Gaming on a PC isn’t as straightforward as playing on a console, and you might need to experiment with in-game settings to get the best performance. But, before you do, these Windows 11 settings tweaks can be a big help.
1. Enable Windows 11 Game Mode
Windows 11 arrived with a brand new feature called Game Mode. Enabling this mode results in several background changes designed to improve game performance. Changes include disabling automatic driver installation and restart notifications.
To enable Game Mode, open the Settings app and go to Gaming > Game Mode. Enable the mode using the toggle switch.
While it is unlikely that enabling Game Mode will dramatically improve your in-game frame rate, it can improve stability and prevent sudden frame rate drops caused by background tasks. It can be an easy win and a good way to start optimizing your PC for gaming.
2. Try Using Auto HDR
If your PC games look washed out and lack color definition, turning on Auto HDR can provide a significant visual boost. Many games, particularly older ones, use SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) to display video content. As the name implies, Auto HDR automatically upscales compatible SDR games to HDR.
You’ll need to be using an HDR-compatible display and graphics card, meaning Auto HDR isn’t available to all Windows 11 users. To check, and enable it if it’s available, go to Settings > System > Display. If using multiple displays, select the correct one and click “Use HDR.” If Auto HDR is available to use, you will see the option to enable it here.
3. Disable Enhanced Pointer Precision
Enhanced Pointer Precision, which is similar to Mouse Acceleration, is a Windows feature designed to smooth out mouse pointer movements to increase accuracy. Most games also include a mouse acceleration system and having both enabled can result in conflicts and potentially less in-game accuracy.
It is easier to disable the Windows feature rather than disabling mouse acceleration in the settings of each game you play. Choosing to not have enhanced pointer precision enabled also has the potential to make it easier to get to grips with new games because you get used to a fixed pointer movement ratio (1:1) rather than a variable accelerated ratio.
In Windows Search, type “Mouse Properties” and open the mouse settings panel. Select the Pointer Options tab and uncheck “Advanced Pointer Precision.”
4. Switch the Power Plan to High Performance
Changing the power plan on your PC is another potentially easy step towards improving gaming performance. Switching to the High Performance will allow your computer to prioritize performance features over saving energy. Not always ideal on a laptop using battery power, but rarely a problem for desktop gaming rigs.
Unlike Windows 10, Windows 11 allows you to set power mode from the settings app, rather than forcing you to open Control Panel. You can find it in System > Power > Power & Battery.
If you don’t think the high-performance mode is making a big enough difference and aren’t put off by the idea of making tweaks in Command Prompt, you could always try the Ultimate Performance plan.
5. Specify GPU Priority
When playing graphically-intensive games, you want to ensure that they use your most powerful GPU. It’s easy to assume that games would always use the GPU on your expensive graphics card, but that may not always be the case.
Thankfully, Windows 11 allows you to specify which GPU your games use. Open the Settings app and navigate to System > Display > Graphics. Find the installed game in the software list, select it, and click “Options.” Here you can select a default GPU for that game to use. Repeat this for as many games as you wish, and then restart your PC to ensure the changes take effect.
6. Turn on Hardware-Accelerated GPU Scheduling
GPU hardware scheduling is a way to transfer some of the tasks handled by your computer’s CPU to your GPU. This can lighten the load on the processor and result in better game performance. It can be particularly effective if you have a capable graphics card but your CPU is old or mid-tier.
To enable GPU scheduling, open the Settings app and navigate to Gaming > Game Mode > Graphics. Click “Change default graphics settings,” and turn on the feature. If you don’t see this option, it means that your hardware is not compatible.
7. Pause Automatic Windows Updates
If you have already enabled Game Mode, you won’t have any need to do this. But if enabling Game Mode hasn’t resulted in any improvements to performance, or even made it worse, it is still worth separately pausing automatic Windows updates.
You can find the settings to pause updates in Settings > Windows Update. It is, of course, advisable to keep Windows 11 updated when not gaming. If not for the sake of security and system stability, then for the potential performance improvements that could be included. That said, there are ways to permanently prevent Windows from updating in the background.
8. Disable Nagle’s Algorithm
Even long-time, experienced computer users could be forgiven for never having heard of Nagle’s Algorithm. Nagle’s Algorithm is a means for a TCP/IP network to reduce the number of data packets that need to be sent back and forth by bundling data into larger chunks.
Most of the time, this process works well to make your network connection more efficient. But when handling very data-intensive tasks, like gaming online, the time it takes to assemble small chunks of data into bigger ones can result in network lag. Luckily there is a way to disable Nagle’s Algorithm on your network.
Open Command Prompt on your Windows 11 PC by typing “cmd” into Windows Search and selecting the relevant result. In Command Prompt, type “ipconfig” to see your network details. Make a note of the “IPv4 Address” for the Wireless LAN Adapter and then close Command Prompt.
Open the Registry Editor by typing “regedit” into search and clicking the relevant result. Navigate to:
You will probably see several entries in the Interfaces directory. Select each in turn, looking for the string value with the IPv4 address you noted earlier. The value will probably be named IPAddress or DhcpIPAddress.
In the key where you find the string value, right-click in any empty space and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value from the menu. Name the value “TcpAckFrequency,” double-click on it, and set the value data to 1. Create a second new DWORD (32-bit) Value, name this one “TCPNoDelay,” and again set the value data to 1.
Nagle’s Algorithm should now be disabled on your Wi-Fi network. You can enable it again by changing the data values to 0 on both values if you experience any negative effects on the non-gaming network efficiency.
Achieving Better Gaming Performance
All of the settings tweaks above are things you can do with the Windows 11 OS to improve your gaming experience. Additional things you can try include updating your graphics drivers, investing in a hardware upgrade that provides the biggest boost, or even something as simple as getting rid of some startup programs. Bad performance doesn’t have to ruin your gaming time, even if you don’t have the latest PC or a cutting-edge graphics card.