When it comes to PC gaming, you have three main options when it comes to choosing an OS: Windows, MacOS, and Linux. But which one is the best operating system? Each of them has its strengths and its drawbacks, so we'll take a look at the key differences, to help you make the most informed decision possible. The main things to consider will be performance, stability, the range of games available to play, and support. Let's dive in.
Is Windows 10 the best operating system?
Windows is by far the most widespread of the 3 major OS to choose from. Around 75% of all computers run on Windows, but is it the best operating system? It's almost certainly a system you have either had at home, or at school, or at work, so it will be familiar to you. And there are certainly plenty of reasons why its popularity makes it a strong contender for best gaming OS.
To start with, Windows has by far the largest assortment of games to choose from of the three. As well as being very closely tied into the Xbox ecosystem, it also enjoys access to all the major game stores. Steam, Epic, Origin and Uplay are the obvious ones. But any PC gaming company that wants to make a game accessible to as many people as possible, will almost certainly have Windows in mind.
Additionally, many games enjoy much better support on Windows than they might elsewhere. With API like DirectX having been around for so long, in general they work really well with Windows to offer a highly optimised gaming experience.
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What about MacOS?
After a period in the doldrums back in the 1990s, Apple has grown to be among the most valuable companies in the world. It is now more than just a tech company; it is now an iconic brand where fashion is almost as important as the product itself. But that doesn't mean there is no substance behind the style. In fact, many people would say that MacOS is actually the best OS on the market. This is especially true if you want something that is great for productivity tasks as well as gaming. The interface is the most user friendly as well. The new M1 processor makes it an even more compelling proposition. Because MacOS is only available in Apple products, every single aspect of it is optimised to work together. It's a highly secure system, and the control Apple maintains over it, minimises the risk of malware.
In terms of gaming, you will need to access games through third parties - either on the app store, or via Steam, GOG, and others. Epic is also available (although we'll keep watching their legal battle with Apple). These won't offer as many AAA games as being on Windows might. You're also unlikely to have an experience that's been optimised for gaming. In other words, gaming will be ok, but not necessarily as fantastic as you can get on Windows. Because Apple control their products so fiercely, they don't offer the same flexibility to swap out a GPU for example. This will mean paying even more on top of the premium price tag, if you want to be able to play the most demanding games.
Linux is better than you think
Linux is something of the underdog in this particular fight. With a roughly 2% market share, it has nothing like the ubiquity or fame of MacOS or Windows. But it can still stand up for itself. Linux is a cornerstone of so much that we use daily: phones, cameras, servers, often all run on Linux. It's also extremely secure.
Far fewer games are supported on Linux, although this number is growing. Steam in particular, offers a healthy selection of games that can run on Linux, including AAA titles such as GTA V. Roughly 4000 games on Steam will work on Linux. This compares to about 7000 on MacOS, and 20000 on Windows. There are also tools you can download to make more games available, such as Proton. In terms of performance, Linux will also offer a pretty stable experience. The interface is much less user-friendly than either MacOS or Windows, however.
So, what's the best operating system?
Like the Highlander, when it comes to the best OS for PC gaming in 2021, there is only one winner. Windows has the strongest gaming background, and the most optimised software and hardware. This makes it the choice for best operating system on PC.
Windows also has by far the widest selection of games available; it really is the best all round option out there at the moment. Whether things change as Apple rolls out more of its own silicon, or whether they will continue to largely ignore gaming as a major part of their strategy, remains to be seen.
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