Vic B'Stard's top tips for getting games like The Witcher 3 and Batman Arkham Knight running well on your PC

Vic B’Stard’s top tips for getting games like The Witcher 3 and Batman Arkham Knight running well on your PC

I’ll be the first to admit that nothing pisses me off more, when I can’t get a game to work on my PC, than reading someone’s self-righteous post on how the game runs fine on their machine. Especially if their PC spec is half that of my own.

As much as it irks me, as a seasoned PC gamer, I appreciate that my problems with a game are more likely to be down to my choice of components, or how I chose to configure them, than the game’s programmers.

So, at the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, please breathe deeply and stay calm as I offer you advice, if you are having trouble running Arkham Knight, that you probably don’t want to hear.

  • Be realistic. Publisher’s PC recommended specs should always be taken with a pinch of salt. Also, don’t forget my i7 3.8ghz GTX980 PC is going to be different to yours. The beauty of PC gaming is that we get to customise our machines to our own requirements/pocket.
  • Don’t’ crank all the settings up to the max and try to run the game. It’ll end in tears. There’s nothing worse than seen a new PC game crucify your top-end rig. Start with the default settings. Check the game’s built-in benchmark and take it from there.
  • Switch PhysX from Auto to GPU in your NVIDIA control panel.
  • While I’m on it..forget about AMD GPUs. I’ve not touched AMD/ATI video cards since the late 1990s. There’s no place for being a contrary hipster when it comes to your GPU. Choose NVIDIA.
  • Hipsters aside, if you are going to choose NVIDIA (as you should), don’t choose the “value” range. Forget your GTX960s- we are playing AAA games here, not reading spreadsheets. Also, a GTX970 is NOT a GTX980.
  • Avoid SLI/Crossfire. Buy one card, the most expensive you can afford, and stick with it. When you want to upgrade buy a new more powerful card and sell your old one. Ignore the above and stick two identical card in your machine if you want to consume twice the power for a 40% performance gain, heat your room, spend hours trying to get SLI/Crossfire profiles to work and experience annoying micro-stuttering every few seconds.
  • Buy an SSD drive. I know that they are still expensive, but for the price of a game you can get a 120GB SSD. Install your “current” games, those that you are actively playing, on the SSD for improved texture loading times. This will go a long way toward obliterating those annoy pauses as texture stream off your hard drive.
  • Back to being realistic, relating to the above- logically match your components. Don’t stick a GTX980ti in your three year old computer and expect miracles. Your ropey old CPU, your 6GB of DDR2 memory and your 5200rpm HDD will all be doing their best to throttle the awesome power of your GPU.
  • When it comes to computer components always buy the best that you can afford. Today’s budget games machine is going to be redundant in a couple of years. Think about your upgrade path with a view to spending some money on upgrades once a year. Don’t forget things like drives, power supplies and cases can be used for your next PC. Invest well in a good case and PSU and they may be the last ones that you ever need to buy.
  • You chose all those great components, now make sure that your PC is properly configured. Is your CPU set with the right bus speed and multiplier? Is your memory speed correct? XMP Memory modules may need to be manually set up beyond the JEDEC timings in the bios.
  • For all the tinkerers out there that like to squeeze that little bit more out of their machines, overclock/don’t overclock your PC. Not all games like running on an overclocked machine. Check that your CPU/Memory/GPU isn’t still overclocked from your last bit of benchmarking. If it’s not overclocked and you feel comfortable doing so, try overclocking your CPU and/or CPU. You never know.
  • Lastly be patient. Check forums. Be prepared to tweak .ini and .cfg files. We all come across games that don’t like our particular set-up. A quick check on the internet will usually sort them. If not, an official patch or a community hotfix isn’t far away.

Being a PC gamer takes a lot more dedication than a console gamer. It takes metal. We have to roll with the punches. We have to be able to handle it when things don’t go right. We have to be patient. This is the price that we pay to enjoy what are usually the definitive versions of multi-platform video game releases- games that, as our equipment improves, so will they.

If the above doesn’t sound like you, do yourself a favour and buy a console.

I apologise now for the tough love.

Vic out.