Windows 11 vs Windows 10 GPUs Tested: Which Games Faster?

I’ve been rather happily running and benchmarking graphics cards with Windows 10 since just after it launched in 2015. Microsoft tried to encourage people to upgrade by initially offering Windows 10 for free, plus it was the only OS with support for DirectX 12. Portions of DX12 were eventually backported to Windows 7, and you can still get Windows 10 for cheap, but now Windows 11 is the new kid on the block. So how does it perform, specifically with games? That’s what we wanted to find out, so we grabbed the two best graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia and put them to the test.

Let’s be clear: Change for the sake of change doesn’t go over well with me, and Windows 11 puts a new coat of paint on the worn-in and comfortable feeling Windows 10 house I’ve been living in since 2015. A new coat of paint would be fine, and I’m not necessarily averse to that. But in the process, it seems as though the UI designers felt a need to rearrange the furniture, switch around the drawers, and clean house on a bunch of functionality that I actually like.

We’ve covered some of the worst Windows 11 changes, and how to fix them. Ultimately, two months after release, our Windows 11 launch impressions remain largely unchanged, and we’re discovering even more disappointing aspects to the OS—like the Windows 11 SSD issues, which apparently still persist. With that in mind, I wanted to verify that Windows 11 doesn’t impact graphics card performance before switching to the new OS. Of course, that switch is still in the works since I’ll be shifting to an Alder Lake Core i9-12900K system for GPU reviews in the near future. And of course, using Alder Lake is one of the only good (sort of) reasons to switch to Windows 11, thanks to the new process scheduler that integrates with Intel’s Thread Director hardware.

What if you’re not using Alder Lake, though? I took my current GPU testbed, which is now about three years old, and did a clean install of Windows 11 on a new Crucial P5 Plus SSD for testing purposes. I tested the fastest graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia, the Radeon RX 6900 XT and GeForce RTX 3090, and I also retested those cards on Windows 10 using the latest drivers and updates. That means running the AMD 21.21.1 and Nvidia’s 497.09 drivers, with a complete driver cleanup (via Display Driver Uninstaller) between testing. Here are the results of the 14 games I used for testing.

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Windows 10 vs Windows 11 GPU performance charts

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
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Windows 10 vs Windows 11 GPU performance charts

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
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Windows 10 vs Windows 11 GPU performance charts

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
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Windows 10 vs Windows 11 GPU performance charts

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)