Microsoft sets the record straight on Windows 10 Game DVR

Laurent Giret

Earlier this month, Valve’s latest Steam Hardware & Software survey for the month of September showed that Windows 10 claimed a 48.9% OS share across Steam users (down 0.05% compared to August numbers). A little more than a year after the initial Windows 10 release, it’s seems pretty clear that Microsoft’s new OS is already quite popular across PC gamers interested in new features such as DirectX 12 support and more.

Windows 10 is also an interesting OS for gamers that play on both Windows and Microsoft’s Xbox One: using the Windows 10 Xbox app, it’s now possible to stream Xbox One games from your console to your PC and the experience is pretty good if you have a good Internet connection. Additionally, the Windows 10 Anniversary made the Xbox app a true gaming hub that now integrates top PC games (in other words, non-Windows Store games) with dedicated gaming hubs on Windows Live. Another interesting feature is Game DVR which allows gamers to record game clips from any PC games at 60 FPS and share them on Xbox Live.

However, this last feature has also been criticized by some PC gamers who found out that it could cause performance hits during gaming sessions. It seems that Microsoft is well aware of the criticism as Xbox’s Major Nelson published a blog post today to address these performance concerns.

Game DVR on the Xbox app only has two performance sensitive features, background recording and the Game bar overlay. The first one, which uses hardware encoding to optimize performance is actually off by default so you shouldn’t worry too much about it. However, Major Nelson acknowledged that the Game bar overlay, which gained support for full-screen games in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, can cause some performance hits with certain PC configurations. Please not that both background recording and the Game bar in full screen games can easily be deactivated in the Xbox app settings.

The Windows 10 Xbox app settings. Background recording is off by default.
The Windows 10 Xbox app settings. Background recording is off by default.

Major Nelson added:

One of the most common questions from PC gamers using Game DVR is why the Game bar UI is not visible when playing full screen. In the Anniversary Update, we’ve added full screen support for six of the most popular PC games. We’ve tested this feature extensively on a wide range of systems, and when you’re using the latest graphics drivers designed for the Anniversary Update, our testing shows that you get equal performance. However, because of the wide diversity of gaming PC hardware available, some users may see some performance impact. In the game bar settings, uncheck the “Show Game bar when I play full-screen games Microsoft has verified” option if you want to turn this feature off.

With the settings described above, Game DVR only runs when you activate it, and has no performance impact on your games. As always, we strongly discourage manually editing your registry because of the potential negative consequences. Finally, make sure you have the latest drivers available for your graphics card to ensure the best possible performance – in nearly all of the scenarios we tested, we found that updating drivers resolved any performance-related issues without turning off Game DVR or removing the Xbox app.

Game DVR is certainly a cool feature for those of you heavily invested in Xbox Live, but it’s nice to see Microsoft acknowledging that not all PC gamers will care about it. While it’s easy to deactivate Game DVR, we also remind you that it’s now possible to remove the pre-installed Xbox app as well as other Windows 10 apps in the latest Redstone 2 builds. That’s clearly the nuclear option, though. Do you often use Game DVR on your Windows 10 PC? Sound off in the comments you also experienced performance issues when playing games.