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Optimizing Your Existing Hardware

This section is a little different, because everyone has different hardware and therefore will have different adjustments that they can make to their personal PC. I am going to try to cover all the areas that you can optimize on your computer. I will try to cover four areas that I feel can be easily adjusted to improve your performance when gaming, thus help you to win.


One of the areas is obviously the graphics. If you have gone all out and loaded your computer with video cards that have 3D graphic capability, you can make some adjustments. Those of you that didn't, well, follow along and you will find that you can make adjustments as well. In fact it might be even more important for you.

One of the biggest performance problems that I run across is graphic refresh. If the refresh rate is too slow, I won't be able to see everything that is happening in the game because the computer skips several screen refreshes. Normally when I see that happening, it's because my connection to the other computers is really slow. However, when the connection is fast and I still have that problem, I have had to adjust the video settings to improve the refresh of the screen. In most cases the game has had the control of the screen and control of the method of the video processing. I have even had to turn off the special video features because the computer could not handle the graphic processing.

Another way to increase the refresh rate is to increase it. Wow. What a novel idea. You might or might not have the ability to adjust your monitor refresh rate. To make that adjustment under Windows, go to the Control Panel and double click the Display icon. Here is where you are somewhat on your own because everyone has different video adapters. For me, I had to click the Advanced button and select the Monitor Refresh tab shown in Figure 3.13.

Figure 3.13 An example of finding the refresh rate setting in Windows 98.

Another adjustment to improve the refresh rate is screen size. The smaller the screen, the less the computer has to process. That means that a 340x480 screen will work better than an 800x600 screen size. In this case, bigger isn't always better.

Other Modifications

There are two related areas that I will spend some time on before playing any game competitively. Those two areas are the pointing device (mouse or joystick) and the keyboard. The reason is I will pick the mouse or the joystick for the responsiveness in a game. If I choose the mouse, I will adjust the sensitivity up or down for better control in the game. You can find the controls for the mouse in the Control Panel—Mouse icon.

The other component is the keyboard mapping. I do this by remapping the keyboard to what I am familiar with and what is comfortable for me. You will find many different opinions on this, but here is an example of what I do in FPS games. I prefer to use a mouse for target tracking. I will then remap the keyboard for motion and special game functions to keys in close proximity to increase efficiency during the game. The location of the keys are up to you, but I can tell you that keys "A", "S", and "D" are the left, forward, and right keys respectfully. I use the "X" key for reverse and will map the remaining keys in the area for the special functions. You might feel more comfortable doing something different, but the bottom line is that you need to feel comfortable.

This might be common sense, but I feel it is worth mentioning. Your overall performance depends on the resources available. When you are playing games on a Windows machine, the more applications you have open at the time of game play, the less resources will be available for your game and for Windows.

The Least You Need to Know

  • A computer's components, or hardware, have a huge impact on its ability to run games, especially newer ones.

  • The core components of your computer—the motherboard, processor, and memory—work together to run your software.

  • Video technology affects games' display and is always improving.

  • Joysticks and other controllers provide ease of play and, sometimes, even a winning edge.

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