There’s a lot that you can do to your system to improve your gaming experience from making sure things are updated, changing important settings within the Windows 10 OS, managing and modifying the schedules within programs and Windows to not run while you’re gaming and just overall good maintenance practices. In this guide, I will be going over some of the most important changes and maintenance tools and techniques to help make your experience better. Further, I will touch on things that can make your World of Warships gaming experience a little better as well.
Update Restart Schedule
Windows 10 has a default update and restart schedule based upon Active Hours. This is an important setting to take care of as nothing can be more frustrating – especially with the new penalty system in WoWS – then having your computer restart mid-game due to an update. To fix these settings, go to Settings > Updates & Security > Change active hours. The default settings are around an average work day. As your gaming rig is not likely to also be your work desktop, change those hours to reflect the time you get home (perhaps an hour before) until the time you go to work. This will cause your computer to do its CPU, harddrive, and network intensive updates while you’re away and restart during that time as well.
Windows 10 has a very annoying feature (at least to those in the IT field) called Fast Startup, which can prevent your from performing a clean Cold Restart. I touched on this in a previous article, World of Warships and Win 10 Troubleshooting Guide but will repost it here as well. A Cold restart occurs when you go to Start > Shutdown and turning the power back on as opposed to Start > Restart. This is important as it clears the memory on your computer when things get corrupted. Fast Startup prevents this. To disable Fast Startup, you’ll need to go to Settings > System > Power and Sleep > Click on Additional Power Settings > Choose What the power buttons do and UNcheck Turn on Fast Startup.
Background Program Updates
There are a number of programs on your computer that may run updates in the background while you are gaming. If you don’t have a processor capable of multithreading, 16GB+ of memory, a solid state harddrive, and or a good internet connection, these processes can cause some serious lag. While smaller programs might not cause extended lag, such as CCleaner, larger programs such as updates to other games from Steam or UPlay could cause some serious issues. Both these programs have the means to schedule when to run updates. Setting the schedule for these can be similar for that of Windows, but is safer, if you have a less capable machine or internet, to schedule it before or after.
As crucial as an anti-virus/malware program is these days, they can be a royal pain for gamers. They have a tendency to scan at the worst possible times, some of course scan every file that opens or try to run causing, in some cases, the game to crash or corrupt files. While I will not recommend one anti-virus program over another here due to lack of important information, I can recommend that you chose one that is either more passive in its scanning and protection practices or that you can do one of the following with; put into gaming mode, pause protection, or add exceptions to by either application and or folder.
If you’re like me, you probably have at least one program that is used to sync documents and files to the cloud (I have several actually). Examples include Dropbox, Google Backup & Sync (formally Google Drive), Amazon Cloud and OneDrive to name a few. For those with poor internet (such as satellite or DSL) or who use wifi as opposed to ethernet, upload speed can kill your bandwidth and bump your ping to unplayable numbers (I’ve seen mine over 1,300ms). Most of the time, these are non-issues as they only upload when you add or change files within the directories they are syncing. However, if you’re syncing large amounts of data, say lots of pictures or videos, pausing sync while you’re playing is a good idea. Further, some of them, like Amazon Cloud I’ve noticed, like to update and resume syncing without notification. So keep that one in mind if you use it.
System Cleaning (Software)
Routine maintenance, just like with a car, is crucial to having your machine run smoothly. CCleaner is a personal, and trusted, favorite of mine. You can use it to disable applications from running on startup, clean unneeded temporary files safely from your computer and even clean up the registry (ALWAYS create backups and save them to a folder off the root of C: for easy recovery). Best of all, it can run in the background with little overhead prompting you when it can clean gobs of useless files. This can be very important for those of you with solid state drives with already limited space.
System Cleaning (Hardware)
Just as important as cleaning out unwanted files on your computer and disabling unnecessary applications from running is cleaning out the dust bunnies. I can’t tell you how many computers that I’ve worked on that were literally caked in dust, dirt and hair (undetermined species). Depending on where you live (geographically), whether you live alone or with pets and or family, and if your PC is on a desk/table or the floor and if that floor is carpet or not can determine how often you should clean your machine. I’d recommend a minimum of once a year. If your PC is on the floor with carpet and you have a pet, at least twice a year to coincide with the pets shedding schedule (after preferably).
To clean out your machine (desktops), you can use compressed air cans (in short bursts) if the dust isn’t too bad, a vacuum, or my preferred method, an air compressor. You can pick up a cheap one with a blower nozzle for about $20-30 at some places and it doesn’t need to be very big. Before you use a compressor though, keep the PSI on the lower end, I’d say below 60-75 PSI (4-5bar), and make sure it blows dry air. If it blowing dry air is an issue, you can drain the compressor reservoir from the included drain plug and, just to be safe, let the computer sit for an hour or so to let it dry. Use bursts of air to plow out all the fans (caution around the CPU and GPU fans), vents, the power supply and any other nooks and crannies in your case. You will likely need to take one or both side panels off your case, and sometimes the front as well, to get the best results.
For laptops, all the above methods are applicable. However, due to the complexity of disassembling a laptop to thoroughly and properly clean it, it may be worth taking it to a technician if you are at all uncomfortable with doing so.
Many games these days are capable of optimizing themselves for the best mix of performance and quality while running on your rig. World of Warships is no different. However, there are several applications that can do the same. One that I use, as a result of having an NVIDIA graphics card, is GeForce Experience. It seems to do a pretty good job to get the best of both worlds. However, few programs compare to knowledge and experience. If you want to maximize FPS, a good start would be to reduce any extra artifacts in the game that only add to making it look ‘pretty’. The fire effect around the screen, gun blasts, volumetric smoke, etc, can drop your FPS. Further, reducing the games resolution will help improve FPS as well, but another setting to consider is vSYNC or vertical sync as it’s directly related to the refresh rate of your monitor. An example would be if your monitor’s refresh rate is only 60Hz, your FPS will top out at 60FPS with vSYNC enabled; 120Hz monitor, 120FPS. If you are more for quality over quantity, it’s worth noting that the human brain can only perceive about 24-25fps. Sure, higher fps can make movement seem a bit smoother, but unless you plan on doing recordings and making slo-mo vids from them, 30fps is sufficient. However, is it work noting that if you can get it to 45-50fps on average, drops in fps due to GPU intensive scenes are less likely to be noticed.
Keeping your system cool is crucial to a smooth and fast machine. Hence why I discussed cleaning all the dist out earlier, more dust leads to less air flow which leads to higher temps. Most BIOS settings have the CPU fan set to max by default and unless you have a serious issue with CPU usage, I wouldn’t both checking to see if your settings are that way. The focus of this section will be for the GPU. Both of the main GPU manufacturers offer software to both overclock and run fan control on their respective cards. NVIDIA has a few developed by their distributors such as Afterburner (MSI) and Precision (EVGA), while ATI Radeon has OverDrive. While I don’t want to discuss overclocking, the fan speed aspect is important. High fan speeds lead to cooler GPUs, and in my experience that can sometimes lead to a 15+fps increase. Keep in mind though, higher fan speeds also mean more noise so play around to see what works best both for performance and for noise tolerance. A point of caution though, avoid going to 100% if possible, unless under dire circumstances, such as overheating. I say this because if your fan hasn’t been cleaned in a while or it’s an older GPU, you can burn out the fan if not certainly reduce it’s life expectancy.
While all drivers are important to keep updated, for gaming, the most important one is your graphics driver. Like with the cooling and overclocking, both GPU manufactures offer applications that help auto-update your drivers. NVIDIA has GeForce Experience and ATI has the Control Center. Both have settings to find and download the updates automatically and will then prompt you to install them. Installation often has 2 options, Express and Custom or Advanced. Express is, as the name implies, is the easiest and should be used under most circumstances. However, you you find that you are having graphics related issues such as stability, using the custom option would be your best bet. Where this usually differs from the Express option is the ability to completely remove any trace of the old drivers (or current version), before installing the latest. Like with issues where game files can be corrupted during an update due to crashes, power outages, or just something else using common files, drivers can get corrupted as well and removing them can help fix those issues.
An age old debate in gaming, headphones or speakers. For FPS games or any game where you are voice chatting with other players, headphones are a must. Not just for reducing feedback but so you can also hear better in the case of FPS games. Nothing better than hearing the footsteps of someone trying to sneak up behind you to stick a knife in your back only to turn around and pop them first. However, for World of Warships, this is a lot less important, and for solo players not involved in voice chat, speakers can be just as good if not better if you have a subwoofer and surround sound! Nothing like those bassy battleship guns. Further, extended use of headphones has been linked to increased ear wax build up and loss of hearing in extreme cases. Whatever your preference, moderation can still be beneficial.
In game communication, in most cases, comes down to the preference of a clans leader or higher-ups. The two biggest options for voice comms for World of Warships, in my experience, are TeamSpeak3 and Discord. There are pros and cons to both and for this game, the leader appears to be Discord. The service is free and it offers a number of great features such as in-game overlays and extensive text chat channels. There is a paid option that gives you some benefits, such as more emoji options and a custom domain, but that’s relatively minor. As for TeamSpeak 3, it beats Discord in its permission system hands down in my opinion. Though far more complex, the options are far better as to who can see, text, join or talk where within the server. It’s biggest limitations are often cost and time to set everything up. However, as much as I like Teamspeak, Discord is a much better option for your average clan as a way to communicate and share information as clan website are seemingly less common in this game.
As this is a World of Warships blog, I thought it prudent to mention MatchMaking Monitor. For those that are stats haters, just continue on to the next section while the rest can continue here. As a point of note though, if you haven’t already, I would recommend reading both my article on the Personal Rating (PR) as it is what is used in the MatchMaking Monitor as well as my article on how to Read and Use Stats to Your Advantage. This well give you a better idea of what you are looking at, but more importantly, how to make decisions about what you’re looking at. With that out of the way, I find the MatchMaking monitor to be a useful tool. Though not so much as a way to determine the biggest threats on the enemy team, but who I can reliably count on on mine. I hate going into an area hoping that the ship, or ships with me are capable of holding their own and providing supporting fire when they are not. You can join the MatchMaking Monitor Discord should you need support or have any questions about it.
Dual or Multi-Monitors
The final section that I will go over in this guide due to it being a bit more exclusive for most people is the dual or multi-monitor setups. I personally have twin 23″ monitors and wouldn’t ever go back to one. Though not solely for gaming but mostly due to workflow and ease of use for having multiple applications open simultaneously. For gaming purposes though, I like to run my games on my Main and left monitor while other applications such as the web, MatchMaking Monitor and Discord are open on the right one. The best way I have found to make this feasible is to run the game in Full-screen windowed mode. This allows me to hit the Esc key once if I’m in battle to go to the next screen or just drag my mouse over if I’m in port. Again, this is an extremely nice feature to have while gaming and certainly makes things easier, particularly since I can avoid using overlays in order to see new chat messages or who joins the current voice channel. Your results may vary but I find dual monitors to be extremely useful and in some cases, give me that little extra edge.
If I have missed something that you would like to see written up, or would like more information on please let me know in the comments or by contacting me on our Discord