Low-end PCs get big performance boost from Windows 10 Game Mode

Enlarge / On a laptop like this, Windows 10’s new Game Mode could give your multitasking system a much-needed gaming performance boost.

In selling the potential of Windows 10’s dedicated Game Mode (included as part of this week’s Creators Update), Microsoft has promised that prioritizing processes and grouping threads would lead to an FPS boost of 2 to 5 percent in games that max out the high end of the CPU/GPU power curve. When we tried Game Mode for ourselves on a fast system, we didn’t feel any particular difference in either average or minimum frame rates. But further testing shows that Game Mode has the ability to deliver much more significant improvements: on slower machines, it can even boost games from being unplayable to (just about) acceptable.

PC World recently ran the numbers on a handful of Windows 10 games that take advantage of Game Mode: Bioshock Infinite, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Gears of War 4. On a top-of-the-line Surface Book laptop (sporting a low-end GTX 965M graphics card), the new mode only led to modest improvements in average frame rates, whether the game was running alone or with a lot of background tasks open. That matches the findings of other benchmarkers who found little effect from Game Mode.

Things were different when the magazine looked at the minimum frames per second for games running in Game Mode. When those games were running by themselves, the improvements were still hard to notice. But with background tasks like a YouTube browser window, Spotify, and AVG antivirus running, Game Mode caused a significant bump in minimum frame rates for each game. In the case of Bioshock Infinite, the minimum frame rate jumped by nearly a factor of two, from 5.92fps to 10.65.

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