Hey, Gamers: Don't Overlook these Killer Windows 11 Tools

Life is better in 2022 for gamers on Apple macOS and Linux but Windows remains the best PC operating system for games. Microsoft is aware of this and has added a variety of gaming features into Windows over the years. Windows 11 adds even more gaming features. These are the Windows 11 features that will make your next gaming session even more enjoyable.

Game Bar

Windows 11 Game Bar.

Windows 11 comes preloaded with the Game Bar. This allows you to quickly access some useful tools with one keystroke. You can open the Game Bar at any time (even if you're not playing any game) by pressing Win + G. If you own an Xbox controller paired with your PC, pressing the Xbox button will open the Game Bar as well.

The Game Bar overlay includes widgets that let you record gameplay footage as well as control audio output and check the performance of your PC. In the settings, you can even login to your social media accounts to allow instant sharing of your captured images and clips.


Microsoft has developed a method for your hardware to communicate more efficiently with each other, which can improve performance in games. It's called DirectStorage and you don't need perform anything to activate it. However, you'll have to meet certain requirements for your hardware that could require an upgrade.

DirectStorage for Windows 11

DirectStorage lets your computer's storage (where the game's data is) to directly communicate with the GPU. This eliminates the need for CPU decompression, which is a major performance bottleneck. Games that use DirectX 12 can take advantage of DirectStorage as long as your PC has an NVMe SSD and an appropriate GPU. Any AMD RDNA2 card or Nvidia RTX2000-series or older should work.

If you're not sure if your system is capable of handling DirectStorage, you can check it out using the previously mentioned Game Bar. Select the settings menu, and then select Gaming Features. This will tell you if your software, GPU and SSD are compatible.

Auto HDR

Windows 11 Auto HDR.

Games that have HDR (high dynamic range) can create more vivid realistic colors. Developers have been adding HDR support to their games for the recent years. If you're playing a video game that does not support HDR, Windows 11 can nevertheless boost the colors by enabling Auto HDR.

The problem is that you'll need an LCD that can support HDR as well, and these tend to be more expensive than conventional panels. Windows can enhance algorithmically non HDR games when you have a compatible monitor. This occurs at the OS level, meaning that developers don't need to do anything. Go to Settings > System > HDR. Auto HDR will be enabled if your monitor supports it. This will also include an HDR intensity slider to the Game Bar.

Game Mode

There's nothing more frustrating than watching your game's smooth and silky smooth frames because something on your PC decided that it was time to run a heavy operation in the background. A game can be rendered unplayable if it's struggling to keep frame rates constant. Game Mode is a feature of Windows 11 that can stop this.

Windows 11 Game Mode.

This feature is available under Settings > Gaming > Game Mode. It's a single switch, and there are no specific hardware requirements. It can be turned on and Windows will not attempt to install or download updates in the background. Apps that use the Windows notification system will not interfere with your game. Game Mode kicks in automatically when Windows detects you're running a game.

Game widget store

Windows 11 Game widget store.

The Game Bar has plenty of functionality when you first open it, but it's more customizable than you think. There's an inventory of widgets in the menus. This allows you to purchase more overlay items. It's in the widget list, which is the leftmost button in the main bar. The widget store is located at the bottom.

The majority of the widgets you'll find in this store are free.srazy However there are some paid overlays and widgets which can connect to paid desktop applications. The store's widgets allow you to add floating YouTube videos, insert an ethically dubious crosshair to your screen to prevent sniping, and more. There are also widgets that allow you to control hardware like Corsair coolers and EVGA video cards.

Xbox app

Windows 11 Xbox app.

Ryan Whitwam

Microsoft's Xbox app is bundled with Windows 11, and it's worth downloading even if do not own an Xbox. It allows you to purchase PC games such as Cuphead, Destiny 2, and Minecraft, but it's more than just a Steam replacement that has a less than stellar catalogue. It also functions as the hub for Microsoft Game Pass on the PC.

Game Pass is a subscription service that offers a wide range of games at no additional cost. You can download and play them for as long as they're available on Game Pass. Microsoft has also bought publishers like Activision-Blizzard and Bethesda to ensure there are plenty of games to choose from. Even even if you don't have an expensive GPU, the Xbox application can help you get your game on. Game Pass Ultimate (the $15-per-month level) includes Cloud Gaming, which renders Xbox games on a server and then streams them to your computer. The games available here aren't particularly wide, but there's Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, Doom Eternal, and more console hits. Windows 11 should offer something for everyone, no matter the method they choose to are able to get their gaming fix.