I want to stop and give a shoutout to Prio - which is free for home/personal use - for being my best friend on Windows 7/8/8.1. Much ballyhoo has been made about Windows 10’s upcoming Game Mode (which really, is Prio with a Microsoft-controlled list) but you can reap the benefits right here, right now. In my ancedotal experience, it increased frame rate in Smokin’ Guns by nearly 10 frames - enough to make it playable on my ancient device.
How it works is simple: it replaces Task Manager. You tell it what processes to run at what priorities -both execute and i/o - and it remembers.