Yo, what's going on today, guys? I believe all of you guys heard Windows 11 is the best Windows ever for gamers. If not, it doesn't matter. At least that's what Microsoft says, but Microsoft has made a lot of promises to gamers over the years. Remember when Vista was going to be the best for gaming? Remember Games for Windows Live? Oh, sorry. I threw up a little. So with Windows 11 creeping ever closer to the final release, we felt that we needed to give you guys some answers you can trust. Is Microsoft taking the upcoming threat of Linux gaming seriously? Are you getting a better gaming experience on Windows 11? Or is this just a lot of hot air so they can finally make you link your Microsoft account? Well, I usually save my hot air for sponsors, like AMD. Thanks to AMD for sponsoring this video. AMD's Ryzen 5000 Series CPUs and Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics cards enable the ultimate gaming experience for any gamer, across any setting, at any resolution. Head to amdgameeveryday.com to learn more.
Our first step was setting up our GPU test bench here with two SSDs. One is running Windows 10, and the other running the latest preview of Windows 11. Both of them were loaded with the same games, and both were running the same version of NVIDIA's Game Ready drivers. This way, we've got exactly the same environment, down to the exact motherboard for both operating systems, and we can switch between them without changing anything else.
Starting with a recent top end GPU, the story is already fascinating. Windows 11 comes in a little bit slower than Windows 10 in "Assassin's Creed: Valhalla", but it's close enough that it could be a coincidence. F1 2021 without ray tracing shows more or less the same performance between the two OS's, and that doesn't change with ray tracing enabled either. Nor does it change with "Forza Horizon 4" or "Flight Sim 2020". I mean, it's not like you'd expect a big difference anyway, right? Well, you wouldn't, but then along comes "CS: GO", representing a legacy gaming title, and it sees a significant reduction in performance, losing 110 FPS on average.
So what is going on here? Looking at the data, CPU utilization is more or less the same, but GPU utilization takes a significant dip in Windows 11. Remember guys, and we're running the same hardware, same driver, same game, same test. We aren't thermal throttling. So what gives? Ah, well, which CPU cores are being loaded gives us our first clue. Windows 10 seems to spread the load across threads 0, 10, 11, and 12, and Windows 11 is splitting the load far more evenly across threads 0 through 3, 5 through 10, 13, 15, 24 and 25. That might sound way better. I mean, it's spreading the load across more of your multi-core CPU. But remember, we're using a Ryzen CPU. So constantly crossing between our Ryzen's chiplets means the CPU is spending way more time waiting on data to be pushed into cache and less time sending commands to the GPU. Now, I wouldn't expect nearly the same kind of impact on a CPU with a single CCD or on an Intel CPU, but it's definitely something that we're going to keep our eye on as Windows 11 gets closer to release. And this lousy behaviour seems to carry over to the "Civilization VI" AI benchmark, with turn times nearly a second faster on Windows 10 on the same CPU. This suggests that, while Windows 11's scheduler might be more sophisticated than Windows 10's, not all of its efforts are making a positive impact. At least not for gamers. To be clear, DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 titles that are built with multithreading in mind don't suffer the same fate, and DirectX 9 games are old enough that they're going to run well enough on any high core count modern CPU anyway. But we still hope that this can be fixed before Windows 11 goes gold.
Now as for how an older GPU fares, we chose the GTX 1060 based on its popularity in the Steam hardware survey. And it sees a very similar pattern across most, but not all of our testings, with virtually identical numbers between the two OS in "Assassin's Creed: Valhalla", "F1 2021", "Forza Horizon 4", and "Microsoft Flight Simulator". Where we deviate from our RTX 3080's pattern is in our "CS: GO" performance. Here, we get pretty much the same numbers between Windows 10 and Windows 11. And this makes sense because we're more GPU bound in this scenario. After all, we have a less powerful GPU. So that means that CPU scheduling and context switching is no longer what's holding back our overall performance.
Let's put performance aside, though. There's a lot of other reasons why gamers might want to upgrade to Windows 11. I mean, Microsoft wouldn't call it the best Windows ever for gaming if it weren't, right? Well, I mean, even with Microsoft's track record aside, you would hope the next version of anything would be better than the old one. How true that depends on who you're talking to, because from where I'm sitting, there's one significant advantage that remains for Windows 11 gaming, and that is HDR. In Windows 10, HDR needs to be manually enabled by the user. And once it's on, it's on system-wide, which means you can run into situations where your HDR content looks great. That is assuming you also remember to enable HDR in the game menu, but your SDR content, which is everything else, might look a little off. Auto HDR is Microsoft's effort to fix these problems in Windows 11. And it does a surprisingly good job of bringing HDR-like visuals to standard dynamic range content through automatic tone mapping. It looks like it will legitimately be a key selling point for anyone who has an HDR-compatible display and GPU. The only problem is that not everybody has such a thing and much lower cost. HDR-compatible displays are compatible in name only. Providing correct mapping of HDR content but not displaying content in high dynamic range. Because they just can't get bright enough. So whether you'll get a better experience on such a display will depend on the content and on display. And by this point, we're digging into niches within niches to try to find Windows 11 gold.
Okay, so what about direct storage then? That's a feature that enables your GPU to read and write directly from your game's install directory—kind of like the Xbox Series' and the PlayStation 5. Well, funny story about that one. It was supposed to be Windows 11 exclusive, but after severe user backlash against that announcement, it's a bit of a pattern for them. Microsoft backpedalled and are now bringing it to Windows 10 as well. Although exactly what that's going to look like is anyone's guess at this point, because according to a Microsoft blog post, Windows 11 has "Storage stack optimizations." That, "Unlock the full potential of direct storage." Whatever that means. We don't know what that means because we still don't know exactly what direct storage will do for gamers in practice. After all, no games have been built to take advantage of it yet. We understand that the technology's goal is to achieve results similar to what Sony showed in their PS5 architecture demo. So seamless open-world exploration without loading screens in between and stuff like that. One thing we know for sure though is that if you're not rocking an NVME SSD, whether you're on Windows 10 or Windows 11, you're going to be out of luck when it comes to enabling direct storage.
Anyway, the point is today, we're looking at beta software, and it's impossible to draw hard conclusions like, "Don't upgrade to Windows 11." Or, "Windows 11 will give you more FPS." But we can make some observations. First, as with any operating system upgrade, you shouldn't expect miracles. There will be new optimizations, but they're not going to make your hardware magically better. Whether it's brand new or a few generations old. And second, at the end of the day, most people upgrade their operating systems for new features or because they need to do something or use a new device that their old operating system doesn't support. And the good news for those folks is that Windows 10 will be supported until fall 2025. So there is plenty of time left for Microsoft to fix things and for you to make the jump when it's right for you. Anthony also wrote here that you should jump to Linux instead if you're going to be jumping anyway. And he might have a point. I think he expected me to argue with him here. Still, I'm trying to talk Valve into giving us an early version of the SteamOS that they're running on the Steam Deck so that we could just put it on a regular PC and take the latest performance optimizations and anti-cheat workarounds for a spin. So, thanks for reading & see you next time, good day guys.