DirectX 12 vs. DirectX 11: which is better for PC gaming?

DirectX 12 is the most recent graphics API that powers Windows 11, however most of the finest PC video games nonetheless both run on DirectX 11 or embrace an choice to change. Which must you select?
Although most updates to DirectX are iterative, DirectX 12 represents a large shift for the API Microsoft has been growing for a number of many years. It can massively enhance efficiency in your video games, and it has just a few distinctive options that DirectX 11 doesn’t have entry to.
Graphics APIs aren’t equal

We have a full explainer breaking down what DirectX is, however it’s necessary to rapidly cowl what a graphics Application Programming Interface (API) is. A graphics API handles translating directions from software program (your recreation) into standardized directions for your {hardware} (your graphics card and processor).

Not all graphics APIs are constructed equally, nevertheless. As you possibly can see in our breakdown of the Vulkan API, it offers better efficiency than DirectX in most video games. API overhead can symbolize a big distinction in efficiency whereas enjoying video games, so whereas it could appear high-quality to make use of no matter model of DirectX you need, it may be some of the necessary settings to tweak.
DirectX 12 vs. DirectX 11: what’s the distinction?
The use of raytracing in Battlefield V.
Between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12, an important distinction is that DirectX 11 is a high-level API, whereas DirectX 12 is a low-level API. There are varied layers between your recreation and your {hardware}. Low-level APIs are nearer to the {hardware}, whereas high-level APIs are additional away and extra generalized.
It’s an necessary distinction between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12. In quick, DirectX 12 permits recreation builders to focus on optimizations nearer to the {hardware}, lowering the overhead incurred from the API and graphics driver. In flip, it’s additionally tougher for builders to work with.
At launch, DirectX 12 truly confirmed barely decrease efficiency than DirectX 11, primarily on the again of its complexity. However, builders have focused DirectX 12 extra — ahem — instantly over the previous a number of years and squeezed out extra optimizations. As we’ll get to subsequent, DirectX 12 performs better than DirectX 11 in most video games.

Another vital change in DirectX 12 is parallel compute.  DirectX 11 handles serial operations, which means there’s a single queue of operations that execute so as. Parallel compute opens up the choice for builders to make a number of calls on the similar time, vastly bettering the effectivity of operations.
Similarly, DirectX 12 opens up the potential for asynchronous operations. This is much like parallel compute, however they’re not the identical factor. Asynchronous compute permits your {hardware} to proceed operations with out ready for one other operation to finish. For instance, your CPU can execute an introduction to obtain textures from reminiscence and transfer on to executing one other operate (like AI for a personality) with out ready for that reminiscence instruction to complete. This prioritization can shave minor bits of latency in hundreds of locations, making your video games run a lot quicker general.
Finally, DirectX 12 additionally helps a spread of options from DirectX 12 (*12*). You can examine these in our breakdown of DirectX, however they embrace ray tracing and variable price shading, amongst different visible and efficiency options.
DirectX 12 vs. DirectX 11: efficiency

There are quite a lot of technical variations between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12, however efficiency is king. As you possibly can see within the chart above, you’re virtually all the time getting better efficiency with DirectX 12 than you’ll get with DirectX 11, so it’s finest to make use of the newer API.
We noticed “virtually” as a result of the API isn’t the one consider efficiency. Certain video games don’t see a lot of a profit from DirectX 12 as a result of some video games see extra of a profit from low-level optimizations than others. Dying Light 2, for instance, sees mainly no change in efficiency. But Civilization VI, which has huge AI workloads that profit from asynchronous compute, sees an enormous enchancment. Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands sit someplace within the center.
Games aren’t the one issue. The outcomes above have been gathered with an AMD RX 7900 XTX, which is from AMD’s most up-to-date technology. Newer graphics playing cards and processors will see a bigger profit from DirectX 12 than older generations.
There’s a reasonably huge internet right here, although. We’re speaking in regards to the final a number of generations seeing an enchancment, whereas graphics playing cards which are near a decade outdated see a smaller enchancment. If you could have a contemporary PC, DirectX 12 is normally the best reply.
Should you utilize DirectX 12?

There are a dozen or extra video games that assist DirectX 11 and DirectX 12, together with Civilization VI, Control, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Dying Light 2. Most video games will default to utilizing DirectX 11 for compatibility functions, however it’s a good suggestion to vary over to DirectX 12 mode.
The solely exception is you probably have an older PC courting again 10 or extra years. Older {hardware} could run smoother on DirectX 11, or DirectX 12 could not present a lot of a profit in any respect. The overwhelming majority of individuals, nevertheless, ought to select DirectX 12 for its extra in depth options and better recreation optimizations.

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