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How to setup G74sx for optimal performance?

Level 7
Hello, I am fairly new to performance oriented computers but I am fairly capable of learning proper steps to achieve possible goals. I have an Asus G74sx and play some games on it and use it for other hardware intensive programs at my lab. Some example games would be Skyrim, Civ 5, D3. I have heard about overclocking, but I do not want to risk hurting my machine, but would consider it if there is a safe way to do that. As far as a goal for performance, I would like to be able to play the Huge maps on Civ 5 with medium-high graphics without having to wait too long in between turns towards the last half of the games.

I have searched around a bit and have found bits and pieces of information, such as cleaning up unused programs. However, it would be nice to have a dedicated thread that I could refer to which is specifically oriented towards my goal. Let me know what you would do to best utilize the performance on my machine, if that goal is not possible let me know the best way to setup the settings in game to increase the speed.

Level 9
Hello. You should make clean Win7 installation chceck for drivers and "How to". Download ThrottleStop 4.10 and enable it to avoid CPU throttling.

Also dont be scared of OCing. I have BETA 304.79 drivers with stabile clocks: 870/1740/1600. Im using MSI Afterburner. You can easily monitor GPU temperature with this. 80°C while gaming is still OK.

For laptop maintenace you sould get Advanced System Care. Powerfull application with great tools.

Level 14
If you are performance-oriented, you'll prabably want to upgrade your WLAN card to an Intel 6320 if you still want Bluetooth on the card or an Intel 6300 if you can do without and want the fastest possible wireless speeds, assuming you've purchased a faster wireless connection from your ISP.

You'll also probably wish to add an SSD and do a clean Windows 7 installation, such as discussed in

It has been my experience that uninstalling applications typically leaves remnants behind in the Windows Registry. Rather than trying to uninstall the ASUS Bloatware apps, it's better to start fresh and never install them in the first place. The ATK Package drivers for the function keys are all you need. Plus, you can always download any of the ASUS apps you like.

If you've created the Recovery DVD's from Ai Recovery, you can always restore your G74SX back to a Factory state (e.g. for resale) if you wish. Although a potential customer would probably prefer you restored the clean Windows 7 System Image you backed up using Windows Backup & Restore anyway...
G74SX-A1 - stock hardware - BIOS 202 - 2nd Monitor VISIO VF551XVT