Since Microsoft’s announcement that the DirectStorage will be coming to the PC with Windows 11, we’ve suspected that Windows 11 will be the most gaming-focused Windows to date. Now, a week away from launch, and with full specs available as well as insider access, we can confirm that Windows 11 was developed with gamers in mind.
The big three gaming features brought to us by Windows 11 are the incredible speed that will come with DirectStorage, superior graphics that will be facilitated by AutoHDR and a huge library of games that will become available to every PC owner through the integration of the Xbox Game Pass into Windows 11.
Launching on October 5th and available for free to eligible systems with Windows 10, should gamers upgrade their systems on day-one with the most gaming-focused OS by Microsoft to date? Well yes and no. Firstly, let’s look at the gaming specific specs that may prompt you to upgrade.
Image Courtesy of Samsung
Originally a feature that was announced and launched for the new gen consoles, Microsoft’s announcement of the integration of DirectStorage into Windows 11 had piqued many PC gamers’ interest . The inclusion of SSDs and DirectStorage was revolutionary for the new gen consoles. It dramatically cut down loading times, something that console gamers had to endure a lot more than PC gamers. This is excellent news for everyone, (except the loading screen designers and tip writers, probably), but DirectStorage doesn’t just mean faster loading times. Rendering draw distances, variety of textures and instant object introduction become possible, allowing devs to increase the scope of their virtual world and realise a lot more of their vision.
DirectStorage execution is a complex process, but simply put it takes some of the assets from SSD and sends it directly to the CPU,taking some of the load off the GPU, hence the performance crank-up.
We’re all eagerly waiting to try gaming on Windows 11, and if you’re excited about DirectStorage, there are a few caveats that you should know about. Firstly, as confirmed by Microsoft, in order to actually run DirectStorageyou will need at least 1TB or greater NVMe (Non-Volatile memory Express) SSD that uses the ‘standard NVM express controller driver’.
In addition, your GPU will need to be compatible with DirectX 12 Ultimate spec in order to run DirectStorage. So you’d need to make sure that your PC has an appropriate PCIe 3.0 or 4.0 NVMe SSD and supporting graphics card to take advantage of DirectStorage.
Image Courtesy of ASUS
As the name suggests, AutoHDR will automatically adjust HDR in your games - a process that previously had to be done manually and changed depending on the game you’re playing. Manual optimization of HDR isn’t the worst thing ever, but changing settings for every other game in order to make it look its best isn’t ideal either.
Using Microsoft’s machine-learning, AutoHDR will use gathered AI data in order to automatically tone-map the lights and darks to be shown in more detail than ever before. It displays a much broader spectrum of colours that non-HDR enabled monitors can, displaying more realistic colours and nuances in games. It makes even older games look beautiful and modernized, and current ones exceptional.
But much like DirectStorage, whether or not you can make use of this feature will depend on your hardware, and in this case, your monitor. In order to enable and use AutoHDR in Windows 11you will need to have a HDR ready monitor, and they are not cheap. This is mostly because HDR enabled monitors are higher-end monitors and are generally more expensive than SDR monitors (Standard Dynamic Range).
Xbox Game Pass for PC
Image Courtesy of Microsoft
One of the best actions that Microsoft has taken regarding gaming is the integration of the Xbox Game Pass forPC. Windows and Xbox were always ‘close’, but there was never such integration of both systems. It makes sense, as Microsoft owns both. Access to the Xbox Game Pass, DirectStorage and AutoHDR seems to be able to turn everyone’s gaming PC into a much more powerful Xbox; an Xbox that also plays Steam and Stadia games in addition to Game Pass.
Although massive libraries of games aren’t new to PC gamers, the ability to play and stream Xbox games is. All else remaining the same, whether or not Xbox Game pass is a worthy reason to upgrade on day one is a personal choice. If you cannot yet use the above features and aren’t that bothered about the integration of Xbox Game Pass, then you might want to wait on the upgrade, especially if you want to upgrade for gaming purposes only.
Should I upgrade to Windows 11 on day one?
There are a few things to consider, as a gamer, when deciding if you want to upgrade to Windows 11 straight out of the gate. When thinking about whether or not to upgrade on day one, consider the hardware you have.
As we’ve discussed, DirectStorage, AutoHDR and integration of Xbox Game Pass are the biggest selling points, but two of the most revolutionary gaming features of Windows 11 rely entirely on the appropriate hardware to work.
If you do not have a compatible GPU, SSD and motherboard at the moment, you will not be able to take the advantage of DirectStorage and all it can do for speed and rendering of your games. Equally, if you do not have a monitor that supports HDR, then you probably won’t see the benefits of the AutoHDR at launch either.
Xbox Game Pass is the one we can all enjoy, albeit a subscription is required, but as long as your PC meets the minimum requirements for upgrading your OS, you’re good to go with the Xbox Game Pass.
When considering if you should upgrade right away or wait a bit consider some pros and some cons of doing so. If your rig is hardware-ready for the Windows 11 launch, you might still think twice before upgrading immediately. Firstly, we all know that at launch, software tends to have a few issues and bugs here and there. Whilst we've been testing Windows 11 on all sorts of hardware and haven't run into any issues ourselves, that doesn't mean you might have the same experience.In addition, before you move to Windows 11, make sure that the older games you were previously playing won’t just randomly stop working because some part of it is no longer supported by Windows 11.
On the other hand, whatever issues you may be concerned about regarding Windows 11 will eventually be ironed out, as they have been done in the past with Windows 10. If your rig meets the specs, the new OS will not break anything, but you should consider your older apps and games you still enjoy.
If gaming isn’t the primary driver for you wanting to upgrade, then Windows 11 is bringing a lot more than just gaming improvements. Future integration of Android apps and games, a slick new look, security and better optimization are all excellent reasons to upgrade to Windows 11 at launch. If you’re worried about the potential issues or that the new OS might break some of your old games, then perhaps waiting a bit and seeing how the support for it rolls out is something you’d consider instead.
Windows 11 launches on October 5th 2021, so if you’re not hardware-ready to game on Windows 11, check out some of our Windows 11 ready systems, available for dispatch after October 5th.