Dear Lifehacker, As a gamer (and not a very rich one at that), I have been using my laptop to play competitively, but I am finding that I am just not able to play on an equal playing field with my friends and against other teams. This is despite the fact that I run games at low-medium settings and at lower resolutions. Is there any way to boost my performance and graphics without buying a new computer or by over-clocking? Thanks, Game Unhappy
Are you playing on a wireless laptop by any chance? While Wi-Fi lets you game anywhere in the house, it is also up to 30 per cent slower than a wired connection. Interference, broken connections, lag and speed drops are all too common over Wi-Fi. This isn't particularly noticeable when it comes to web browsing but it can really suck the fun out of gaming.
With that in mind, you'll want to connect your laptop via an Ethernet port which you'll find in the back of your router. Also check that your router has a high-speed wired Gigabit Ethernet port (1000Mbps); if it's an old, slower model you might have to buy a new one. Naturally, you'll also be wanting an extra long Ethernet cable so you can game from wherever is comfortable.
As to the next part of your question, it's possible to upgrade your laptop's processing grunt without going down the overclocking route. The first step is to check that you have the latest video card drivers installed for your laptop's GPU — sometimes new updates get released which can provide a significant boost to performance.
If your laptop has an ExpressCard slot you can connect a desktop graphics card to it with an external dock. (Read how it's done here.) Most laptops also come with expandable memory — you might be able to get some decent speed gains by adding a few sticks of RAM which is very affordable.
Finally, it could be worth your while downloading a gaming optimisation app such as Game Booster. This is a software tool specifically designed for gamers that turns off background applications and system tray utilities to free up additional resources.
You might also be able to pick up some useful tips from the following articles:
- Boost Your Gaming Performance
- Get The Most From Your Games: A Beginners Guide To Graphics Settings
- Supercharge Your Gaming Experience This Weekend
As always, if you have any laptop gaming tips of your own, please let GU know in the comments section below.
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