Software Review: 10 Free Tools to Optimize PC Gaming
PC games are on a roll right now. Avid gamers invest thousands of dollars in new equipment and titles.
As a PC gaming enthusiast, you, too, want to experience the graphics and the motion of a title to its fullest extent. The good news is, even if you don’t own the most powerful hardware, there are tools that improve the gaming experience. With this free software, you will not have to buy expensive gaming equipment.
In this post, we’ll review top 10 software picks gamers choose to get the most out of each title.
Discord is the first free cross-platform chat and text tool designed specifically for gaming. The software is a solid replacement for the Voice-Over-IP protocol. The tool is completely safe and customizable – you will be able to set privacy limits.
The interface of Discord heavily resembles that of Slack. The workspace is not cluttered and highly intuitive. An unlimited number of users can join a Discord group or a server. There’s no invitation needed to connect to a server – the entry link is all a player needs.
As to gaming-specific feature, the program is easy to integrate with whatever game a user is currently playing. Using Discord, you’ll be able to form PUGs with little-to-no effort.
Other Discord Features include:
- Supports text and video chats;
- Low-effort invitation system;
- Markdown support and built-in syntax highlighting;
- Role targeting;
- Ability to sort channels by forming threads;
- User-friendly payment;
- Blocks all NSFW (not-safe-for-work) posts.
Discord is rapidly developing. However, the platform still has its shortcomings, such as:
- Discord runs under a proprietary license;
- No self-hosting available;
- High RAM usage;
- Unstable Linux performance.
All in all, Discord is a marriage of a sleek, easy-to-use interface with a wide range of features capable of satisfying the most experienced gamers.
2. OBS Studio
OBS Studio is a free tool for streaming and recording gaming sessions. It comes in handy when filming let’s plays. A player can either share the webcam footage on social media or integrate the tool with Youtube for live streams.
Granted, the interface of OBS Studio seems complex at a first glance – however, it’s quite intuitive and doesn’t take much time to master.
OBS Studio Main Features;
- High-quality video and audio mixing;
- Custom transitions between scenes;
- A wide range of audio filters – noise suppression, gate, and gain;
- A wide range of fully customizable configuration options;
- The platform’s layout can be fully rearranged to match user preferences.
OBS Studio supports plugins – this way, users can expand the functionality of the tool. You will also be able to set hotkeys and create a set of pre-source filters that’ll facilitate the navigation process.
By Wikipedia, FreeSync is a free tool designed for graphic card users. Using the program, you’ll be able to improve the frame rate and enhance the smoothness of texture change. According to the development team, the utility was designed for AMD PC users.
FreeSync Main Features:
- Adapts the refresh rate to in-game frame rate variables;
- Runs in the background mode;
- Plug-and-play technology;
- Provides stutter-free viewing experiences;
- Low monitor latency;
- Improves battery life by reducing the refresh rate of the panel when there are no new images.
The technology considerably improves the quality of images and game display. As mobile games develop steadily, hopefully, we’ll see a tool with similar functionality for Android and iOS rather soon.
4. Razor Cortex: Game Booster
Game titles are known to be demanding in terms of RAM and CPU consumption. Tools like Razor Cortex help PC users optimize hardware settings and boost the gaming performance of the device.
Razor Cortex: Game Booster is available for Windows 10, 8, and 7. The program works by terminating processes and shutting down apps that slow the PC down. With no business apps and background helpers running, there will be more system resources available. As a result, any title will be running faster and a high frame rate will state intact.
Razor Cortex Main Features:
- Runs automatically as soon as a user enters any game;
- Maximizes FPS and frees up RAM;
- Doesn’t override general hardware settings;
- The program caters reports with valuable insights on system performance.
Steam is a renown giant in the gaming world. Be it buying or creating titles, the program is jam-packed with tools for professional and amateur gamers alike. Apart from offering over 30,000 titles, sorted by genres, popularity, or cost, Steam has a toolbox for developers.
Most importantly, by downloading Steam, you join the community of avid gamers – feel free to chat with other users, stream gaming sessions, and help game developers perfect their titles.
Steam Main Features:
- Early access to upcoming titles;
- Over 100 payment methods supported;
- Controller support: PS, Xbox, Nintendo, and others;
- Available in 28 languages;
- Cross-platform access.
Xpadder allows PC gamers to enjoy their favorite titles using a gamepad instead of a keyboard. With this tool, you will be able to replace the keyboard and a mouse with emulated buttons and a directional thumbpad of the game controller.
Xpadder supports multiple profiles as well as rumble feedback.
Xpadder Main Features:
- Improves the controller support in PC titles;
- Supports Windows Vista and XP;
- Fully emulates a keyboard and mouse;
- Multiple profile management;
- Supports up to 16 controllers simultaneously;
- Available for Windows 32-bit and 64-bit.
After visiting an Xpadder download website and installing the tool, you’ll even be able to add gamepad support to browser games and DOS titles. A PC user can access the tool to open any Windows program.
7. LogMeIn Hamachi
Privacy in multiplayer gaming is a solid concern. To ensure every person involved in the gaming session risks no privacy invasion, consider using a robust VPN tool – such as LogMeIn Hamachi.
A tool allows PC users to create a secure private network, fit for file sharing or playing private games. The interface of the program is as simple as it gets – but don’t let that fool you. By the feature set, LogMeIn Hamachi is highly impressive – it contains a secure P2P network, allows managing multiple virtual networks simultaneously, and supports unattended access.
LogMeIn Hamachi Main Features:
- On-demand virtual networking;
- Centralized access control;
- AES 256-bit encryption for all communications;
- Easy-to-use interface.
Speaker chats have become an iconic part of a gaming session for many titles – World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and many more. Regardless of whether you want to talk to teammates playing the same game or talk while exploring different titles, TeamSpeak is exactly the tool you need.
It’s a voice-over-IP (VoIP) program that allows gamers to communicate remotely by voice using headsets. The interface of TeamSpeak is lightweight and straightforward – most importantly, the tool is not big on system resources consumption.
TeamSpeak Main Features:
- High-quality audio;
- Feature rich user interface;
- Plugin support;
- Free license allows up to 1,000 participants to connect in real time;
- Offers SDKs for third-party integrations;
- High-level communication security;
- Cross-platform – runs on Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.
TeamSpeak is 100%-free for non-commercial use.
The lack of storage space often prevents gamers from downloading new titles. While it might seem that you have downloaded only work-related, highly important files, the reality is, there are probably files on the hard drive you have never started using.
With WindirStat, a PC user can keep track of how storage space on the hard drive is used. The program uses charts and graphs to showcase the storage space allocation on the device. You will be able to locate all files and delete them as soon as there’s a need to free up the hard drive.
WindirStat Main Features:
- Multiple drive scanning is supported;
- A user can scan folders selectively;
- Easy file deletion;
- Available on all Windows version, starting with Windows 95;
- A file extension that shows while file formats occupy the most space on the hard drive;
- The look of all treemap elements is customizable.
Notepad++ is known and loved among software developers – however, there is a ton of features gamers, too, can benefit from. Anytime you dig through HTML game files, the tool will come in handy to ensure the code is readable and easier to manage.
For gamers with no programming experience, Notepad++ is a way to not get lost in hundreds of code lines. The program has all features, essential for an editor – autosave, syntax highlighting, autocompletion, and so on.
Notepad++ Main Features:
- Detecting strings and replacing them with regular expressions;
- Line bookmarking;
- Simultaneous real-time editing;
- Split screen for collaborative work;
- All line operations are supported;
- Macros support.
In order to get the most pleasure from enjoying a new game title, a gaming enthusiast should boost his PC with powerful software. There are dozens of tools in the market that will increase the quality of gaming and sharing the experience with others. Choosing a suite of tools that’s right for you depends solely on your priorities and goals as a gamer.
The good news is, all of the tools, listed above, are 100% free – you can test them with no initial investments nor risks.