The Best Gaming OS in 2023 [Gamer’s Guide]


The Importance of Choosing the Right Gaming OS

Choosing the right operating system (OS) is crucial for a seamless and optimized gaming experience. The OS manages software and hardware resources, so it can significantly impact in-game performance. Factors like frame rates, load times, graphics rendering, and controller compatibility depend heavily on the gaming OS.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Gaming OS

Key factors to consider when selecting a gaming OS include:

  • Performance – Smooth frame rates and quick load times
  • Game selection – Library of compatible games
  • Game stores – Access to digital game stores
  • Convenience – User-friendly interface and gaming features
  • Compatibility – With gaming hardware and peripherals
  • Security – Protection against malware and viruses
  • Price – Overall cost considerations

Overview of Windows, macOS, and Linux

The three major choices for gaming OS are Windows, macOS, and Linux. Windows dominates the gaming market, offering strong performance and a vast game library. macOS is gaining ground with improvements in hardware and game support. Linux offers customization options for tech-savvy gamers, but has compatibility challenges.

#1 Windows as a Gaming OS

#1 Best Gaming OS

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Performance on Windows

Windows 10’s Gaming Performance

Windows 10 provides excellent performance for gaming with optimizations like DirectX 12, variable refresh rate support, and a built-in Game Mode. Multi-core processors are leveraged to enable smooth frame rates even on demanding AAA games.

DirectX 12 and its Impact

DirectX 12 is a major enhancement for gaming on Windows 10. It improves CPU utilization and reduces overhead for higher FPS. DirectX 12 also supports new rendering techniques to maximize graphics capabilities.

Game Selection on Windows

The Vast Library of Games

Windows boasts the largest gaming library of any OS. Most major game releases are designed primarily for Windows. There is an enormous selection across genres like FPS, RPG, RTS, MOBA, simulations, and more.

Developer Prioritization

Most game developers prioritize Windows over other operating systems. Windows commonly receives game exclusives and early access benefits for new titles. This gives gamers the widest and earliest selection of games.

Game Stores Compatible with Windows

Steam, Epic Games Store, and More

Major digital game stores like Steam, Epic Games Store, Origin/EA Games, Uplay, and GOG are fully compatible with Windows, giving access to thousands of games. The Microsoft Store also offers Xbox game integration.

Ease of Access to Latest Gaming Content

New game launches are immediately accessible through Windows game stores. There are frequent sales and deals that make it easy to build a large Windows game library. Game keys from third-party stores also redeem flawlessly.

Convenience of Gaming on Windows

User-Friendly Interface

Windows offers a straightforward and familiar interface for most users. The desktop UI allows easy launching of games and game clients. Basic functions like installing games have simple wizards.

Features like Game Mode

Useful gaming features like Game Mode optimize system resources for gameplay by prioritizing games. The Xbox app provides convenience features like recording game clips. DirectX 12 enhances the overall gaming experience.

Compatibility with Windows

High Compatibility with Most Games

Vast game libraries and APIs like DirectX ensure maximum compatibility on Windows. PC games are almost universally compatible with Windows out of the box, without complex workarounds.

Support for Major Platforms

Windows supports all common gaming platforms like Steam, Origin, Uplay, and more. Peripherals and accessories also consistently work, with driver support for major controllers, headsets, GPUs, etc.

Security Concerns with Windows

Vulnerabilities and Updates

As the most widely used desktop OS, Windows sees frequent attempts by malware creators to exploit vulnerabilities. Regular security patching is essential.

Risk of Malware

Windows’ market share also makes it a popular target for viruses, Trojans, spyware, and other malware threats. Caution is advised when downloading games from unverified sources.

#2 macOS as a Gaming OS

#2 Best Gaming OS

Performance on macOS

Improvements Over the Years

macOS gaming performance has improved significantly in recent years with advances in Apple silicon like the M1 chips. Metal graphics API reduces overhead for higher frame rates.

Frame Rate Challenges

Game performance on macOS still lags behind Windows, especially for intensive new releases. Complex titles see lower frame rates and the need for reduced graphics settings.

Game Selection on macOS

Evolving Game Library

The library of macOS-compatible games is evolving, especially with additions to the Apple Arcade subscription. Many popular cross-platform titles now run natively on macOS.

Limitations for Certain Titles

However, many top games still only officially support Windows. Complex titles or those built for DirectX may face difficulties running properly on macOS.

Game Stores Compatible with macOS

Steam and Other Options

Major stores like Steam, Epic Games Store, and Origin run on macOS, alongside Apple’s App Store and Apple Arcade. Multiple options exist for browsing and acquiring games.

Windows-Only Stores

Yet some Windows-centric stores like the Microsoft Store remain unavailable on macOS, limiting game selections in certain cases.

Convenience of Gaming on macOS

User-Friendly Interface

The macOS interface offers simple launching of games from the dock, launchpad, or Finder. Built-in screenshots and recording make capturing game moments easy.

Many popular multiplayer cross-platform games are well-optimized for macOS, allowing easy boot-up and connection with friends on Windows PCs.

Compatibility with macOS

Advancements in Compatibility

Thanks to engines like Unity and Unreal, more games now release with concurrent macOS support. Rosetta 2 translation also allows running many Windows games.

Games Still Incompatible

However, certain anti-cheat software, invasive DRM, and extremely demanding graphics still pose compatibility issues on macOS. Complex mods may also be problematic.

Security Advantages of macOS

Robust Security Features

Apple’s operating system offers strong built-in security like Gatekeeper, rootless, code signing, and data encryption. Regular security updates are also pushed.

Protection from Threats

As a less targeted platform for malware, macOS sees fewer vulnerabilities and infections than Windows. Sandboxing adds an extra security layer for downloads.

Price Considerations for Gaming on macOS

Cost of Hardware and Software

Macs come at a premium cost compared to Windows PCs. macOS itself requires purchasing for each device, unlike freely available Windows.

Extra Expenses for Gaming Performance

Getting optimal gaming performance on a Mac may require additional eGPU accessories or streaming services. Overall costs are higher.

#3 Linux as a Gaming OS

#3 Best Gaming OS

Performance on Linux

Varied Performance Levels

Linux gaming performance varies depending on desktop environment, drivers, and hardware compatibility. Well-optimized engines like Vulkan can offer speedy frame rates.

Challenges with High-Fidelity Games

Graphics-intensive AAA games often struggle on Linux, sometimes seeing big performance hits over Windows. NVidia cards currently handle Linux gaming better than AMD.

Game Selection on Linux

Expanding Game Library

The native Linux game library is expanding, especially on Steam. More games now release with same-day Linux versions. Proton compatibility also enables Windows games to run.

Issues with Certain Genres

However, many game genres are still underrepresented or problematic on Linux, like sports titles, shooters, simulators, VR games, etc. Anti-cheat software also causes issues.

Game Stores Compatible with Linux

Limitations in Linux-Friendly Stores

Dedicated Linux game stores are limited, with smaller catalogs. Frontends like Lutris expand options somewhat. But Linux still lacks access to some Windows/macOS stores.

Using Steam on Linux

Steam is the largest Linux-compatible game store. Its Proton layer expands the library with Windows game support. Steam Play allows purchasing games once for use across platforms.

Convenience of Gaming on Linux

Complexity for Beginners

Linux can involve heavy terminal usage, which creates a learning curve. Installation and troubleshooting games requires in-depth technical knowledge.

Technical Challenges

Complex tweaks like Wine prefixes, LoLinstallers, compatibility software, and driver updates may be needed for a smooth experience. Non-technical users can struggle.

Compatibility Challenges on Linux

Ongoing Improvements

Compatibility layers like Proton are enhancing Linux gaming compatibility significantly. Vulkan and OpenGL provide cross-platform graphics APIs.

Games Still Unsupported

Many Windows-centric games still won’t work on Linux without complex workarounds. Anti-cheat software, DRM, and graphics demands pose challenges.

Security Benefits of Linux

Outstanding Security Features

Linux offers security advantages like permissions, filesystem access controls, sandboxing, and advanced firewalls. Tightly controlled packages limit threats.

Limited Malware Threats

Due to lower market share, Linux sees very few malware, viruses, or ransomware attacks. Open-source code also enables greater security auditing.

Cost Advantage of Gaming on Linux

Free and Open-Source OS

The Linux operating system itself is completely free to install and use. This removes the software cost barrier to entry for gaming.

Hardware and Accessory Costs

However, some premium GPUs, peripherals, and accessories may have limited driver or optimization support on Linux, requiring costlier alternatives.


Windows: The Ultimate Gaming OS

Performance and Compatibility

With specialized gaming APIs and robust hardware support, Windows delivers excellent frame rates and widespread compatibility.

Vast Game Library

Windows grants access to the industry’s biggest game library with countless exclusives and new releases.

Security and Convenience

Reliable security protections coupled with a highly accessible UI provide a convenient user experience.

macOS: A Growing Contender

Improving Performance

macOS gaming performance has progressed rapidly with Apple silicon, reducing the gap with Windows.

Expanding Game Selection

While still limited in some genres, major games now commonly release macOS versions, and catalogs are growing.

Security and Convenience

macOS offers convenience and strong security built into the operating system itself.

Linux: For the Tech-Savvy

Performance Challenges

Getting optimal gaming performance on Linux can require significant tweaking and technical expertise.

Expanding Game Library

The native Linux game selection is steadily improving, especially on Steam. But Windows-only games still dominate.

Security and Cost Benefits

Linux provides excellent security at no cost, but requires time invested in learning the OS.


Making an Informed Decision

Considering key factors like performance, game library, compatibility, security, and cost will allow choosing the right gaming OS for your needs. Set priorities and weigh tradeoffs.

The Ever-Evolving Landscape of Gaming OS

As hardware and software advance, the strengths of operating systems continue to evolve. What seems ideal today could further improve in future updates.

Frequently Asked Questions

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