Windows is universally considered one of the best operating systems for gaming, with both Windows 10 and Windows 11 being popular choices for gamers across the globe. There are some convincing reasons to stick with Windows 10 in 2024, but Windows 11 also offers some neat features for gamers like Auto HDR and the ability to run Android apps and more, making it a worthwhile upgrade for gaming enthusiasts. It can benefit from some optimization for gaming, though, as it’s not tuned to deliver the best gaming experience out of the box. Optimizing Windows 11 for gaming will allow you to squeeze some extra performance out of your Windows PC, so it’s highly recommended you spend some time on the initial setup to ensure you’re getting the best experience and performance while gaming on Windows.
Turn on Game Mode
Use Windows 11’s built-in game optimizer tool
Both Windows 10 and Windows 11 come with a built-in game optimizer tool called the Game Mode, which you can use to optimize some operating system settings for gaming. When enabled, this mode is designed to automatically allocate resources to your game while you’re gaming, and it also disables background processes that might otherwise occupy your PC’s resources. Notably, it also prevents Windows Update from performing driver installations and sending restart notifications while you’re gaming, which is great. To ensure the Game Mode is enabled in your Windows PC:
- Press the Win + I keys on your keyboard to open Settings.
- Choose Gaming.
- Choose Game Mode.
- Click on the toggle to enable the Game Mode, if it’s not already enabled.
Alternatively, you can also use some third-party game optimizer utilities for Windows like Wise Game Booster and Razer Cortex, if you want some additional tools and more control over the optimization settings.
Disable Memory integrity from settings
Memory Integrity or HVC puts a lot of load on the CPU
Memory Integrity or HVCI (Hypervisor-protected code integrity) is a built-in Windows 11 security feature to protect your kernel from high-level malware attacks that can introduce malicious codes into high-security processes. It’s one of the many security features in Windows 11 that runs in the background, but it can take up a lot of CPU resources which you could use to run games on your computer. Thankfully, you can disable this particular security feature to free up some resources for your games.
Disabling this will make your PC vulnerable to malicious attacks, so only disable if you really need that extra performance.
- Open the Windows 11 Start Menu and search for Core Isolation.
- Select Core isolation to open a new window, and locate a toggle under Memory integrity option.
- Click the toggle to turn it off. Turn the toggle switch to Off and restart your PC.
Disable Virtual Machine Platform
Another security feature that hogs system resources
Virtualization-Based Security (VBS) is a virtualization security feature that’s known to have pretty drastic effects on system performance. This particular feature, in case you are wondering, uses hardware virtualization features to secure and isolate part of the memory from the OS. This isn’t exclusive to Windows 11 as it was also implemented in Windows 10. Disabling it could free up a lot of system resources that you can use to get a better performance in games. To disable it:
- Search for Windows features on the Windows Start menu, and select Turn Windows features on or off.
- Locate the Virtual Machine Platform option within the Turn Windows features on or off window, and uncheck it.
- Restart your PC.
Adjust display and graphics settings
Ensuring your games run and look the best they can
It’s also recommended that you adjust your display and graphics settings to ensure the games you’re trying to run are using the right display driver, and are optimised to look the best on your monitor. There are a few settings to change here, starting with the display settings.
Tweaking display settings
- Press Win + I key on your keyboard to open the Settings app, and then choose System.
- Choose the Display option and ensure you’ve selected the recommended display resolution from the drop-down menu.
- Enable the HDR option too, if your monitor supports it, and also make sure Auto HDR is enabled.
- Go back to the main Display settings page, and choose Advanced Display.
- Locate the Choose a refresh rate option and select the highest refresh rate from the drop-down menu.
Tweak graphics settings
- Open the Windows 11 Settings app and choose System, then Display.
- Choose Graphics, and then select an app on the list, or search for the name of your game.
- Choose Options, and then click on High Performance, followed by Save.
- Go back to the main Graphics settings page, and choose Change default graphics settings.
- Make sure the switch for Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling is on.
Turn Off Enhanced Pointer Precision
Mouse acceleration is no good for gaming
Another important setting to pay attention to is called the ‘Enhance Pointer Precession.’ This is essentially a form of mouse acceleration, which is enabled by default on Windows to either speed up or slow down how your cursor moves based on how fast you’re moving the mouse. It’s better to disable this to improve mouse accuracy while you’re playing games. To disable it:
- Type Mouse in Windows Start menu and select Mouse Settings.
- Located the Additional mouse settings under the Related settings tab, and select it.
- In the Mouse Properties menu choose Pointer Options tab and then uncheck Enhanced pointer precision.
- Click Apply and then OK.
Update the GPU drivers
A simple, yet crucial step to ensure smooth gaming performance
It’s crucial to make sure your graphics card uses the latest graphics driver for optimum performance. This applies to both integrated as well as dedicated graphics cards, so the next thing to do is update the drivers if you haven’t done so in a while. Depending on the make and model of your GPU, you can click one of the links below to download the latest drivers:
It is recommended that you use Nvidia’s GeForce Experience and AMD Software: Adrenalin Edition to receive push notifications for new driver updates. That being said, it’s better to leave auto-updates disabled to have control over the drivers you’re installing.
Disable Xbox Game Bar
There are much better overlays out there if you really need one
On paper, the Xbox Game Bar is a one-stop destination for gamers on Windows with all the right tools and settings. But on top of being a severely lackluster overlay, the Xbox Game Bar is borderline distracting, in my opinion. Seriously, there’s nothing more annoying than accidentally triggering it in the middle of the game, and having your entire screen taken over by a cluttered overlay. There are few ways Microsoft can improve the Xbox Game Bar on PC, but it’s best to completely uninstall it until then as it doesn’t add much value to the experience in any way and hogs system resources by running in the background. To do that:
- Search for Terminal on the Start Menu and open Windows Terminal.
- Enter the following command and press Enter.
Get-AppxPackage Microsoft.XboxGamingOverlay | Remove-AppxPackage
- The process should only take a few seconds, but it will completely remove the Game Bar from your computer.
Don’t worry, you can always bring back the Xbox Game Bar by simply reinstalling it from the Microsoft Store.
Those are a few ways you can optimize Windows 11 for gaming. Keep in mind that optimizing Windows 11 for gaming doesn’t mean you’ll immediately get higher FPS in your games. Your GPU and other core compoents are also equally responsible for enabling smooth gameplay, so you may have to tweak some additional settings to boost your GPU performance for gaming.