Skip to main content

Windows 11 could be hurting your gaming performance

If you’ve been wondering why your beefy graphics card hasn’t been performing as well as it should in Windows 11 or Windows 10, the answer could be Microsoft’s Virtualization Based Security (VBS). According to testing done by Tom’s Hardware, VBS could cause gaming performance to drop by as much as 10%.

In a suite of fresh benchmarks, Tom’s Hardware tested 15 different games, from Cyberpunk 2077 to Red Dead Redemption 2, both with VBS enabled and with the feature turned off. In some games, the results could be cause for concern.

Overwatch 2 running on the LG OLED 27 gaming monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

In Microsoft Flight Simulator, for example, disabling VBS improved average frame rates by up to 10% when using an Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics card. In fact, when measuring the lowest 1% of frame rate results, the game benefitted by as much as 15% from having VBS switched off. That could translate into a noticeable increase in performance.

Microsoft explains that VBS “uses hardware virtualization features to create and isolate a secure region of memory from the normal operating system.” This helps protect against vulnerabilities and exploits that could weaken your PC’s defenses. In other words, it’s a pretty handy security feature.

However, it’s important to note that Microsoft Flight Simulator was an outlier in the results. In all other games, average frame rate increases were in the single-digit range — around 5-6% on average. While some games also saw roughly 15% increases to one-percentile results, most did not. The increase in Total War: Warhammer 3’s one-percentile score was much higher, but Tom’s Hardware noted that this game’s performance is “all over the place right now” so not much stock was put in that outcome.

No need to panic

Playing a game on the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i gaming laptop.
Arif Bacchus / Digital Trends

In practice, most games saw increases in performance of a handful of frames per second (fps). For instance, Cyberpunk 2077 running at 4K Ultra with ray tracing enabled went from 40.4 fps to 42.7 fps. The differences at 1440p and 1080p (with the same settings as before) were 5.7 fps and 5.6 fps respectively.

Some titles saw larger jumps as resolution decreased — Borderlands 3 went from 319.1 fps to 349.9 fps at 1080p, for example — but at those kinds of frame rates, the difference is less noticeable in real-world gameplay.

The mostly modest payoffs might not be worth it. As we explained when this issue reared its head late last year, VBS might not even be the main culprit when it comes to frame-rate drops. That could be something called Hypervisor-Enforced Code Integrity (HVCI), a feature that is enabled by VBS. Our testing showed HVCI was to blame for most of the impact we saw, but you probably don’t want to disable it because it helps support things like your laptop’s fingerprint scanner.

In any case, a few frames here and there are unlikely to impact your gaming experience, at least for most people. Instead, you’ll have much more success optimizing Windows for gaming than you will by disabling VBS — and you won’t have to worry about the potential security impact, either.

Editors' Recommendations

How to optimize Nvidia Control Panel settings for gaming and overall performance
Nvidia GeForce RTX Gaming Setup with Monitor and PC build.

If you have an Nvidia graphics card, then it's a good idea to learn how to optimize the Nvidia Control Panel. It has a whole range of features that you can tweak to improve performance, stability, and give you access to new and exciting features, like Nvidia's RTX VSR video upscaler. The best Nvidia Control Panel settings can really upgrade your experience, whether you're looking to game at high frame rates, or just make your GPU work better.

Keep reading to optimize your Nvidia settings in a few quick steps.

Read more
How Zelda: Ocarina of Time speedrunners break the N64 in incredible new ways
ocarina of time speedrunners break game new ways respec featured

ReSpec is normally a column about the wonderful, technical world of PC gaming, but occasionally there are topics that are too good to pass up. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is universally acclaimed as one the best Nintendo 64 games ever made, and while it's not a PC title, the highest-level, most technical speedruns of the game expose how games work on a fundamental level. More importantly, these incredible feats are only possible with a lot of community effort.

Ocarina of Time is a game that would take a normal player around 30 hours to beat; the most skilled speedrunners, who aim to play the game as fast as possible, can beat it in around three hours and 40 minutes without glitches. But the Any% category of the game, which tasks players with completing the game regardless of the methods used, is down to three minutes, 54 seconds, and 566 milliseconds. And yes, those milliseconds matter. The second-place record holder is less than a full second behind the world record.

Read more
Ranking all 12 versions of Windows, from worst to best
Windows 7 desktop.

You can tell a person's age by which version of Windows is their favorite. I have fond memories of XP and Windows 98 SE, so you can take a guess at mine, but I have colleagues who are much more enamored with Windows 7, or Windows 95. We all have something disparaging to say about Windows 8 though, and the less said about Windows Vista the better.

Ranking the different versions of Windows is about more than what era of computing you grew up in, though. There are some very serious duds in Microsoft's back catalog, just as there are a few wins too. But whether you can look back on some of Microsoft's disastrous releases with rose-tinted glasses, or have some genuine love for Microsoft's missteps, here's every version of Windows ranked from best to worst.
12. Windows ME

Read more