What are the Best Operating Systems for Gaming?
Variety is one of PC gaming’s biggest strengths. Usually, when you hear this, you think of the freedom you have regarding hardware configuration, but this isn’t the only aspect of the PC that offers variety.
So, in this article, I’ll be talking about the best operating systems for gaming. Your choices here aren’t as vast as when it comes to hardware. But there is still no fewer than three viable PC operating systems, Windows, Linux and Mac OS.
They all come with different advantages and disadvantages because they don’t all cater to the same target audience. Let’s take a look at which of these three operating systems is the best for gaming and why.
I’ll start with a brief description of each of these and then move on to what they offer to gamers. Without any further ado, let’s begin.
Microsoft Windows is by far the most popular operating system and the most widespread one. When Microsoft released Windows 3.0 in 1990, it was considered revolutionary because it simplified the interface. Something Microsoft has stuck to ever since.
Suddenly you no longer had to know much about computers to use one, which brought computers much closer to the mainstream public. Many incarnations of the operating system followed, but it wasn’t until the release of the old faithful Windows XP that the PC gaming scene really took off.
Also Read: Windows 10 Home vs Pro for Gaming
Some of the operating systems that followed were flops like Windows Vista, and some garnered much acclaim and on and on this cycle went until Microsoft released Windows 10 in 2015.
Windows 10 is the most advanced and most reliable version of Windows yet. What a time to be alive, and what’s more, Microsoft is building and improving upon Windows 10 with many free upgrades. So, it’s definitely shaping up to be one of the best and most cost-efficient operating systems out there.
Also Read: Gaming on Windows 11
Now we have Linux, and Linux is a bit strange. The word “Linux” actually doesn’t denote just one operating system but any of the wide array of operating systems based on the open-source Linux kernel.
It was created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds with the idea of giving the world a free and flexible OS. You might be surprised to find out which operating systems are Linux-based. The most popular one is Google’s Android OS.
Sure, you can’t use it for PCs, but it is the most popular Linux OS, so I figured I should include it only as a fun fact. On PC, some of the most popular Linux operating systems are Ubuntu Arch Linux, Fedora, and Valve’s Steam OS. Just to name a few, all of which are entirely free.
However, remember when I said that the thing that brought PCs closer to the mainstream was the user-friendliness that windows 3.0 implemented. Well, Linux isn’t like that. It’s aimed more towards professionals and enthusiasts.
So, while some of the powerful features like its flexibility and lower hardware requirements might sound enticing, it’s better just to stick with Windows unless you know your way around an operating system.
The Mac OS is the second most popular operating system, and although it’s been around since 1984, it wasn’t until the 2001 release that it became what it is today. Mac OS is Apple’s operating system that you can only find in iMac and MacBook computers.
As you may know, Apple likes to keep its technology under tight wraps, and as you can imagine, this has both positive and negative impacts on the product. The operating system was optimized to work with Apple hardware, so it’s very efficient.
Another advantage is that it has unmatched security, plus it’s just as user-friendly as Windows. On the other hand, most Apple computers leave something to be desired in terms of raw power.
They’ll work great because the software is superb and because the optimization is flawless. But there’s only so much that software can do when it comes to gaming, as the hardware is the key here. This is why most users frown when they compare Apple computer specs and their prices.
Which Operating System is Best for Gaming?
Let’s get back to the actual topic. We aren’t just here to talk about these operating systems. We’re here to talk about what gaming is like on these operating systems. To arrive at any conclusion, we’ll compare these three regarding their performance, game selection, and online platforms.
Windows and Linux are generally relatively even when it comes to game performance. Some will work better on one operating system and some on the other, but it’s hard to pick a winner here between these two. However, this does depend on which Linux OS you’re using because not all of them will perform equally as well.
Whereas every supported version of Windows will hold a consistent frame rate. Performance-wise Ubuntu and Steam OS are the best Linux distributions at the moment. However, this is open to debate.
If you’re a casual user, it’s wiser to stick with Windows as it’s far more consistent and reliable. But while deciding whether Windows or Linux has a better performance can be a cause of controversy.
One thing everyone agrees on is that Mac OS is the worst performing of the three. Again this isn’t because the operating system is flawed but because of the hardware limitations. Apple computers are not customizable, and they’re usually compactly built, so it’s not like you could just buy a better GPU to stuff it in there.
The only way to get a good gaming performance out of a Mac is with an external GPU, but these aren’t really cheap, and Apple computers are already notoriously expensive. So, maybe just skip Mac OS if your primary concern is gaming.
The next thing we have to consider is the game selection for each of these three. After all, what good would an operating system being even with godly performances if you can’t play the games you want on it?
Windows wins this category by a landslide because it supports well over 20,000 games. Compare this to Mac’s seven thousand and Linux’s four thousand going by Steam numbers. It’s easy to see why people usually mean Windows gaming when they say PC gaming.
Online Gaming Platforms
Last but not least, we have to consider which online platforms are available on which operating system. I mentioned steam a lot in this video, and how could I not? It revolutionized game stores and made buying games much more convenient.
Just look at how few pre-made computers you can find that still have optical drives, and you’ll understand just how important and big online platforms have become. Steam is definitely the most popular one, but others have tried to replicate Valve’s success.
Although these are mostly other publishers setting up platforms where they primarily sell their own games. EA’s origin and Blizzards Battle.net are two of these platforms. They only sell EA games and Blizard games, respectively, and they both officially support Windows and Mac OS.
You could install them on Linux, but you shouldn’t because they won’t perform well at all. Windows has its own online platform in Microsoft Store. However, you may know it as Windows Store as they changed names.
This platform doesn’t only sell Microsoft games, but it should come as no surprise that it’s only available on Windows.
Also Read: High Refresh Rate Monitor for Gaming
Finally, there’s Good old Games or GOG. This one is not an attempt by a big company to sell their own platform and stop relying on steam. Instead, they sell old classics and just a selection of more recent games.
It’s available on Windows and Mac OS, but they work to make it available for Linux users as soon as possible.
So with all of this in mind, which operating system is the best for gaming? Well, all things considered, Windows is the best. There’s a reason Windows gaming is usually synonymous with PC gaming, and the biggest reason for this is just because you have such an expansive library of games to choose from on PC.
Linux and Mac OS are doing their best to catch up, so the situation may change in the future, but as of right now, it really isn’t even a contest. The only thing Linux has going for it is that it’s free, and the investment you need to make for a good gaming Mac including external GPU, is just too high to be cost-efficient.
So, if you’re not sure which one of these you should use for gaming, rest assured that you can’t go wrong with Windows.
There you have it, the viability of these operating systems for gaming. Do you agree, or do you think Linux is a better pick?