When we talk about video games, the personal computer is still and almost dominated by Windows. Currently, the most popular choices among users today are divided into Windows 10, forming 68%, and Windows 11, gathering 27% of the market share approx.
It is interesting to see how, a year and a half after its launch, Windows 11 has evolved into a popular option. Given these data, we wonder which operating system is better when playing video games.
In this article, we’ll take out a comparative analysis of these two operating systems in the context of gaming, exploring features and performance metrics with popular games.
Windows 10 or 11 for Gaming
Fundamentally these operating systems do not differ: both have the same kernel (NT 10.0 kernel). Windows 11 is in fact has, a big difference, only with a redesigned modern WinUI interface.
So, it won’t bring big changes if you update from Win10 to Win11. Think about updating your mobile operating system from one year to the next. What used to be significant ten years ago is now limited to minor tweaks that don’t excessively alter the user experience.
With the release of Windows 11, the predecessor to Windows 10, has become a stable operating system that only gets the necessary updates.
But Windows 11, after a year and a half of its use, has developers already managed its initial challenges and the functional update as well.
Windows Influence on Gaming
We all know very well that game performance depends little on the operating system. By saying this, we do not consider cases when the operating system contains bugs that significantly hinder the performance of the processor threads, GPU’s CUDA, RAM, and other components.
Such bugs, when identified, are fixed by Microsoft. For games, powerful computer hardware is important, primarily a powerful GPU.
Additionally, minimizing background processes that consume hardware resources is essential during gameplay, so how small is the dependence of games on the operating system?
For this, we must analyze the gaming tests on computers with Windows 10 and Windows 11 installed.
Windows 10 vs. 11 – Game Test Results
The tests were performed on Windows 10 and 11 operating systems, on the same computer hardware, in the same games, with identical resolutions and settings. Here are the specs testing on:
- Intel i5-12400F
- Nvidia RTX 3060Ti
- DDR 4200Mhz
- 1Tb NVMe SSD
The test results are presented by the average FPS in table below:
Average FPS Windows 10
Average FPS Windows 11
Grand Theft Auto 5
Red Dead Redemption 2
Forza Horizon 5
Far Cry 5
Here are the some key points of gaming performance from comparing Windows 10 and Windows 11 on various titles:
Cyberpunk 2077: Cyberpunk 2077 showed higher RAM and VRAM usage on Windows 11, but this did not affect the gameplay performance. The benchmark results showed a slight advantage for Windows 11 but were minor (around 2 frames difference on average).
Grand Theft Auto 5: The game performed slightly better on Windows 11 regarding average frame rates, but Windows 10 had better 1% and 0.1% low frame rates.
Red Dead Redemption 2: The game showed noticeable frame time inconsistencies on Windows 11, leading to occasional drops in smoothness during gameplay. However, the average frame rate was comparable between both operating systems.
Forza Horizon 5: Performance was nearly identical on both operating systems, with minor differences in 0.1% low frame rates, which were slightly better on Windows 10.
CS: GO: This CPU-intensive game showed a slightly higher average frame rate on Windows 10 (629 FPS) than on Windows 11 (607 FPS). The 1% low frame rates were almost identical on both.
Far Cry 5: Windows 10 showed a better average and 1% low numbers, but Windows 11 had better 0.1% lows.
Other key points observed are:
Input Latency: Windows 10 had slightly lower input latency than Windows 11. It responded to inputs such as key presses slightly quicker, which is particularly noticeable in gaming scenarios where reflexes and quick responses are vital.
Game Load Times: Two games were tested – Apex Legends and CS: GO. The load times for Apex Legends were virtually identical on both operating systems, while CS: GO booted up faster on Windows 10.
Power Consumption: While not directly related to gaming performance, it’s worth noting that Windows 11 had slightly lower power consumption than Windows 10.
While some games performed slightly better on Windows 11, others performed better on Windows 10. Overall, the differences were minor and might not be noticeable during gameplay.
I preferred Windows 10 due to its better support for older hardware and a slight edge in performance in some of the tested games. However, I suggest testing Windows 11 on your system as it costs nothing. The results can also vary based on system configuration, game settings, GPU, CPU, and display resolution.
What has Changed with Windows 11 in terms of Gaming?
1. Auto HDR for Existing Games
Speaking of the visual aspect, the HDR mode that displays the content with better lighting, enhancing the darkest areas and dimming the more vibrant and the lightest ones more subtle.
The good news is Windows 11 has a built-in mode that automatically adjusts these settings for all the games you play, even if the game supports SDR. How does it do that? Well, it applies some clever math to the SDR image and calculates the potential HDR values.
Remember that games using DirectX 11 or DirectX 12 benefit from this feature, while some of the classic DirectX 9 games might not be included (at least based on what we know so far).
The counterpart, yes, is that having an HDR-compatible monitor, graphics card as well as HDMI or Displayport is necessary to enjoy this technology.
2. DirectStorage for Faster Storage Speeds
DirectStorage is a technology that takes advantage of the speed at which SSD hard drives work to reduce loading times and waits when loading your favorite games and relieving the CPU of some overhead.
But, be careful because it is necessary to know the details well to use it: the games must have been programmed with this feature in mind, and another thing is your computer must have an NVMe SSD on M.2 slot with at least 64GB of space and a graphics card compatible with DirectX 12.
Graphics compatibility is important since this technology allows decompressing images using the hard disk instead of the CPU, which has a double effect: it reduces the load on the processor and improves game performance.
The Future of DirectX
Both Windows 10 and Windows 11 support DirectX 12 Ultimate, Microsoft’s latest API packed with the latest features developers can use to create amazing games.
The problem is that since Windows 10 will end its continuation of updates in October 2025, and it won’t be that long, we can assume that future DirectX developments will likely be more focused on Windows 11. Though, there should be updates to DirectX 12 Ultimate for Windows 10 until the end of support.
Shall I move to Windows 11 for Gaming?
In the debate between Windows 10 and Windows 11, and after what has been seen, it is more or less safe to say that it is worth the change if you have the necessary hardware to take advantage of all its advantages as that Windows 11 wins by a small margin.
If, on the contrary, you do not have a compatible hard drive or a monitor that can enhance the HDR component, the gaming experience on Windows 10 and 11 is more or less will be the same. It is recommended that you stay with Windows 10, even if it is for a purely economic factor.
The main reason for Windows 11 OS is not game-related but rather improved security and the ability to link with various Microsoft services. In other words, don’t force yourself to update if you don’t need the above benefits. In the coming years, PC games will run perfectly on Windows 10 and 11.
Microsoft may prepare new gaming features for Windows 11, but this has not been officially confirmed.
Of course, get used to the idea that, over the years, it will be inevitable to make that transition to Windows 11.