As the owner of a new gaming PC, you can’t wait to hit the ground running. You have your list of new must-play titles as well as some old favorites ready for installation. However, you must first take steps to secure and optimize your new gaming PC in order to protect yourself against cyber threats and enjoy a smooth gaming experience.
Go Through Your BIOS
Check your BIOS to see if your CPU, memory, and other essential components are the ones you paid for and functional. Look at the temperature readings to see if the heatsink and fan are working. If your computer suffers from compatibility issues, then a BIOS update could help.
Decades ago, you needed nerves of steel to update your bios — a power surge, a bug, or the wrong BIOS would quickly disable your motherboard. However, a modern BIOS is more user-friendly and more comfortable to update.
If you bought a branded computer from a store, then the chances are that your system has bloatware. Bloatware is trial-based software included in your new PC and carries adware designed to transmit your data to marketers. Not only does adware invade your privacy, but it slows down your system and affects your game. Use the Control Panel to uninstall useless software quickly. Next, remove adware, PUPs (Potentially Undesirable Programs), toolbars, and browser hijackers with the right tool.
Download A Good Web Browser
Let’s be honest — the default Windows browser isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Download a lean and quick web browser to visit websites and download new software designed to enhance your gaming experience.
Set Up Your Defenses
Before you go any further, you must establish your gaming PC’s defenses to stay secure on the Internet. While Windows Defender is adequate, it needs a helping hand. Beef up your computer’s security with advanced antivirus software that remediates all malware threats such as viruses, worms, Trojan horses, adware, spyware, and ransomware. Keep in mind that malware can breach your privacy and slow down or crash your system. Always use cybersecurity software that protects your machine in real-time without draining its resources to enjoy games at optimal performance.
Secure and Optimize Your Network
Nowadays, just about every PC game is connected to the Internet for online features and copyright protection. Unfortunately, this opens up your computer to online threats such as trolls, thieves, hackers, and malware. Secure your network by activating your Windows firewall. Add your favorite games to the firewall whitelist to play unhindered. For added network security, activate your router’s firewall too.
In addition, take the following steps to improve your network speed:
- Connect your PC directly to the router with an ethernet cable
- Place the router in a central location away from signal blocks
- Reset your router once a week
- Disable downloads on your favorite gaming platforms before you start a game
Subscribe to a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN is an encrypted tunnel between you and the Internet that enhances security. It also protects your anonymity by masking your IP address. You probably use a VPN to bypass geo-blocks and access entertainment content across the Internet. However, it’s best practice to avoid free VPNs. Many free VPNs infect your machine with malware, spy on you, sell your bandwidth, use outdated encryption technology, and slow your online games to a crawl.
Instead, subscribe to a state-of-the-art VPN service like Malwarebytes privacy VPN — that uses the almost uncrackable 256-bit AES encryption as well as WireGuard, one of the fastest and most secure protocols. With this well-received VPN, you can retain your competitive advantage on the speediest servers. Here are some other benefits of using a good VPN service:
- Stay safe from trolls who threaten you with swatting or DDoS attacks
- Game safely on unsecured public WiFi networks
- Play PC games with others worldwide
- Download games blocked in your country
- Buy the same games cheaper from various corners of the world
- Avoid IP address bans
With your defenses established, update your operating system to the latest version. While updating Windows for the first time can take time, it’s worthwhile for the latest security and compatibility updates.
Remember, as you update your Windows and download new software, programs will ask you for security and privacy permissions. Respond to these requests with caution to preserve your privacy and your system’s performance — your computer will slow down as programs on your system monitor your activities and mine your data for marketers.
Update Your Video Card Drivers
Although Windows Update optimizes your software to the latest version, it doesn’t always update your video card drivers. The latest drivers from NVIDIA or AMD add features, fix bugs, and improve performance. If your current drivers are dated, you may notice a significant boost in framerates with the latest ones. You can also download your video card’s utility suite to tweak your rig to your liking.
With your gaming PC updated and optimized, run benchmarks to check performance. The right benchmarking tools will help you determine whether your PC us up to the mark or needs further tweaking. Use a PC benchmarking tool to check your processor, motherboard, memory, and a video game benchmarking tool to measure your video card, processor, and memory. Many video games also have benchmarking options that you can use.
Compare your results to those with similar system configurations and software settings to ensure that your computer performs optimally. Watch out for video compression artifacts and random crashes for signs of malfunctioning computer hardware.
If your benchmark scores are as expected and your video game performance is still slow, optimize in-game settings. Reduce the screen resolution and lower special effects such as anti-aliasing, shadows, render distance, and texture quality. Likewise, check your hardware. Sometimes an inadequate power supply can throttle your video card and hurt performance.
Once you’re ready to play, secure your video game accounts with strong passwords and two-step authentication before you download games. Always pick nearby servers for the best online speeds. With your gaming PC secured and optimized, you can enjoy video games stress-free.