Gamers rejoice! Windows 10 adds features without killing framerates

No one cares about tiny percentages in performance and the minutiae of an operating system more than gamers. In a world where optimizing your system perfectly is everything, each new feature means more overhead, and major OS updates tend to have a lot of them. Windows 10 is chock full of them, too, and though a number of them are gaming focused, not all gamers are going to be anxious to upgrade right away.

This time around, Microsoft is more focused on the desktop experience than they were with Windows 8. It shows in the UI as much as it shows in the feature set, but the big unanswered question is still how it affects system performance.

What’s new?

Windows 10 brings with it new features centered on the Xbox app and games bar. Unfortunately, the release versions of these apps are limited in functionality, and chances are you won’t have any use for the Xbox app unless you actually have an Xbox. All PC users will benefit from the games bar, however, and its ability to stream video and still captures from your games.

Ever done something totally mind-blowing in a game unexpectedly, and find yourself wishing you could go back and capture a video of it? The updated Xbox app for Windows 10 brings the Xbox One’s Game DVR feature to the desktop. When enabled, the Xbox app will keep the last 30 seconds of gameplay in a 30 fps, 720p video file, so right after you got that sick no-scope you can hit the button and quickly save a clip of everything that just happened. It even works with Steam games, and other applications that don’t run through the Xbox application.

The closest you’ll ever get to Halo on a PC

Even in its early stages, Xbox streaming to Windows 10 is easy to set up, though settings are limited. Connecting your Xbox One and Windows 10 computer is as easy as making sure they’re on the same network, flipping a switch in the Xbox preferences to turn on streaming, and opening the Xbox app on your computer. You can connect your Xbox One controller to the PC via USB, or leave it connected wirelessly to the console – if you’re close enough.

If you want to play Halo on your PC, the Xbox app is the best option.

The streaming service delivers solid performance. Gameplay was mostly smooth, with a few frame skips here and there, but nothing that would keep the experience from mirroring what you’d find on the Xbox itself. There’s also a slight delay from your input to a change on the screen. That’s no big deal if you’re playing Madden by yourself, but take an FPS online and you might find yourself shooting where the enemy used to be more often than not.

PC fans have been clamoring for a Halo game since Combat Evolved, and the few iterations that have seen the computer only served to raise excitement. Unfortunately, the new Halo titles are one of the biggest draws for the Xbox, and the likelihood we’ll see a current Halo game on PC again any time soon, with the possible exception of the Master Chief Collection, is a long shot. If you want to play Halo on your PC, the Xbox app is the best option.

Seeing is believing

Oculus also brought the head of Xbox Phil Spencer on stage at its pre-E3 press conference to discuss VR and Windows 10. The partnership between Oculus and Microsoft means that not only will each Rift include an Xbox One controller and adapter, but also that the Rift will be plug and play compatible with Windows 10.

It’s this sort of closer integration with devices that are important to gamers that will ultimately lead to a more rounded gaming experience on PC, but the performance has to be there too.

The wait for DirectX 12 continues

One of the major purported benefits of DirectX 12 comes in the form of Direct3D 12, the newest iteration of the underlying graphics API. The most prominent performance upgrade is a result of lowering driver overhead and putting more control over VRAM and effects in the hands of the developers. The boost to power efficiency and frame rate is staggering, or so Microsoft claims.

3DMark Fire Strike

Unfortunately, not all users can take advantage of the new feature set. Only Windows 10 users will have access to DirectX 12 on their systems, so if you haven’t updated, that’s a very good reason to do so. There are also a variety of new hardware-enabled features in DX12 that most modern cards don’t support yet.

Diablo III

The truth of the matter is there are very few demos, and no full games, that support DirectX 12 yet. DirectX 11 is still the standard, even for new games, but Microsoft estimates that titles that fully support DX12 will be on the market by the end of the year. In the meantime, we can still test to see if Windows 10 makes a difference in existing titles.

Civilization: Beyond Earth

Our test system is a Falcon Northwest Talon with an Intel Core i7-4770K, 8GB of RAM, an EVGA GeForce GTX 960 with 2GB of VRAM, and a pair of 850 EVOs running in a RAID 0 array. It’s not a record-setting build, but it’s a good example of a mid-to-high end gaming PC.

Grand Theft Auto V

The moral of the story is that while different games and benchmarks may score differently based on the version of Windows you’re running, it’s not significant. All of these tests are well within the margin of error for benchmarking, so chances are you won’t notice a difference, positive or negative, in performance.


PC gamers are going to seek out an experience that meshes with the way they use their computer and stick with it. Out of all computer enthusiasts, gamers are perhaps the most particular about their experience and performance.

Windows 10 improves on the functionality of Windows 7 and 8 for gamers with a few new additions that may seem novel to some, but will leave other content to stick with Fraps. With in-home streaming, there’s also added value if you have an Xbox. From a gaming perspective, there’s no reason not to update.


  • No performance drop
  • Xbox streaming
  • Game DVR


  • No DX12 games yet

Microsoft turns on the lights with a new white theme in Windows 10 update

Microsoft is introducing a new light theme in the upcoming version of Windows 10 and is currently beta testing the change with Windows Insiders. The clean-looking theme brings a much-needed facelift to Windows.

Check out the best Xbox One deals and bundles for November 2018

Microsoft's consoles are just as capable of streaming movies as they are of playing the latest games. Check out our top Xbox One deals and bundles, which include new and upcoming triple-A games like Battlefield V and Fallout 76.

Here are the best laptop deals for November 2018

Whether you've started a new school year, are shopping for a student, or you just need a new computer, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…

Microsoft drops Surface Go price to $350 for Black Friday week

The Microsoft Surface Go convertible tablet has seen a large price drop this Black Friday sales season, lowering the base model to $350 and even the upgraded ones have seen $50 knocked off of their asking price.

The Best Black Friday Deals from Best Buy in 2018

We've been hard at work assembling all the best Black Friday deals Best Buy offers in 2018 and putting them in one place to save you time and money this holiday season. From laptops to TVs, game consoles to smart speakers and much more…

Razer takes up to $500 off of its Blade gaming laptops for Black Friday

If you're a fan of Razer's understated aesthetics that earned the Blade comparisons with Apple's laptops, you can score some big savings on Black Friday, as Razer is offering up to $500 discounts off of its gaming notebooks.

Detangle your desk with a mighty wireless mouse. Here are our six favorites

If you're looking for the best wireless mouse on the market, we've got the list for you!. These six models have something for everyone, whether you're a hardcore gamer or simply looking to ward off carpal tunnel.

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Buying Guides

Solid-state drives are speedier than hard disk drives. Are they worth it?

As the price of solid-state drives comes down, it's reached a point where it's hard to recommend a system without at least a hybrid solution. In the battle of SSD vs. HDD, a clear winner has emerged.

Service restored after glitch locks out Microsoft Office 365 business users

Microsoft reported that a problem with its system caused some users to be locked out of their accounts. Because the multifactor authentication system went down globally, some Office 365 and Azure users were unable to log in.

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.

The best Walmart Black Friday deals in 2018

Walmart has historically been the undisputed king of Black Friday deals. The mega-store is known for offering deals on products in almost every category, from smart TVs to children’s toys. We're combing through every deal as it is…

Want to game on your Chromebook? Here's where to start

Chromebooks aren't great for gaming, but there are a few titles that most machines can run. There's a surprisingly diverse crowd that includes role-playing games, action side-scrollers, and puzzlers.