It’s Windows. And, more specifically, Windows 10. There’s really no debate about it.
However, there are other operating system options out there that will work for gaming. They may not be as good of options for gamers as Windows 10 is, but, for the right user, there is the potential to use to a different operating system.
So, in this guide, we’ll discuss, first, why Windows is the best operating system for gaming and, second, what other alternatives exist and who they might make sense for under the right circumstances.
Why Windows 10 is the Best OS for Gaming
There are really a lot of different reasons why Windows 10 is currently the best operating system for gaming. But, the biggest reason why Windows is the best choice for gamers is simply, support.
Windows has support for more games than any other operating system out there—and, it’s not even close. And, it’s not just the sheer number of games that Windows supports in comparison to other operating systems (Linux and MacOS.) Rather, it’s the number of popular titles that are available on Windows that aren’t available on other operating systems that gives Windows such a huge advantage.
And, furthermore, of the games that are available on Windows and on other operating systems, those games typically run better and are more optimized to run on Windows. So, even though another operating system may be able to run some of the same games that Windows supports, those games will, more often than not, run better on a Windows system.
I mean, we can talk about things like DirectX 12, or graphics card drivers, or the increasing potential for cross-platform play with Xbox, or virtual reality options, or how most PC users are already very entrenched in using the Windows operating system. But, at the end of the day, it comes down to support. And, Windows just has a lot more support for gaming.
What About Linux for Gaming? Is It Viable?
Actually, the answer to the question above is: yes.
For the right gamer and Linux fan, there are certain distros that can be viable options for gaming. But, again, let me reiterate the phrase “for the right gamer.”
Do you enjoy playing PUBG, Fortnite, and/or Overwatch? Well, you won’t be able to play them on a Linux operating system as there isn’t any support for them.
The same is true for a lot of the most popular AAA titles out there.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom for Linux gaming. Linux does have support for quite a few popular titles…
Are you a Minecraft fan? Or, do you mainly play CS:GO? What about Team Fortress 2 or Dota 2? Linux does have those games (and many others) available.
So, if you are someone who mains one specific game and that game runs on Linux, or you mainly play a few different games that all happen to be available on Linux, then it could be a viable option for you.
Again, those games may not be as well-optimized as they are on Windows. However, we realize that, for some Linux diehards, that’s a sacrifice they’re willing to make in order to avoid putting Windows on their systems. And, that’s completely fine.
But, if you’re a newbie to Linux and you’re considering switching to the free open-source OS for gaming, just know that there is going to be a learning curve to install applications and get your games up and running.
SteamOS: Best Linux Distro for Gaming
Of the Linux distros that make sense for gamers, perhaps none have more potential than SteamOS. SteamOS is Steam’s own Linux distro built specifically for playing video games on the Steam platform.
However, while SteamOS was released to much fanfare, support and buzz around Valve’s own operating system have died down quite a bit over the past few years. SteamOS still works for certain games and people definitely use it, but it doesn’t appear to be near the Windows-killer (or even the Windows-stealer-of-small-percentages-of-users) that it was hyped to be.
Part of that is mostly due to the fact that, while it was intended to be an easy-to-use Linux based gaming distro, the reality is that it still has a lot of the types of problems that would frustrate the users it was trying to win over. (i.e. poor support for console controllers, not compatible with all hardware, lack of popular titles, etc.)
What About MacOS for Gamers? Apple is Coming Around, Right?!? (Lol, no.)
Sorry, Apple fanbois! If there’s one entertainment-related market that Apple will never get its hand on, it’s high-end desktop gaming.
All joking aside, MacOS can run Steam and it does have support for a small collection of games, including some popular titles like League of Legends, CS:GO, Minecraft, and Rocket League, to name a few.
However, the same problem that plagues Linux as a gaming platform is the same problem that plagues MacOs as a gaming platform: there just isn’t enough support from game developers to make games that work on operating systems not named Windows.
Games are made for Windows. And, if any games do eventually find their way over to Linux or MacOS, there’s no guarantee that they will continue to be optimized properly and updated regularly.
But, again, for the right user who plays games that can be run on MacOS, Apple’s desktop operating system can work for gaming.
The good news for Apple fans, though, is that the same problem that plagues MacOS as a gaming platform is also the same reason why iOS is the better mobile gaming platform than the competition. Just as PC games are developed mostly for Windows, more mobile game developers focus on developing their games for iOS.
So, while MacOS will never stack up to Windows in terms of being a high-end gaming platform, the rapidly-growing market for mobile gaming looks to be another arena that Apple will likely dominate. (Check out our guide on the Best Gaming Tablets.)
Is There Really A Choice? Windows is Hands-Down the Best OS for Gaming
In the end, while Linux and MacOS can work for gaming, the real operating system choice for the vast majority of gamers for now—and the foreseeable future—will be Windows.