Best Operating System for Gaming

windows 7 logo

This article is outdated, see this article: Windows 7 vs Windows 8 RTM: Gaming Performance

Every gamer asks himself every now and then this question: Which is the best operating system for gaming? I’m here to answer that question.

The real battle is between Windows XP and Windows 7 but if you ask me there is no “best operating system”. Every gamer has different needs that can’t be satisfied by a single operating system. We have to compromise and choose the best that fits our needs as an individual.

Depending on what are our requirements the “best operating system” can be any version of Windows. If you want to play DirectX 9 games then the best choice is probably Windows XP but if you want DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 you must choose a newer operating system, Windows 7. But new isn’t always better, see Vista.

Many people say that Windows XP is dying or dead and I like to tell them that more than 30% of PC users still use it. Even though Microsoft recently stopped supporting Windows XP this doesn’t mean that it’s completely dead.

Best Operating System

As you can see, against popular believe, Windows 7 is actually better than Windows XP in DirectX 9 thus better for gaming! This time around new seems to be better. Windows 7 runs well even with older hardware making it king over other operating systems.

When it comes to DirectX 10 and 11 games there is absolutely no competition whatsoever. Because Windows XP only has support for DirectX 9 there is clearly one winner: Windows 7.

Further more, Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP thus making Windows 7 prone to improvements…

If you’re not sure what architecture of Windows 7 to choose, x64 or x86, read this: Most hardcore gamers choose the 64bit version of Windows because it supports more than 3 GB of ram and is more stable / reliable.

40% of gamers on Steam use Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and more users make the move to x64 every day. In contrast, only 20% of Steam users have Windows XP x32/x64 installed.

All we can hope is that Windows 8 will take 7’s throne on release date but something tells me that Windows 7 will be the best operating system for many years to come or until DirectX 12 is released.

Best Operating System for Gaming is: Windows 7 x64

All details on the games that were included in this roundup can be found here:

I will continue to add games so the graph above is not final.

Here is a list of included games:

  • Alice Madness Returns
  • Battlefield Bad Company 2
  • Call Of Juarez: Bound in Blood
  • Call Of Juarez: The Cartel
  • Bioshock 2
  • Crysis 2
  • Dead Island
  • Deus Ex Human Revolution Benchmark
  • DiRT 3
  • Duke Nukem Forever
  • Dungeon Siege III
  • Fable III
  • FEAR 3
  • Formula 1 2010
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Hard Reset
  • Hunted the Demon’s Forge
  • Medal Of Honor 2010
  • Metro 2033
  • Red Faction Armageddon
  • Red Orchestra 2 Heroes of Stalingrad
  • StarCraft II
  • The Witcher 2
  • Test Hardware

    Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge)

    3.3 GHz, 6 MB L3 Cache, power-saving settings disabled, Turbo Boost disabled.

    Motherboard MSI P67-C43-B3, Intel P67 Chipset
    Memory 2 x 2 GB DDR3 1600MHZ
    Hard Drive WD 500 GB SATA III
    Graphics Card Sapphire HD6950 1 GB
    Power Supply Corsair TX 650 W
    System Software And Drivers
    Operating Systems

    Windows XP SP3 x32

    Windows XP SP2 x64

    Windows 7 SP1 x32

    Windows 7 SP1 x64

    Windows 8 x32 build 7955

    Windows 8 x64 build 7989

    DirectX DirectX 9
    Graphics Driver AMD Catalyst 11.x WHQL

    Last Updated: September 15 2011

    • RMK

      Yes Windows 7 x64 is the best OS for Quad Core but for Dual Core the best OS is XP x64.

      I tested E8400 4GHz vs Q9400 4GHz.

    • jack

      i kinda agree with the win 7 vs xp thing but i don`t agree with the inclusion of windows 8 mainly because windows 8 hasn`t even reached a beta stage and it wasn`t “officially”released to the public yet

      • Johnny 3D

        well it’s kind of past vs present vs future…

    • Jhowins

      I disagree, I used Windows 64 on my AMD 7 v120 notebook with 4GB of memory, and I noticed drastic drop in fps gta 4 (10fps) and all my other games were bad (v11.8 driver 64) ja windows 7 x32 gta 4 runs at 20fps with the same driver.

      I installed Windows driver and 8 beta 9.11 beta, my games doubled to sail, gta 4 get more than 30fps using the same settings!

      For me, windows 8 is the best

    • Kristopher Gawron

      I would probably pick Windows XP as the best OS for gaming. It is proven and tested, and it has no bugs like other systems. Almost all types of video cards work smoothly in Windows XP.

      Kristopher Gawron

    • Ethan

      Tbh it depends on what Game, How much RAM it uses and ofc what type of Direct X your game will use.

      XP cant use Direct X11 (newest) Real shame, loved the OS but, Times changing, GPUs getting more advanced and Games are following.

      Windows 7 – Can use Direct X11 so your getting More Graphical Quality out of the Newest Games.

      X64 will always “beat” X32 simply because of the Extra RAM usage.
      32-4GB ram limit
      64- 8GB-194GB Ram Limit, depending on the Version of windows 7

      So if you want to play NEW games to their FULLEST (Win7)
      if you like to play using the older Graphics cards then XP

      But both should be using 64-bit

    • sunhadip

      I am a professional gamer.
      Game is my hobby.
      As a gamer i used 3 evga nvidia gtx580 graphics card,24gb vengence ram,i7 prossesor & liquid cooling.With all these hardwares I like windows 8 for play games smoothly.

      • Haxsys

        You must be an employee, affiliate, Fanboi or just don’t care about peak performance. I’ve benched many a game with Win8 under both mainstream and top notch hardware and it doesn’t come close to Win7 x64… it isn’t BAD, but you get a visibly better gaming experience with Win7 x64.

    • noname

      Please edit that post so that people won’t be able to miss how old that version of windows 8 was and that there were of course no optimized drivers. This article is still popping up on “OMG Windows 8 suckzzz bIg tiem!!!!11″ discussions.

      • Johnny 3D

        Now that 12.8 WHQL is out with full Windows 8 support will redo some tests on win 8 build 8200.

    • Gamers3x

      i have winXP professional service pack3 CPU N280 1.66Ghz, 0.99 GB of RAM )

      can these be ok in gaming ? i feel not cause its so slow , i update mine always and secure the virus evryday but still slow gaming , pls help or tell me what to do here T>T iwant fast and good game tnx guys

      • Saji

        This is really slow hardware. Updates some hardware dude. upcoming latest game requires at least intel duel core with 2GB of system memory.

    • cowcharge

      Please change the title to “Best Version of Windows for Gaming”

    • Lawl

      WINDOWS 8 SHOULD NEVER HAVE TOUCHED A PC ITS A PHONE/TABLET OS NOT A PC OS PC’S DONT HAVE TOUCH SCREENS AND GAMERS DONT LIKE FINGERPRINTS ON THE SCREENS sorry for the caps but i despise the touchscreen os on the gamer pc and it cant even support games older than a couple years waste of money windows 8 is.

    • Sladjan Damnjanovic

      what about Vista?!