Windows 10 Insider Build 15007 started 2017 with a bang; while the holistic ‘Game Mode’ had already made an appearance as a mere DLL file a couple of days ago, 15007 gave the mode an interface – primarily, with a checkbox that did all but nothing.
Since then, Microsoft has released a lot of details about the Game Mode, and what it offers. Speculation be gone, we now have facts.
Today’s Windows 10 Insider Build 15019 for the Fast Ring, allows users and gamers to flick the checkbox on, and test out the Game Mode.
The Game Mode
Microsoft’s video below does a great job of explaining what the Game Mode is, but it fails to provide any technical details. That’s a problem we can fix.
One thing that must be made clear: Game Mode works for both Win32 games – the sort downloaded via Steam, Origin, UPlay, et all. – as well as UWP games downloaded via the Windows Store. Microsoft does mention that the feature works better with UWP games, as Windows can easily track the resources a UWP game demands.
The compartmentalization of resources is important – that’s what Game Mode focuses on; when a player launches a game, a set amount of GPU cycles are assigned to it. This is the default behavior, and it happens with every application that uses the GPU – and therein lies the problem.
If an app in the background is consuming a bunch of GPU cycles, the game in the foreground will suffer. Game Mode, therefore, is biased by design; it will give the game – that’s in foreground – a higher amount of GPU cycles.
This isn’t about magically making the GPU faster; this is about using the existing resources efficiently. It’s very much in-line with how the Xbox One manages its limited resources.
Game Mode also plays around with the CPU in quite the same manner, just a bit more nuanced. In a PC, CPU time is valuable – it’s, after all, running the show.
A game on the PC has a lot of other services and processes competing with it for CPU cycles. Game Mode, therefore, eliminates the competition.
Game Mode reserves a certain amount of CPU threads for the game running in the foreground. The game can use these threads, or leave them idle – they will remain reserved nonetheless.
The benefit allowed by this is not higher performance, but a better consistency. If the game is running at its pace, but there’s a sudden spike in usage from the AI thread, for example, the reserved headroom by Game Mode would eliminate any possibility of micro stutters.
Consistency and Peak
The ultimate goal of Game Mode, per Microsoft, is to make Windows 10 “the best gaming operating system ever.” Game Mode’s intelligent resource management not only focuses on increasing the peak performance for gaming but also the average performance.
A game demands consistency; a consistent and reserved amount of resources dedicated to the game can provide exactly that.
Microsoft’s Beam streaming service is showing great promise for the future; in the present, Insiders can now try streaming their games natively from Windows 10.
The latest Insider built now allows gamers to stream to Beam with its FTL protocol by simply pressing WinKey + G and starting a broadcast.
Microsoft plans on adding overlays that would enable streamers to interact with their viewers, but that’s not ready yet.
These features sound great – and they are – but the Insider Fast Ring builds are not known for their stability.
Microsoft warns of a number of unrelated known issues that could potentially ruin a gamer’s experience; the best bet is to wait for a stable Insider build.
Of course, for the regular gamers like us; it would be best to be patient and gleefully wait for the Creators Update.
If you would like to read more about the known issues with this build, and everything else that it brought along, click here for this week’s Insider coverage.