Although Windows Vista is a great operating system with tons of great features and application, when it comes to gaming, its performance is still lagging behind Windows XP. One of the reasons is that most of the current games are not designed for Windows Vista which utilizes the new DirectX 10 technology. Another reason is that Windows Vista has a lot of activities running in the background that interferes with the gaming resources.
Below I have compiled 10 useful Windows Vista tips and tricks to help you improve your gaming performance.
1. Upgrade your hardware
This includes the RAM, CPU and graphics card. For gaming in Vista, make sure that you own a dual core CPU, 2 GB RAM and a DirectX 10 compliant graphics card.
2. Disable System Restore
Vista’s System Restore helps you to backup your files and provide a restoration in the event that the OS crash. Although a useful feature, it can slow down your system to a great extent. To disable it, click on “Start -> Control Panel -> System and Maintenance -> System” and remove the tick next to any drives that you have protected.
3. Turn off hibernation
If you don’t use the hibernation feature, you can disable it and recover around a gigabyte of hard disk space. To do this, open up “Run” and type
powercfg - H off
4. Disable the Sidebar
While this is a great eye-candy, it takes up a lot of resources. To disable the sidebar, open “Control Panel -> Windows Sidebar Properties”. Uncheck the “Start Sidebar When Windows Start”.
5. Move swap file to another drive/partition
Swap file is a temporary file used to store data for future use. If you have another drive, you can speed up Vista a bit by moving the swap file to that drive. Or if you are using only one drive, you can set up a partition to store your swap file.
- Click on “Start -> Control Panel -> System” and “Maintenance -> System”
- Choose “Advanced system settings” from the top left hands side
- Make sure that the Advanced tab is selected
- In the Performance section click “Settings”
- Click on the “Advanced” tab
- In the Virtual Memory section click “Change”
- Uncheck “Automatically manage paging file sizes for all drives”
- Click on the partition you want to use as a swap partition, select “Custom Size”, and set the new sizes of your swap file. The recommended size is 2.5 times your RAM size, and my choice is to set the Initial Size and Maximum Size values equal, to get a fixed size swap file.
- Click on the primary partition, check “No paging file” and click Set. This is to prevent Vista from placing a swap file on your primary partition.
- Restart the computer
6. Add 3D sound
The DirectX 10 architecture changed the ways sound is processed in gaming. If you are playing Windows XP games that use hardware 3D audio effects, most likely you will not hear any sound at all. To overcome this, you can use Creative’s ALchemy tool. Download and install the ALchemy tool from Creative website. This tool will pipe any DirectSound calls in Windows XP games to OpenAL to give it a full 3D audio hardware support.
7. Turn off Vista’s Indexing Engine
The Vista’s Indexing Engine is a useful tool that allows you to search for files easily. However during gaming, it is running in the background and takes up resources that affect the gaming performance. To turn it off, go to “Control Panel -> Indexing Option”. Click “Modify -> Show All Locations” to remove any drives or folders that you don’t want to be indexed.
8. Change your Startup program
To prevent any unused programs from loading during the boot up process and take up your system resources, you can change your startup program by typing
msconfig into the Run box. Click the startup tab and uncheck the box next to any software that you don’t want to run during startup.
9. Use Ready Boost
This is a new feature in Vista that uses an external USB flash drive as a cache to store frequently access data. It is said to be able to increase the performance up to 10 times. Insert in a USB 2.0 flash drive into your USB port. In the window that pops up, click on the ReadyBoost tab. Select “use this device”.
10. Disable SuperFetch
Another new feature of Vista that utilizes all your free memory to store frequency accessed data. While it is a good feature, it is actually causing more harm to your game performance. Your game needs a lot of free memory to load maps, process AI and so on, while the SuperFetch is constantly taking up free memory to store data. To disable the SuperFetch, open Run and type
services.msc. Select “Stop/Disable SuperFetch”, and then reboot the computer.