The way we use technology is ever-changing. By 2019, more than 60 percent of U.S. adults subscribed to an entertainment streaming service. What’s more, roughly half of all Americans – a huge 164 million of us – play video games. These twin pastimes have changed the way we use space and, of course, technology.
Both streaming and gaming can test the capabilities of our hardware to the limits, as well as our internet connections. If you’re using an older machine or a laptop that wasn’t designed for high-performance gaming, then the pinch points can be more profound.
Here are ten ways to work on boosting your laptop for optimal functionality.
Run regular updates
Device drivers are like the freeways on which streaming services and gaming applications run. If your drivers become old or worn, then the progress of both can slow. This is why it’s so important to run regular updates.
On Macs, many of the device drivers you’ll need for top performance are incorporated into regular OS updates. However, sometimes you may need to alter the settings in your GPU management software to ensure advanced graphics drivers can be deployed.
On Windows, device drivers can be updated, deleted or reinstalled in Device Manager.
Do this step right, and you’ll benefit from a quick FPS boost, which increases your device’s frame rate capabilities for gaming and streaming.
Invest in a high-speed internet package
Online gaming brings further opportunity for frustration since it rests heavily on the quality of your internet connection. Temperamental connectivity can lead to slow gaming and endless buffering in streaming services. If your laptop’s performance seems slow, internet connection is one of the first things to check.
Serious gamers and streamers may need a higher-than-usual broadband speed and a high download limit to match.
Fortunately, broadband and TV packages now combine high-speed internet provision with access to a streaming platform subscription – so it couldn’t be easier to access the best of both.
Upgrade your machine’s graphics chip
A computer’s graphics chip generates a feed of output which becomes the image you see on the monitor – a high-performance chip usually produces fast and seamless gaming graphics and video playback.
The latest gaming laptops generally come equipped with great chips but, if your laptop is slightly older, it’s sometimes worth upgrading this.
You’ll need to find a GPU compatible with your laptop before removing the laptop base with a screwdriver and making the switch.
It’s also possible to enhance the performance of an older chip without replacing it. One way to achieve this is by tweaking texture settings.
Use an SSD
Swapping a laptop’s hard drive for a solid-state drive can have a big impact on loading times, so it’s a key consideration for streamers and gamers. This option is viable if your laptop features a bottom access panel – some compact laptops, such as Ultrabooks, make the process more complex.
Some of 2020’s best SSDs start at prices as low as $41.
Uninstall old programs
Computer programs can start to clutter the place up once you’ve owned a laptop for one year or more.
Uninstalling old programs is one of the simplest ways to enhance your computer’s general speed. You can do this in Windows by clicking ‘Start’, ‘Control Panel’ then ‘Uninstall a Program’. On Mac, click ‘Applications’ in the Finder sidebar and double click the uninstaller, if there is one. Otherwise, drag the program into ‘Trash’.
Clean and maintain your laptop
A clean laptop is a healthy laptop, since dust particles can get caught in the fan, increasing the risk of overheating. This matters, since your machine will often slow itself down to avoid going under.
Wipe the outer shell of your laptop regularly, paying particular attention to any vents. Be sure to use a laptop-safe solution and to power your machine down prior to cleaning.
Review power settings
Laptops are designed to be portable, which is why they are usually configured to prioritize battery life over performance. If you only use your laptop at home, then adjusting these settings to boost performance is an easy trade-off.
Go to ‘Hardware and Sound’ and ‘Power Options’ in Windows, then select ‘High Performance’. On Mac, go to ‘Energy Saver’, move the computer sleep sliders to ‘Never’ and uncheck ‘Put the hard disks to sleep when possible’.
Use a router booster
Streaming from upstairs when your Wi-Fi router is located on the ground floor? You may benefit from a router booster, which can increase the range of your internet connection.
The best Wi-Fi boosters are powerful enough to boost multiple areas of the home across several floors, including lofts and basements.
Turn Game Mode on – and off again
Windows 10 comes with a useful feature called Game Mode, which quickly optimizes many aspects of your laptop’s gaming performance. Go to ‘Settings’, ‘Gaming’, ‘Game Mode’ and toggle on for a high-performance experience.
Game Mode may cause streaming disruption on some devices, so the ability to toggle this feature off again at the click of a button is useful for people who want to use their device for both purposes.
Remove cache files
Browsing the web leaves its mark on your laptop in the form of cache files. These can slow down performance and eat up valuable storage space, so it is a good idea to clear these every now and then.
You can do this in the settings of your internet browser of choice using the instructions outlined by Clear My Cache.
Achieving great functionality across both gaming and streaming is possible – it just takes a little know-how.