Whenever we think about gaming, we think about buying all the optimum hardware that is available to us, but which operating system would be the best for gaming is the actual question you should be asking yourself after all a good gamer knows about their tools and not just their games.
Variety and customization are one of the biggest strengths of a PC. (Make sure you also know how to optimize your Windows for better gaming experience)
While some operating systems may not seem like a good choice for gaming, it is because of the reason that every operating system is designed for a particular cause or is aimed at serving a section of people.
This guide will let you know about what you should be looking for when you think about what might be the best operating system for gaming and probably even give you a good number of options if you’re looking for a good new PC for gaming.
The 3 most widely used operating systems are Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.
All of these operating systems come with their respective benefits and shortcomings, but we’re going to check the availability of some of the popular games of the recent years on each platform and evaluate their performance for gaming.
Which in Windows is the best operating system?
Windows is currently the most widely used operating system. Many users install this operating system just because of its simplicity and abundance of users.
In case you run into any confusion, you can seek help for troubleshooting your problem on the internet very easily, and even ask your friends.
When we talk about the availability of games on this platform, Windows wins this trade.
Mac OS and Linux although are good, but there are a lot of games that are not released on these platforms whereas they are available on Windows.
The recent popular game for example “Predator: Hunting grounds” (released on the 24th of April, 2020) is only available Windows OS. (And Playstation too)
Another great game that bumped out alot of gamers, The Forza Horizon 4 is again just available on Windows and not on other operating systems.
It was released back on September 28th, 2018. (Mentioned, because it’s one of my go-to games when it comes to racing-games. (Check it out in virtual reality games we compiled here)
Windows 10 is currently the latest version of windows. This version was designed similar to windows 8 but comes with a lot of improvements.
When it was first released, it had a lot of bugs related to gaming. But over time, the updates have fixed a large portion of the problems.
Now it runs smoothly and offers high frame rates with all the popular games.
Windows 10 is compatible with Directx12.
This is important because there are a variety of games that support Dx12 (which improves the frame rate significantly).
For nerd gamers like me:
The main difference between DX11 and DX12 is that it lets more than one CPU core to send commands to the GPU at the same time. Directx12 is not available on Windows 8, and you need to have a fairly recent graphics card as well to be able to run it. As it is the latest OS, it also receives most of the attention from Microsoft and will keep on improving for a long time to come, at least until we see the next release from Windows.
Windows 8 is also a very stable version of windows and many people still run it.
It gives a close competition to windows 10, but only falls short when it comes to the availability of the latest games.
Although you can still run a lot of games fairly easily. I would still prefer that you stick with Windows 10.
With Directx11, you are still able to play games with good frame rates. Windows 8 falls behind with around 5-13 FPS as compared to Windows 10.
But still, surprisingly there are games that actually run better on Windows 8? Which games you ask?
Well, those which don’t need DX12 support.
With games that have no Dx12 support, Windows 8 performs fairly similar and sometimes better when compared to Windows 10.
However, as more and more games are being developed with Dx12 support, games developed in the future may not be able to run on Windows 8, or at least not on full settings.
Support for Windows 7 has ended as of January 14th, 2020.
Nevertheless, the Dx11 performs well in this OS as well and delivers FPS close to that of the Dx12 for Windows 10.
Games that can be run on Windows 7 will perform very smoothly and similar when being run on Windows 10 as well.
It may even deliver slightly better performance in some older games.
However, Windows 7 users will experience a decline in performance as the latest titles will come with no support for Windows 7 as well as it will no longer be receiving any driver updates.
Linux Operating System
Linux offers a lot of flexibility and potential but is also popular for being very difficult to use. If you are a tech-enthusiast and want to set every detail according to your satisfaction, then Linux is for you and it’s free, what more could you ask for?
Linux has a variety of distributions to suit your needs. Distributions are simply different versions of Linux.
From a beginner to a hard-core user, there are versions available that suit their needs.
If your computer skills are pretty basic then you would want to stick with a newbie-friendly OS, like Linux Mint, Elementary OS and Deepin.
And if you think you have mastered the craft of computer administration, then you can use Gentoo.
The best Linux based OS for gaming is the Steam OS by Valve
Installing the Steam OS comes with steam already installed and a variety of games available for you to play from the steam library.
This OS requires slightly high hardware requirements, but if your PC can run it, it is definitely rewarding.
While Windows 10 makes installing and updating drivers and codecs very easy by doing it automatically, the same task is a little difficult when performed on Linux.
Linux is also free from bloatware, unlike Microsoft, which can really decrease the RAM and CPU usage and allow you to play your games with impeccable performance.
You can also install a light version of Linux if you struggle with ram requirements when you are gaming.
The FPS rate does not differ much from that of Windows 10, and if you have optimized your settings correctly, you can run any game that you want without any issues.
However, some games are more optimized for Windows and would not run as great on Linux, with an FPS drop of 5-8.
In the context of the availability of games, Linux has about 25-35% of Windows’ Steam Library.
Currently, there is an improved version of Steam available on Linux which includes Proton.
Proton is a compatibility layer that allows you to run Microsoft Windows games on Linux based operating systems. It is developed by Valve Corporation.
Some of the great games available on Steam OS are Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, 7 days to die, Ark: Survival Evolved.
There are a variety of games to play on the Steam OS, but nevertheless, they are fewer as compared to the Windows OS Steam library.
Mac Operating System
We all know Apple to come with very attractive products. But in regards to gaming, a Mac does not have much to offer.
Although the design, the build quality, software optimization, and customer support are top-notch, the problem with a Mac is its low customizability and dependency on software optimization rather than on hardware power.
Apple computers come with a built-in GPU, that you cannot change. Affordable Mac computers for a casual user provide poor results in gaming.
As for the iMac Pro, they are simply too expensive for the kind of performance that they offer in gaming.
When we take a look at the driver and software updates, users have to wait for Apple to do it for them, while PC users can do it when the update is available or according to their schedule.
As for the availability of games, a lot of the most popular titles are unavailable for Mac OS. The reason for this is that the majority of gamers use PCs and Windows OS because of its affordability and customization.
Another reason for the lack of games on MacOS is because of the lack of cross-platform game engines.
Nevertheless, there are still some great games that can be played on Mac OS, such as Dying Light Enhanced Edition, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Call of Duty Black Ops III, Tomb Raider 2013, CS:GO and a lot more.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a bottleneck and how do I avoid it?
A bottleneck occurs when a software or a computer component slows down the overall performance of the computer, just like the neck of a bottle restricts the flow of the liquid inside it.
A bottleneck may be caused by hardware or software.
A bottleneck caused by hardware may be due to that particular component not being able to keep up with the performance of the rest of the part.
For example, an old CPU like an Intel Core-i3 2120 will definitely not be able to let a recently released GPU perform up to its maximum potential.
Bottlenecks can also be a result of software limitations. Sometimes programs are able to run only a number of tasks and will refrain from using the additional CPU and RAM assets even when available.
Which operating system is the best for a low-end PC?
If you have a laptop or a desktop that is old and you’re looking for light OS, then you should choose Linux. Linux offers a variety of lightweight distributions that you can run, some of which are
- Bodhi Linux
- Puppy Linux
- Linux Lite
Linux may be a little difficult to get used to, but once you get the hang of it, it offers maximum customizability and utility even with the lowest specs.
If Linux does not suit you, you can also try installing 32-bit versions of Windows 10, 8, and 7.
Can I play Windows games on a Mac?
Yes, you can play Windows games on a Mac using WINE.
WINE is a compatibility layer that is designed to make applications and software made for Windows run on Linux and Mac as well.
You can also install Windows on your Mac’s hard-drive by using Boot Camp, which is a multi-boot utility.
Boot Camp turns your Mac into a Windows PC and you can simply boot up the Windows OS when you turn on your Mac.
To Sum Up:
Windows 10 is by far the most widely used operating system for gaming. The availability of games on this platform is more than any other.
It is also the best in terms of performance, provided that the hardware can keep up with it. Linux can also deliver performance close to that of Windows 10 but is a little difficult to use for beginners.
As for the Mac OS, it is simply not as well customization as the Windows or Linux and provides very limited options for gaming.
We hope this elaborate guide helped you find the answer you were looking for. Which operating system do you think suits your needs the best? We would love to hear from you.