How to speed up a weak or old PC for gaming


How to speed up a weak or old PC for gaming

What if your PC is old or too weak? In some cases, overclocking is enough, in others - replacing the video card will help. In this article, we'll go over the main ways to revitalize an old or weak computer. However, some tips are suitable even for owners of powerful game assemblies. 

An important point needs to be clarified first. For the purposes of this article, we are looking at PC acceleration primarily for running video games. Therefore, it is important to understand that numerous tips from the Internet, such as disabling Windows visual effects or unnecessary fonts, will not help in our case. This can speed up a very weak computer a little when working in an operating system or simple programs. But if the computer is so weak that it needs to turn off the graphical effects of the OS, what kind of games can we talk about?

How to properly upgrade your computer

An old or weak computer is a relative concept. Desktop systems with DDR2 memory on board can be considered completely outdated and unusable for games. Such a computer is easier to throw away than trying to somehow "revive" it. But the presence of DDR3 memory also does not guarantee the suitability of the PC for the upgrade. So, the FX processors on the AM3 + socket still hold up, but you shouldn't bother with the Athlon on the FM2 +. The same applies to laptops with too weak a processor and integrated video core. No optimizations will help such a machine run Cyberpunk 2077 - just a complete replacement.

Buying only one or a few components of the system will not hit your pocket as hard as building from scratch. If we are talking about maximum savings, then the case, power supply, drives and motherboard can be left. First of all, you need to consider the possibility of replacing the video card and processor. To save as much as possible, it is worth looking for profitable options on the secondary housing. To check the components, use the load programs - OCCT for the processor and FurMark for the video card.

FurMark program
FurMark program

What exactly slows down the entire system and serves as a bottleneck can be understood empirically. Reduce all settings to the minimum and set the resolution to the lowest possible. If the game still slows down with this preset, then the problem is in the processor (well, or you have a completely unsuitable video card for games). Parameters can be monitored using MSI Afterburner. 

Whichever socket you are on, try to find a processor with at least four cores and eight threads. This also applies to AMD FX (formally eight-core) and older Intel Core models. There will also be a tangible boost if you upgrade from a dual-core processor to a quad-core processor. As for the video card, then you need an option with at least 3-4 gigabytes of video memory. Moreover, it is advisable to get a video card from the 10th line of GeForce (starting from 1050 Ti) or 400th Radeon (from RX 470).

You should only resort to replacing or upgrading RAM if it remains the only bottleneck in the system. This is especially true for the operating frequency. For example, if you have a memory with a frequency of 2133 MHz, then you should only change it to a more productive one when you get an appropriate processor, for example, a Core i5-8400. It is much better to increase the amount of RAM if you have less than 8 gigabytes.

In addition, if you have only one memory strip installed, then to enable dual-channel mode (and get a performance boost), you must definitely buy a second one. This is also critical when using the built-in video core. Since the embedded memory does not have its own memory, the RAM is used. And the faster it is, the better.

Drive replacement and optimization

We have taken this advice into a separate paragraph, since it does not directly affect the performance in games, but it can significantly speed up the operation of the entire system as a whole. Installing an SSD is the most affordable way to make your system more responsive. As far as games go, you'll get faster downloads, and games with a large open can stop lagging in some places. Even the basic version with a SATA interface will suffice. This drive can be installed in almost any system that supports 2.5-inch hard drives.

If you have a regular hard drive, you need to periodically defragment it. This will optimize the stored files for faster access. You shouldn't wait for miracles, but it will help speed up the downloads. Defragmentation can be carried out both with the help of third-party programs and built-in system tools.

In Explorer, right-click on your hard drive and select Properties. Then go to the "Service" tab and then to the "Optimization and defragmentation of the disk" section. Please note that the system will automatically detect which SSD or HDD you are using. So you don't have to worry about accidentally defragmenting your SSD.

Is it worth overclocking components

If your processor can be overclocked, of course it is worth doing it. For example, FX processors respond very well to core and northbridge overclocking. You may not get ideal performance, but for example, you will achieve stable 30 frames per second, in games where it was barely 25. Please note that an overclocked processor may require more efficient cooling and a more expensive motherboard with a powerful power subsystem ...

Overclocking a processor is a rather complicated matter, but in practice it all boils down to selecting the maximum frequency at the optimal voltage. This parameter is different for each processor, so it is better to study in advance the guides for overclocking your particular model on the network.

At Intel, only processors with the letter K in the name have an unlocked multiplier, for example, the Core i7-7700K. They support overclocking officially. Also, up to and including the 6th generation, overclocking is possible via the bus. Note that you will need a Z-chipset motherboard. At AMD, you can overclock all processors from the FX line (970 and 990 chipsets) and Ryzen (except for the A320 and A520 chipsets).

Overclocking a video card is done in just a couple of clicks. You need to install the MSI Afterburner program, increase the Power Limit and, by the selection method, raise the memory and core frequencies. 

Memory overclocking is the hardest. If your hardware allows you to choose an XMP profile (essentially automatic overclocking), then this is exactly what you should do. If you decide to drive manually, you will have to painstakingly select the timings and check the performance each time. You can check the memory parameters (bandwidth and latency) using the AIDA Memory Test program . This way you can compare the performance before and after overclocking. Stability can be checked with the MemTest86 or TestMem5 utilities .

Dust removal and thermal paste replacement

To bring the system to a state where the dust clogs the cooling radiators and the computer starts to slow down, you need to try. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for the system unit to be not equipped with filters, and the system has been operating for years without service or maintenance. The system unit must be cleaned at least once a year. If you are afraid to do it yourself, you should contact the service center.

In addition, if there are problems with overheating and cooling, it is better to immediately replace the thermal paste on the processor and, possibly, the video card. Over time, thermal paste can dry out and lose its properties.

Removal of viruses and miners

Viruses, miners and other malware can slow down your computer. So, miners use computer resources to mine cryptocurrency. This can be understood by the high idle load.

In addition, if there are problems with overheating and cooling, it is better to immediately replace the thermal paste on the processor and, possibly, the video card. Over time, thermal paste can dry out and lose its properties.

Removal of viruses and miners
Viruses, miners and other malware can slow down your computer. So, miners use computer resources to mine cryptocurrency. This can be understood by the high idle load.

You can find and remove malicious programs using an antivirus.For real-time protection, it is worth buying a good antivirus, but the free Windows Defender also provides basic protection. To turn on the antivirus and check the system, press the Win + I combination, then go to the "Update and Security" section, then "Windows Security" and "Virus and Threat Protection".

In addition, to protect yourself from viruses, do not download software and games from questionable sites. Use only trusted resources with a large number of users.

Setting up a power plan

Power plans can limit PC performance, but this is not the most common case. And you should not expect miracles from it, it will not turn a dead Celeron with two cores into a Core i9. Nevertheless, it is still worth checking the settings. Perhaps it is precisely because of the economical mode that the game slows down or even freezes.

Press the combination Win + I, then go to the "System" section, then "Power and sleep". Click on the link on the right side of the Advanced Power Options screen. You must have High Performance Mode enabled. There is also a maximum performance mode, but it is hidden by default.

Enabling Game Mode

Press Win + I to go to Windows settings, then select "Games" and activate the "Game Mode" slider. For older or weaker computers, this should help by suspending background modes while playing. That is, the resources will be used primarily for the game application.

In any case, we recommend checking the active background processes on the system. It is better to delete unnecessary processes and programs. You can find out why this or that process in the system is needed through the search. If you right-click on the process in the task manager, then in the context menu there will be an item "Search on the Internet".

Cleanup startup and remove unnecessary programs

In the previous paragraph, we advised you to remove unnecessary programs and processes. The same goes for autoloading. The more programs loaded with Windows, the slower the system starts. In addition, all these programs clog up RAM. To remove unnecessary programs from startup, open the Task Manager (Ctrl + Alt + Del) and go to the Startup tab. Click on the superfluous program and select "Disable".

It is also worth examining the installed programs and removing unnecessary ones. If you don't speed up your computer, then at least free up some space. And if the disk (especially the SSD) is crammed to capacity, this does not affect the performance in the best way. The easiest way to uninstall programs is through Windows Settings. Press Win + I and go to "Applications". Here you will see a list of programs that are installed on the system.

Please note that many branded SSDs have Over Provisioning in their software. It reserves the required amount of free disk space to maintain maximum performance. You lose in volume, but you don't have to worry and clog up all the remaining available space of the solid-state drive.

Growing and transferring the paging file to an SSD

If the PC does not have enough RAM, the system accesses the paging file. Recently, there is often an opinion that the paging file can be completely disabled if the PC has 32 gigabytes of RAM or more. In fact, this is not entirely true. Some programs may not work correctly or may not start at all if the paging file is too small or missing. Therefore, we do not recommend disabling it. Type in the Windows search "Tuning the view and system performance." Then go to the "Advanced" tab and click on the "Change" button in the "Virtual memory" section.

It is best to leave the choice of size to the system. In this case, it is better to keep the paging file on the SSD, and not on the hard disk. Of course, you lose space on an expensive drive, but your computer's performance will also be higher if the system needs to use the paging file. You can also try increasing the file size if you have problems.

Updating drivers and operating system

In some cases, outdated drivers can affect performance. Graphics card manufacturers always release optimized drivers for new games. This does not mean that the game will necessarily slow down on the old driver or will not start at all, but, as a rule, there is a performance gain. Problems and bugs can also be fixed, if any.

It is also worth updating the BIOS on the motherboard and the chipset drivers. To do this, go to the official website of the motherboard manufacturer in the support section. Unlike video cards, you need to know exactly the specific model of the motherboard, not just its chipset or series. Some motherboards allow Internet updates directly from the BIOS. But it's safer to update from a USB stick. Moreover, it is advisable to have a UPS in case of a power outage.

It is also worth installing all available Windows 10 updates. Press Win + I and go to Updates and Security. Check if you have all the latest updates installed and if auto-update is enabled.

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