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So, you just bought the latest gaming title and you want to know how to optimize Microsoft® Windows® 10 to make sure you’re getting the most out of your system. No problem, our comprehensive guide below will help you optimize Windows 10 for gaming. But before we get into changing things, let’s talk about the unique features of Windows 10 and gaming. 

Windows 10 Gaming features

Windows 10 includes several cool features that gamers will appreciate, including the ability to play games across platforms, stream games, and record your gameplay in real time. The enhancements of Windows 10 over previous versions require higher hardware specifications to run as they’re intended, so you can upgrade your existing system to take advantage of the gaming features in Windows 10.

Microsoft has been working hard for several generations to improve gaming on their Windows operating system. Windows 10, with DirectX 12, shows an incremental improvement in frame rates over Windows 8 and 7. Windows 10 automatically updates DirectX 12 drivers and the OS, leaving little for the user to configure. However, the introduction of Game Mode in the Creators Update prioritizes gaming for both the CPU and GPU, preventing Windows from using resources while you are playing a game.

The architecture of Windows 10 was created to retain compatibility for games with previous Windows versions, but with the addition of the Xbox capability, some games are not yet compatible. The number of compatible games is steadily improving, however.

Windows 10 feature

How to get the most out of it

PC and Xbox One™ gamers utalizing the Xbox Live® app can compete in the same game at the same time – on different platforms

Gaming icon

PC gamers should make sure they have enough, and fast enough, memory to avoid lag times. 

Buy and play an Xbox® games on your PC

Game controller icon

Make sure your storage drive is up to the task. A solid state drive will get you into the game faster. 

Record and stream gameplay in real time

Video icon

Game DVR and streaming use a lot of active data. Make sure your memory and storage drive are up to the task. 

Run Xbox Live® features from your PC (voice, text, chat)

Headset icon

Running Xbox Live features requires additional multitasking resources. To ensure your system has the ability to handle everything it'll be doing at once, improve your memory performance and density.

Compatible with DirectX® 12 graphics cards

Graphics card icon

The graphics card relies on memory, so faster memory enables better integrated graphics performance. You need sufficient memory that's fast enough to produce sharp visuals.

Now that you know the basics, let’s cover how to really optimize Windows 10 for gaming. 

Step 1: Minimize background programs

Generally speaking, a computer runs the same way no matter how you use it. Most systems have numerous programs that run automatically when the system is booted up. The problem is, these programs can be incredibly power hungry, which will limit your system's potential while you're gaming. Closing these extra programs allows your system to focus on your game.

Windows 10 has a unique built-in Game Mode that addresses this very subject. It focuses your system on your game, thus preventing the programs from stealing your CPU’s power. Additionally, it prevents updates and restart notifications from happening during gameplay. Turn the mode on or off by going to Settings > Gaming > Game Mode.

Tip: Try both Game Mode settings. Some games react differently to this setting, experiment with both for the title you want to play.

Step 2: Check your Connection

It may seem mundane, but how your rig is connected to the internet can really affect your gameplay. If your gaming experience is filled with stuttering, lagging, or even a lost connection, then your connectivity may be the culprit. If you are connected wirelessly, that might be part of the problem. Connecting directly to your router through an ethernet cable will always give you the best results, regardless of the speed of your WiFi. The best connection will always be a direct ethernet connection regardless of the speed of your WiFi.

Tip: Get the fastest data plan you can afford. Even if you have the best system money can buy, it will not perform to its fullest potential on slow internet.

Step 3: Adjust your peripherals settings

Another commonly overlooked problem is your systems settings. Often your system peripherals, such as the mouse, are optimised for desktop use rather than gaming. Ensuring your mouse acceleration is adjusted for gaming is huge. Typically this is set so as you move the mouse fast it moves your cursor farther, which is handy for normal desktop operations but not ideal for gaming. You want your movements to be precise and not overshoot where you want your cursor to be.

Tip: If you’re using a gaming mouse with an adjustable DPI, you can adjust it separately in addition to your system’s settings to really dial-in your personal sensitivity preference.

Step 4: Upgrade your Memory

It’s no secret that gamers upgrade their systems hardware to really eke out their system’s highest performance. Our Ballistix® memory is specially designed for gaming and a worthwhile upgrade. Often upgrading and increasing your system's memory -- especially with memory designed specifically for gaming -- will give you the best bang for your buck. Certain games have specific memory requirements. It’s easy to check how much memory you have on your Windows 10 PC to see if you need an upgrade.

Installation is simple. You can quickly install additional memory on your laptop or desktop with our easy-to-follow tutorials.

Step 5: Upgrade your Storage

Cross-platform play, game DVR, and DirectX 12 are exciting reasons to use Windows 10, but running these features seamlessly requires more than just the minimum. If you are going to upgrade your hardware with more and faster memory, then upgrading to an SSD should be on your radar as well.

SSDs such as the P5 increase operating system speeds. Apps open faster and games load as soon as you’re ready to spawn. The P5 specifically has read/write speeds up to 3400/3000MB/s, which is pushing the limits of PCIe® Gen 3 NVMe™. It's easy to install an SSD and get faster performance.

For more information about SSDs for gaming, read our guide about which SSD is best for gaming.

Tip: Another great option is adding an external SSD such as the X8. The Crucial X8 runs up to 1.8x faster than other portable SSDs and up to 7.5x faster than portable HDDs.1 Back up and expand your gaming library on your PC and have it on the go. The X8 can also be used on PS4™, Xbox One, iPad Pro, and Android devices, with speeds up to 1050MB/s.1,2

Step 6: Upgrade your Graphics Card

The latest AAA games can be incredibly resource hungry in comparison to older titles. Our systems need graphics cards that are up to the task. If you are running a dual or quad core CPU and are upgrading your memory and adding an SSD, then why not upgrade your graphics card? A graphics card can be one of the most important aspects for gaming on your Windows 10 PC. Graphics cards become outdated very quickly. Even with plenty of memory, older graphics cards struggle to run modern games at medium settings at 1080p with comfortable frame rates. Tip: Set your budget and requirements realistically. High-end graphics cards can be costly. Determine what games you will be playing and maximize your budget accordingly. Make sure you find a compatible graphics card for your motherboard, case, and power supply. There are many options to choose from, so choose wisely.

Last but not least: updates

Even if you max out all your upgrades, you still might not get maximum performance unless you keep everything updated. The latest greatest hardware in the best system on the fastest internet will not run at its peak performance unless everything is updated. For more general PC gaming optimization tips, check out our gaming PC upgrade guide.

Windows 10 features

Microsoft has been working hard for several generations to improve gaming on their Windows operating system. Windows 10, with DirectX 12, shows an incremental improvement in frame rates over Windows 8 and over Windows 7. Windows 10 automatically updates DirectX 12 drivers and the OS, leaving little for the user to configure. However, the introduction of Game Mode in the Creators Edition prioritizes gaming for both the CPU and GPU, preventing Windows from using resources while you are playing a game. 

The architecture of Windows 10 was created to retain compatibility for games with previous Windows versions, but with the addition of the Xbox capability, some games are not yet compatible. The number of compatible games is steadily improving, however.

Give yourself an advantage

Cross-platform play, game DVR, and DirectX 12 are exciting reasons to use Windows 10, but running these features seamlessly requires more than just the minimum amount of memory and storage. Upgrade your hardware with more and faster memory and an SSD to own the opposition on Windows 10. Read here to see how easy it is to an install an SSD.


©2018 Micron Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. Information, products, and/or specifications are subject to change without notice. Neither Crucial nor Micron Technology, Inc. is responsible for omissions or errors in typography or photography. Micron, the Micron logo, Crucial, the Crucial logo, Ballistix, and the Ballistix logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Micron Technology, Inc. Microsoft, Windows, Xbox, Xbox One, Xbox Live, and DirectX are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. All other brand or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.