Microsoft has released an easy way to check if your PC is DirectStorage ready in the latest Windows 11 update, in the form of a preview of the Microsoft Game Bar.
As reported by pc player, (opens in new tab) Users can access the Gaming Features tab in the settings menu after updating the Xbox Game Bar. The updated version of this tool now shows if your system is DirectX 12 Ultimate ready, as well as which parts of your gaming PC or laptop will need to be updated to be ready for the next generation DirectStorage feature.
It’s worth noting that Windows 10 will also let you know if your system is DirectX 12 Ultimate ready, but it will mention that your operating system requires an update, despite Microsoft previously confirming that the two were compatible.
DirectStorage, for those who don’t know, is a useful technology that speeds up SSD load times and has already been implemented in hardware like the Microsoft Xbox Series X and Series S.
In essence, DirectStorage allows developers to better utilize the speed of the latest storage devices (specifically NVMe SSDs) to extract maximum performance from the potential bandwidth available. Not only will this result in faster load times, but you’ll also see open world games run more smoothly.
How to update your Xbox Game Bar
Unfortunately, this hasn’t been released to the public yet, so you’ll need to download the Xbox Insider Hub if you want early access to the feature. It’s a little difficult to set up, but if you’re especially interested, you can follow the instructions given below.
- look for the Microsoft Store on the Windows 11 taskbar and download the Xbox Insider Hub (opens in new tab) application. Follow the on-screen instructions to sign up.
- click in Views on the left side and then type Windows Games.
- More on-screen instructions! Select Get together and then complete the enrollment process. Some new windows may be opened to complete this step.
- go back to Microsoft Store home page and go to your Library in the lower left corner. As soon as you enter, knock update all in the top right corner and this will install the Xbox game bar (if not already on your system).
- To access, type Xbox game bar on the taskbar or press Windows key + G to load the Xbox game bar.
- click on the Definitions icon and then click game resources. This will now display the updated system information requirements.
Analysis: What does this really mean for gamers?
Okay, SSD technology and advancements hardly sound as exciting as, say, more powerful graphics, but this is truly an essential development in the gaming space.
Cooper Partin, Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft, explains that “DirectStorage is designed for modern gaming systems. It handles smaller reads more efficiently and you can batch multiple requests together. When fully integrated into your title, DirectStorage, with an NVMe SSD in Windows 11, reduces CPU overhead in a game by 20-40%.”
That’s a huge improvement, even considering just the 20% reduction. This will result in smoother gameplay while streaming as well as shorter loading menus and as game files get larger and models more detailed we will need to keep on top of any system bottlenecks such as those being resolved by DirectStorage.
Support for DirectStorage has been available for PC games for several months now, but this tool will help you better understand what limitations may be preventing your system from accessing the technology, in the same way that Microsoft also created a tool to help people do your Windows 10 systems ready to upgrade to Windows 11.
As a general warning, you will need an NVMe SSD with at least 1TB of storage capable of supporting and using the Standard NVM Express Controller driver, as well as a graphics card that supports DirectX 12 Ultimate and Shader Model 6.0. If you have something from the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2000 series or AMD RDNA2 series then you are golden, but otherwise you will need to upgrade some components to use this technology.
Fortunately, Nvidia Ampere and AMD RDNA3 GPUs are on the horizon, which, when combined with this release of DirectStorage, could make this an ideal time to consider some upgrades.