Tweak Windows XP For Gaming

By   /   Aug 2, 2009

Windows XP is still the most used consumer operating system and most preferred OS by gamers. Keeping that in mind, I have compiled few performance tweaks to squeeze every last bit of system resources so that you can run your favorite games smoothly.

These are system intrusive tweaks mostly and mostly require registry edits so I would recommend creating a new gaming profile in user accounts before applying these changes to be on the safe side.

Adjust Graphics for Speed
You can increase your system performance by tweaking the windows visual graphics, windows XP comes with lot of visual options that can be altered to make your PC perform faster and more responsive.
Adjust windows visual graphics automatically for best performance, that’s how you can do that.

1.    Right click on the My Computer icon on your desktop or in your start panel and select properties.
2.    Next, click on the advanced tab and choose the setting button under performance.
.    On the visual effects tab, select Adjust for Best Performance and hit OK.
.    Scroll to bottom and check “Use visual styles for buttons”.

Memory Management
Go to Start menu and Type “regedit” and now go to this key:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management]

1. DisablePagingExecutive
Double click it and change the decimal part to 1, It will allow XP to keep data in memory instead of paging sections of Ram to hard drive and will yield faster performance.

2. LargeSystemCache
Double click it and change the decimal part to 1, it will allow XP kernel to run in memory and will considerably increase performance.

3. Create a new DWORD and name it “IOPageLockLimit” double click it and set the value in hex in the following manner:
If you have 128mb Ram, Set it to 4000.
If you have 256mb Ram, Set it to 10000.
If you have more then 512mb Ram, Set it to 40,000


Tweak Swap File
This tweak will only help users with 256MB Ram or more by boasting their Windows and Gaming Experience. What it does is that it won’t allow Windows to use any swap file until and only there is no Ram memory left to use.

Open System Configuration Utility by typing “msconfig.exe” in Run. Now in your “system.ini” add “ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1” under “386enh section”.


Disable unwanted Services
XP runs a lot of services at back end that are of no use to Home users, they are mostly for corporate networks, here is the list of services that 99% of home users don’t use and can be safely disabled thereby freeing up memory but just for heads up do check what they do before disabling them, if by chance you are using any of them.

Go to Run and type “msconfig.msc” Right click on each service, properties and choose disable.

List of Services to Disable
Application Layer Gateway Service
Application Management
Automatic Updates
Background Intelligent Transfer
Distributed Link Tracking Client
Distributed Transaction Coordinater
Error Reporting Service
Fast User Switching Compatibility
IMAPI CD-Burning
Indexing Service
IPSEC Services
Net Logon
Net Meeting
Remote Desktop Sharing
Network DDE
Network DDE DSDM
Portable Media Serial Number
Remote Desktop Help Session Manager
Remote Registry
Secondary Logon
SSDP Discovery Service
Telnet Themes
Uninterruptible Power Supply
Universal Plug and Play Device Host
Upload Manager
Wireless Zero Configuration
WMI Performance Adaptor


Disable XP Crud Built in CD Burner
1.  On start menu Type “services.msc” in Run and Hit Ok.
2. Go to IMAPI CD Burning Com Services, open it and click on “Startup Type” now change it to “Disabled”

Speed up Your File System
NTFS file system has features that come at a little performance price but you can minimize their impact on system performance by following steps.

To disable NTFS update timestamps,type “regedit” in Run, and Go to key:


now set ‘DisableNTFSLastAccessUpdate’ to 1.

NTFS file system uses master file control tables to store file system information about your drives. Over the time these Master File Control Tables grow old and become fragmented, slowing down your hard drive. By setting aside a little space MFT’s can grow without being fragmented.

Go to the same key:


and create a new DWORD value called ‘NtfsMftZoneReservation’ and set it to 2.

The range of this value is 1 to 4. The default setting reserves one-eighth of the volume for the MFT. A setting of 2 reserves one-quarter of the volume for the MFT. A setting of 3 for NtfsMftZoneReservation reserves three-eighths of the volume for the MFT and setting it to 4 reserves half of the volume for the MFT.
Setting the value to 2 is recommended as it allows for a moderate number of files to communicate with a number of small files included in most computer games and applications.


Disable DLL Caching
Windows explorer caches dynamic link libraries in memory for a period of time after you have closed certain application. This is an inefficient use of memory.

Go to Key:


and create a new DWORD sub key named ‘AlwaysUnloadDLL’ and set the default value equal to 1, now Windows won’t cache DLL.


Tweak Windows Prefetcher
Go to Run, type “regedit”. Now go to key:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters\EnablePrefetcher].

The default setting of this is 3. Increasing this number to 5 gives the prefetcher system more system resources to prefetch application data for faster load times. Depending on the number of boot processes you run on your computer, you may get benefits from settings up to 9. However, setting it up above 5 is not recommended due to lack of data about the effects of doing that.


Increase Your Swap Amount
Go to Control Panel > ‘System’ > Advanced > Now Under ‘Performance’ click Settings > hit the ‘Advanced’ Tab > now at bottom where it says ‘Virtual Memory’ click ‘Change’ and type in the new amounts. Preferably 2000 for both, click ‘Set’ and then click ‘OK’. It will speed up file transfer especially for big ass games.

QoS Tweak
Quality of Service (QoS) is a networking subsystem which is supposed to ensure that network runs smoothly but at the cost of running network smoothly, it eats up 20% of the bandwidth of any networking system on computer including internet connection.
You can easily disable bandwidth quota reserved for the system using group policy editor. “Tutorial on How to Tweak QoS

Stop Unwanted Programs for Running On Start Up
Go to Startmenu, Run and Type “msconfig” now go to “Startup tab” and uncheck everything you don’t want to see running at startup. Obviously you don’t want to mess up with your windows directory or anything that is directly related to your hardware but still there will be lot of applications that can be disabled without any risk, saving the system memory.

The best part about msconfig is that it doesn’t delete any of the settings, it simply disables them, so you can go back anytime and restart a start up application if you find you need it. After fine tuning start up applications


Boot Files Optimization

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Dfrg \ BootOptimizeFunction]

Under this key you will find a text file named Enable. A value of Y for this setting enables boot files defragmenter. This setting defragments the boot files and may move them to the beginning part of the partition. Reboot after applying this tweak.

Disable User Tracking
The user tracking system build into Windows XP is mostly useless and above all it uses up system resources to boot so it makes sense disabling this feature.
To do so, go to key:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ Explorer]

and find the “DWORD”  “NoInstrumentation”, create this subkey if it is not already there. Default setting is ‘0’ but setting it to ‘1’ will disable most of the user tracking features of the System.

IRQ Priority Tweak

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ System \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ PriorityControl]

You will need to create a new DWORD:  IRQ#Priority  ( where # is the number of IRQ you want to prioritize) and give it a setting of 1.
This setting gives requisite IRQ channel priority over other IRQ’s on a software level.

This can be extremely important for functions and hardware subsystems that require real time access to other parts of the system. Several different sub systems can benefit from this tweak.Generally either giving System CMOS or the video card priority is recommended.

System CMOS generally has an IRQ setting of ‘8’ and giving it priority enhances the I/O performance of the system. Giving priority to video card can increase frame rates and make GPU more effective.

You can give several IRQs priority but it is not recommended because it may cause random instabilities in the system although XP’s parsing system can handle such incidents still it’s not recommended.


Free Idle Task Tweak
This tweak will free up system memory from any idle processes and allow it to be used by any application we are running. Very useful tweak particularly if you are running a game or other 3D application. Create a new shortcut to “Rundll32.exe advapi32.dll,ProcessIdleTasks” and place it on your desktop. Double click on it anytime you need all your processing power, before opening any application.

Tweak Chipset Using Power Tweak Application
Power tweak is an application which acts like a driver for your chipset. It optimizes the communication between chipset and CPU, and unlocks several hidden features of the chipset that can increase the speed of the system.

Specifically it tweaks the internal registers of the chipset and processor that the bios does not, for better communication performance between subsystems.Supported chipsets can see a significant increase in I/O bandwidth, increasing the speed of the entire system.

Currently the application supports all the famous chipsets and processors, browse the website to see whether your chipset/processor is supported.

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