Many right now would rate 2020 pretty low on a 1-10 scale. Who could blame them? A global pandemic has put a dent in many people’s plans! However, there’s plenty of good happening in 2020, including video game releases. Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Demon’s Souls: 2020 is stacked with video game releases (no Demon’s Souls for us PC gamers, unfortunately).
Maybe 2020 is your first year as a PC gamer, or maybe you never thought about improving your PC gaming experience past high frame rates and beautiful graphics. Well, let me tell you that there are plenty of tools out there that can significantly enhance your gaming experience, a few of them I’ve listed below!
- 5 Software Recommendations for Gamers in 2020
5 Software Recommendations for Gamers in 2020
1. F.lux to Prevent Eye Strain While Gaming
Video games nowadays try their best to do one of two things: be immersive or take up all your focus. In both cases, you end up playing the game for hours on end, only getting up to eat, go to the bathroom, and going to work. But is looking at the screen for that long healthy?
No. Not at all. Looking at a screen for extended periods causes eye strain, which can cause vision problems later down the line. Eye strain can also make it harder for you to sleep. Setting your monitor or TV’s color profile to a warmer hue can help, but it won’t completely alleviate your eye strain.
This is what f.lux is for. F.lux automatically adjusts your computer screen to match the ambiance of your room. If it’s dark, it’ll make your screen warmer. If it’s bright outside, f.lux will adjust your monitor to match the sunlight.
If you spend hours playing games, I highly recommend f.lux. Save your eyes from potential strain and get some better sleep!
2. Use a VPN to Avoid ISP Throttling
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, VALORANT, League of Legends: PC gaming contains many, many competitive online games. After all, there’s a reason that so many eSports professionals use PCs at tournaments and not consoles. There’s a certain precision that just can’t be done through a controller, a number of buttons that would be impossible to juggle on an Xbox controller.
But there are a few issues with online gaming, the number one issue being your ISP. Internet service providers (ISPs) allow you as much bandwidth as you pay for and not a megabit more. However, they are prone to reducing customers’ speeds for various reasons. This reduction in Internet speed is known as “throttling”.
Throttling increases your ping, causes lag and hurts your overall performance. But there’s another issue with online gaming: security. While some games have implemented ways to help solve this issue, many games expose your IP address, putting you in harm’s way when it comes to DDoS attacks.
To solve both of these issues, use a VPN. A VPN, short for a Virtual Private Network, masks your IP address and routes your data through a VPN server before your ISP’s. This, therefore, enables you to avoid throttling while protecting your IP address.
Click here to learn more about what is a VPN.
3. GPU-Z & CPU-Z to Monitor System Performance
PC gaming allows for customizability and better performance—things that console gaming lacks—but there are unique issues to PC gaming, including system performance and game optimization.
When you buy a PS4, you’re guaranteed a certain level of performance for any game. This is because each console comes with the same specs (every PS4 is built the same, every Xbox One is built the same, etc.). But gaming PCs aren’t like that—there are thousands of CPU/GPU/RAM combinations out there that developers have to consider.
If you feel like your PC isn’t performing properly, it’s up to you to figure out how your system is performing. Fortunately, there are plenty of software tools that allow you to do that, my favorite being GPU-Z and CPU-Z.
GPU-Z and CPU-Z detail the performance of your GPU and CPU, respectively. These aren’t benchmark tools, but they’re good to get an idea about how they’re performing (voltages, clock speeds, etc.)
4. MSI Afterburner to Gain Better Performance in Games
NVIDIA recently released its Ampere GPU line, including the 3080 and 3090 (3070 to be released mid-October). These cards perform excellently, especially for their price point. But one good thing about PC gaming is that you can always eke out a few extra frames from your GPU with overclocking. There’s nothing more frustrating when you are a few microseconds short of making that winning kill or tackling a huge boss character which takes a lot of strategy and effort in pulling off.
Overclocking can harm your GPU if you’re not careful, however. Fortunately, MSI allows free use of their MSI Afterburner program, which allows you to easily overclock your GPU without having to worry about bricking your card.
The amount of overclocking that can be done depends on your card and the “silicon lottery”, the term for how well your card can handle overclocking. Despite this, I recommend everyone use MSI Afterburner.
5. Discord to Connect With Friends & People with Similar Interests
A major part of gaming is the relationships you make in and out of the games you play. What if you played a match of VALORANT with a chill team and want to play with them in the future? Maybe you played Final Fantasy XIV and found someone you can connect to. No matter where and how you find friends while gaming, it’s important you have a way to keep in contact with them, and everyone nowadays is using Discord.
Specially designed for gamers of all backgrounds and sorts, Discord started as a group-chatting platform initially designed for gamers but is now getting traction amongst all sorts of communities and interest groups. Discord allows anyone to create a server for free. From there, people can join, use voice chat, and use the server as an online forum. It’s so popular, that influencers and streamers often host Discord servers for fans.
2020 is packed with blockbuster game releases, and with NVIDIA and AMD getting ready to spoil PC gamers with new hardware, it’s important gamers everywhere get their systems ready for months of gaming. Luckily, by just a few simple tweaks and installing the tools listed previously, any gamer can transform their PC into the ultimate gaming station for an amazing time with friends online!