If you’re rocking a killer PC build, then there’s no sense stopping at the hardware level. There’s a plethora of third-party apps out there that can make navigation and maintenance a darn sight better than what vanilla Windows 10 offers out of the box.
Today we’re taking a look at 10 of the best apps you can install for your gaming PC. These apps tackle a number of different things, but when installed in conjunction, they can turn your rig into a full-fledged entertainment tour de force!
10 SSD FRESH
While advanced Windows users can manually configure many of the options found in SSD Fresh, there’s no denying how easy the program makes the entire process. SSD Fresh will detect and scan your SSD drives to determine whether they’re running at peak efficiency. Chances are, they’ll be in the red-line when you first start the program up.
A series of personal optimization choices will cause the needle to inch closer to the green, which indicates that your SSD is running at peak efficiency. It allows you to turn off Windows features such as Hibernate, Indexing and kernel swapping in order to free up resources and keep your drive running like a Ferrari.
9 EQUALIZER APO
At first glance, this little program doesn’t look like much, but it’s actually one of the most robust audio equalizers we’ve ever come across! It can act as a full-on replacement for your sound card’s undoubtedly limited audio options.
Equalizer APO features a list of items that can be stacked vertically to customize your perfect sound environment. In addition to a 15-band, 31-band and variable EQ, you can also stack a preamp, low and high pass filters, loudness correction and VST plugins. Once configured, it will run silently in the background, eliminating the need to fuss with secondary audio apps.
There are a lot of excellent automated cleaning programs out there, but MacPaw’s interface for CleanMyPC is one of the best. It’s intuitive, user-friendly and easy to understand.
With a few clicks, you can clean out the build-up of garbage files that accumulate in your system, set your Autorun programs, and shred files and Recycle bin items so they can’t be recovered. The only thing we don’t recommend is the Registry cleaner, since these features carry too many risks in an era where the registry doesn’t need any fiddling!
If you’re itching to play your Android-based games and apps on your PC, then you’ll have to choose from one of the available emulators out there, and Bluestacks seems to be the platinum standard. This handy little program creates an Android environment within Windows, creating a self-contained bubble for you to play games on.
You’ll need to enable virtualization on your motherboard in order to fully take advantage of virtual machines like Bluestacks, and this can vary depending on your hardware. Luckily, a quick Google search can show you how to enter your BIOS and turn this feature on, as most have it disabled by default. Alternatively, check your motherboard manual.
6 DOSBOX GAME LAUNCHER
DOSBox isn’t the most user-friendly program, but you can alleviate some of that burden by choosing an appropriate front-end. DOSBox Game Launcher is arguably the best of the bunch. Not only is it simple and straightforward, but it comes with a multitude of options for the perfect setup.
Adding new games can be done via a wizard system or manual function which allows you to scrape data from MobyGames. The launcher can even match particular profiles for each game, preventing you from having to fiddle with the settings to achieve the right performance of each title. It may lack the flash of a front-end like Launchbox, but it’s the best way to kick off your old DOS games without any head scratching.
This free app from Paddy Xu can be found in the Microsoft Store, and it’s one of those “never knew I needed it” kind of programs that can make Windows navigation so much better. Essentially, Quick Look emulates the Mac OS-inspired Preview function triggered when you highlight a folder or file and tap the space bar.
This particular version of Quick Look is far more powerful than the Mac equivalent, with a few features thrown in such as mouse wheel volume control and zoom functionality. It’s a great way to quickly view photos, document content, movies or folder data with a simple button press. You can even play MP3s with it. Though it may not seem like a big deal, Quick Look is a god-send!
When you’re not gaming, chances are you’re surfing the web, and it’s a real mess out there! Adguard is one of those programs that you’re not sure you should install, but thank your lucky stars when you do! This program runs silently in the background as a Windows system program that auto-tracks any browser you have open. It costs a few bucks, but it eliminates a massive amount of web-related headaches!
Although Adguard is primarily an ad blocker, that’s just scratching the surface. It can also be configured to block trackers, which is great for those who want more privacy, as well as potential phishing and malware threats. Take heed – Adguard is not an anti-virus or anti-malware program, but it does identify risky web pages and work to protect you from their schemes. Stealth Mode is where Adguard truly shines, letting you self-destruct third party cookies, block Flash and Java, and strip X-Client data from HTTP requests, which is commonly used by things like Google Analytics.
There’s a good chance you won’t be using your gaming PC strictly for video games. Powerful rigs are capable by default of acting as complete all-in-one media solutions, as well. There’s where Plex comes in.
Plex manages and maintains your collection of digital movies, TV shows and other media under one easy-to-use interface. Simply install the client, point it towards your media collection, and allow Plex to auto-download metadata, pictures and box art under one launcher. The best part? You can configure Plex to allow access to your collection remotely, right through a web browser, or stream content to your living room TV with full 1080p/4K and 5.1, 7.1 and Atmos support.
This handy little tool makes organizing your gaming collection such a pleasure! It’s widely regarded as one of the most robust gaming front-end programs out there, with a ton of premium level options to choose from. The app costs $30 dollars, and you’ll have to pay an annual fee of $15 dollars (unless you buy the lifetime license for $75), but it’s arguably worth the price of admission.
Launchbox can automatically scrape metadata on your gaming collection and auto-download box art, logos and even video previews in one fully customizable menu. It also comes packed with the alternative Big Box mode, a full-screen version of the program meant for an arcade-style experience. You can even add games from third-party launchers like Steam and Uplay to keep everything in one spot.
Mac users are already familiar with the kind of interface Winlaunch offers, but this particular app is leaps and bounds beyond the Apple feature. This extremely handy launcher eliminates the need to clutter your desktop with unsightly icons, or navigate the Start menu.
Winlaunch can be configured to pop up however you’d like, such as with a tap of your middle mouse button. From there, you can add program executables and drive folders with a few clicks, assign custom icons, and rearrange your tiles on the fly across multiple pages that can be scrolled via the mouse wheel. It’s one of the most convenient and tidy ways to manage your entire library of apps and games!
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