Windows 11 - Game Time and Microsoft Store
On to the fun stuff. Gaming and the Microsoft Store.
The Store looks much smoother, again following the curved finished on all blocks. And yet again, a move that makes me think more of Apple. Upon opening the Home of the Store, you are greeted with a selection of essential apps, free games to help draw you in, top free apps, trending, and then collections. Not bad. Smooth, runs fast, and loads as expected. Microsoft as mentioned continues to try to give us one place for all. As usual, though it comes with a huge change it appearance, it continues to work fast and smooth. When moving to Apps, Gaming, and Entertainment, it continues to look smooth and simple. Again, a kind reminder of Apple products. Once you decide to get Windows 11, be sure to give the Microsoft Store a go. It's not half bad.
"Show me the fun stuff!"
Now to what most people want to know. Gaming. A lot has been promised. AutoHDR, and DirectStorage, two things that are promising to increase our gaming experience. When it comes to AutoHDR, that will come in a later blog. Now, DirectStorage we can go for.
Direct Storage, sounds high-tech, but what is it? Put in basic terms, the data for GPU Assets gets extracted from the NVMe SSD and stored into your System Memory (RAM). From there, it gets copied directly to the GPU memory (VRAM) and decompressed directly through your Graphics Card (GPU). So... why should that cause a difference? Easy. GPUs are must more powerful in terms of processing than a CPU, so actually being able to utilize its potential to decompress the GPU Assets directly would in theory increase loading speeds. Note one of the keys here is the NVMe SSD as well. Older hardware such as HDDs would not be as efficient as the speed changes are dramatic depending on SSD make and model. This will be an interesting test indeed, and therefore, the loading for Forza Horizon 4 has been selected for the test.
"Race time in Forza Horizon 4."
Forza Horizon 4 was released on September 28, 2018, and is still a game that can hammer a computer with its massive maps and high polygon, high detailed vehicles and is still a capstone of Microsoft Games (Though Forza Horizon 5 has already been announced, which is expected to be the next capstone.) During the first activation with a new NVidia driver, it always requests an optimization that I skip. Here, we'll run the game at its max quality on 1080p on 60 fps (Don't be discouraged, the benchmark shows unlocked fps capabilities.)
Once the settings have been set and the game restarted so that it acknowledges the cancellation of NVidia optimization, we'll run the benchmark option. From there, it only took 45 seconds to start the test. Not bad for a massive game that has no in-game loading unless you're starting or ending a race. From there, we just let the benchmark run. The results, not bad for a laptop.
It is noted that the Windows version still shows 10, though it's the 11 Preview. The game as expected can still run efficiently. It is also important to note the current laptop being used (MSI GS66 Stealth with RTX 3060) has its turbo boost disabled to prevent any type of overheat, causing the CPU to lose overall power while increasing life expectancy. It is the sacrifice in the potential that is made due to the small chassis a laptop has. Other than that, the 45-second loading is not bad for this type of game. Once Horizon 5 is released, it'll undergo more drastic tests.
"Was there a boost?"
For now, the difference seems minimal. Performance-wise, we did not expect a massive increase. Loading times, 45 seconds for a massive game such as this one is not bad, and I can only expect it to get better over time. All in all, Windows 11 can at least run games near flawless. I say near because there have been minor glitches in older games such as Shadow of War. (Rare black screen flickering.) We'll keep you informed as best as possible so that you know what to expect in the long run.