Gaming Lounge

Hellbovine

Active Member
Welcome to the Gaming Lounge.

Here you will find a collection of guides, notes, and tools for tweaking the Windows operating system, as well as gaming advice. This page contains useful information for all types of users, but it is geared more towards gamers, or more specifically people seeking high performance.

As such, this is not a thread for IT persons looking to discuss domains or security, because in general those topics do not apply to the vast majority of home users and/or are not focused on performance.

It is all a matter of what you plan on doing on your computer. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, I am offering advice for curious users to try, based on what I have personally settled on after spending 30 years on computers, and from reading hundreds of articles on the topic.

GUIDE: NTLITE FOR BEGINNERS

GUIDE: INSTALLING WINDOWS

GUIDE: OPTIMIZED IMAGE
How to make a customized Windows install for high performance:
https://www.ntlite.com/community/index.php?threads/guide-optimized-image.2990/

GUIDE: QUALITY CONTROL

GUIDE: DEFAULT RESOURCE USAGE

GUIDE: START MENU AND TASKBAR
How to remove ads and sponsored apps from a Windows install:
https://www.ntlite.com/community/index.php?threads/guide-start-menu-and-taskbar.2794/

GUIDE: PAUSE WINDOWS UPDATES

DIRECTX (DX) RUNTIMES
The following package must be manually installed on all Windows since it is not included by default, and is especially important for gamers. This package contains "optional" components that are actually mandatory for a lot of games and game related software to function properly.

DX9 June 2010 redistributable:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=8109

VISUAL C++ RUNTIMES
The following package must be manually installed on all Windows since it is not included by default, and is especially important for gamers. This package contains files that are mandatory for a lot of games and other tools to function properly.

C++ 2015-2022 (32-bit):
https://aka.ms/vs/17/release/vc_redist.x86.exe

C++ 2015-2022 (64-bit):
https://aka.ms/vs/17/release/vc_redist.x64.exe

Documentation:
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/cpp/windows/latest-supported-vc-redist

Note: if you are on a 64-bit Windows you will need to install both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions, however 32-bit Windows only need the 32-bit version.

BEST WINDOWS FOR GAMING
If you are a gamer then the first thing you need to know is that Microsoft seems to have gotten a lot of other companies onboard with their end of life road map. Anti-cheat software is now dropping support for versions of Windows that are no longer supported by Microsoft. This alone is a big enough reason to move on from an older Windows 10, such as 1809, 1903, or any other outdated edition.

You will eventually find yourself unable to play your favorite games if your Windows is not supported. Anti-cheat is not the only ones doing this either, Battle.net dropped support for older operating systems, even though most of their games were designed for them. This is "planned obsolescence" and it is happening in a lot of places right now, and growing at a rapid pace.

In addition to that, I do not recommend using any new operating system that just released, which in this case is Windows 11. The reason is because it takes several years for operating systems to mature, as well as for drivers and other 3rd party software to adapt.

Because of the reasons above, at this point in time I recommend Windows 10 21H2 (also called the November 2021 update) since it is the latest, supported version of Windows 10.

Windows 10, version 21H2:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10ISO

CUSTOM GAMING EDITIONS
If you look hard enough you will find about a dozen "gaming" operating systems on the internet. I am going to explain the problem with these customized operating systems and why you should avoid them.

First off, they are all illegal. This is because you cannot modify a Microsoft ISO and then publish it, which is what these guys do. That is the real reason why you need to be invited to their Discord servers, so they can weed out lawsuits and take-downs.

The second, and biggest reason of all, is the lack of transparency. This issue can be broken down into the topics of security and validity. You do not know what tweaks they have done, and reverse engineering it can take longer than building your own. Even the ones that do give a list of tweaks do not include the actual tweaks themselves (such as registry keys) so you can examine it all. You are just taking their word on everything.

Personally, I am not really concerned about security, since most of these kinds of people are genuinely just trying to help others, which I totally approve of. But, being knowledgeable is a whole different topic. I need to see your tweaks, or frankly I do not trust that you know what you are talking about. Why are your tweaks a secret? If I cannot test things for myself, then I am not interested.

I feel this way because the internet has devolved over the years into a giant trash heap of misinformation, and the harsh reality is a lot of tweaks that people use either do not even apply to that operating system at all, which means it does nothing (though the person will claim it is the best tweak ever), or worse, the tweak does apply and actually decreases performance.

Far too many gamers just go by how their computer "feels" instead of doing proper benchmarks or actual testing. They just apply a bunch of random tweaks they got from the internet and the placebo effect makes them feel good since they got all this advice from "pros".

The takeaway here is to always test everything yourself. You could use my optimized image guide linked at the top of this page to review my tweaks, and then pick and choose how to make your own custom operating system, giving you 100% transparency and control, which is a much better alternative to using a closed-source version from someone else that is not tailored to you or your machine.

GAMING LAPTOPS
If you are a gamer then you are wasting your time playing on a laptop, you will never find high-end performance on a laptop, period. A desktop computer can be built at a fraction of the price and will always outperform the best “gaming” laptop there is. There is a reason graphics cards nowadays are literally the same size as a small laptop, you just cannot fit all of that performance into a paper-thin device.

There is also a lot of other hidden issues in laptops too, such as the thermal drivers, lack of bios options, and other types of throttling which will happen no matter how much you tweak things, not to mention overheating issues since they just do not have the active cooling capabilities of a desktop. These concerns also introduce a lot of DPC latency that many times cannot be avoided. Overall, it just is not worth it, and I am truly sorry if you got talked into buying a "gaming" laptop, because no such thing exists, it is just marketing hype.

If you need a laptop for everyday browsing and general office work, then save yourself the Windows headache and buy a Chromebook, since Chrome OS is infinitely lighter than Windows in terms of bloat and resource usage. Plus, Chromebooks are extremely cheap to own and super easy to maintain.

GAMING PERFORMANCE
We need to talk about what tweaking is and is not. There are way too many misconceptions out there about how to improve gaming performance, and many people are looking at a lot of it the wrong way.

The few ways to improve performance are through updating firmware and drivers, adjusting a game's config files, optimizing Windows, overclocking, and buying faster hardware. Let us breakdown each of these topics.

1) Firmware and drivers fix bugs and add support so that hardware works as intended, and it is as simple as making sure things are always updated to see those benefits.

2) Many game engines are unoptimized and your gameplay can be improved by tweaking hidden settings in the config files, but every game requires its own guide on that topic.

3) Optimizing Windows is where we get into trouble, because there is so much misinformation out there, but the main takeaway about Windows tweaking is that you are not going to see increased framerates. Instead, what we are doing is reducing the overhead of Windows so that it stops interfering with games, which it does heavily by default.

Tweaks will not result in another 50 frames being added to your maximum framerate or something like that, what they will provide though is stability in what is called "1% lows" and in "DPC latency". In other words, the minimum framerate is what gets improved, which in many cases is actually more important than the maximum framerate.

It does not do you any good to have a framerate that fluctuates wildly, as that will result in a ton of stuttering/hitching/micro-stutter or whatever you want to call it. Instability is very noticeable and it takes enjoyment out of the game and negatively affects your ability to compete against others.

Minimum framerate is what consoles (Playstation, Xbox) are all about. Most games on consoles only run at maximum caps of 30 or 60 frames per second, which is atrocious by PC standards. But they get away with it, and most people do not notice just how bad it is because they are very stable framerates, thanks to lightweight, custom operating systems. If a game is running at 30 frames on a console, it will only fluctuate down to as low as 25 in a heavy action scene and you do not notice the low framerate because it is so stable overall.

All of the Windows operating systems after XP became very heavy on resources and it causes those fluctuations because there is so much overhead and background activity going on all the time. Once you calm down Windows with enough tweaks you can maintain a stable framerate much easier.

4) Overclocking the processor, memory, or graphics will give noticeable improvements, but at the cost of a lot of added heat, and as such it is not recommended on air cooling, since it is not worth the decreased life span that comes from excess heat.

5) Buying new hardware is self-explanatory, it is just expensive, and so most gamers cannot afford to have the best stuff and instead need to spend time optimizing other things to make up for the lack of firepower from their hardware.

HUMAN PERFORMANCE
There is kind of a sixth section related to the gaming performance topic above, but it is related to human performance instead. There are some things you can tweak or buy which provide advantages, but you might not see them manifest in a benchmark or other tool.

An example of this could be something like turning off the Windows mouse "enhance pointer precision" option which is on by default. Why? Because in the background what this is actually doing is adding what is called "mouse acceleration" and that can be a problem for a few reasons. Most notably though, is that it messes with your muscle memory in games, especially first person shooters.

Something that pro gamers will often do is to actually lower their mouse speed (only tweak that in-game, do not use Windows settings because it causes acceleration to turn on). This is usually the opposite of what people think, and a lot of players will crank mouse sensitivity up high, but by turning down the mouse sensitivity it helps to control things like weapon recoil for example, making it far easier to use automatic guns. It is something that you definitely need to try for a week or two and give yourself time to adjust, but once you do it will be game changing.

A similar tip is to get a mouse with a higher polling rate (500 Mhz or 1000 Mhz is plenty), but do not get sucked into the marketing hype for numbers above that. A higher polling rate causes the mouse to update faster, and it is quite noticeable over a traditional 125 Mhz mouse, which is the default. I personally like the Razer Abyssus because it has no drivers to install, which means less overhead and less bugs to deal with.

Your keyboard and monitor are in the same camp as the mouse. Higher refresh rates on monitors help gamers see and react better, and using a mechanical keyboard along with something called "n-key rollover" is a major advantage over a traditional keyboard. I have a Deck Legend with a PS/2 connector (not USB) because it is the only way you can have full n-key rollover, which means I can mash my hand down on it and every single key will register.

N-key rollover is important, because you can only press a few keys simultaneously on a USB keyboard. Now think about how that applies to a first person shooter, you are trying to run diagonally forward, which requires two keys being pressed, then you are dolphin diving by pressing jump and prone while also pressing the run key, as well as trying to reload and throw a frag grenade, then melee someone who pops out of nowhere, all while accidentally pressing other keys like caps lock. A traditional keyboard starts to ignore most of your key-presses and stops sending those signals to your computer because it does not have n-key rollover. These are the kinds of secret tidbits worth learning about.

ABOUT ME
I have been a gamer and computer enthusiast for the last 30 years. I started on DOS at a young age, playing games like Doom and other fun things. Eventually that evolved into Diablo 2 where I took my gaming handle from the secret cow level.

I really got into tweaking computers when I first got started playing the Call of Duty game series. This first person shooter not only stressed the need for high performance due to more demanding visuals, but how well your computer performed also happened to be tied directly into how well you the player are able to perform, and so the never-ending quest for low latency and high framerates was born.

As the years went on I started to get into competitive gaming. I joined a few different clans and we competed on Team Warfare League, where we managed to do well in a few places, reaching rank #1 in North America on a couple of ladders. I also placed on the top boards in some Diablo 3 season ladders, but that place was overrun with botters so I dropped out early on.

It became too hard for me to stay competitive as I progressed further in college, got married, had kids, and so forth. Instead, I used my free time to continue learning about computers, and having fun doing what the gaming nerds refer to as "pub stomping" which is when players of a high skill level hop into random public games and dominate the scoreboards.

My favorite moments were in Modern Warfare and Black Ops, I had a few games with scores of like 180 kills with 10 deaths, and some 30-0 free for all games, and so forth. It became a meta game to get high kill-to-death ratios. As a result I got banned from a lot of servers, and I would save screenshots of each ban as a personal trophy. The reason was always some form of "suspected cheating", but there was of course never any cheating going on. That was one of the ups and downs of having “dedicated servers” which is where individual people rent or own the game server, and moderators can just ban people for any reason.

What is my point to all of this? Well, my goal now as an old fart is to pass on all the knowledge I learned over the years to the newbies out there. I want to teach them all of the stuff that I had to learn the hard way, so they can spend more time dominating in their games, rather than troubleshooting things. I want to try and create a page here where people can come to learn a few things, get an optimized version of Windows installed, and then just login to their favorite game and kick butt.
 
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Necrosaro

Active Member
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.
 

Hellbovine

Active Member
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 of 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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Clanger

Moderator
Staff member
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:
 

Hellbovine

Active Member
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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PhsMu

Active Member
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.
 

Hellbovine

Active Member
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aga

New Member
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
 

Hellbovine

Active Member
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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