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Windows 11 security feature reportedly tanks gaming performance on pre-built PCs

Shadow of the Tomb Raider
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Most new Windows 11-based pre-built PCs will have a security feature that reportedly tanks gaming performance.

Per a report from PC Gamer, Virtualization-Based Security (VBS) is a setting designed to thwart malware from infecting your PC, but it's slowing down performance on a number of games considerably. In its testing, PC Gamer found the feature slowed down games by about 25% on average. Far Cry New Dawn, the clear outlier, only showed a 5% frame rate reduction, but Metro Exodus dropped by 24%, Horizon Zero Dawn by 25%, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider by 28%. Those figures more than negate the performance increase from an Nvidia RTX 2070 running on Windows 10 to an RTX 3070 on Windows 11.

Thankfully, the feature isn't automatically enabled when you upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11, but it reportedly can show up in clean installs of the new OS. The developer behind 3DMark Time Spy, a DirectX 12 benchmark test software, says "VBS is enabled by default after a clean install of Windows 11," but PC Gamer found that after downloading the latest ISO version of the OS, it took registry editing and BIOS tweaking to enable it.

You're more likely to end up with VBS enabled if you're buying a new pre-built machine from the likes of Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc., rather than simply downloading Windows 11 for a fresh install.

"While we are not requiring VBS when upgrading to Windows 11," Microsoft explains in a blog post from August. "We believe the security benefits it offers are so important that we wanted the minimum system requirements to ensure that every PC running Windows 11 can meet the same security the DoD relies on. 

"In partnership with our OEM and silicon partners, we will be enabling VBS and HVCI on most new PCs over this next year. And we will continue to seek opportunities to expand VBS across more systems over time."

PC Gamer also notes that you can easily check whether VBS is enabled by entering 'MSInfo32' into the Windows search function and looking for it at the bottom of the system report. It sounds like it can be disabled, but you might need some technical know-how to dig into your PC's registry and turn it off.

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Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked in - *shudders* - content management while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG. Now, as GamesRadar's Arizona-based Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.