On the Speed Up My PC Free blog, we’ve talked a lot about what you can do to improve your computer’s performance. From cleaning your registry to disabling unnecessary Windows processes, we’ve helped thousands of people speed up their computers for the astonishingly low price of free.

However, a recent study from Lifehacker has debunked some common myths about speeding up your PC, particularly in regards to PC gaming performance. The study used an average gaming PC and several well-known hardware tweaks to decide whether the PC tips and tricks were actually worth your time and effort.

Here’s what they found:

Disabling Windows visual effects has no impact on gaming performance

Surprisingly, disabling the visual effects in Windows 7 does not benefit gaming performance in any way. However, during gaming, you’re not usually using the Windows menu or switching back and forth between applications, so you’re barely seeing any Windows visual effects as it is. In other tests, we’ve found that disabling Windows visual effects can have a positive impact on performance – especially if you’re just performing basic computer tasks.

RAM isn’t that important to PC gaming

Another part of the study concluded that closing background applications and upgrading your RAM did not significantly impact performance. While gaming framerates improved by a few percentage points, it wasn’t as large of a boost as many were expecting. Why? Well, RAM is used most heavily when you’re switching between applications and firing up new ones. Unless your video game is frantically loading another level or integrating itself with other applications on your computer, your RAM usage will hold fairly steady. Whether you’re a PC gamer or not, upgrading your RAM is always a good (and cheap!) idea.

What did work: overclocking and upgrading hardware

The biggest performance boosts in the study came from expected sources. By overclocking and upgrading your computer’s hardware, you can significantly increase your gaming framerates and smooth out your PC’s performance. Lifehacker confirmed that, on average, upgrading your graphics card or adding a second video card improved PC performance by nearly 70%.

While overclocking your hardware is free (unless you want to invest in third-party cooling solutions), upgrading your hardware can be expensive. However, if you’re after the very best in PC performance, then this is the way to go.

The best way to speed up your PC

For the rest of us, we’ll have to stick to free methods of speeding up your PC. With hundreds of different PC speed tips and tricks out there, it’s not hard to find a method that works for you. From dusting out your computer’s hardware to installing free PC optimization software, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to own a fast PC.

Of course, Lifehacker didn’t test PC Cleaner Pro 2012 in its study, which has been shown to increase PC performance by up to 200% or more.

To read the full results of Lifehacker’s study, click here.

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