Besides having the largest library of games, Windows is the best gaming OS because its games generally run better than those on Linux or macOS.
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The PC gaming community has a wide selection of games to choose from.
In addition to a wide range of options for hardware components, users can also pick the OS that best meets their needs. You can currently pick between Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Each type caters to a unique set of customers and offers its own set of benefits and drawbacks. We’ll put those aside, though, to answer the more pressing question: which of these three is the superior gaming OS?
This guide will provide a high-level overview of each OS, outlining its key features and outlining the benefits and drawbacks of using each for gaming.
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The purpose of this section is to provide a quick overview of the three operating systems and compare and contrast their core features.
Without a doubt, the most common and widely used OS is Microsoft’s Windows. Windows 3.0, released by Microsoft in 1990, was revolutionary because of the way in which it streamlined the computer user interface and brought personal computers to a wider audience.
There had been many iterations of Windows since its initial release, including Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, and a few others. The PC gaming industry has only really taken off since the release of the widely beloved Windows XP. Windows Vista, which was widely panned and plagued by bugs, was replaced by Windows 7 almost immediately after XP.
Thereafter, Microsoft released Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, another divisive operating system that was panned for attempting to impose a tablet-oriented UI on desktop computers.
Windows 10 is the most recent and most trustworthy version of Windows. Windows 10 also represents a significant shift in Microsoft’s strategy regarding their flagship operating system, as the company will no longer release a completely new Windows version every few years but instead will instead build and improve upon Windows 10 with numerous free updates.
- The highest level of game and store compatibility
- Consistently strong and impressive output
- Extremely user-friendly, even for newbies.
- Inadequate safeguards, among other problems
Windows, and especially Windows 10, is one of the most capable operating systems for video games. Windows 10 is optimized for gaming, so even the most graphically and technically demanding games will run smoothly. The potency of DirectX 12 is also made available, allowing users to fine-tune their gaming rigs’ graphics processing unit (GPU) and central processing unit (CPU) settings for optimal performance.
To choose games from
The largest and most varied library of games, relative to other operating systems, is certainly a selling point for Windows as a gaming platform. This is due to Windows’ status as the most popular operating system, with an overwhelming share of the market and an enormous user base. Keeping this in mind, most game studios put more effort into creating Windows versions of their games. This increases their chances of reaching a wider audience and making more money.
Video game retail outlets
All of the major game stores and platforms are fully compatible with the Windows OS, which is a big reason why Windows is often considered the best OS for gaming. If you’re using Windows, you shouldn’t have any trouble using any digital distribution platform of your choosing, be it Steam, The Epic Games Store, Uplay, Origin, or something else entirely. If you’re using Windows, you can download an app from any of the major game retailers, giving you unrestricted access to the newest games and game content.
Another important consideration when settling on an operating system for gaming is portability, and this is an area in which Windows excels. Windows is intended to be the operating system of choice for the masses due to its user-friendliness and stability. All of this also applies to the world of video games. PC gaming has never been easier than it is with Windows 10. New games can be downloaded and installed quickly, the PC or laptop’s gaming settings can be customized with little effort, and features like Game Mode can be used to silence distractions.
If you play games on Windows, you probably won’t encounter any compatibility issues. Like we’ve already established, this platform is compatible with pretty much every new PC game that comes out, and it also supports the industry’s most popular platforms and marketplaces like Steam and Epic. Developers will always put in extra effort to ensure that their products are Windows-compatible and run smoothly on Windows PCs because of Windows’ widespread adoption and dominance in the market.
Generally speaking, Windows has solid security. However, in contrast to other operating systems, such as macOS, this feature is noticeably lacking. It’s concerning for gamers because Windows users are a common target for hackers and malware, and the operating system is constantly being updated and improved to counteract the newest digital threats. Take caution when using Windows to play or download games due to the risk of malware or system hacking. This is less of a concern on modern Windows releases like 10 and 11, but it is a real problem on older versions of Windows due to their less robust security.
The Windows operating system is widely available for free or at a low cost on many modern personal computers. However, you should carefully plan your budget for hardware that can make the most of Windows’ benefits. Depending on the type of gamer you are, you may need to spend more or less money on RAM, CPU, and GPU performance to get the best results for the games you play.
Linux is unusual because it refers not to a single OS but to a family of OSes that share a common kernel and are all free and open source. Linus Torvalds developed it in 1991 with the intention of providing a free and adaptable operating system.
Google’s AndroidOS, which runs exclusively on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, is probably the best known operating system built on the Linux kernel. Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, openSUSE, Arch Linux, Fedora, Valve’s SteamOS, and countless others are some of the most widely used operating systems for personal computers.
The powerful features, flexibility, and lower hardware requirements of Linux make it a better choice for professional users and enthusiasts than Windows. However, it’s not exactly easy to find software that works with Linux, and the interface is rarely described as user-friendly.
- Unrestrictedly available for no cost and with no proprietary software required
- Different distributions, such as Ubuntu and Debian, are available.
- Excellent for power users who have mastered the operating system
- Linux is not easy to grasp for novices.
- incompatibility with existing games and systems
Games’ underwhelming performance is a common complaint on Linux. The specifics are dependent on the Linux distribution and hardware configuration being used. However, in most cases, a Windows device will always outperform a Linux device when it comes to gaming metrics like frame rate and visual fidelity when running the same game on similar systems. As a result, Linux gamers may experience technical difficulties, especially when playing high-definition games.
Selecting Playable Games
Linux lacks Windows’ extensive game library. Many games are playable on Linux, but you may need additional software or drivers for hardware like your graphics processing unit (GPU) to get them up and running. Games like Terraria, Counter-Strike, and Dota 2 will still work on Linux, but many indie titles and newer AAA releases are not compatible.
Video game retail outlets
In addition, there are restrictions when using Linux to purchase games online. The Windows and Mac platforms tend to get the most attention at game retailers, while Linux is usually relegated to third place. Many of them do not have Linux applications that can be downloaded, and many will not even provide a Linux search or Linux category to help users find Linux-compatible games. However, Linux users can still enjoy Steam, and those using the SteamOS distribution of Linux will have access to all of Steam’s newest games.
When compared to other platforms like Windows, Linux’s lack of convenience when it comes to gaming is something that most users should expect. Getting a hold of a Windows PC makes it easy to grab a game from just about anywhere, pop it into your system, and start playing in a matter of minutes. Finding games that are compatible with your Linux system, locating a place to download them, making sure you have the right drivers installed, and possibly figuring out workarounds to get the game up and running can be a lengthy process in and of itself. Due to this, Linux is best left to those with considerable experience in coding and computing.
In the same way that macOS’s compatibility is getting better over time, Linux is doing the same thing. Approximately 4,000 Steam games are currently compatible with Linux, and the number continues to grow. This is a testament to the increasing availability of games and gaming-related apps for Linux. Linux has the least amount of gaming compatibility of the three major platforms, despite new tools being released by Linux developers that can make the experience a little better.
Linux is equally as secure as Mac. Actually, it’s more secure than Mac by some measures and may be the most secure OS available. As a general rule, Linux distributions have the fewest vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Also, unlike Windows and Mac, Linux doesn’t have a huge userbase, so malware and hacks rarely affect Linux computers. You can confidently download and play games without worrying about your security.
Last but not least, let’s talk about cost, where Linux also shines. It is a free and open-source operating system, so there is no cost associated with downloading or installing it. It goes without saying that you’ll need the proper hardware to play the games you want to play, and you may also want to invest in some additional software—which could be quite pricey—to boost your gaming experience. Linux, on the other hand, is the best operating system available.
Its origins can be traced back to 1984, but the first release of the macOS we know today wasn’t until 2001. It’s only found on Apple’s iMacs and MacBooks, but it’s second only to Windows in terms of popularity.
Because Apple likes to keep their technology under lock and key, there are benefits and drawbacks to using this OS. Primarily, macOS is very effective because it is tailored to work with Apple hardware. Furthermore, it is designed to be as close to perfect as possible, resulting in a highly secure, user-friendly operating system, which is the preferred choice of many users, both casual and professional.
Mac OS X’s primary strength is its hardware, but this strength also explains its most glaring weakness. Most Apple computers are severely lacking in raw power and rely heavily on software for high performance. Because of this, most Apple customers are hesitant to make a purchase.
- Superb interface design
- Unrivaled protection from malware and other online threats.
- Excellent for uses besides video gaming, such as editing photographs
- Constantly rising costs of technology products
- The inability to play many games
This OS is well-known for being a powerful and flexible platform that can be put to use in a variety of contexts, from simple word processing to complex video editing. Even though it has gotten better at gaming over the years, most Apple devices still weren’t designed with that purpose in mind. Macs are capable of running the latest and greatest games, but you may experience frame rate issues and even require an external GPU for the best results (which can be inconvenient and costly).
Choice of Games
As was mentioned earlier, macOS was once mocked for having almost no playable games, but this situation has changed for the better in recent years. Popular titles like Fortnite, Rocket League, Rust, and Minecraft are now playable on Mac alongside a plethora of other options. In other words, if you’re just a casual gamer or only interested in the most well-known titles, this should be sufficient. On the other hand, if you’re a gamer who wants to play as many games as possible, you might be disappointed to learn that not all of your favorites are compatible with Mac.
Buying Video Games
Steam is an option for purchasing Mac games. Steam is a massive online service that distributes video games all over the world, including many of the newest releases and countless indie titles. The Epic Games Store, Mac Game Store, and Good Old Games are a few other options for purchasing games on a Mac. Online game retailers catering to Mac users are plentiful, but there are still some platforms and stores that are Windows-only.
Many people prefer macOS and Apple products in general because they are so easy to use. Any task, including gaming, can be accomplished with relative ease on a Mac. Getting a well-known game for macOS should be easy if that is what you want to do. Since so much attention is paid to Windows platforms and Windows users, Mac users are sometimes left out, and some games will require additional downloads or special workarounds to run on Mac.
The evolution of game compatibility with macOS is detailed in the following sections. While Mac has come a long way in terms of gaming compatibility, there is still a ways to go before it can be considered a serious competitor to Windows. While many popular games—from strategy titles like Civilization VI to action hits like Batman: Arkham City—are now playable on Mac computers, many others still cannot.
Defending our information is our next topic. One of the main reasons to use macOS as your gaming platform is because of its renowned safety and security features, which any tech nerd should already know are top-notch. Although it is possible to encounter security issues on an Apple device, macOS provides the highest level of protection available for gaming and other processes, and this is a significant improvement over competing operating systems like Windows.
The cost of games is a major factor for Mac gamers. The software is pricey, and if you want to play high-fidelity, visually impressive games, you’ll need to invest heavily in a top-tier macOS machine with the appropriate hardware to run them. Spending a lot of money on this is possible, and additional hardware like external GPUs may be required.
In this part, we’ll compare and contrast the performance of each OS in a number of important gaming categories.
To a large extent, Windows and Linux perform similarly in games, with slight framerate advantages for one or the other depending on the game. In addition, framerates remain constant across all supported Windows versions, whereas performance can vary widely between Linux distributions.
It’s difficult to say for sure which Linux distribution excels in this regard, but early indications point to SteamOS and Ubuntu. Windows, however, is far more stable and reliable, typically providing superior performance.
As far as I’m concerned, macOS has the worst performance. That is due less to the OS than to hardware constraints.
You probably already know that Apple’s computers are small and non-customizable, with little room for powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) and user tweaks. External GPUs are the only way to improve Mac performance, but at a significant cost when added to Apple’s already high prices.
As the most widely used gaming OS, Windows naturally sees the bulk of new PC game releases. To be clear, when people say “PC games,” they almost always mean “Windows games.”
There is a significantly smaller library of games available for Linux and macOS. It’s true that Linux’s popularity has grown over the past few years; currently, over 4000 games are compatible with the operating system on Steam alone. However, it’s important to remember that there are over 20,000 games compatible with Windows. In terms of games, Steam now offers close to 7,000 titles optimized for Mac.
Despite the popularity of Blu-ray and DVD players, online game retailers are steadily pushing them out of the market. The fact that PC and laptop makers are eliminating optical drives further compounds the disc’s waning popularity.
While Valve’s Steam is the most widely used platform, most independent game retailers only sell games that can be activated on Steam. Above, we saw that Valve supports all three platforms.
The Steam Substitutes Are:
- Origin is Electronic Arts’ digital distribution platform, where you can buy exclusively Electronic Arts video games. Both Windows and Mac are officially supported. It’s not particularly fast, but you can install it on Linux.
- net – The Blizzard online store, where you can buy only Blizzard titles. Yet again, only Windows and macOS are officially supported.
- Microsoft Store, previously referred to as Windows Store, is a digital distribution hub that offers both Microsoft and third-party video game titles. It’s a Windows-exclusive product.
- GoG – No major company is backing this platform in an effort to compete with Steam. GoG, an abbreviation for “Good Old Games,” specializes in selling retro titles and a handpicked selection of modern titles. The client is currently compatible with Windows and macOS, and the team is working to add support for Linux.
*Performance: To get the most out of your gaming experiences, it’s important to pick an OS that can run the games in question smoothly. There can be significant differences in performance between OSes, with some OSes being more likely to trigger stuttering, lag, and frame rate drops than others.
* Access to a wide variety of games: Playing the same game over and over again can get boring, so you’ll want to make sure your operating system of choice has access to a lot of games. New games are almost always built with Windows in mind, and many of them may not function properly on other platforms.
Steam, The Epic Games Store, EA Origin, and many other stores and platforms allow you to purchase, download, and play video games. It is important to remember that not all operating systems are compatible with these platforms. Consequently, OS compatibility must be taken into account if maximum accessibility is desired.
* Convenience: It is also important to consider the ease with which each operating system can be installed and used to play games. For example, while downloading, installing, and playing games on one OS might take just a few minutes, doing so on another OS might be a much more involved and time-consuming process.
What games and gaming platforms work on what operating systems is what we mean by “compatibility.” It has been explained that some games and game stores are incompatible with specific operating systems, and that this incompatibility can negatively impact your gaming experiences.
If you plan on downloading a lot of games and add-ons and playing games online, you should also give some thought to security. A secure operating system will help to keep you safe and protected from malware and other threats, which could compromise your security if you use an insecure system.
The price is something to consider last but not least. Video games can be quite pricey on their own, so if you’re already shelling out a lot for the game itself, you might as well save some cash on the operating system, too. Find a system that works within your financial constraints.
Which OS is best for gaming performance?
In any case, Windows 10 is the undisputed champion when it comes to the best operating system for video games.
Is Windows 10 or 11 better for gaming?
Windows 11 sheds the baggage of earlier Windows releases and brings to PCs the same cutting-edge gaming technologies previously available only on Xbox consoles. PC gaming is about to get a lot better with Windows 11, thanks to a slew of small tweaks and big new features.
Is macOS good for gaming?
Professionally speaking, Macs are fantastic computers for productivity and efficiency, but they aren’t made to be used as gaming rigs.
Is Windows 11 worse for gaming?
In most games, you can expect to see a slight decrease in frame rate when switching from Windows 10 to Windows 11. Most noticeably, Wolfenstein: Youngblood (Riverside) saw a precipitous drop. The Windows 11 framerates are sufficient for gaming on our test system.
All things considered, Windows is, without a doubt, the best operating system for gaming at the present time. The sheer quantity of games available on it makes it the clear victor in this category. There’s no way for Linux or Mac to beat Windows in that department.
Even if only for gaming, Linux users might find it more convenient to install Windows on their machines. We regret that Mac is not an OS we can endorse for gaming. While it has a wider selection of games than Linux, running the more intensive ones would require a powerful external graphics processing unit (GPU).
Listed below is a brief synopsis of the benefits and drawbacks of each of these operating systems to help clear things up.