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Update (December 1st, 2023): This thread has been completely revamped, as well as the contents of all the links here. The one exception, is that the guides have not yet been updated for the newest Windows builds, now that 23H2 released recently, but that will be the primary focus going forward. I do not have an estimated completion date yet for updating to the newest builds, but will modify this note when I have one.

Here you will find a huge collection of information for tweaking Windows, as well as gaming advice. This page contains useful information for users of all skill levels, covering a wide range of topics, so whether you are a power user looking to glean some tweaks from the guide, are new to NTLite or optimizing, or simply do not want to spend time figuring everything out on your own, then you are in the right place.

To get an official copy of these files from Microsoft's servers, see this post (link) for instructions.

The following threads provide instructions on how to achieve a stable and fast operating system, while removing annoyances and making Windows less invasive. Doing these first three guides in the order listed, can teach you the skills and knowledge you need to be able to set out on your own, to build custom images and troubleshoot problems, without any assistance. You could also do these three guides and then just walk away and enjoy your new computer, since it will be far better than a default Windows, even if you do not explore any other tweaking.

- Guide: NTLite for Beginners
- Guide: Installing Windows
- Guide: Optimized Image

The remaining guides below contain a plethora of details on each subject, and are meant for users that already have a fair understanding of the guides above, and want to continue learning more about NTLite, Windows, and tweaking.

- Guide: Choosing a Preset
- Guide: Custom ISO Downloads
- Guide: Default Resource Usage
- Guide: DPC Latency
- Guide: Icon and Thumbnail Cache
- Guide: Optimizing Cortana
- Guide: Pause Windows Updates
- Guide: Quality Control
- Guide: Safe Mode
- Guide: Start Menu and Taskbar

The following threads are a collection of interesting and useful discussions around tweaking something in particular or trying to figure out how a feature works under the hood. Some of these threads are only meant to be informative, while others are an attempt to see if the community can help or provide different viewpoints to consider. Each of these items came up during the course of working on all my guides.

- Discussion: 22H2 Task Scheduler Bug
- Discussion: Component Policies
- Discussion: Driver Cleanup
- Discussion: Edge Chromium Updates
- Discussion: Image Failure
- Discussion: Network Discovery
- Discussion: NTFS Indexing Option
- Discussion: NTLite Methodology
- Discussion: NTLite Usage (Poll)
- Discussion: NVIDIA Display Driver (nvlddmkm.sys) DPC Latency
- Discussion: Pagefile (Poll)
- Discussion: Power Plan Attributes Key
- Discussion: Reserved Storage
- Discussion: Sleep Study
- Discussion: Spectre and Meltdown
- Discussion: Start Menu Folders
- Discussion: Translations and Interpretations
- Discussion: USB Fails to Boot
- Discussion: User Tracking
- Discussion: Wi-Fi CloudCheck by ASSIA
- Discussion: Windows CRLF vs Linux LF
- Discussion: Windows Market Statistics


This section contains notes on various bits of information that may be helpful.

DirectX (DX) Runtime: Updates some graphics components that many games and benchmarks need.

Visual C++ (32-bit) Runtime: Installs the 2015-2022 package that many games and benchmarks need.

Visual C++ (64-bit) Runtime: Installs the 2015-2022 package that many games and benchmarks need.

Visual C++ Downloads: Goes to the Microsoft web page for older packages, if needed for outdated software.

This question is the most frequent of them all, and I will explain in detail what the current options are.

Linux: All forks and variants are not a logical option, because none of them are truly compatible with gaming and Windows software, until they can figure out how to properly handle DirectX, or the open-source Vulkan becomes standard. Most users also have a difficult time navigating these systems, which is a huge part of why they have never been popular.

Windows XP/7/8: With all the changes that happened in recent times, these operating systems are now totally obsolete, and anyone trying to build a computer for these systems in today's age are wasting their time. Major developers have completely dropped support, and drivers for newer hardware do not exist and never will.

ChromeOS: This is like a lightweight fork of XP or Windows 7. Chromebooks are low cost, secure, and easy to maintain, as there are no drivers or anything complicated to manage. Even reformatting is a breeze, taking about 15 minutes from start to finish, and it automates everything. For web browsing, online accounts, office work, school, and other mundane stuff, this is what people should actually be using. This system cannot run Windows software though, so they can only play browser games and apps from the Google Play Store.

Windows 10: This is by far the best choice, as this system still makes up much more market share than everything else combined. It is heavily bloated, and was extremely buggy for the first few years, but version 21H2 is stable and refined, and is also what Enterprise 2021 editions use. This system can be slimmed down to about the same as a Windows 7 default install, without causing any problems, but it is very difficult and time consuming, which is why I created the "Optimized Image" guide to make it fast and easy.

Windows 11: This contains Windows 10 at the core, with extra bloat and features layered on. It is even more difficult to tweak than anything in the past, has higher DPC latency, and is still evolving. This means it is buggier and less stable, which is expected, since every new operating system takes several years to mature. Advocates for Windows 11 will say you need it for new hardware, because E-Cores or whatever else, but that is a misconception, as E-Cores currently operate equally well on newer Windows 10 and 11 builds.

The internet has so much misinformation regarding computers, and the reality is a lot of tweaks people use do not apply to their operating system, which means it does nothing, or the tweak does apply and actually decreases performance. This is because most gamers just go by how their computer feels, rather than doing proper benchmarks or actual testing.

It is common to see gamers blindly apply random tweaks and scripts from the internet, and then the placebo effect makes them feel good, since they think they got this advice from a professional. The takeaway here is to always research and test everything for yourself, and avoid making assumptions when it comes to computers.

If you are a gamer, you will not see high-end performance on a laptop. A desktop computer can be built at a fraction of the price and will always outperform the best “gaming” laptop there is. Graphics cards are the same weight and size of a laptop, because all that performance and cooling capability simply cannot fit into a thin device, and that is the first indicator that gaming laptops are a inferior.

Laptops have tend to have much higher DPC latency than an equal desktop counterpart too, due to the lack of BIOS options, and all the extra drivers that laptops require, which contribute to extra throttling on laptops, for heat and battery reasons. Overall, a desktop is superior in every aspect of performance, even when comparing the exact same laptop hardware variants as a desktop. Unfortunately, the idea of a "gaming" laptop is only only marketing hype to sell expensive electronics.

There are only a few ways to improve computer performance, and the main points are discussed below.

Hardware: Better parts are the biggest improvement you can make, but it can be expensive, so most gamers spend time optimizing other things to make up for that. Try to upgrade each part when you can, by first getting an SSD or better, 16 gigabytes of RAM, a CPU with a high single-threaded rating, and then a better graphics card. A lot of people focus on graphics first, but all data has to be processed by the DISK/RAM/CPU and is where the major bottlenecks will appear, and cause the most problems overall.

Overclocking: Increasing processor, memory, and graphics speeds through the BIOS or Windows software can give noticeable improvements, but at the cost of added heat, and it is not recommended on air cooling, since it decreases hardware life spans. Using an XMP (or AMD equivalent) overclocking profile can be acceptable, since those tend to be less aggressive and safer.

Firmware/Drivers: Installing the latest, official firmware and drivers straight from the hardware manufacturer's website is the best way to do this, and can greatly improve stability or performance, when compared to older or incorrect drivers. For optimal computer performance, it is recommended to download the latest drivers, then reformat Windows using the new drivers, and repeat this once or twice a year.

Game Engines: Many game developers create their own engines, and they are usually unoptimized. About the only thing we can do here is report all problems to the developers within the first year a game is released, since that is the standard length of time that most developers support a game with patches. Game engines can also be improved by tweaking the configuration files, but every game needs its own guide on that.

Windows: This is where people get into trouble, because there is so much bad information out there, but the main takeaway about tweaking is that you are not going to see massively increased frame rates. Instead, reducing the overhead of Windows decreases DPC latency, which is the true culprit behind most performance problems. Reducing overhead also eliminates unpatched bugs and security flaws, reduces bandwidth consumption from the constant pings to Microsoft, and can increase frame rates if the CPU is weak.

There are some things you can tweak or buy which provide advantages to the human player, but you might not see them manifest in a benchmark or elsewhere. Caffeine is considered an enhancer here, but I am only going to focus on computer stuff.

An example of this could be something like turning off the Windows mouse enhance pointer precision option which is on by default, because this adds mouse acceleration, which interferes with smooth movements and muscle memory. Also, only change mouse speeds using the in-game settings, because changing it in Windows turns on more acceleration. On that note, many players will turn mouse sensitivity up high, but lowering it actually helps to control things like weapon recoil and accuracy, due to game engine mechanics.

Buy a mouse with a polling rate of 500 or 1000 MHz, but do not use anything above that, because although a higher polling rate causes the mouse to update faster, if it goes too fast it actually increases DPC latency. Use a mouse that has no drivers or software to install, as this will improve performance by reducing overhead. Also, use only wired mice, since there is extra input lag in wireless. Lastly, a plain black mouse pad is recommended over textured or graphic designs for more consistent movement.

When it comes to monitors, a higher refresh rate helps gamers see and react better, because the monitor is updating the screen more often per second, resulting in extra visual data reaching the user. Unlike a mouse though, a monitor's high refresh rate will not affect DPC latency, unless something has been misconfigured in the graphics driver, monitor profile, game settings, or Windows.

Mechanical keyboards offer an advantage by preventing n-key rollover and ghosting. On a traditional keyboard, you can only press between 2 to 6 keys within a short time period before further keys are ignored (rollover), and it can even start to activate keys you did not press (ghosting). Use the old PS/2 port and not USB, since PS/2 has the potential to slightly lessen DPC latency, as USB drivers can be very finicky, plus the PS/2 port is the only way to truly have infinite n-key rollover and avoid all ghosting.

I have been a gamer and computer enthusiast for the last 30 years. I started on DOS, playing games like Doom and eventually that evolved into Diablo 2 where I took my gaming handle from the Secret Cow Level. I really got into tweaking computers while playing Call of Duty 2, since computer performance had a direct impact on the potential capabilities of the player.

As the years went on I started to get into competitive gaming, which required even more computer tweaking. I joined a few different clans and we competed on Team Warfare League, where we managed to reach rank #1 in North America on a couple of ladders. I also placed on the top boards in several of the solo Diablo 3 seasons ladders with every class.

It became too hard for me to stay competitive as I progressed through college, got married, had kids, and so forth. Instead, I used my free time to continue learning about computers and having fun doing what gamers refer to as "pub stomping" which is when players of a high skill level hop into random public games and dominate the scoreboards. The goal now that I am older, is to pass down the knowledge I learned over the years to the younger generations, so they can spend more time playing games, and not have to spend years tweaking their computer.
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Any comments on network setup? Why never use WiFi for gaming, NAT'iing, IPv6, DNS, NTP...
I have used wifi a long time ago for gaming before and never had a issue. For about 90 percent of us it shouldn't matter if your on wifi or cat cable as long as you got good signal and decent speed coming across.

For the other 5-10 percent that are full time streamers and rely on first person shooters or the such then yes cord it is.
Yeah, good points guys. I do have plans to add a section on browser settings, and router configuration, the latter being ultra important for gamers since most people just use the default router configuration which is usually poor for sensitive applications like games, especially now that a ton of games use matchmaking instead of dedicated servers. I had a router guide that was popular on an old Cisco forum (discussing how to achieve proper NAT types on gaming consoles), I'll have to find it and update it since it's quite old now.

For network stuff in the OS, it was something I plan on integrating into the image, I just couldn't fit it into version 1.0 in a timely manner so it will have to be done in the future. I could add a quick post-install guide here in the meantime so people can configure their adapters optimally (turning off flow control, green power settings, etcetera), since that stuff is really important for a smooth gaming experience for sure.

Speedguide.net is a great authority on the network topic, but they really need to go through and update all their guides and consolidate their articles nowadays, because the useful stuff is spread across too many places or is outdated. Also, their TCP Optimizer seems to glitch out Windows 10 and makes downloads behave oddly, so I can't recommend that right now until I have a chance to investigate and submit some bug reports for their tool.
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requesting someone else's Iso is not a wise thing to do
and giving it to them isnt being fair. Never shared a custom iso in my life. Downloaded a few for information purposes only, to learn and find new tweaks.

Besides, why should i fork out £250 for a license then give a created iso to joe blow and his buddies for nothing?
Duck Fat, cough up like i did. :mad:
Can you send your iso?

Between forum rules, the legality of sharing images, and the troubles that come from hosting big files, about all we can do is teach people how to make their own image or provide NTLite presets.

My "Optimized Image" guide is really a kind of preset. I just use .reg files instead of an NTLite xml preset because NTLite doesn't have all the settings that I've used, and so I can't make an xml preset to share. It's fine though, since .reg files are easy to work with, and can even be used with the free version of NTLite.

I know it can feel overwhelming at first, but if you set aside a day to go through the guides, it really isn't too bad. One day of learning how to make an image pays off hugely for the months or years to come, since you end up with a more productive Windows in your hands. Let us know if you get stuck in the guides and we'll help you out.
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Hi! If you can please share the preset of windows 8.1... thank you...

I'm sorry i'm not aware of any similar presets available for windows 8.1 ....... unless someone has one hiding around somewhere
Hi! If you can please share the preset of windows 8.1... thank you...
I probably have an ancient preset from my Skylake laptop times, but it is ancient. It can at most serve as a basis for you. I don't have win 8.x capable devices (we only own laptops here, even if mine is used as a desktop) anymore so I can't test it.
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well, they gave me an ancient laptop (BGA479 cpu 2 cores) windows 10 does not pull, but Windows 8.1 is fine.I'm not for games, for office work... It's a pity to throw it away, I will give it for very very inexpensive to anyone who needs it. In Kazakhstan, we count every cent and survive as best we can...therefore, such a request.thanks to all the caring people
Ah, I see. Yeah in that scenario the older the operating system the better, especially on a laptop. Have you tried using the built-in presets in NTLite to slim down W8.1? There's 4 presets in total, each more aggressive than the previous one. That CPU socket is really old, so the laptop probably shipped with Vista or W7 on it since W8 didn't release until years later. If you still have the license key for the older operating system then I would look into installing what it shipped with.

There aren't a lot of alternatives to Windows either, you can try linux, but it's not user friendly for people new to it. You could also look into Chromium OS or their brand new Chrome "Flex" OS and see if they can be installed on this laptop.

Ultimately though, a lot of machines like this end up being tossed because there's not much that can be done with them. The issue is that there's so many variables involved, from the limitations of the motherboard, to operating system licenses, finding drivers after the official sources took them offline, hardware/software compatibility, etcetera. In the end it's easier, faster, and sometimes more economical to toss out the old machine and just buy a cheap Chromebook on sale.
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are u doing like 120ms in reaction time human benchmark website :) ?
Nah, I'm slow :p I've never heard of that website before, but I tried it out and got about 240 on average. I didn't expect to have a good score though because that's not my playstyle. What I do is focus on prediction--learning human behavior and their tendencies, and combine that with game knowledge (which equipment/skills are best) and good situational awareness (knowing all the spawn locations, and where you are on the map in relation to your team and enemies).

Humans are really quite predictable and will often continue doing the same thing over and over, even if they know it will end in failure, because they think they can somehow do it slightly better next time and be successful. Camping in first person shooters is a good example of this. People will continually go to the same spots to hide, even if they keep dying because sometimes it pays off and nets them a kill or two. It rarely ever results in them having more kills than deaths at the end of the game, but they do it regardless.

An example of how to use this, is to make a mental note that there is frequently someone hiding behind a door on a particular map and shoots you in the back whenever you enter the room. What I do in that scenario is sprint/jump through the entrance, while simultaneously turning around so your crosshairs will be facing the person that might be hiding. You can almost always catch them off guard because the actively moving player tends to have the advantage over someone that's sitting still. I'll do this every time I enter this room, whether someone actually ends up being there or not, and when someone is there and you kill them you get, "How did you know I was there, wallhack!"

Here's the website aviv00 is talking about, for anyone that wants to test their reaction speeds too: