You just got a new gaming laptop and now you need the software to make it work. One of the biggest advantages of PC games is that you can install software to make your life easier, from tools that automate mundane tasks to programs that free up system res to focus on the game you’re playing.
I moved machines and reinstalled Windows too many times to count. These are the apps that I always install on a new gaming laptop first.
Ninite (Chrome, Steam, Discord)
I won’t bore you with the basics. You need Steam and Discord on your gaming laptop, at the very least, as well as a browser if you don’t want to use Microsoft Edge. Ninite puts all the basics in one place. Check the boxes next to the programs you want and Ninite will create a custom installer with all your selections.
You probably already know what you need here. Grab your gaming software, maybe mix Spotify if you have a subscription, and it should be good. If you want to experiment with other software, here are some good options to add to your installer:
- WinDirStat: Your hard drive may be clean now, but it will probably be full in a few months. WinDirStat provides a visual overview of your hard drive. It makes it easy to spot space-hogging folders and lets you drill down into areas where you can free up storage space.
- Revo: Windows Control Panel sucks. Use Revo instead. The application makes it easy to uninstall programs by giving you a single window with all your applications, and it allows you to uninstall a program simply by right-clicking on it. Revo also cleans up leftovers after uninstallation, which Windows doesn’t offer.
- Everything: Steam is the leading PC gaming platform, but you likely have games from various stores installed on your PC. Everything is basically a search engine for your PC. It lets you search for any file or folder, and it’s fast, unlike File Explorer.
GeForce experience or Radeon software
Your gaming laptop likely already has one of these utilities installed, but it never hurts to double-check. GeForce Experience and Radeon Software are essential tools for Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, respectively. Each has several unique features, but both offer the most important thing your gaming laptop needs: new graphics card drivers.
Outside of the new controllers, these apps will let you do things like show your frame rate, take screenshots, and record sections of the game. GeForce Experience and Radeon Software can replace various applications on your laptop, so make sure you have the correct one installed for your graphics card.
I recommend searching to see if you already have one installed. Chances are high that it will. Otherwise, you can find GeForce Experience on the Nvidia and Radeon Software at AMD website.
Game Launchers and Playnite
Gone are the days when you could get all your games through Steam. If you want to play the latest AAA games, you will need at least a few launchers. Assuming you already have Steam, here are the launchers I would recommend installing:
- Xbox app: Essential if you have Game Pass. However, the Xbox app is terrible for buying games, so only install it if you have a Game Pass subscription.
- Epic Games Store: Essential for many new AAA games. Epic has exclusive rights to several major titles, as well as games like Fortnite Y Rocket League. For their efforts, Epic gives away free games every week, so this is an essential facility.
- GOG Galaxy: GOG often has the best sales in RPGs and has retro titles that you can’t play anywhere else. Galaxy gives you a way to access your library, as well as gather other storefronts. A must-have installation for fans of retro PCs.
- Battle.net: Battle.net isn’t great, but it’s the only way to access the annual Call of Duty releases and games like Supervision Y World of Warcraft. Install it if you play with one of these franchises; otherwise, ignore it.
Any seasoned PC gamer will notice that a few key launchers are missing from the list. You don’t need them. Here are the launchers that should not install on your new gaming laptop:
- Origin EA: EA games are available on Steam and the Xbox app. There is no reason to install Origin unless you really like the library.
- Ubisoft Connect: Ubisoft has games scattered everywhere. The latest titles are available on the Epic Games Store, and that’s all you need to know. Download Connect only if you intend to use Ubisoft’s monthly subscription service.
- Bethesda Launcher: You can find all Bethesda games on most major platforms. There is no reason to install Bethesda Launcher.
- Rockstar Launcher: Don’t worry about downloading Rockstar Launcher, it will take care of that for you. Rockstar will generously install this program no matter where you bought their games.
There are eight game launchers, and there are even more depending on the games you want to play. Save yourself the headache and install a unified launcher like Playnite or Launchbox. I am a supporter of Playnite for how well it handles my unnecessarily large library, but both are solid options.
Most “game booster” apps are silly, but not Razer Cortex. It is a robust app, but I recommend it for the Game Booster feature. This is a one-click solution that handles all the best practices for your new gaming PC.
It does too much to list – it allocates memory to your game instead of background apps, moves you to a higher power plan, and disables power-saving CPU features, to name a few. The best part is that Game Booster only starts when you start a game, so you can go back to your normal settings when you’re done. In my tests, I scored 10% higher on 3DMark Time Spy just by activating Game Booster.
Saved games aren’t a problem until they are. Once you lose a save that is hundreds of hours old, it’s too late to get it back. Enter GameSave Manager, which allows you to backup, restore, and move your saved games.
As well as giving you an extra layer of protection, GameSave Manager makes it easy to find your saved games. There is no standard location for saved games, which can make tracking them down a headache. GameSave Manager solves that problem by tracking everything you need automatically.
PC games crash and sometimes you won’t be able to close them. SuperF4 supercharges the Alt + F4 command to close any misbehaving windows. Alt + F4 It is supposed to close the active window, but Windows does not force the program to close. Instead, just submit the request and let the program decide. SuperF4 changes that.
With a shortcut – Ctrl + Alt + F4 in this case, you can force close any program. It may seem small, but after restarting your PC because your gaming session has been interrupted several times, you will be looking for something like SuperF4.
AutoHotKey is a scripting language for Windows. Calling it a hotkey program is reductive. AutoHotKey has enough bandwidth to compete with full scripting languages, allowing it to do everything from automating mundane tasks to batch opening programs and websites. It’s easy to use too, at least when it comes to scripting languages.
You don’t have to program anything on your own. AutoHotKey has a long list of community scripts specifically for games. Do you want to experiment with backsliding on Global Offensive Counter Strike? There is a script for that. Sick of calling your lane and picking a hero on League of Legends? There is also a script for that.
AutoHotKey isn’t necessary for everyone, but it’s a great tool to have on hand. That’s especially true if you plan on repetitive and grind games like MMORPGs or competitive shooter games. However, be aware that some scripts may ban you in competitive environments. Don’t be a cheater.
There are several utilities that allow you to verify the specifications of your system and monitor its temperatures. I am a supporter of HWiNFO because of the amount of information it provides. It’s the monitoring tool NASA uses, which says something considering that HWiNFO is pretty easy to use.
I use it primarily to monitor temperatures, fan speeds, and clock speeds, but HWiNFO can do a lot more. If there is a spec or sensor on your PC, HWiNFO will let you see it.
That is why I use it. There are similar programs like CPU-Z and HWMonitor, which I have used and enjoyed, but they are not as comprehensive as HWiNFO. However, they are great alternatives if you don’t want all the information on HWiNFO.
CCleaner is not a gaming app, but it is essential for a new gaming laptop. Games create junk files and after uninstalling those files and registry keys usually remain. CCleaner scans your computer for old registry keys, dated caches, and junk files that take up space and system res.
I haven’t really enjoyed using CCleaner in the last few months. I started it before writing this article and found 361 unnecessary registry entries and 1.7 GB of junk files. Deleting everything only took a few seconds too. Wait a few months to run CCleaner, and you will probably find a lot of files that do nothing on your PC.
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