If you’re a PC gamer, you’ve likely heard of DirectX. It’s a collection of application programming interfaces (APIs) developed by Microsoft that allows developers to create games and multimedia applications for Windows-based computers.
DirectX has been around since 1995, and over the years, it has undergone several updates and improvements. The two most recent versions, DirectX 11 and DirectX 12, have been the subject of much debate among gamers. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these two versions and determine which one is better for gaming.
What Is DirectX?
Before we dive into the differences between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12, let’s first understand what DirectX is and why it’s important for gaming.
DirectX is a collection of APIs that allow developers to access hardware features such as graphics, sound, and input devices. It acts as a bridge between the game and the hardware, allowing the game to communicate with the computer’s components.
Without DirectX, game developers would have to write code for each individual hardware component, making it extremely difficult to create games that work on a variety of computers. DirectX simplifies this process by providing a standardized set of APIs that work across different hardware configurations.
DirectX 11: The Old Reliable
DirectX 11 was released in 2009 and has been the standard for PC gaming for over a decade. It was a significant update from its predecessor, DirectX 10, and introduced several new features that improved graphics and performance.
One of the most notable features of DirectX 11 is its support for multi-threading, which allows the game to take advantage of multiple CPU cores. This results in better performance and smoother gameplay, especially in games that are CPU-intensive.
DirectX 11 also introduced tessellation, a technique that allows developers to create more detailed and realistic 3D models. This feature is particularly useful in open-world games, where the environment needs to be rendered in real-time.
Another significant improvement in DirectX 11 is its support for Shader Model 5.0, which allows for more complex and realistic lighting effects. This results in more immersive and visually stunning games.
DirectX 12: The New Kid on the Block
DirectX 12 was released in 2015 and was a major overhaul of the API. It was designed to take advantage of modern hardware and provide better performance and efficiency compared to its predecessor.
One of the most significant changes in DirectX 12 is its low-level API design. Unlike DirectX 11, which uses a high-level API, DirectX 12 gives developers more control over the hardware. This allows for more efficient use of resources and better performance.
DirectX 12 also introduces a new feature called Explicit Multi-Adapter, which allows developers to use multiple graphics cards simultaneously. This results in better performance and allows for more complex and detailed graphics.
Another notable feature of DirectX 12 is its support for asynchronous compute, which allows the CPU and GPU to work simultaneously. This results in better performance and allows for more complex and realistic graphics.
DirectX 11 vs. DirectX 12: Performance Comparison
Now that we’ve covered the features of DirectX 11 and DirectX 12, let’s compare their performance in real-world scenarios.
When it comes to CPU performance, DirectX 12 has a clear advantage over DirectX 11. This is because DirectX 12 allows for better utilization of multiple CPU cores, resulting in better performance in CPU-intensive games.
In a benchmark test conducted by PC Gamer, DirectX 12 showed a significant improvement in CPU performance compared to DirectX 11. In some cases, the performance difference was as high as 50%.
When it comes to GPU performance, the results are a bit more mixed. In some games, DirectX 12 showed a significant improvement in performance, while in others, the difference was negligible.
In a benchmark test conducted by Digital Foundry, DirectX 12 showed a 10-15% improvement in performance compared to DirectX 11 in games such as Rise of the Tomb Raider and Hitman. However, in games like Ashes of the Singularity and Total War: Warhammer, the performance difference was less than 5%.
Which One Should You Use?
So, which version of DirectX should you use for gaming? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think.
If you have a modern PC with a powerful CPU and GPU, DirectX 12 is the obvious choice. It allows for better utilization of hardware resources and can result in significant performance improvements in some games.
However, if you have an older PC or a mid-range gaming rig, DirectX 11 might be a better option. This is because DirectX 11 is more widely supported and is compatible with a wider range of hardware configurations.
DirectX 11 vs. DirectX 12: Pros and Cons
To summarize, here are the pros and cons of using DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 for gaming:
DirectX 11 Pros:
- Widely supported by games and hardware
- Stable and reliable
- Better compatibility with older hardware
DirectX 11 Cons:
- Limited multi-threading support
- Less efficient use of hardware resources
- Not as visually impressive as DirectX 12
DirectX 12 Pros:
- Better multi-threading support
- More efficient use of hardware resources
- Can result in significant performance improvements
DirectX 12 Cons:
- Limited compatibility with older hardware
- Not all games support DirectX 12
- Can be unstable on some systems
In conclusion, both DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 have their strengths and weaknesses. DirectX 11 is stable, reliable, and compatible with a wide range of hardware, making it a good choice for older PCs. On the other hand, DirectX 12 offers better performance and more advanced features, making it the preferred choice for modern gaming rigs.
Ultimately, the best version of DirectX for gaming depends on your hardware and the games you play. If you have a modern PC and play games that support DirectX 12, it’s worth giving it a try. Otherwise, DirectX 11 is a safe and reliable option that will work with most games and hardware configurations.