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DirectX 11 vs. DirectX 12: What are the differences?


If you’re a Windows PC gamer, then knowing if DirectX 12 is better than DirectX 11 is very important in order to get the best out of your favorite video games. Now, most people will say DirectX 12 is beter since it has a higher number, but things are usually not so simple.

DirectX 12 was released back in 2015 alongside Windows 10. Microsoft claims it is the best version of DirectX yet, and it will likely usher in a new era for gamers. This is because it is capable of boosting GPU performance, all the while reducing CPU overhead.

The problem is, increasing the performance of your computer is not as easy as switching to a new version of DirectX. Or maybe it is, so let us find out what is going on exactly here.

DirectX 11 vs DirectX 12

Both versions of DirectX are great, but DirectX 12 is the newer version and as such, it comes with features not found in DirectX 11. However, determining which is better is not as straightforward.

What is DirectX from Microsoft?

So, DirectX is a collection of key APIs designed for the purpose of handling duties related to multimedia. This can include programming video games on Windows, Xbox, and any other Microsoft-based platform.

What are the differences between DirectX 11 from DirectX 12?

DirectX 12, is capable of interacting with your computer’s hardware on a more advanced level. For example, DirectX 12 is designed to spread CPU workload across other cores, but not only that, it can allow every core to communicate with the GPU at the same time.

DirectX 11 on the other hand only allows games to utilize two and four CPU cores. In many cases, the maximum number is three since one of the cores is used to dictate instructions to the GPU.

When it comes down to fancy bells and whistle features, DirectX 12 takes the cake here. This includes pipeline state objects (PSO) and asynchronous computing. You see, asynchronous computing beefs up the utilization of the GPU by allowing it to handle multiple workloads in parallel.

The hope here is to unlock the full potential of your GPU, though it depends on if the GPU supports DirectX 12 since not all do. Worry not because all GPUs that were released after 2015 do support DirectX 12, so if the age of your current hardware is in line with that particular date, then all is well.

Outside of rendering graphics, your GPU is in charge of dealing with a wide range of key tasks. For example, a GPU is required for running machine learning algorithms. Now, if DirectX 11 is being used in a machine learning situation, it can only perform tasks one after the other, and in a particular order. Whenever that happens, performance tends to take a hit since all resources relating to the GPU are not being used.

DirectX 12 solves this problem by making use of asynchronous computing, so as expected, GPU usage is maximized, and as such, your gaming performance will improve.

Furthermore, we should note that DirectX 12 is the first to introduce PSOs to the masses. For those who are wondering, PSOs are objects that explain the state of the whole graphics pipeline. You see, a PSO acts like a bottle that contains every state and component required for image creation. So in essence, this will make it possible for the GPU to pre-process all dependent states without having to recompute states all the time.

When this is used, CPU overhead is reduced significantly when compared to how DirectX 11 handles things.

Which should you choose, DirectX 12 or DirectX 11?

So, the big question that deserves an answer, is, which is better? Well, the answer depends on the game you’re trying to play. Some games were built with DirectX 11 in mind, while more modern titles were developed with DirectX 12 as the focal point.

Still, if you’re not the type of person to play older video games, then DirectX 12 is the safe bet because almost all new titles today come with DirectX 12 support over the previous version.

READ: How to use DirectX Diagnostic Tool (DxDiag) for Troubleshooting

Will DirectX 12 improve FPS?

Depending on the game, DirectX 12 could deliver improvements where FPS is concerned. Some games such as Cyberpunk 2077 have seen a 20 percent increase in frame rate at 1080p, while Assassin’s Creed Valhalla managed to gain a 25 percent boost at the same resolution.

Do I need DirectX 11 if I have 12?

DirectX is not something you can install separately, which means, there is no way to have DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 installed separately on the same computer. Since the DirectX API is not backward or compatible, some games or applications may require the older version to run properly.

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