Simple questions: What is Game Mode and how to use it in Windows 10?

Game Mode is a new feature that is available to all users of Windows 10 Creators Update. It promises to make Windows 10 great for gamers, alongside some other features that are designed for people who love computer games. In this guide, we explain what Game Mode is, how it works, and how to turn it on in games. We also explore the limitations of this feature. If you’re curious to know more, read on:

NOTE: This guide is designed for Windows 10 Creators Update, which is available to all Windows 10 users, for free, starting April 11, 2017. Previous Windows 10 versions that were released before this date don’t have this feature while newer versions do.

What is Game Mode in Windows 10?

Game Mode was created to help boost performance in games, regardless of your computer’s age or hardware configuration. According to Microsoft, it is designed to do two things: increase the frames per second you get in games and offer a more consistent gaming experience. You can view more information in the video below.

What does “consistent gaming experience” mean? Microsoft says that’s about avoiding extreme slowdowns and very low framerates. If you’re a gamer, it’s certain that you know what this is all about: you play a game, and it runs smoothly for some time. Then comes a fight with the boss at the end of the level you’re on and the framerate drops, the game becomes less responsive, and you lose the fight because your Windows computer couldn’t handle things well. That’s not a positive ending, right?

This where Game Mode steps in and tries to squeeze every bit of performance from your Windows 10 computer. When enabled, Windows 10 prioritizes processor and graphics card resources to your game. Hopefully, that will be enough to keep the framerate stable and provide you with a more “consistent gameplay experience”.

How to enable Game Mode in Windows 10

To enable Game Mode, you must first open the Settings app. A quick way to launch it is to open the Start Menu and then click or tap on the icon that looks like a gear.

Then, open the Gaming category.

On the left side of the app window, select the Game Mode section.

On the right, you’re told that “with Game Mode, Windows 10 ensures you play your games with the best possible experience.” Under this sentence, you’ll find a switch called “Use Game Mode.” To enable it on your computer, turn the switch on.

That’s it! Now you’ll be able to use this feature in all the games you want to.

How to activate Game Mode for your game

Although the Game Mode feature is now enabled, that doesn’t mean that it’s also automatically turned on in all the games you play. To activate it for a game you play, you’ll have to use the Game bar. We’ve talked about the Game bar, and what you can do with it, here: 5 things you can do with the new Game Bar from Windows 10. However, if you don’t have time to read that guide too, here’s how to quickly use the Game Mode in the game you’re currently playing:

First of all, launch your game. Then, press the Windows + G keys on your keyboard, to access the Game bar. On the Game bar, click or tap on the Settings button. It’s the last one to the right and it looks like a gear.

In the General tab, check the “Use Game Mode for this game” setting and close the list of settings.

Now you can go back to your game and, if Microsoft keeps its word, you should see an improvement in your gameplay experience.

The limitations of Game Mode in Windows 10

There are several limitations to this feature:

  • Game Mode needs to be enabled on a game-by-game basis. It is not enough to turn it on in Windows 10, as games don’t yet know how to take advantage of Game Mode automatically. Only games released after Windows 10 Creators Update might be able to turn on Game Mode automatically when you start them, if their developers have built in support for this feature.
  • In some full-screen games, like Doom or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, you cannot display the Game Bar and easily enable Game Mode. When that happens, you need to temporarily set those games to run in window-mode and no longer take the whole screen. When you do that, you can finally access the Game Bar and enable Game Mode for your game. After you have done this, you can set the game to use the whole screen again and stop running in window-mode.
  • We extensively tested Game Mode using several video games and different test systems. Unfortunately Game Mode has very rarely improved gaming performance. Its real-life performance is a mixed bag and you can see tangible improvements in very few games and on a limited number of systems. To learn more, read our analysis, here: Game Mode in Windows 10: Testing real-life performance in modern games.

Conclusion

Microsoft has made a promise that Windows 10 Creators Update will be the best operating system for gaming. While in theory the new Game Mode is a promising feature, in practice it is difficult to enable and its positive impact is hard to measure. Try it out and let us know how well it works for you and the games that you play. We’re curious to learn about your experience.