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DirectX11 vs 12: Differences in PC Gaming

DirectX is vital for Windows based gaming. It’s a compilation of APIs (application programming interfaces) necessary to play video games on your Windows system. It’s a way of letting the game communicate with your PC’s hardware, such as the memory, sound and graphics cards, optimizing and improving the game experience. 

DirectX has different versions, the most recent being DX11 and DX12. Which is better? We’ll go over all the pros and cons of DirectX11 vs 12 and when one may outperform the other, such as when you have a specific PC set up or particular game to run. 

    DirectX 11 vs 12: Differences in PC Gaming

Differences Between Dx11 vs 12

Many Windows based games require you to use DirectX. If you have the wrong version, however, your game might not function. While it may seem logical to just use the latest  version, DX12, a lot of games still use DX11, or give you the option to choose. For that reason, let’s dive into the differences of DirectX11 vs 12. 


  • DX11 is a high-level API, meaning it is more generalized and less embroiled with the hardware or software being used as it’s further removed compared to low-level API
  • Helps games be more stable if you’re using older hardware
  • Compatible with Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10
  • Easier for developers to work with
  • Tessellation (using geometric tile shapes to increase depth in graphics)
  • Well established and broad library of compatible games
  • Older titles can be played with DX11, but not DX12
  • Serial operations (meaning operations are executed one at a time, in order)


  • DX12 is a low-level API. It’s closer to the hardware on a more detailed level. It’s more detailed, with capabilities that can be minutely manipulated by the programmer. This is obviously more work for the developers than a high-level API
  • Because of this level of control, DX12 vastly improves most game performances
  • Better visual effects and frame rates
  • Lowers latency issues
  • Better support for newer features, like virtual reality
  • Can handle multi-GPU configurations at the same time
  • Uses more of the PC’s resources to improve the game experience
  • Works on Windows 10 and 11, as well as XBox
  • Variable rate shading and mesh shaders
  • Sampler feedback for better rendering
  • Asynchronous shaders
  • Because of its efficiency, slightly older hardware can play newer games with more success than older versions of DX. That said, there are certain hardware requirements for DX12 to run properly, such as a multicore CPU
  • Parallel compute (allows multiple operations at the same time, increasing efficiency)
  • If you have an old graphics card, DX12 will only show minor improvements

DirectX 11 vs DirectX 12 for Specific Games

If you don’t have hardware concerns, the biggest factor in using DirectX11 vs 12 really depends on the game. Some games do well with low-level optimizations and don’t need all the fancy graphic improvements that come with DX12. Others look wildly different with the newer version and will be greatly enhanced. The age of the game and the systems it is made for are other factors. 

Let’s jump into specific games and how they differ when played with DX11 vs DX12.

Ready or Not DirectX 11 vs 12

This popular tactical first person shooter was initially released in 2021 and is still frequently played today. Because it is a newer release, one might assume it should be played on the newer DX version. In truth, that depends. 

Ready or Not’s official site recommends using DirectX11, surprisingly. It helps to decrease the chances of freezing and stuttering, especially if you’re playing on an older system. If you have a sophisticated PC, you’re welcome to use DX12 and see if you prefer it. Even though it can improve the graphics, some users may find DX12 more prone to stutters and other problems. You can always try it and see how it behaves but if you experience problems, DX11 is lauded for its stability. Ready or Not DirectX 11 vs 12 seems to sway in favor of 11, but there will always be those who swear by 12.

Fortnite DirectX 11 vs 12

Fortnite has been incredibly popular for years, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Once again, the answer to using Fortnite DirectX 11 vs 12 will depend on your actual PC and how new the hardware is. For those with the right system, the general consensus is that DX12 is superior. Frame rate is higher, graphics look better, and gameplay is often smoother. Note the word, often. Some still complain about things like stuttering or even game crashes on DX12, in which case there’s nothing wrong with going back to DX11. You can also try giving DX12 a few more chances and see if the problems resolve. It’s commonly reported that the bugs can work themselves out and you’ll end up happy you tried again. 

Path of Exile DirectX 11 vs 12

This free action-based RPG is more involved than some games, with an in-depth gem system, skill tree, and various leagues and events. Because of all these facets, it’s important to find the right fit in terms of your API. 

Speaking of API, in the gaming community, there’s debate over which one to use: Path of Exile DirectX 11 vs 12 vs Vulkan. Vulkan is another API, much like DirectX. Like DX12, it’s low-overhead and greatly improves 3D graphics while utilizing system resources effectively. In fact, it’s so good at this that many say it runs better on lower-spec PCs than DX12 does. Another strength for Vulkan, besides that it’s open source, is that it’s cross-platform. It works on Linux, Nintendo, MacOS, Android, and more. DX12 only works on Microsoft systems. 

So which is best? You probably already know the answer. It depends. If you value frame rates, many users sing Vulkan’s praises, whereas others prefer graphics and choose DX12. Still, there’s a lot of consensus that Vulkan is faster and has better FPS (frames per second). 

However, when it comes to Path of Exile, specifically, it’s all chaotic in terms of what will work best for you. Sometimes you’ll start off happy with DX12 and then a patch will be released and it suddenly caps your frame rate like crazy. Another patch? It may suddenly work better or you may be forced to go to Vulkan or DX11. It’s a tumultuous experience for many, which is why there are so many Path of Exile forums on just this subject. If you’re using a system other than Microsoft, however, you have your answer. Vulkan it is.

In the end, pick whatever works best that day. If you have an older system, you may have luck with DX11 for smoother compatibility. If an update is wreaking havoc, pivot to Vulkan or DX12. Maybe you’ll even get lucky and have long term stability in whatever API you decide on. It’s seemingly different for everyone. Good luck. 

Choosing between DirectX 11 vs DirectX 12

When choosing which DX version is best for you, it really all boils down to trial and error. Look for factors like game compatibility, the age of your system and hardware, the age of the game itself, and how you feel about frame rates and graphics. In general, the thought is that newer systems should use DX 12 for the best user experience. It makes sense and most people tend to prefer DX 12 over DX 11. That said, there are still plenty of reasons to use DX 11, so don’t count it out completely.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is control better in DirectX 11 or 12?

Which has better control, DirectX 11 or 12? If your PC is newer, you’ll generally have a smoother and responsive user experience with DX 12. This is especially true if the games you’re playing are compatible. 

Is DirectX 12 better than DirectX 11?

In terms of graphics, function, efficiency, and other performance aspects, yes. So long as you’re playing a game that is meant for DX 12 and on a system that can fully handle its capabilities. If you’re playing an older game and you want stability and reliability, DX 11 still holds strong.

Does DirectX 12 improve fps?

Yes. Usually, you will see better frame rates with DX 12. That said, remember that things like hardware, game compatibility, and even game updates and patches can do some pretty wacky things to your fps.

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