Microsoft has released an easy way to check if your PC is ready for DirectStorage in the latest Windows 11 update, in the form of a Microsoft Game Bar preview.
As reported by PC Gamer, (opens in a new tab) users can access the Game Features tab in the settings menu after updating the Xbox Game Bar. The updated version of this tool now shows whether your system is ready for DirectX 12 Ultimate as well as which parts of your gaming PC or laptop will need to be upgraded to be ready for next-gen DirectStorage functionality.
It’s worth mentioning that Windows 10 will also notify you if your system is ready for DirectX 12 Ultimate, but it will mention that your operating system requires an upgrade, although Microsoft has previously confirmed that both are compatible.
DirectStorage, for those unaware, is a useful technology that speeds up SSD load times and has already been implemented in hardware such as Microsoft’s Series X and Series S.
Essentially, DirectStorage allows developers to better utilize the speed of the latest storage devices (especially NVMe SSDs) to squeeze the maximum performance out of the potential bandwidth available. Not only will this translate to faster loading times, but you should also see open-world games run more smoothly.
How to Update Your Xbox Game Bar
Unfortunately, this hasn’t rolled out 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 bit of a pain to set up, but if you’re particularly keen, you can follow the instructions provided below.
- Search the Microsoft Store in the Windows 11 taskbar and download the Xbox Insider Center (opens in a new tab) application. Follow the on-screen instructions to register.
- Click on Previews on the left side, then enter Windows Games.
- More on-screen instructions! Select Rejoin then complete the registration process. Some new windows may open to complete this step.
- Go back to Microsoft Store homepage and head to your Library at the bottom left. Once you’re in, press Update all in the top right and it will install the Xbox game bar (if not already on your system).
- To access it, type Xbox game bar in your taskbar or tap Windows key + G to load the Xbox game bar.
- Click it Settings icon, then click Game Features. This will now display the updated system information requirements.
Analysis: what does this really mean for gamers?
Granted, SSD technology and advancements don’t sound nearly as exciting as, say, more powerful graphics, but it really is 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 small reads more efficiently, and you can group multiple queries together. When fully integrated into your title, DirectStorage with an NVMe SSD on Windows 11 reduces CPU overhead in a game by 20-40%.”
That’s a huge improvement, even if we’re only considering the 20% reduction. This will result in smoother gameplay while streaming, as well as shorter loadout menus and as game files get larger and models get more detailed, we’ll need to stay on top of any bottlenecks. system throttling like those handled by DirectStorage.
DirectStorage support was made available for PC games several months ago, but this tool will help you better understand what limitations might be preventing your system from accessing the technology, in the same way that Microsoft has also created a tool to help people make their Windows 10 systems ready to upgrade to Windows 11.
Typically, you’ll 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 with DirectX 12 Ultimate support and Shader Model 6.0. If you have something from the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2000 or AMD RDNA2 series then you’re golden, but otherwise you’ll need to upgrade a few components to use this technology.
Thankfully, Nvidia Ampere and AMD RDNA3 GPUs are on the horizon, which, coupled with this DirectStorage rollout, could make this a great time to consider some upgrades.