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PC gaming is great and all, but in reality it’s a bit more complex than how it normally is with console gaming. Here you have to choose between a lot of different hardware, doing a lot of tweaking to increase the game’s performance as well as other things to improve your experience altogether—as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort to do so. Here is our top 10 ways to enhance your PC gaming experience.
- Overclock Your Video Card
One of the easiest and freest ways for you to boost your game’s performance is to overclock your video card. This is something that’s pretty simple to do, doesn’t cost you a cent, and can cause noticeable performance improvements. It won’t make an unplayable game playable of course, but it will allow your game run a little smoother or look a bit better than how it was before. You can overclock your CPU as well, but how much it’ll actually help depends on whether or not it’s even being taxed at all. Remember that there’s always a sweet spot to everything as free software adjustments can only really get you so far in improving your gaming experience, and constantly upgrading your hardware all the time can sometimes just be a waste of your time and money more than anything else.
- Get Amazing Deals on Games
Unless you really want to play that game on the day it comes out, never get a PC game at full price as they go on sale way too often! Everybody already knows about the infamous Steam sales, and there are many different strategies that could help you get the best possible prices on games during the blowout weeks like only buying a game whenever it’s on a flash sale, daily deal, or if it’s on the last day of the sale…
However, what a lot of people often don’t realize they could do is look beyond Steam: places like Amazon, Gamefly along with other websites often have even better prices for the games in comparison, and they will still activate on Steam as if you bought it there. Now go to sites like IsThereAnyDeal.com, build up your wish list and track the prices of the games you want to get across a ton of different websites. Remember to make sure you know how long it takes to beat each of the games that you want to buy to avoid buying more games than you can play!
- Connect a Gamepad To Your PC
While I’m firmly a mouse-and-keyboard player, some games are just better played using a gamepad. The Xbox 360 is our personal favorite, but there are a lot of other good options, and they’re super easy to set up. Many games should have gamepad support upon their release. If one of your favorite games doesn’t have that support, you can always use tools like JoyToKey (for Windows) or Joystick Mapper (for Mac) so that it will work.
- Organize Your Massive Steam Library
If you’re a PC gamer, chances are you use Steam to keep track of your games. And if you do use Steam, chances are you purchased way too many games. Lucky for you, Steam has a few built-in features that can help you to manage your overflowing list of games. You can either manually sort the games into different categories and genres, or do it automatically with the use of a tool like Depressurizer. Search is also pretty useful, and Steam has a few different “Views” that can help make it easier to browse in certain circumstances.
- Back Up (and Sync) Saved Games
Ever had a hard drive fail on you with all of your saved games on it? Or tried to play a game on another computer that didn’t have your save progress on it? Steam’s built-in Cloud feature can sync up some of your saved games, but it isn’t really that reliable and it doesn’t work with every single game. Instead, try using a tool which can back up and sync your games through Dropbox like GameSave Manager. If you want to do it on your own instead— or if GameSave Manager doesn’t support a specific game—you can manually sync those game saves with Dropbox.
- Play the Classic Games, Even On a Modern PC
Sometimes you just need some nostalgia, and there are countless of amazing PC classics out there for you to try out. Unfortunately, you can’t always just dig out your old floppy disks and just throw them in—many old games won’t run using the box on new computers. Some might be able to run in Windows’ compatibility mode, while others may work after adding a patch or two. In certain cases publishers may even offer patched versions online for free. And if nothing else works, you may have to resort to using emulators like DOSBox or ScummVM along with your old floppies in order to play the games. Check out our guide on classic PC games for more info.
- Have Your Own Steam Machine with the Use of Big Picture Mode
Tired of playing games while sitting at your desk? Want to have the comfort of console gaming along with the tweak ability of PC gaming? Then what you need is a Steam Machine. Steam Machines may not be available for purchase as of yet, but you don’t need to get one as you can just turn your existing PC into a Steam Machine with the help of Windows and Steam’s Big Picture mode. Doing so will get you the entire library of game from Windows in combination with the couch-optimized Big Picture mode, and you can connect a gamepad (see #8) for the perfect couch gaming experience. You can also use the SteamOS beta to experience a pure Steam Machine, with the streaming feature.
- Pile Up On Mods
One of the best things ever about PC gaming is the mods. If there’s something you don’t like about your game then chances are someone’s created an installable mod to tweak it. Mods can enhance the game’s graphics, improve the menus or even add on entirely new features and missions for the game. It can even add modern features to retro style games. Modding for each game is a little different, so check out places like Steam Workshop, Nexus mods, and ModDB for more info on all of your favorite games.
- Get the Best Hardware You Can
A powerful gaming PC can go a long way, but there’s more to hardware than just the guts of your computer. Want to have better and more responsive controls? Get an advance mouse and keyboard like the ones from Kotaku. Want a better looking display? Get a wide monitor. Want to hear better audio from your games? Get the best headphones you can buy. If you play online, try getting a gaming headset or add an attachable microphone to the headphones that you got. And if your computer is making too much noise, keep the noise down with controllable fans or water cooling systems.
- Tweak the Settings On Your PC For Optimal Display (and Performance)
At the end of the day, there are only so many new pieces of hardware you can buy, and so much you can over-clock your computer. Unless you were to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars, you probably won’t be able to maximize the graphics settings for every game that you play. So what can we do? Find the best settings for your hardware, of course! Learning what each setting does may take some time, but it’ll make the process much easier later on as you learn which ones causes the biggest performance boost, are worth the trouble and get a game perfectly suitable to your tastes.
If you hate tweaking, you could always just try a preset like “Medium” that works, though there are apps out there that can help you find the perfect settings. They usually work okay, but are often more of a good starting point than anything else. If you want the optimal settings however, you’ll have to try tweaking it yourself as a little manual tweaking can go a long way.