Fanatical PC gamers are willing to go to great lengths to get their machines running at maximum efficiency. Over-clocking processors and graphics cards, water cooling, even liquid nitrogen cooling in extreme cases (and you’ll need an extreme case), not to mention innumerable operating system tweaks. But not all of us have the time or inclination to tinker with our PC as if it were some sort of classic car.
And on the system tweaking front, Game Booster offers a convenient solution for such people. It’s freeware, so all that’s required is a swift download, an equally swift installation and one click on a big button that says “Switch to gaming mode”. It’s so simple, even the wettest-eared newbie can’t go wrong.
What Game Booster actually does is analyse your background processes and pick out any that it deems unnecessary, listing them in its main display. For example, Windows Image Acquisition (which allows graphics software to communicate with hardware such as scanners), or the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (used by Windows Update to throttle off bandwidth for downloads): all extras you won’t need for gaming, and when the magic button is clicked, they’re all shut down.
The software also examines which programs you have running, again recommending the curtailing of anything superfluous to gaming. On one machine we performed a test run on, this included a couple of utility programs, ctfmon.exe and our anti-virus tool. We’re not convinced that turning anti-virus off is a great idea, but luckily it’s possible to pick and choose which items you think should be discarded.
This is perhaps the only area in which a novice is in any danger of becoming unstuck, as Game Booster doesn’t attempt to offer any explanation of what particular programs do. Having said that, it’s easy enough to just leave them on if you’re not sure about anything.
Once Game Booster has sorted out your processes and programs, which takes around five seconds, it cleans and defrags the system memory and you’re ready to go. Hopefully with a faster running frame rate and less chance of any compatibility conflicts that background nonsense might cause with your games.
We tested the program on two different PCs, one Windows XP and one Vista, running several game and 3D benchmarks on both. It ran without any hitches and did indeed boost frame rates, generally by a small amount; 1 or 2 percent on average. However, with more complex graphics at higher resolutions that really strained our computer, Game Booster made a negligible impact. The opposite was also true, with boosts of nearer 5 to 7 percent seen at low resolutions.
A free couple of percent boost to your system is nothing to be sneezed at, especially when you consider how many hours extreme over-clockers will spend to eke an extra percent out of their beasts. When you’re done with the program, another single click reverts your PC back to normal. No system or registry settings are fiddled with.