The tech that will actually make you a better PC gamer

There’s something good about believing that gaming is all about skill. One school of thought agrees with the notion that even if you have a monster PC equipped with an awesome GPU, you have the same chances of winning as any other person with similar skills. Although I am a gamer myself, I don’t fully believe it. In fact, certain techniques can give you a big edge over your competitors in some sports.

Skills and experience are both important, but what if you want to give yourself a little extra boost? Here are some techniques I’ve tried that helped me score higher in my favorite games.

refresh rate

Overwatch 2 running on an Alienware 500Hz gaming monitor.
Jacob Roach/

Whether you’re playing fast-paced eSports games League of Legends Or overwatch or immersive rpg like Hogwarts LegacyYour monitor’s refresh rate and response time both play a big role in your gaming experience.

Does this mean you need to spend money on a crazy monitor like this 500Hz Alienware model? no way. However, it’s impossible to deny that if you sit and rank two gamers of similar skill level next to each other, but equip one with a monitor with better refresh rates, that person’s 2v2 There is a possibility of winning the match. The difference is tangible and undeniable.

Refresh rate, measured in hertz (Hz), essentially tells how often your monitor updates the image on your screen. The standard is 60Hz, and has been for years, but the gaming community is slowly leaving 60Hz in the rearview mirror, as displays at 120Hz and above begin to become more and more popular. Monitors with 144Hz refresh rates are currently the gold standard for gamers, and 1440p 144Hz displays are often considered the sweet spot for competitive gaming.

Going from 60Hz to 120Hz or more makes a big difference, as input lag is halved. Everything feels very intuitive and even scrolling through your files feels better. In games, it’s pretty much night and day, especially if you’re interested in first-person shooters (FPS) and similar competitive titles.

There is significant variation in goal setting in sports. Your cursor moves more smoothly, and as a result, you get an edge over competitors with lower frame rates. Running these titles at higher frames per second (FPS) means you’ll see things quicker and respond faster. In a story-based game this won’t make much of a difference, but in an eSports title, it’s huge.

Another metric worth looking at is response time. While less important than refresh rates, response times affect motion blur and ghosting in fast-paced scenes – which, again, is common in FPS titles. Many gamers aim for 1ms response time, but you have to be careful, as monitor brands are notorious for bending the rules with how they market these specifications.

Before you equip yourself with a new monitor, keep one thing in mind: even the best gaming monitor won’t reach its full potential if your graphics card produces at least the same amount of frames per second. (FPS) is not giving. If you have a 60Hz monitor, but you also use one of the top graphics cards, chances are your GPU will be ruined. The same applies to expensive displays paired with budget PCs.

Simply put, your monitor and the technology that powers it play a vital role in winning the game.

Latency and anti-lag

A diagram explaining the different types of system latency.

You’re already running your games at high frame rates and relying on low monitor response times to minimize input lag, but what if there was something else you could do to shave off a few extra milliseconds? It is possible, and the technology behind it is called Nvidia Reflex.

Reflex helps you measure and reduce system latency, which lets both your PC and monitor respond faster to input from the mouse and keyboard. It relies on various driver optimizations and SDKs to reduce the time it takes for your GPU to render each frame, essentially bypassing the render queue and allowing the CPU and GPU to communicate directly. In sports, this means faster reactions, such as taking aim or being able to counter-attack quickly. Reflex is optimized to work with FPS games such as Duty And FortnitePromote responsiveness and accuracy.

This technology sounds great on paper, but it’s not universally available to every Nvidia user – it can be enabled in titles that support it. Reflex is also compatible with certain gaming mice and monitors, where the technology works directly to optimize latency on that particular peripheral. This technology is available on all Nvidia graphics cards starting with the GTX 900-series, but works best when used on the RTX 30-series and above.

Latency between Nvidia Reflex and Radeon Anti-Lag.
Jacob Roach/

AMD has its own counterpart to Nvidia Reflex, so you don’t need a Team Green GPU to get rid of extremely high latency. This technology is called Radeon Anti-Lag, and unlike the case-by-case basis we’ve seen in Reflex, anti-lag is part of AMD’s drivers and enabled in most games. However, as we saw in our testing, the anti-lag is not as successful as its Nvidia counterpart. We’ve tested on both an RX 6700 XT and an RTX 3060 Ti. Not only did Nvidia Reflex manage to reduce latency more than the RX 6700 XT, but even the AMD GPU with anti-lag disabled had higher latency across the board.

If you’re not a competitive gamer, the few (or few dozen) milliseconds that Reflex may shave off for you aren’t going to make or break your gaming experience. However, some games put you in situations where those milliseconds can decide who wins the match.

Another form of latency comes from your internet connection if you’re playing online. Most of us deal with high latency issues, known simply as lag, at the worst times. However, this isn’t something AMD or Nvidia can ever help with – if you’re dealing with this, it may be time for some troubleshooting or a call to your ISP.


Nvidia's DLSS 3 in Cyberpunk 2077.

Ah, DLSS. This has been a hot topic for Nvidia GPUs for several years, but in the last year, it seems like it’s the only thing we talk about in relation to Nvidia. This is such a big deal that it feels like Nvidia is selling DLSS instead of selling graphics cards. This is because with the release of the RTX 40-series GPUs, Nvidia also launched DLSS 3 (and later DLSS 3.5), and this technology is exclusive to RTX 40 cards.

DLSS, overall, refers to Nvidia’s AI-powered technology that upscales lower-resolution frames to higher resolutions, thereby reducing the rendering load your GPU has to bear. In theory (and often in practice), this can substantially increase the frame rate while maintaining the same type of image quality.

It’s absolutely safe to say that DLSS 3 has redefined image upscaling in games. While DLSS 2 can only generate pixels to fill gaps, DLSS 3 can generate entire frames. As you can see in the above screenshot provided by Nvidia, this single-handedly changed cyberpunk 2077 From unplayable to silky smooth. Then, there’s the recent DLSS 3.5, which adds ray reconstruction and makes ray tracing more realistic.

A chart showing the performance of Nvidia's RTX 4070 with DLSS 3 enabled.
Jacob Roach/

On stalwarts like the RTX 4090, DLSS3 may seem unnecessary, but many of Nvidia’s midrange GPUs benefit greatly from it – and that simply means better gaming performance. Take the RTX 4070 as an example. In our review of the card, we tested how it performed cyberpunk 2077 At 4K, at Ultra settings and with ray tracing enabled. While this is obviously well above the RTX 4070’s pay grade, as soon as DLSS 3 was enabled, it outperformed the RTX 4080. On average, it maintained 73 FPS, while without the upscaler it only got 18 FPS.

Once again, Nvidia is not the only one that has a horse in the advanced race, as AMD also has FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). FSR works the same as DLSS, but it works differently. It first renders frames at a lower resolution and then uses a spatial upscaling algorithm to make them appear higher-resolution than they actually are. Unlike Nvidia’s DLSS, FSR is available for all graphics cards from any vendor.

AMD has three versions of FSR, including the original (supported by most games), FSR 2.0 (a major improvement with somewhat less support), and the latest FSR 3.0. AMD itself claims that FSR 3.0 can quadruple frame rates in some games – but unfortunately, those games are few and far between.

While it’s great that AMD has released their own version of DLSS and updated it to do something similar to DLSS3 by inserting a generated frame between two rendered frames, FSR 3.0 is still not as impressive as DLSS3. Used to be. It’s not supported by many games and the technology is clearly not mature enough yet to do what AMD wants to do. One day, perhaps, we’ll see FSR 3.0 shine, but for high-end gaming, DLSS 3 is far better right now.

What else can help you win the game?

Corsair esports Saber RGB Pro gaming mouse.
the Pirate

Manufacturers and marketers of gaming technology would have you believe that anything, from mice to chairs, can turn you into a professional gamer. The reality is not so simple. Sometimes, no matter how much hardware and software you have, you will still lag or lose due to bad luck. It goes like this.

However, if you want to make the most of your current skills, some peripherals can make it easier to win the game. I’ve talked about gaming monitors, and it’s true that a 144Hz monitor will help you perform better in eSports titles. In those cases, the panel also matters.

Some people will recommend TN panels for eSports, but the truth is that you should only get a TN display if you’re playing FPS games and doing virtually nothing else, due to TN being known for its poor color reproduction and viewing angles. Are notorious for, and do just that. Look much worse than IPS displays. VA, which is considered a medium between a bright IPS and a bright TN, sometimes suffers from ghosting. Variations of IPS panels for gamers are slowly gaining popularity, and if you want to learn more, check out our monitor buying guide.

What else can help? A gaming mouse. Again, this is especially important in titles where aiming with accuracy and speed is important. Gaming mice have higher DPI/CPI settings, which allow for greater sensitivity and let you control the cursor movement more. They’re also designed to support hours of gaming, and in many cases they let you map buttons to certain hotkeys. Some mice come with a lot of extra buttons like the Razer Naga, although this isn’t really suitable for eSports.

The nice thing about the technology I talked about above is that a lot of it is free if you already have the matching hardware. Nvidia Reflex is available to most Nvidia users. DLSS3 is limited to the RTX 40-series, but not older versions, and then there’s AMD FSR, which is open-source and available to everyone. With these software solutions, sometimes all it takes is tweaking a few settings to win more games.

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