At the moment, you are reading this article from some type of device. It could be a phone, tablet, laptop, desktop PC or it could even be a smartwatch. All of these things I enumerated share one thing in common and that is the operating system or OS for short.
Every piece of hardware today has to be backed up by some kind of software, specifically, an operating system. The CPU (central processing unit) might be the brain of every computer, but the OS is the soul. Without a soul, the computer is rendered useless.
However, not every operating system is created equal. They have been optimized for different tasks and purposes. For example, Microsoft’s Windows has been optimized for usability and compatibility which is why it holds 76.45% of the market share.
On the other hand, macOS is optimized only for Apple devices holding 17.72% of the market share and the last on the list is Linux with a 1.73% market share.
But, which one of these is the best operating system for gaming? Windows 10 might be dominant on the market, but is it really the best for running video games?
To get an answer to these questions, we will first need to see exactly what an operating system does.
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What Is An Operating System?
As mentioned previously, the OS is the soul or the heart of every computer today. It helps coordinate every piece of hardware to work together while also handling all of the system resources and tasks. It is the boss, ordering what the CPU, GPU, and other hardware should be doing.
The OS is also essential for running any program. Everything from basic typing in a word processor to playing video games such as Call of Duty Modern Warfare is optimized by the OS. Even if you have the best possible hardware, without proper OS optimization, you wouldn’t be able to do anything on your computer.
With this part of the topic cleared up, let’s look at the most popular operating systems today.
We will focus specifically on Windows 10 because it is the most used Windows version these days. Windows 8, 7, or XP are obsolete in 2021. Microsoft has completely dropped further development and security updates for 7 and XP while Windows 8.1 will be getting security updates until early 2023.
Windows 10 is the newest version and has development/security support indefinitely.
Windows has been around for three and a half decades which is one of the reasons why it is the most popular option these days. It is user-friendly, it’s compatible with both low-end and high-end machines, it’s frequently updated and it’s secure.
Because of its popularity and huge market share, most software development companies, including video game companies make sure they have their product ready for Windows first, before releasing it to any other operating system.
This is why a lot of games today are best optimized for the Windows platform. Afterward, they slowly get updated for macOS or Linux.
Windows is definitely a contender as the best operating system for gaming, but let’s have a look at some of the other options.
The second most used operating system is macOS. However, unlike Windows, it’s not compatible with all devices. Officially, it is compatible with just Apple devices. That is to say, macOS has been carefully and specifically optimized for Apple hardware only.
It is not impossible to install it on any other regular PC, but that could lead to worse performance, stuttering, crashes, etc.
At its core, macOS is a great operating system because it provides a smooth, intuitive, and friendly experience. However, that is not the case when it comes to gaming.
Most AAA games released are not directly developed for Apple. Instead, developers port the game from Windows to macOS. Once ported, they rarely get updated.
In fact, many of today’s games never get a macOS release, so it would be difficult to award this operating system as the best one for gaming.
Linux holds third place for operating system market share, but that’s just a fraction when compared to Windows’ or macOS’ market share.
The one major difference between Linux and the other two competitors is the fact that it is open-source and completely free.
But, that’s not all. Linux at its core is a lot more complicated and provides users with a lot more freedom for customization. To handle those kinds of customizations, the user must have some base knowledge of the C programming language. This is how commands are executed through Linux.
However, since Linux is open-source, there are a lot of variations of this OS that are much more user-friendly such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Pop!_OS, Manjaro, etc.
In the past, game support for Linux was scarce, but these days it has been improved considerably. More and more publishers are releasing games for Linux while the operating system itself is frequently updated to improve gaming performance.
You can refer to Protondb to search for your favorite games and see which ones are currently working for Linux.
In some games, like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Linux even outperforms Windows 10. See for example this benchmark. Or you could see the performance difference with your own eyes in the video below.
What Is The Best Operating System For Gaming
The question still lingers: Which of these is the best operating system for gaming?
Linux seems like a great contender, considering that it provides the best performance in one of the most popular multiplayer games in the world (CS: GO). But, it lacks in performance in a lot of other newer DirectX 12 or Vulkan titles.
macOS is the second most popular operating system, but its video game library lacks considerably while its performance in-game is subpar. Not ideal. This leaves us with Windows.
Windows 10 is the most widely used operating system, but also the one with the largest library for video games and it is supported by most, if not all game developers. Linux may be a good alternative, but it doesn’t come close to Microsoft’s OS.
Windows is the clear winner here, making it the best operating system for gaming.