When considering which is the best computer operating system for modern gaming, it practically goes without saying that the world of PC gaming runs on Windows. It's simply the best, most versatile, most powerful operating system for PC gamers. But even though Windows OS dominates the gaming world, there are still options, even within Windows itself, for gamers who want the widest choices and greatest compatibility with the games they love. Here are the best Windows OS for gaming options.
Best Windows OS for Gaming Reviews
Yes, many die-hards are still clinging to their Windows 7 machines, worried about what an OS upgrade will change or disrupt. But Windows 10 is finally beginning to displace Windows 7 as the gaming OS of choice. Windows 10 is not only the latest version of Microsoft's flagship operating system, it is also the best supported and most widely available for new installs and new machines.
Microsoft has worked hard to improve the gaming experience in Windows 10, and continues to do so even after it launched, with updates and features that more closely integrate the PC and Xbox One experience, allowing the computer and the console to share games. Windows 10 also includes DirectX 12, Microsoft's popular game platform, that is so entrenched and standardized that almost all game titles are written for it.
Partly because of DirectX, Windows 10 has the highest market share in the PC game market, and therefore the biggest selection of programs and titles. The Windows interface is familiar to many and easy to use. And, because it's the latest Microsoft OS offering, we can expect years of stability, support, and upgrades that keep it functional and relevant into the future. There's no question that right now, it's the best OS for gaming, period.
The main downside of Windows 10 for gamers is that it's known to ship with a lot of unnecessary bloatware, and be prone to viruses, which leads us to the next topic.
Windows 10 Home vs Windows 10 Pro for Gamers
In terms of pure gaming performance, there is no difference between Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro. However, a lot of gamers and advanced PC users choose to install Windows 10 Pro for some relevant reasons. With Windows 10 Pro, you have greater control over your PC. This allows you to:
- Optimize and customize installs
- Better control updates for improved stability
- Easily create virtual machines to protect yourself from viruses
- Remote desktop into your computer from elsewhere
Windows 10 Pro users have access to greater analytical tools and features that can allow them to adjust settings and slightly enhance CPU performance.
In short, if you want to “set it and forget it”, Windows 10 Home is the better choice. If you want more direct control over your PC, Windows 10 Pro is the way to go.
If Windows 10 isn't the choice for you, and you want to support open source, Linux has some great alternatives that are tailor-made for gamers.
SteamOS is a public release of the operating system developed by Valve. SteamOS is specifically designed for gaming and entertainment, and for delivering games from the Steam Store. It is not optimized for business, productivity, or other functions, and even web browsing is limited. As a Linux system, you are fully in control of every aspect of the OS, for a level of customization, optimization, and privacy simply not available with other operating systems.
SteamOS is a great option for players of Steam games, particularly if they have a high-performance machine and are technically inclined. It supports a wide range of graphics cards, joysticks, game pads, and accessories. The install is not intended for beginners, though, and those unfamiliar with Linux probably don't want to attempt it.
As you might expect, Valve games play beautifully within Steam OS, but non Steam functions are limited, so this OS should not be installed on a primary PC.
SparkyLinux – Gameover Edition
SparkyLinux Gameover Edition comes with the APTus Gamer tool, which allows it to emulate a long list of consoles and devices. It comes with the Steam client, and is bundled with Windows Wine and PlayOnLinux, so it supports Steam, Windows, and Linux games in one free OS.
SparkyLinux Gameover Edition is a dream for the retro and indie gamer. Emulators are easy to find and easy to run, and gives you access to:
- DeSmuMe, an emulator for the Nintendo DS
- DOSBox, an emulator for DOS games
- MAME, an arcade games emulator
- NEStopia, an emulator for the Nintendo Entertainment System
- PCSX Reloaded, a Sony PlayStation emulator
- Stella, an Atari 2600 emulator
- Visual Boy Advance, which emulates Gameboy, Gameboy Advanced, and Gameboy Color
- Yabause, a Sega Saturn emulator
- ZSNES, a Super Nintendo Entertainment System emulator
- Desura, an indie game distribution platform
Even better, SparkyLinux doesn't have extensive hardware requirements, and can easily run games on just 500MB of RAM. And SparkyLinux is a fully fledged operating system, fully capable of everyday computing and non-gaming tasks. It's a sleek, stable, free operating system that doesn't skimp on titles or game play. As with other Linux systems, installation isn't easy for the beginner, and you may need advanced support to get up and running.
For the PC gamer, the gaming world is still Windows. And, as Microsoft controls most of the market share, they continue to attract most of the titles, which gives them more market share, which gives them more titles, in a cycle that may benefit the company but may not always benefit the consumer.
However, for people concerned about their privacy, who want to be more independent, and to have more control over their PCs, Linux provides some viable options for passionate gamers and shouldn't be written off just yet. There are people working hard to create viable options to a Windows-dominated gaming landscape, giving the average gamer more choices, more control, and more games than ever before.