Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET)
Normally, I am very skeptical of software that claims to make your computer faster or increase the speed of your connection to the Internet. I've never seen any of them actually deliver.
So when I came across Game Booster, released by IObit on Monday, I thought, "Ah! Another useless piece of junk. It won't boost anything!" Curiosity made me try it anyway. And I have to admit that I was wrong, though not entirely.
First off, the app works. It improve your games' performance by turning off other software and services that would otherwise run in the background the whole time. This helps free up the system resources, making them available for the game you are about to play.
The application is very simple. Once launched, it gives you a list of services running and software running in the background that it deems unnecessary for gaming. There's also a big button labeled "Switch to Gaming Mode." Pressing this button will stop everything on the list, making the system even more ready for the real action.
Once you are done with the gaming, you can click on the same button--now labeled "Back to Normal Mode"--and Game Booster will restart all the services it stopped earlier to bring the computer back to normal operating status.
It's important to note that most services that get stopped are necessary for the computer's normal operation and need to run while you're not playing a game. But Game Booster also allows you stop them selectively, which is very helpful.
I tried a few games with Game Booster and they actually made the performance slightly better, especially the load time, with some improvement in frame rate. The difference will vary depending on your system. My computer is generally very clean, so there weren't many unnecessary services to turn off. If your computer has a lot of junk, you will see an even bigger improvement.
Regardless of how your computer is, Game Booster seems a fast way to make sure that it's at its best for playing games. It took about 10 seconds to switch my computer between gaming and normal modes.
So the software works. But why did I say that I wasn't entirely wrong? Because it's rather misleading to claim that the software accelerates your computer's gaming performance. It doesn't do that. If your computer can't handle a demanding game, Game Booster won't make it able to do so. All it does is free up the most system resources possible.
To put this in perspective, say if your computer is a car that you want to use for track racing, the software is not something that makes the engine any stronger. It only helps you take off all the extra seats, spare tires, carpet, or maybe even removes the roof and the windshield so that it will run faster during the race.
And it does that very well. Best of all, it does that for free. But don't take my word for it. The software is compatible with Windows 7, Vista, XP, and 2000 and is available now at Download.com.