- 10 Steps To Boost Multimedia Performance of Your PC (Part 1)
- 10 Steps To Boost Multimedia Performance of Your PC (Part 2)
- 10 Steps To Boost Multimedia Performance of Your PC (Part 3)
Do you love cutting your own home videos in HD? Do you record your own songs or podcasts? What about intense editing in Photoshop? Or do you spend hours playing back Blu-rays or HD movie files? No matter the task, if you’re into heavy-duty multimedia projects, you need two things: 1) a PC with a solid processor (CPU) and graphics card (GPU) and 2) a Windows operating system (OS) that’s optimized to its fullest.
Using the default PC settings, these tasks will take ages or result in subpar results. So we’ve put together a list of 10 essential steps to boosting the multimedia performance of your PC, as part of this three-part series.
We’ve also applied all our tips and tweaks on a fairly decent multimedia machine – the Dell Vostro 360. It sports a Core i5 with 2.5 GHz, 6 GB of RAM, a NVIDIA GT525M and a 1 TB HDD. We’ll provide the results of this benchmark at the end of the series.
Step 1 – Free Up As Much Memory and CPU Resources as Possible
Editing a lengthy HD video or audio clip will take its toll on your CPU and RAM. Therefore, the first step is to make sure to turn off all unnecessary applications, such as:
• Disable Startup Apps: Task-bar items load automatically upon startup. But are they all really necessary? Rarely! There are ways to turn them off using the very rudimentary “msconfig” or more advanced tools, like the TuneUp Startup Manager and Autoruns. Not only does turning them off result in shorter boot-up times, but this also improves performance for your video, audio or photo editing needs.
• Turn Programs Off – Safely: Unfortunately, a huge part of the slow-down doesn’t come from startup apps. Often the underlying culprit is all those applications running in the background, taking their toll on performance. And of course, uninstalling or forcefully disabling parts of these programs isn’t an option if you still need them, right? Well, this is where TuneUp Program Deactivator comes in. The tool automatically turns off the load of programs on your system that aren’t being actively used. It’s like the stop-start systems in many new hybrid cars: when you stop your car the engine turns off. Then, when hit the gas pedal, it instantly revs up again. The same happens to the programs turned off by TuneUp Program Deactivator. When not in use, these programs won’t impact your system’s performance. When launched, however, TuneUp immediately turns the program on again.
Step 2 – Fix High DPC Latency Issues
Multimedia applications — no matter if we’re talking video converters or audio cutting tools — all rely heavily on a PC’s ability to execute operations in real-time, without delays. If your PC is suffering from “High DPC Latency”, all multimedia apps will be severely impacted: videos will stutter, recorded audio will be full of distortions and photo editing will result in annoying lags. DPC stands for Deferred Procedure Calls and allows programs to queue up actions to be performed extremely quickly by the CPU. Until these DPCs are executed, the computer comes to a halt (for a fraction of a second). To figure out if your PC is suffering from high DPC, get the “DPC Latency Checker” from this website and take the test.
The screenshot on the left shows a PC with good DPC values. In this case, you shouldn’t encounter jerky multimedia performance whatsoever. However, if your graph looks something like the one seen on the right, your overall performance suffers heavily. If that’s the case, make sure to get the latest drivers (do try out Beta drivers) as detailed in Step 3 below, disable/unplug devices in Device Manager (devmgmt.msc), update your BIOS/UEFI, and turn off as many programs as you can – as detailed in Step 1.
Step 3 – Update All of Your Drivers
Why do drivers have such an influence on multimedia performance? It’s because they’re software that tells your PC how to interact with the hardware—they, essentially, drive your PC! There are three main driver categories that you’ll want to look at for boosting performance: video cards, soundcards/soundchips, and chipsets. To get the latest drivers, perform the following steps:
• Get the latest drivers via Windows Update: First, check with Windows Update for drivers, as you can often find the latest ones here. It’s usually a good to get the latest official drivers that have passed the Microsoft certification. These are mostly stable drivers, but if you want more performance, you can check if the hardware manufacturer has more up-to-date drivers in store, as you’ll see in the next tip.
• Get the drivers from your manufacturer directly: In many cases, the manufacturers of your graphics card, sound chip or chipset offer more up-to-date drivers. Obviously, we can’t list all hardware drivers here, but here’s a quick compilation of the most popular/widespread generic drivers: To get the latest graphics drivers from Intel, AMD/ATI or NVIDIA click on the appropriate links. Also, folks looking for Realtek drivers and Creative audio drivers, should try their luck on the respective websites (here and here).
• Check your OEM: Can’t find the latest drivers for your machine? Check the website of the company that manufactured your PC or notebook, for example, Dell, HP, MSI, or Samsung. To find the best drivers for your computer, you must know the exact product name (or ID) of your machine, for example “HP tx1120us”.
• Get beta drivers: Often times, beta drivers offer bug-fixes and performance improvements missing from the “official” versions. My recommendation would be to only go with betas if your PC has a specific need and there’s no full release available. Here’s a good site that will help you find beta drivers. If you’re into the latest mobile beta drivers, head over to: http://www.laptopvideo2go.com to get them.
Step 4 – Defrag or TRIM Your Disk
As data is written or deleted from the hard disk, files become fragmented and will physically spread out all over the disk drive. This will lead to a significant performance hit, especially in multimedia applications, as the hard disk will first need to collect all of these portions in order to be able to fully process the entire file. As both your multimedia apps and their files usually take up several GBs, it is vital that all of these files can be read in a continuous manner.
1. To defrag the disk, fire up the Start menu, and go to “All Programs”, “Accessories”, “System Tools” and “Disk Defragmenter”.
2. Select your Windows disk, and hit “Defragment disk” (Windows 7) or “Defragment” (Windows XP). Note, if you have an SSD, you should not defrag. Instead, use the TRIM command to optimize them.
3. In Windows 8, Microsoft integrated the TRIM command into the Disk Defragmenter—so, simply hit “Optimize”. Windows 7 doesn’t offer this, so be sure the TRIM command gets executed regularly. To see if TRIM is enabled, open up a command prompt by clicking on the Start orb and typing “cmd” into the search bar. Right-click on the first result (“cmd”), and click “Run as administrator”. Next, type in the command “Fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify”, and hit Enter. If this returns the result “= 0″, you’re good to go! Otherwise, TRIM isn’t supported and needs to be enabled. Try entering the command “fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify 0″. If that doesn’t help, a firmware upgrade might be necessary to enable TRIM.
Step 5 – Use Live Optimization
Multimedia applications require the best-possible CPU performance. Using Live Optimization, which is part of TuneUp Utilities 2012, you can make sure to enjoy the best possible multimedia performance. Simply put: Live Optimization prevents background programs/processes from consuming too much CPU resource and, thus, slowing down your active process. To do this, simply download TuneUp Utilities 2012 and install it. Live Optimization is automatically enabled and works silently in the background!
Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, in which we’ll provide more tips for maximizing multimedia software and optimizing Windows!
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- 10 Steps To Boost Multimedia Performance of Your PC (Part 2) » TuneUp Blog about Windows
- 10 Steps To Boost Multimedia Performance of Your PC (Part 3) » TuneUp Blog about Windows