SAFE PC Gaming Tweaks
All of these tweaks are for Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10 and are ALL known performance tweaks to turn your PC into a REAL gaming PC.
The tweaks here are aimed at reducing stutter in all games, lag spikes when online gaming and even increasing game installation times. If you are lucky, you may see an increase in game performance too. Your mileage will vary, depending on your current PC specs.
Stutter is reduced by decreasing the amount of background hard drive activity your PC is performing, gaining more available ram and reducing your computer's DPC latency.
DPC is the timer that Windows uses to perform tasks, the less it has to take into account, the quicker your PC will process information. Lag spikes are caused in a similar way, by giving your network controller less work to do, your ping in gaming will improve.
More and more games and applications are needing more things not tweaked and left at default in Windows, so I am only providing a safe set of tweaks that no games or applications will complain about, so this is the most up to date tweak list you will find anywhere.
There are also additional sections on not so well known methods of ensuring full PC performance.
Before you begin...
Remember this is aimed at standalone internet connected only PC's, so if you are connected to any kind of local network, feel free to ask if unsure about anything.
And if something in this guide is not on your system, do NOT worry about it!
If you are wondering if any other OS tweaks are a good idea or not or you think that a tweak you have done is causing game problems, get in touch!
Turn Off Search Indexer
While this service is great for finding files in very large volumes of files, it constantly accesses your drive, even when gaming, you can still search for files on your PC it's just a bit slower. It will also make your hard drive last longer and become more silent.
1. Click on Start button, then select Control Panel -> System and Maintenance -> Administrative Tools, and double click on Services applet. Alternatively, simply type “Services” (without quotes) in Start Search box.
2. If User Account Control asks for permission, click Continue.
3. Locate an service named Windows Search. Right click on Windows Search, and then select Properties on contextual menu.
4. Click on Stop button to stop the indexing service immediately.
5. On the Startup Type dropdown box, select Disabled.
6. Click on OK button.
System Services Tweaking
This will reduce your OS ram usage and hard disk activity. You should be fine for most games and applications, just remember that if you run into any problems, this is the section to blame.
For Windows 7 - Download SMART for Windows 7, Vista, XP System Services. Try to use Barebones first, any problems, use Advanced.
For Windows 8 / 8.1 /10 - No utility has been made so it must be done manually.
Disable the following if you can do, safest list possible - Use same method as above for search indexer.
Security Center - Won't stop Windows Firewall or Defender from working but does prevent turning them on or off and does stop Windows Updates working. It's a good one for do not annoy my system.
Diagnostic Policy Service (windows built in-troubleshooter, turn back on if asked to and you need it).
Distributed Link Tracking Client (safe for internet connected only).
IP Helper (safe for internet connected only).
Print Spooler (if you don't have any kind of printer, even software printers).
Program Compatibility Assistant Service (you manually change this anyway for games).
Remote Registry (you can set it to DISABLED for Security purposes).
Server (safe for internet connected only).
Shell Hardware Detection (disables Autoplay, many of us don't even have an optical disk drive anymore).
TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper (if you are not in a workgroup network).
WinHTTP Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Service (proxy service for Local Networks, not internet related).
Windows Error Reporting Service (sends reports to Microsoft).
Additionally for Windows 8 / 8.1
Computer Browser (safe for internet connected only).
Additionally for Windows 10
Geolocation Service (if you don't use apps that use geolocation or geofences).
Other Services - You will also see additional services in the task manager which are from your installed programs, these are non-essential to Windows, stop them from running and disable as needed. You will know if they are needed to be returned to default or not when you try to open it's related program.
This is all you need to disable, as it only matters if it is a running process and you do not need it running, otherwise it is not using your system unless it is needed by anything.
You can see a list of more you can disable for your OS here... BlackViper.com - but only disable if it says disabled* in the safe list and is a running process.
Turn off Remote Differential Compression
This is a feature left on by default for computer to windows server file copying, unfortunately it increases local drive to drive file copying times.
Copying a 1.91 GB folder from the main HDD to a folder on an external USB drive resulting in...
With RDC turned on: 3:23 - three minutes and 23 seconds (with a stopwatch).
With RDC turned off: 2:25 – two minutes and 25 seconds.
How to turn it off... Start › Control panel › programs › turn windows features on or off › uncheck Remote Differential Compression › ok.
Change the Size of Your Virtual Memory to a Permanent Size
This reduces hard drive activity by not constantly resizing the virtual memory pool allocated by your PC and prevents pagefile fragmentation.
Note: Disabling it completely is not as 100% safe as it used to be, many games now rely on it, as do game repacks.
1. Open System by clicking the Start button, right-clicking Computer, and then clicking Properties.
2. In the left pane, click Advanced system settings. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
3. On the Advanced tab, under Performance, click Settings.
4. Click the Advanced tab, and then, under Virtual memory, click Change.5. Clear the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives check box.
6. Under Drive [Volume Label], click the drive that contains the paging file you want to change.
7. Click Custom size, type the same size (I just use the recommended value provided) in megabytes in the Initial size (MB) and Maximum size (MB) boxes, click Set, and then click OK.
Note: Set one for each physical drive in the same way if possible (except slow external drives) as Windows will use the one with the least disk activity intelligently for maximum performance.
Other Things to Do in the System Properties Tabs
Remote > Remote Assistance, uncheck "allow remote assistance connections to this computer".
> Remote Desktop, select "Don't allow remote connections to this computer". Click Apply.
System Protection > System Restore, consider disabling System Restore. It eats up drive space and contributes to background disk activity. It also has the side effect of storing any Windows problem, viruses and malwares at the time of making a restore point. It's not really that important a feature as there are other ways to fix problems and you should be making backups of your personal data anyway.
Disable All Unused Devices in Device Manager
This will further reduce DPC latency. Plug-in ALL of your devices first, check show hidden devices, then what you are looking for is unused audio, video and storage controllers, if you don't use it, disable it! If you cannot disable it, then do not worry it's not been used anyway.
Disable Core Parking
Windows 8 / 8.1 / 10 - Control panel, power plan settings, scroll down to "Processor power management" and expand it. Now expand "Processor performance core parking min cores." Change the Setting from 10% to 100% and apply. Core parking is now disabled for this power plan.
For Windows 7 - Do the above and use maximum performance power plan as well but no need to check if core parking is disabled.
Note: some Windows updates may disable this Tweak.
Disable Unused Network Protocols
The internet and most ISP's currently only use one protocol, TCP/IPv4. But by default Windows leaves other protocols enabled in case you plug your network adaptor into a local network. Leaving these enabled means your network adaptor is trying to find network packets which don't exist, which causes lag spikes when gaming.
1.1 Disable unused network adapters and IPv6 related interfaces in Device Manager, tick "Show hidden device" in Device Manager View tab to show them all. Disable all ISATAP, 6to4 and Teredo Tunneling interfaces.
1.2 Go to your network adapter properties. Disable Flow Control and Interrupt Moderation.
Latest Intel NIC drivers properties > Receive Side Scaling Queues: set to max.
Realtek & Nvidia NIC drivers properties > Large Send Offload V2 (IPv4): Enable.
2.1 Control Panel\Network and Internet \Network and Sharing Center> Connection> Properties. Disable TCP/IPv6 to fix lag spikes, disable everything except TCP/IPv4 if you don't share with other LAN computers.
Windows Ping Spikes Fix (Mainly Fixes Valve Engine Games)
What does it do? It boosts your Multimedia Class Scheduler Service (MMCSS) games tasks priorities.
Windows Ping Spikes Fix.txt - Download this, change .txt to .reg and open it to import into registry.
Shared Audio Mode Tweak
Reduce your shared mode audio sample rate to 16 bit, 48000 Hz to improve network to cpu prioritization and to reduce DPC latency. (system tray, speaker icon, playback devices, advanced tab.)
Disable your Router firewall
Will help to give you a better ping, safe as you have a software firewall already.
Run WinSAT After Updating Drivers, Changing Hardware or Overclocking
Open a command prompt, type "winsat formal -restart clean"
This is a standard Windows Performance test, you are telling your windows 'I got better performance now' without this no drivers will perform correctly. This function is also capable of disabling SLI/CrossfireX systems if not passed, if not completed it will also automatically degrade all hardware unless passed clean through.
Use maximum performance profiles using your GPU Control Panel (not the Intel iGPU control panel) to prevent your Intel HD iGPU getting used for games if cannot disable it in the BIOS (e.g. laptops). Stuck? Google about it. Also remember that some games need special fixes for preventing laptop GPU sharing, such as GTA V.
When installing NVIDIA drivers, use custom and untick NVIDIA 3D Vision driver then install drivers. If you didn't do this, go into your control panel and uninstall NVIDIA 3D Vision driver.
Disable AMD External Events Utility in system services - I've never had a problem disabling this. This may affect laptops graphics switching so test this.
DPC latency fix - Remove AMD CCC.exe from automatic startup and/or kill process CCC.exe & MOM.exe before gaming (single card & CrossFireX).
Enabling AMD LCD Overdrive can reduce input lag on certain LCD panels. (Even if preview image fail to load, you can still enable overdrive, just click cancel for preview).
Only have one type of each of these applications and disable all automatic features.
Firewall - Windows Firewall is actually perfectly fine, but if you must have a 3rd party one, disable Windows Firewall if it wasn't done automatically.
VPN/Proxy - Only have one VPN installed at any one time to avoid conflicts and close it's running/system services if you are not using it. CyberGhost is recommended.
Defrag - It's OK to have more than one, but it's best to disable automatic defrag for all of them and close it's running/system services if it has any and just do it manually, like after installing a new game. MyDefrag is recommended.
Virtual Disc - You only need one and that is Power ISO. Disable it's virtual drive when you don't need it.
Try not to have any real-time scanner enabled on your PC as they quite simply slow your PC down with disk activity and some cause high DPC latency spikes. You can manually scan any files you are suspicious of viruses instead or if you get adware bombed you can then run a malware scan. You are actually safe from harm if you are willing to use your smarts instead.
Win 10 - Use the upgrade to Win 10 guide below and use the privacy disabling app to disable Windows Defender.
Or if you don't want to do this...
Leave Windows Defender running, or only have one other antivirus software installed. You also don't need a malware scanner on top of it doing real-time scanning. Only ONE real-time scanner is needed at any one time.
Also, before downloading direct links, gaming or performing an intensive task such as installing a game, shut down your real-time scanner and as always add game folder to exceptions list after installation.
Be aware of conflicts with download managers and Anti-Virus software!
Try to minimise your system tray applications as much as possible.
Stop any non-essential services and background processes before gaming.
Always remember to disconnect devices from your PC when they are not in use.
These can all contribute to DPC Latency and game issues too.
Disable All Unused Hardware in Your BIOS
Do the following to improve the latency of your PC and experience less issues running games.
1. Go into your BIOS (read your manual if you are new to it for more information).
2. Disable integrated audio device if you use an add-on soundcard and disable your iGPU if possible, you don't need or use it.
3. Disable all unused integrated drive controllers and peripherals (Network, Serial, Parallel Ports, etc).
Don't forget to save and exit.
Proper Windows Timers Configuration - The Final Tweak!
Whichever Windows timer configuration that works best for you is entirely dependent on your PC configuration as each and every PC is uniquely different.
You may be limited in the choices you can make here, as some motherboards have HPET set to be always on or off and cannot be changed, whereas others allow you to enable or disable HPET which is more ideal for performing this tweak.
So before starting, check your motherboard manual (use google if needed) or go into your BIOS and find a "high precision event timer" or "HPET" setting in it. If you cannot find this setting, you are going to have to dig deeper and find out if HPET is enabled or disabled by default on your motherboard.
Overall, I call this the holy grail of tweaks, as it is ultimately decided by your what your PC is made of, so only you can really decide which is the better choice!
The Main Two Choices if You Can Change Your Bios HPET Setting - These Are Believed to Be the Ideal Two Choices
Windows default with no HPET
In Windows... command prompt... bcdedit /set useplatformclock false (then reboot) disable HPET in BIOS.
Result is: TSC+LAPICs - low performance (slow timers + syncing).
In Windows... command prompt... bcdedit /set useplatformclock true (then reboot) enable HPET in BIOS.
Result is: HPET - high performance (fast timer - no syncing).
If You Cannot Change Your Bios HPET Setting - May or May Not Perform Better Than the Main Choice
Windows Only Timer
In Windows... command prompt... bcdedit /set useplatformclock true (then reboot) disable HPET in BIOS.
Result is: LAPICs - low performance (slow timer - no syncing).
Windows default with HPET
In Windows... command prompt... bcdedit /set useplatformclock false (then reboot) enable HPET in BIOS.
Result is: TSC+HPET - medium performance (slow and fast timer + syncing).
You can test the results by playing games and seeing if the microstutter is gone and trying streaming content you had problems with before. You can also check your DPC Latency with LatencyMon.
My experience with this setting - I have an Intel CPU and used to have the AMD 5850, I started getting micro stuttering on Netflix until I changed to using HPET only. Now I have an Nvidia GTX 1070 and have tried changed back to Windows Default with no HPET, LatencyMon now shows a lower average and a smaller highest ping, I also have no stuttering on Netflix anymore. So I'm going to test some games and see if I experience smoother gaming or not.
Some things I have found regarding this setting:
Additional Tweaks For Windows 10
Disable Windows updates from updating your drivers.
Change the Size of Your Virtual Memory to a Permanent Size - The recommended value has changed in Windows 10 to a smaller value, you can keep it as it is or reset to the new value, test it out and see if it makes any difference.
Also, to fully disable Windows Updates, you can use system services to disable the service BUT you are better off using this privacy and tracking disabling app as it will also give you full control over the windows updates options. You will also further enhance PC and gaming performance by using all of the available tweaks in the app.
NOTE - If you used this tweak guide before in-place upgrading to Windows 10, then re-do the following tweaks...
Turn off Search Indexer.
System Services Tweaking.
Other Things to Do in the System Properties Tabs <- Disable System Restore again.
Disable Core Parking <- Double check performance profile.
All device manager tweaks.
Please report on how well your PC performance improved once you have done it! Laptop or Desktop?
Windows Ping Spikes Fix.txt