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PC gaming performance on Windows 8: A hard-data analysis

Loyd Case | Oct. 5, 2012
In the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 8, Microsoft has implemented scads of changes to improve the operating system's performance and responsiveness. To wit: The DirectX programming interface adds more robust 2D functionality, and in Windows 8 it helps render all desktop windows, and even accelerates the new Start screen.

Dirt 3: Windows 7 posted a marginally better score in the Dirt 3 test, achieving a rate of 117 fps versus 113 fps for Windows 8. That's about a 2.5 percent difference, and probably nothing to get worked up over.

Metro 2033: This first-person shooter is an incredible system hog. Our results33 fps for Windows 7, and 34 fps for Windows 8were a dead heat.

Subjective testing

In addition to running the above games, I played Civilization V, Mass Effect 3 (mostly multiplayer), and Bioshock 2 for extended periods of time. Inside each game, I saw no real performance issues, nor did I notice any image-quality changes between Windows 7 and Windows 8. I set all games to maximum graphics settings during my playing sessions.

I also played a few levels of the Crysis 2 single-player campaign. Despite the frame-rate cap, the game ran smoothly, with no significant issues. Finally, I fired up Borderlands 2 for a little multiplayer action, which was both smooth and adrenaline inducing, as you'd expect.

Built-in cloud saves on the game-download services seemed to work well, too. I was able to open both Civilization V and Mass Effect 3 single-player saved games, which had been synced with the Steam and EA Origin services.

Bottom line

When it comes to the normal PC-gaming experience I expect, Windows 8 delivers. However, after running a dozen or so games, I did encounter some minor issues, as I noted earlier. Older games may have problems, particularly those titles that use obsolete, driver-level DRM schemes. Current-generation games should mostly be problem-free.

Although the vsync issue with Crysis 2 is a concern, it didn't seem to affect my subjective gaming experience at all. However, if you have a lower-end gaming PCparticularly if the GPU is underpoweredthe vsync lock may introduce some stuttering. Other games I played don't seem to have this problem; this is the only title I've encountered so far that does.

What is not an issue is performance. Most games under Windows 8 seem to perform as well as they do in Windows 7. Some may perform better than expected. In the end, Windows 8 may introduce problems in some games at first, but most games will likely run just fine, and game performance on Windows 8 will in most cases be equivalent to performance on Windows 7.


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