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Building a Gaming PC

4 posts in this topic

Greetings;

 

Well we have covered all the hardware in you gaming rig. In this final part of my Building a Gaming PC series I will go over ways you can speedup windows and better manage the resources your operating system is taking.

 

Tricks valid for any Windows version;

 

We will start with the stuff that is valid for all version of windows. These will help you greatly no matter what. We will then be able to go in more detail with specific version tips.

 

Slim down your Start UP; This is more then often over looked, but there is a lot of unnecessary stuff that is started automatically with windows. From auto updates check from various software to pre-loading parts of programs you don't even use. To check your startup items open the run or search dialog and type msconfig. A little window will appear with a few tabs, go in the one called Startup You will see there every programs that are scheduled to start when windows does. Now not everything in there is bad, so you need to research the stuff. Google comes in handy, if you are not sure if you need that program to start.

 

Cleanup your hard drives; With time, your hard drive will get congested with old files not needed anymore, old recycle bin items, old safe points and temp files. This clutter will slow the access time to your hard drive, so you need to keep it clean. Go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools and check for Disk Cleanup. Just select the drive to clean, check all items, and see your clutter vanish!

 

Defragment your hard drives: File fragmentation happens over time, but what is it? When computers write data to hard drives they don't do it in a linear fashion. It writes to next free sector, so when you delete files or move them, you create gaps. So when you next time data is written on you hard drive it will fill those gaps. So when you access data it might be spread out all over the place. This leads to longer access time, so it slows down your PC. When you use a program to defrag a hard drive, it basically rearrange the data on you hard drive to fill these gaps and move data from sector to sector to put all parts of a file next to each other.

 

Manage your services; Services a small programs designed to run in the background and work to provide windows and/or application with various functionality. Now playing with services can be a daunting task, you also risk disabling services that are required and could cause more harm then good. Lucky for us, standard windows services are well know and have been research thoroughly. So there are plenty sources out there that have tested what you can and cannot disable. Your best bet is to google anything you think about disabling. If you don't know what it is used for and cannot find anything on it, just don't touch it.

 

Black Viper maintains a list of Windows services and detailed information about which services can be disabled safely. Visit his Windows 7 service guide, Windows Vista or for the really outdated folks! Windows XP guide.

 

That leaves only program specific services that do not come standard with windows but that are installed by the various programs you have on your PC! Again we have some bits of luck in this area, there are a few programs out there that will turn off services when you game and will turn them back up when you are done. The best one would be iObit Gamebooster, sadly iObit announced back in May that they would be discontinuing Gamebooster. Do not fear however, you can still get older version on MajorGeek and other places around the web. Even more good news, the famous peripheral manufacturer Razer obtain the rights to Gamebooster and a beta version is available since September 27th.

 

The mysterious registry; If messing with services can be a little tricky and could do harm if not done properly, playing in the registry can kill you operating systems. You should NEVER manually play with your registry unless you know what you are doing. What is the registry? It is a collection of databases of configuration settings in Microsoft Windows operating systems. Information, settings for software programs, hardware devices, user preferences, operating system configurations, and everything in between can be located in there. So why would you wish to play with this you might ask. DO NOT !!!!!!

 

The internet is filled with advertisements and testimonies that registry cleaning products can fix every problem on your PC. Mostly lies, no real proven benefits where ever proven. However if you have a tendency of installing and uninstalling programs often and have a installation of windows that is older then 3 years old, your registry might have a lot of orphan entries. That would be database entries relating to software you no longer have installed on your pc. Too many orphan entries or corrupted registry entries can make windows a bit more sluggish. If you have tested every other possibility, have tried other tricks to boost performance and truly belive you have a problem with your registry, then and only then can I recommend a registry cleaning. The free CCleaner is your best option, but back up your registry before doing anything, CCleaner will offer you this opportunity before it starts cleaning. But just to be clear MOST PC USERS WILL NEVER NEED TO CLEAN THEIR REGISTRY, EVER.

 

Device Drivers; Those are like a computer program or a set of instruction allowing other programs and your operating system to interact with a hardware device, like a video card or sound card. My rule for drivers is simple If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It. Unless you have a specific problem with a device you should not update your drivers. I know it goes against common beliefs, but let me explain! Different driver versions can introduce stability problems, so you might have no issues at all, but after updating your drivers they might start to show up. Any driver update will have a release note that will indicate what the update fixes or changes. So unless it is something big, or it solves an issue you are experiencing you don't really need to update.

 

There is however ONE EXCEPTION to this rule, Video Drivers. Unlike other drivers, those of you graphic card will have a direct impact on your frame rate in games. For example, I can recall a Nvidia update that increased performances in Skyrim and Fallout: Las Vegas by more then 40%... That is a colossal difference would you say? So you should always check release notes for any drivers and keep your video card driver updated at all times.

 

Anti-Spyware programs; A spyware is a type of malware (malicious software) installed on computers that collects or sends information about users without their knowledge. It can also block or misdirect your internet! You can protect your gaming rig from those nasty little buggers with anti-spyware programs. But some virus or spywares are actually masking themselves has programs to help you. So only trust programs you have research and found actual reviews on. Spybot Search & Destroy is one of my personal favorite and it is TOTALLY free! It has won awards, even has been recommended by ZDNet, the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, MSNBC, CNN and other reviewers.

 

Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware and Ad-Aware a good too, but their free version has more limitation you will need to spend some cash to get everything they offer. Not that Several commercial security products require users to uninstall anti-spyware programs when they are being installed or when they run. So you might run in compatibility issues. But you should definitively have a good anti-Spyware program installed. Scan weekly at least, and keep up updated, mine is automatically updated everyday and scans also every day!

 

Anti-virus programs; Now there are tones of those out there, but beware some are frauds that will cause more harm then good. Like it was the case previously with anti-spyware only trust programs you have research and found actual reviews on. Microsoft Security Essentials is the most common now a days, not only is it free, but it is actually very good. It's made by the makers of your operating system, so the logical assumption would be that they make a good product. That is actually correct, you do not need anything else other then Microsoft Security Essentials, it's simple, effective and easy to use.

 

Since I wish to be objective I need to mention Avira, Avast and AVG the other big 3. They all provide equal protection, can be trusted, are regularly updated and are easy to use. Your Anti-virus, like your anti-spyware should be updated more then often and scan should be made at least once a week. None of these can offer foolproof protection, but you need to have one!

 

Scheduled tasks properly; My gaming rig does a lot of stuff automatically everyday. It checks for updates for windows, my anti-virus and anti-spyware software on top of running a scan of both. Plus all my drives are defragmented every week. But all these operations are planned on times of the day I either work or know I will be at sleep. Nothing will kill you frame rate more then you anti-virus starting a scan in a middle of a game. The best way to avoid this, proper scheduling.

 

None of these tips will make a huge improvement on it's own, but if you follow them all you will see a difference.

 

Windows Vista or Windows 7 specifics;

 

There are many Windows Vista or Windows 7 specific tweaks out there, but many of them are a matter of personal opinion. For example disabling Areo, and transparency options will give you a very little boost, but it makes Vista looks a little less pretty. The only times little tweaks like disabling Areo have a huge impact is if you are running Windows Vista on minimum recommendation. So most of these are outdated and no really worth your wild. But there is one thing that actually can makes a significant improvement, get rid of "Search Indexing".

 

Disable Vista Search Indexing; Windows Vista has a "Search Indexing" feature that is enabled by default. It will continuously keep an update list of files on your system so found more quickly by the "search" in the star menu. This takes a lot of juice out of your system, it should be disabled. Click Start > computer > Right click on Local Disk 'C:' > Left click on Properties; > Uncheck 'Index this Drive for Faster Searching' and select 'Include subfolders and files' in any subsequent dialog box. Do the same for all your drives (or local disk). You should also disable the service called "Windows Search".

 

I will try to play around more with other tweaks I have found and check if they really have an impact on gaming performances! But if you have some suggestion, feel free to share!

 

Bonus - Future advances for PC's;

 

This bonus is for the geeks out there wishing to know what is around the corner. Well you first need to understand Moore's law in order to see what will come out in the next 2-5 years. It will be impressive to say the least. Moore's law is the observation that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. The law is named after Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore who in 1965 predicted that our computing power would basically double every two years. It still holds true today!

 

So why should you care? Intel's current Ivy Bridge micro​architecture shrank the CPU die to 22 nm. The computer die refers to the scaling of semiconductor. On May 2, 2011, Intel announced its first 22 nm microprocessor. Intel is currently preparing it's transition to 14nm expect to be in 2014. What the hell does it have to do with you and your gaming rig? Well this new microarchitecture will also introduce a new CPU socket (remember that we covered those socket in part 1), LGA 1150 will be replacing the current LGA1155, first models are expected in spring 2013. So if you currently have a Sandy Bridge or Ivy bridge based CPU, try to hold up any CPU/Mobo upgrade till the new socket is release and prices drops a little Probably around mid-summer 2013 or even fall!

 

Every CPU or GPU manufacturer has a roadmap identifying their goals and the technology they are aiming to release and when. Using this you can predict when the next major hardware change will come about. Like more and more dual GPU's or even quad core GPU's. No this is not a typo I am referring to dual or quad core graphic cards... NVIDIA’s Dual-Core GTX 690 is already on the market, but for about 1,000$ You can expect those to drop price and they will show up more and more! A single GTX 690 was able to match the performances results of two 680 in SLI. That is a huge boost in performance, yet an other leap for Nvidia.

 

Image having a pair of those in SLI, sadly it is not that beneficial, yet. The current technology is not made to take advantage of that. Running Battlefield 3 at 5,760 x 1,080 extreme quality everything maxed on a 690 GTX will get you about 46.7 frames per seconds. Adding a second 690 GTX in SLI would only add a mere 5 frames per second. Not worth the price. Don't get me wrong a single 690 GTX will kick the ass of anything currently on the market. But it gives a glimpse on the technological advances just around the corner.

 

Lots of thing on the horizons and on closing thoughts, always research new gear your thinking of buying using google and never be fooled in buying the first generation of a new product, wait for the kinks to be worked-out and thus avoid to pay a lot of cash for a technology you will actually beta test! :-)

 

Hope you have enjoyed this 5 part article on how to build a Gaming PC. I am looking forward to all your comments!

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Windows 7 has the same thing with the indexing of files Would you disable that or not on windows 7?

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Windows 7 has the same thing with the indexing of files Would you disable that or not on windows 7?

 

Unless you regularly search large amounts of files, I would disable it also. Only a small portion of home users really use this feature or need it.

 

If you use you PC for gaming and normal day to day stuff, you will not notice a change really!

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Thank you Smartlink.

 

I have applied some of these and have noticed a big difference.

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