Since Windows 11 came out, there has been a lot of discussion about game performance. Much of the buzz has been negative, with reviewers claiming to see performance drops when upgrading to the latest version of Windows.
Are these claims true? Or are the performance issues just rumors? How good is Windows 11 for gaming? Let’s see.
The VBS Factor
One term you might come across on forums talking about Windows 11 gaming performance is Virtualization-Based Security (VBS). VBS is designed to enable business users to isolate critical functionality from malware, prevent data theft and allow them to shut down the system in the event of it being compromised.
This technology provides a layer of security beyond TPM by running Windows as a virtual subsystem. However, VBS will not activate on personal or home versions of Windows, whether you update from Windows 10 or get a fresh install. Gamers should therefore not come into contact with virtualization that slows down their computer.
Microsoft touts Windows 11 as the best Windows version for PC gamers. It features a ton of game features like DirectX 12 Ultimate, Auto HDR, and Direct Storage. Not many games can actually use the new functionality yet, but we’ll probably see them come into play in the coming years.
Originally developed for the Xbox, Direct Storage plans to take advantage of the fast data transfer rates of NVMe SSDs to deliver game data more efficiently. The API is still new, so details are scarce, but the idea is to use a GPU to quickly decompress game assets and transfer them to the game almost immediately.
This would obviously improve game performance as loading game data from storage remains one of the persistent bottlenecks in the game industry. Increasing image fidelity — necessitating high-resolution textures and detailed 3D models — has further exacerbated the problem, as large amounts of data must be constantly streamed for a game to work.
The growing popularity of High Dynamic Range (HDR) monitors has made it a must-have for many PC gamers. But most video games still run on Standard Dynamic Range (SDR), rendering the advanced monitor useless.
Windows 11 aims to bridge the gap through an Auto HDR feature. As the name suggests, it will automatically adjust the balance of color and brightness to give an HDR experience even in games that don’t support it.
Of course it won’t compare to native HDR integration, but it would be a step above SDR. And if you already have an HDR-compatible monitor, you can get an instant improvement in images without having to do anything.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how good a system looks on paper. All that matters are the cold, hard numbers.
We tested several visually demanding games on the same CPU and GPU, first in Windows 10 and then after an upgrade to Windows 11 (a clean install would yield the same results). We’ll be using a rig with an AMD Ryzen processor and an NVidia GeForce RTX graphics card along with 16GB of DDR4 memory for testing. All games ran on their default recommended settings.
|Game||FPS on Windows 10||FPS on Windows 11|
|Far cry 5||76||77|
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla||66||61|
|Call of Duty: Warzone||71||68|
|Final Fantasy XIV||63||65|
The results are… not promising. Windows 11 doesn’t seem to bring any significant optimizations for gaming, with frame rates remaining almost the same for all games tested.
At the same time, it also means you won’t see significant drops in FPS either, giving you the same gaming experience you enjoyed in Windows 10.
Looking purely at benchmarks, Windows 11 doesn’t impress. The performance is slightly lower or just the same as Windows 10, which is hardly a good thing.
However, in the long run, PC gaming will get better with Windows 11. New titles would be optimized to take advantage of Windows 11’s features, from DirectX 12 Ultimate to Direct Storage.
That’s before we get into the fact that Windows 11 is still relatively new, and there are still issues to iron out. Over time, it can be expected to perform much better than its current avatar and outperform Windows 10.