Gaming on laptops doesn’t always lead to a GG, as they have to sacrifice performance and cooling efficiency for portability. Even renowned gaming laptops can’t compete with their desktop counterparts.
While gaming on a laptop, you have to make sure it doesn’t heat up as it further decreases its already limited performance. Battery drain is another concern when playing unplugged, as games drain the battery faster, and the battery-saving features usually aren’t good for the performance that is required for gaming.
There are many ways to get better performance on any PC, but laptop users have to worry about efficiency too, due to performance directly impacting battery life and heat generation. In this post, I’ll talk about tweaks, apps, and tips that can make gaming better on laptops.
Play While Plugged In
Most laptops have built-in features to limit power to conserve battery life while unplugged. Some of the changes include reduced brightness, CPU and GPU throttling, limited background processes, and disabling updates/syncing/downloads. These features can directly or indirectly impact your gaming session.
If it’s possible, try to play games while the charger is plugged in to ensure no battery-saving features affect your gameplay.
Check the Power Profile
It’s obvious that you should select the High performance power profile while gaming. However, you should still manually check each power option to ensure it’s customized according to your need. Here’s how:
Press the Windows+R keys to open the Run dialog and type
powercfg.cpl in it to open power options. Here click on Change plan settings next to the selected plan and then click on Change advanced power settings.
You can customize these options as you prefer. Although I want you to specifically check the Processor power management option here. Make sure its minimum state is not set to 100% and the maximum state is set to 100%. Ideally, the minimum state should be between 5-10%.
This basically decides how your CPU will run in idle and maximum load states. If the minimum state is set to 100%, your CPU will run at max speed all the time, which will, of course, consume a lot of battery power and generate heat unnecessarily. Additionally, less than 100% maximum processor state will throttle the CPU power.
Enable Game Mode in Windows
Windows Game Mode helps improve games performance without impacting battery, which is perfect for laptops. It mainly disables some background processes and focuses system resources on the game you are playing. So it’s basically a reallocation of resources rather than making the CPU/GPU work harder.
To enable Game Mode, go to Settings > Gaming > Game Mode and enable the toggle next to Game Mode.
Turn On Vsync
Most games have the Vsync (Vertical Sync) option in the graphics settings, and you can adjust it in your graphics card app too. Usually, it’s recommended to disable it if you are looking to gain higher FPS. However, if your PC can run the game at a higher FPS than your laptop screen’s refresh rate, then it’s better to enable it.
Since Vsync limits FPS to the monitor’s refresh rate, it saves GPU power that would be used to deliver the unrequired higher FPS. It won’t affect your gameplay; you can’t see the higher FPS anyway due to the limits of the screen.
Control Fan Speed
Although Windows/BIOS is good at automatically managing fan speed, you might want to take matters into your own hands depending on your gaming need. You can increase fan speed to prevent the PC from overheating while sacrificing battery power. Alternatively, you can decrease the fan speed to save battery but increase the chance of overheating.
Fan Control is a great open-source app for this purpose. It will automatically detect all the fans in your laptop (including GPU) and let you adjust the fan speed manually or based on different triggers.
I’ll recommend you only do this when you specifically want to save battery or dissipate heat. Don’t make it the default settings; your laptop can manage it fine in most cases.
Keep Windows and Drivers Up-To-Date
It is generally a good thing to keep your PC up-to-date, but it’s especially important in the case of laptops as they have additional components. Windows fixes many bugs and stability issues that can directly impact a laptop’s battery life. Furthermore, laptops have additional drivers for the touchpad, keyboard, wireless network adaptor, and power efficiency updates for GPU.
Windows automatically handles both system updates and driver updates. However, I will recommend you use a third-party driver updater as they have a more comprehensive database. I personally like using IObit Driver Booster for this.
Lower Game Graphics
I know it feels awesome to run the game on ultra-high graphics, but your laptop will generate too much heat, and it will affect battery timing too. Honestly, lowering the graphics a bit doesn’t change visuals too much. For most games, I don’t even notice a visual change when dropping graphics from high to medium other than the FPS rise.
If possible, don’t run the game on max graphics just because your laptop can handle it. Find a good balance between visuals and load on your laptop. This tip also goes really well with enabling Vsync to further reduce the load. Most games have a slider or drop-down menu in settings to adjust graphics.
In the gaming community, overclocking is generally seen as a great way to get some extra juice out of your PC. This works great for desktops as they have better heat management and don’t depend on a battery. Since overclocking leads to higher power consumption and heat generation, it’s bad for laptops.
Many laptop manufacturers even add built-in measures to prevent users from overclocking their laptops, including Dell, HP, and Lenovo. For laptops, it’s better to upgrade the hardware than to depend on overclocking.
Keep Laptop Vents Clean
Both desktops and laptops need cleaning, but laptops need it more frequently as they have smaller vents, and even slight blockage can cause heating issues. PCs are configured to throttle CPU/GPU when overheating, so heat will directly impact your gaming. Keeping the fans, vents, and heat sink area clean is the best way to ensure your laptop stays cool.
You can use a compressed air can to do this. Just turn off the laptop and blow the vents in small bursts with compressed air can. Make sure you hold the can upright to prevent any liquid from coming out.
Use a Laptop Cooling Pad
If your laptop is having trouble keeping up with your gaming needs and keeps heating up, then investing in a cooling pad could be beneficial. Cooling pads provide better support for proper airflow, and many have built-in measures to disperse heat, like cooling gel or fans.
I’ll recommend you go for an active cooling one, preferably with multiple fans, to ensure your laptop stays cool. Havit HV-F2056 is a good cooling pad that is cheap and works as a stand too.
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If you want one with a bit more oomph, then TopMate C11 is worth the investment.
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Place the Laptop on the Right Surface
Personally, I think it’s okay to use the Laptop on your couch or your lap; I mean, the word “lap” is literally in its name. However, while doing a resource-intensive task like gaming, it’s best to place the laptop on a hard and straight surface. A soft and irregular surface can block the laptop vents, which can lead to overheating during intensive tasks.
A straight desk is more than enough while gaming. Although you can also use a cooling pad, as they usually come with a hard surface for proper airflow. With a cooling pad, you can even put the laptop on your lap or any other soft surface.
Lower the Screen’s Refresh Rate
A bit drastic measure, but definitely worth a try, especially since higher than 60Hz is considered a luxury, not a requirement. A human eye can comfortably notice differences in FPS up to 60 FPS. Anything above will just give a more smooth “feeling”; it won’t affect your gameplay.
It takes a lot of PC resources to deliver higher refresh rates. If your laptop has a higher than 60Hz refresh rate, then lowering it can decrease the load on the PC, leading to better battery time and less heat. Here’s how to do it:
Open Windows Settings and go to System > Display > Advanced display. Here choose a lower refresh rate next to Choose a refresh rate option.
Use an Ethernet Cable
I know many people don’t like wires attached to their laptops, but for competitive gaming, it’s important to use an ethernet cable. WiFi, by nature, introduces 20-50 extra ping, and it’s prone to interference. While on the same connection, I get 40 higher ping while on WiFi, even when sitting next to the router.
An ethernet cable will ensure a smooth connection with lower ping for reaction-based games. If you must use a WiFi connection, at least connect using the 5GHz WiFi band without physical obstacles in the way.
Wrapping Up 💻🎮
The above tips will ensure you get the best gaming performance on your laptop without sacrificing battery or heating up the laptop. I will also recommend you use an optimizer app like IObit Advanced SystemCare Pro, as it can automatically apply many optimization tweaks that can improve your gameplay.
You can further enhance your gameplay experience with some handy gaming gadgets.