auto-updates and update them manually every month

Background updates are a hassle-free way to make sure games, applications, and OS are on the latest version. However, the worst thing that could happen is your Steam library or Windows updating during an esports match, leading to a lag spike that costs you the game. 

Identifying and disabling such automatic updates is one way of ensuring that your network’s bandwidth is accessible for esports gaming. 

It’s also necessary to keep applications and the OS updated, so a simple reminder at the start of the month should be enough to keep you up-to-date with the latest features and security.

Disable background updates for applications

Although Steam automatically suspends updates when playing a game from its library, it can continue downloading when you play a non-Steam game like the tactical shooter, Valorant. To prevent auto-updates, you can follow the instructions detailed on Steam, which involves turning auto-updates off individually for each game in your Steam library.

Likewise, you can disable auto-updates in clients like Battle.net[1], Origin[2], and the Epic Store[3], and you can also stop applications like Adobe Creative Cloud[4] and Autodesk Desktop[5] from updating in the background.

Stop Windows from updating in the background

Windows Update can degrade your latency to a point where esports games can become literally unplayable. Fortunately, the solution is pretty simple and requires following this guide from Microsoft to set your connection to metered. This will disable most updates, except those for critical security patches from downloading in the background. 

We also recommend disabling Delivery Optimization, Microsoft’s peer-to-peer network, for sharing updates faster, another reason for the lag in games[6]. When downloading updates monthly, be sure to turn the feature on for faster download speeds.

Unlinking OneDrive from your computer and turning off auto-updates in the Microsoft Store can prevent application and file downloads from consuming excessive bandwidth in the background when gaming.

Prevent notifications from Interrupting you mid-game

In highly competitive esports like CS: GO, losing focus, even for a second, can adversely impact your performance. With notifications having the possibility of disrupting your gaming sessions, even when in fullscreen, turning them off becomes necessary.

Focus Assist is a useful Windows 10 feature that automatically disables notifications when playing a game or during certain hours. It’s best to stop all notifications by choosing the Alarms only option under the Focus Assist settings.

Some applications like Malwarebytes can still overlay notifications on your screen, even when Focus Assist is on. You can turn off notifications entirely or choose to disable notifications only when gaming in the individual app’s settings [7]

Apart from notifications, overlays from Steam[8] and Nvidia’s GeForce Experience[9] should also be disabled to prevent accidental keypresses from activating them in a match. The Windows 10 Game Bar can also be annoying at times, so disabling or uninstalling it is a good option unless you use it for recording or streaming.

Make use of Windows 10’s Gaming Mode

Windows has a built-in setting that turns off background processes for better game performance. Game Mode does not boost your FPS but offers better stability in gameplay through reduced lag and stutters. It also prevents Windows Update from installing drivers and sending annoying restart notifications during a game[10].

The feature is on by default, so it’s best to keep it enabled unless you face issues while playing. 

Adjust DNS Settings for Reliable Connectivity

A DNS server is responsible for letting your computer know the IP address for a specific domain like ‘google.com’ [11]. Using a third-party DNS over your ISP’s DNS server set in Windows 10 by default reduces the look-up times when game servers change IPs or you connect to them the first time. ISP DNS servers are also unreliable and can go down occasionally, leading to connectivity issues

A faster DNS does not guarantee an improvement in network speed. Esports games, unlike browsers, use a DNS only to connect to the game server, after which the connection is sustained. Even after a loss in connection, your computer stores the address in its DNS cache for a faster connection the next time you connect back[12]

You can follow this handy guide from HPE to switch to a faster and more reliable DNS server in Windows 10.

Update Drivers for an Improved Gaming Performance

Nvidia and AMD constantly update their graphics drivers to ensure better performance and compatibility with the games you play[13]. That’s why making sure you’re on the latest graphics drivers can help improve gaming performance.

Instead of relying on Windows Update, which usually installs older drivers, you can download and install them manually from AMDNvidia, or Intel

You can also install Nvidia’s GeForce Experience, AMD’s Radeon Software, and Intel’s Driver Assistant to remind you and download a driver update when it’s available for your graphics card. Just make sure to disable auto-updates to prevent them from downloading and installing in the background.

Updating your network, motherboard, and Bluetooth drivers monthly should be enough, considering they mainly feature bug fixes. A WiFi or Ethernet driver update is usually one way to solve most connectivity issues[14].

If on a Laptop, adjust your Power Plan

Windows 10 uses the “Balanced” power mode on a laptop by default. While it helps you stay longer on battery power, it can reduce the performance when you plug in and play games. 

It’s common for gaming laptop manufacturers to have preconfigured plans for improved performance, usually enabled through a keyboard shortcut or software. Choosing the highest-performing plan should work in maximizing the potential of your laptop’s hardware.

If your laptop does not provide a high-performance plan, you will need to head over to the Power Options settings in the Control Panel and edit the “Balanced” plan. Select the “Change advanced power settings” and change the settings to the values shown in the image.

If you cannot change the power plan, clicking on the battery icon in the taskbar and setting the slider to maximum performance should do the job.

How can you improve performance even more?

An optimized Windows 10 installation can substantially impact your gaming performance by offering lower latency, reduced distractions, and stable gameplay. However, optimization can take you only so far and will have a minimal impact on your FPS, which you can improve by upgrading your PC or laptop. 

With Windows 11’s recent launch, the most popular gaming OS is set to change. So, if you are looking to upgrade, you can check out the differences between the Home and Pro versions of Windows 11 to see which one is ideal for your needs.