6 killer utilities for redlining your gaming rig

These utilities—five free, one inexpensive—make your PC faster and more controllable for the most demanding games.

By Jim Norris, PC World |  Software, free software, gaming

For Nvidia aficionados, there's Nvidia Inspector. This package takes a different tack from older video card utilities, eschewing the system tray for a simple, extensible-pane interface that puts information and card controls front and center. It also doesn't stay resident in memory once your changes are made. This straightforward approach means everything from driver options to crazy clock speeds are in easy reach, controlled by simple sliders. Moreover, monitoring tools display a running graph of input from card sensors in real timevery useful when troubleshooting problems. Like OverDrive, Nvidia Inspector is free.

Platform-agnostic users have MSI's venerable Afterburner utility to tweak their card collection. MSI Afterburner is designed to work with MSI's own products, but in actuality it works with most modern hardware. The controls here are much simplified, dressed up with gray gradients and green glowing boxes for the sake of appearance, but the basics are well-represented. You'll find voltage, core, and shader clock controls, memory speeds, and fan settings, along with profile presets, startup options, and a videocard hardware monitor. You won't get the details provided by the other utilities here, but you won't find the more focused, no-nonsense approach Afterburner takes with those others either.

Controlling the controllers

No matter how fast your system is, you can't game properly without precise, reliable controllers. You'd think for developers this would be a given, considering how long PC gaming has been around, but that isn't the case. Due to crummy console ports, Flash limitations, Windows API changes, and more, it's easy to buy an expensive gamepad only to find it doesn't work with half your game library, despite being expressly designed for Windows. It's equally easy to come across a stunning indie game only to find a horrendous and unalterable keyboard control layout, dictated by programming or browser platform restrictions. What's a gamer to do?

Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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