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Back... Spray Tweaking

Tweaking for gaming

With today's version of the popular operating system called Windows, tweaking is important. Tweaking is the process of configuring your computer to run faster, more efficiently and more be more stable.

You've probably already learned how to tweak your server (training video), but now, you'll learn how to tweak your gaming computer to be really fast and produce more frames per second (FPS) while playing 3D games! The process of tweaking a gaming computer is somewhat similar from the steps of tweaking a server, although, you'll learn some important stuff that only applies to a gaming computer.

This tweaking guide is divided into 4 parts:

  • GUI
    Learn how to tweak Window's graphical user interface to create a more responsive and faster operating system.
  • Processes
    Learn how to analyze which processes ("hidden" programs) are running on your computer and know which ones to terminate to achieve better computer performance and leave more RAM for other applications.
  • Services
    Learn how to disable useless services ("hidden" programs) to gain lower RAM usage by your operating system and increase startup time
  • Maintenance
    Learn about defragmenting and maintaining your Windows operating system so that your computer always performs at it's maximum capacity.

Part 1

Luna Theme
The graphical user interface is the way you interact with your computer. Maybe in the future we'll interact with computers using telepathy, but today we give out orders to our computer using input devices (keyboard, mouse, microphone, etc.) and the computer displays the information back to us using a computer monitor.

There are two primary ways that we can interact and share with our computer. One is the console and the other way is called the graphical user interface. Here's a comparison of both:

(click to enlarge)


(click to enlarge)


The console screenshot has been taken from a Linux computer while the GUI screenshot has been taken from Windows XP. Today, the console is quite old and some might even call it obsolete. I call it fast, easy and efficient! But because of gaming, we have no choice but to use Windows with it's GUI.


By default, Windows XP uses a GUI theme that's called Luna. Here's a comparison between the Classic and Luna theme:

(click to enlarge)

Luna theme

(click to enlarge)

Classic theme

 is somewhat cooler than the traditional Classic skin but it can cause a performance decrease. For example, Luna uses 4 MB of RAM and there is a bug that makes Internet Explorer render pages 75% slower with the Luna theme enabled. I strongly recommend you to disable Luna by following these steps:

  1. Right click on your desktop to open a popup menu

  2. On the pop-up menu, select the Properties option

  3. When the Display Properties window appears, notice the Themes roll down box.

  4. Click on the roll down box and select the Windows Classic option.

  5. Click OK

Custom themes
In the world of computers, people want customization and with the recent technological advancements, it's now even possible to create your own GUI by using programs such as WindowBlinds or ObjectDesktop. However, this customization comes with a serious disadvantage: performance decrease.

Because it's custom, these programs need amazing amounts of RAM and CPU. They'll most likely kill your FPS while playing games and slow down your system's responsiveness.

My advice? Uninstall any custom themes you have and please use the Windows Classic theme. If you spend a lot of time enjoying games, you won't even be watching your customized "Windows 3004" theme because you'll be fragging people!

Part 2

Faster Boot up
Processes are little programs that are running in the background of your computer. While they could help you achieving your daily taks, most of the processes running are useless and wastes you loading time and RAM.

Here's how we view the processes who are supposed to start at startup:

  1. Open the Start menu by clicking on the Start button

  2. Click on the Run... item.

  3. Into the "Open:" text box, type msconfig

Now, this window is supposed to appear:

Before tweaking the startup processes, we'll take a look at the way windows start up. Go ahead and click on the BOOT.INI tab:

Now, click on the checkbox near /SOS:

What this checkbox will do is that it will disable the Windows boot screen and, instead, will the display the list of the DLLs that Windows is currently loading. This will decrease your boot time by a bit and will even offer a greater debugging feature because if Windows fails, you'll see at what DLL it exactly failed!

Tweaking processes
Using the same msconfig window, we'll tweak our startup processes. To do this, click on the Startup tab. Your window should now look like this:

Your list won't look exactly the same as showed over here.

This list contains all the processes that are started are startup. In my list, you can see MSN Messenger, MSN Messenger Plus, Norton AntiVirus and ZoneAlarm. My processes list is already tweaked as these processes are the only ones I use. You can see that my disabled processes aren't checked.

You should go through this list and uncheck the processes you don't use or don't know about. You'll probably want to search the processes' name in HLDS 101 Search (Powered by Google) to see if it can harm to your computer if disabled.

Part 3

What are services? Services are little programs that are hidden in your memory and are used to help accomplishing the task to other programs. In fact, you can even run any program as a service if you use FireDaemon!

The problem with Windows is that there are a lot of useless services that are running all the time. Sadly, I won't be able to recommend which services to disable as each and every computer is different.

What I will show you in this part is how to disable services and where to find information about useless and usefu services.

Disabling services
First, we need to open the services "viewer". To do this, go to start and then click run. In the run dialog type in services.msc and press enter. A windows somewhat similar to this should appear:

To disable a service, you double click on the service you want to disable and a dialog similar to this one should pop up:

Then, you roll down the Startup type roll down box and click on disabled. To finish you press the OK button.

Here are some useless services that you could probably disable:

  • Alerter
  • Background Intelligent Transfer
  • ClipBook
  • Help and Support
  • Indexing Service
  • Messenger
  • Net Logon
  • NetMeeting Remote Desktop Sharing
  • Performance Logs and Alerts
  • Portable Media Serial Number Service
  • QoS RSVP
  • Smart Card
  • Uninterruptable Power Supply
  • Windows Time
  • Wireless Zero Configuration

Otherwise, if you want to "super-tweak", I would recommend you to check out the Services page from the Windows god (yes, it's BlackViper): http://www.blackviper.com/WinXP/servicecfg.htm

Part 4

When you get a new computer, you'll notice that it's going to be really fast. After a month, you'll notice a performance drop. This performance decrease is usually caused by fragmentation.

To eliminate fragmentation, you need to defragment your drive each month or so. Open the windows defragmenter by going to the Start menu, then programs, then accessories, then System Tools and then click on Disk Defragmenter. Then to defragment, click on the Defragment button.

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