Whether you’re a loyal fan of the most robust Windows ever or an avid player of older titles, you might be wondering if your perfectly working Windows 7 is still relevant in the gaming world in 2022.
This article will explore the advantages and limitations of Windows 7 for gaming.
We’ll also tell you which edition of Windows 7 is best for gaming and compare the iconic Windows with its newer generation Windows 10.
Read on to learn more.
Best Windows 7 Version For Gaming
The best version of Windows 7 for gaming is the Professional edition because it renders games with an adequate frame rate, supports 64-bit games, and has no practical limits on the amount of RAM installed.
XP Mode is also only available in the Professional edition, which lets you run vintage games that used to run on Windows XP.
If you’re not a serious gamer, you can opt for Windows 7 Home Premium, as it’s geared toward entertainment-heavy uses such as watching videos.
It supports 64-bit games and up to 16 GB of RAM, and the license costs less.
The Starter and Home Basic editions of Windows 7 aren’t suitable for gaming, while the Ultimate edition can be overkill.
Is Windows 7 Enough For Gaming?
Launched in October 2009, Windows 7 has been running for more than twelve years now, which some may count as “retro.”
Despite being old, this Windows version is enough for most games, even the newly released ones.
If you manage to install and run your game on Windows 7, you’ll get almost an identical performance to what you get on Windows 10.
This video compares how a few different titles render on Windows 7 and 10.
However, you may run into trouble if you want to play more recent titles.
When Windows 7 was released in 2009, Microsoft committed to providing ten years of product support, which ended in January 2020.
Since then, there have been no updates, bug fixes, and technical support for Windows 7.
As a result, users who run Windows 7 are at risk of potential bugs and security issues.
For example, users have reported that Fallout 4, 7 Days to Die, Black Mesa, Payday 2, and XCOM 2 no longer work on Windows 7.
More minor issues such as driver conflicts will also increase as new technologies come to the market.
You can usually fix these with different workarounds, but eventually, the patchwork will become too annoying, and you’ll have to give up your precious Windows 7.
Overview Of Windows 7 Editions
Microsoft released six different editions of Windows 7 aimed at different user groups.
Let’s take a look at them.
1. Windows 7 Starter
Many people got this simple version of Windows 7 preinstalled on their netbooks.
It has minimum functionality and supports a maximum RAM of 2 GB.
It’s only compatible with the 32-bit architecture and doesn’t support Windows Aero themes.
The Aero themes include animated window navigation gestures, taskbar thumbnails, and window manipulation gestures.
You also can’t change the desktop pictures manually on this Windows version.
2. Windows 7 Home Basic
This Windows 7 version is specific to home users with lightweight computing needs.
It supports the 64-bit architecture and has the capacity for up to 8 GB of RAM.
It’s one of the cheapest editions of Windows 7 because Microsoft aimed to reach users in developing countries with this edition.
3. Windows 7 Home Premium
This edition is the mainstream Windows 7.
It’s probably the one you had installed on your PC back in the day.
The primary users of this edition are home users who want to use their computers for entertainment, including watching movies and playing games.
It supports all Aero theme features and the Aero Glass GUI.
You can choose between a 32-bit and a 64-bit version, which support up to 4 and 16 GB of RAM.
4. Windows 7 Professional
This edition is for users with more serious computing needs, like engineers.
It supports a whopping 192 GB of RAM and has all the Windows 7 Home Premium functions, plus the ability to join workplace servers.
The Pro edition also has Windows XP Mode, a compatibility feature for users who need to run older programs that aren’t natively available in Windows 7.
5. Windows 7 Enterprise
This version is specific for larger companies with thousands of employees.
Microsoft sold it to companies that signed Software Assurance contracts via batch licensing.
It has all the features in Windows 7 Professional and adds extra security features to fit the needs of larger companies.
6. Windows 7 Ultimate
This edition has the same feature set as Enterprise.
It’s just sold differently, as Windows 7 Enterprise for corporations, but Ultimate is sold to home users at stores.
With this edition, you get all the features of Professional plus networking features and the ability to run Unix applications.
You also get BitLocker to encrypt your hard drive for extra security.
Comparing Windows 7 Editions For Gaming
To decide which version of Windows 7 is best for gaming, we’ve looked at five different factors.
1. Graphics Capabilities
The Starter and Home Basic editions of Windows 7 don’t support a full range of graphical effects, which is a significant disadvantage for a gaming OS.
On the other hand, the Ultimate and the Professional editions manage complex graphic elements.
The only disadvantage of these two versions is their cost.
Although they support high graphic capabilities, they can’t compete with the price of Home Basic and Home Premium.
2. RAM And Support For The 64-Bit Architecture
Windows 7 Basic doesn’t support 64-bit apps and games, and it can support only 2 GB of memory, which is very little for modern games.
Fortunately, though, it’s the only edition with that limitation.
On a Home basis, this limit goes up to 8 GB (64-bit version) and 4 GB (32-bit version).
Home Extended works with up to 16 GB of memory, while the Ultimate and Professional versions of Windows 7 have no practical limits on RAM.
The 64-bit operating systems use a larger address space for RAM blocks, meaning they can support more RAM.
In contrast, 32-bit operating systems only support a maximum of 4 GB.
Having more RAM usually results in a smoother gaming experience because the game engine has more space to pre-render game scenes and maintain details.
CPU power is limited in Windows 7 Starter because it doesn’t support multiple processor cores.
Other versions don’t have this issue.
That’s another advantage of the Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate versions for gaming.
These versions can work with up to the sixth generation of Intel processors, but the newer generations don’t have specific drivers for Windows 7 or 8.
That means you’ll be seriously limited in hardware upgrades when all older CPUs have been phased out in a couple of years.
4. Support For Legacy Applications
Only the Professional edition of Windows 7 supports legacy games and applications that used to run on Windows XP.
It has a compatibility feature known as XP Mode, a virtual machine that allows you to run older apps as if they were running on XP.
However, if you still want to play games that came out 20 years ago, you must be prepared for serious tweaking.
Windows 7 Vs. Windows 10
Most gamers find Windows 10 to be the only competitor against Windows 7 in gaming, so it’s impossible to write an article about Windows 7 without mentioning Windows 10.
Below, we’ll compare these two by different factors and explain why Windows 7 is still relevant in 2022.
1. Game Compatibility
Even with all the added features in Windows 10, Windows 7 is still said to have better app compatibility.
Though both versions support mainstream apps like Photoshop and Google Chrome, some old third-party software still works better on Windows 7.
However, both Windows have limitations when it comes to game compatibility.
Windows 7 tends to have a lower frame rate than Windows 10 in recent games, making them laggy or even crash.
Having a higher FPS, Windows 10 gives a smoother experience with hardly any stutters while playing.
Windows 7 doesn’t include support for DOS Games.
However, there’s a good list of games, even ones released in 2022, that are still compatible with Windows 7.
Examples include Dragon Age Inquisition, Sudden Strike 4, and Witcher 3: Game of The Year Edition.
Windows 7 also consumes more RAM than Windows 10, despite running lower frame rates.
This happens because Windows 7 has poorly optimized RAM usage.
Other programs running in the background can be another reason for the extra RAM usage in Windows 7.
However, switching between open windows and tabs is faster in Windows 7.
There are compatibility modes in both Windows 7 and Windows 10, but
in Windows 10, the compatibility mode for Windows 7 doesn’t always work.
If you want to play older games like Call of Duty 2, Windows 7 is a better choice than Windows 10.
2. System Updates
Since 2020, Windows 7 is no longer receiving any updates, leaving users susceptible to numerous bugs and security threats.
Organizations that couldn’t make the upgrade in time will be able to pay for security updates for three more years if they have Windows 7 volume licensing.
Microsoft expects to increase the price every year for this additional security coverage.
Unfortunately, home users don’t have this privilege and have to upgrade to Windows 10 if they want to continue receiving security updates.
In contrast, Windows 10 keeps your system up-to-date with frequent checks to keep it running optimally until 2025.
Meanwhile, some apps like Office 2019 are no longer compatible with Windows 7.
The trends will continue with other apps as a sign that Microsoft is serious about moving on.
Therefore, you’ll eventually have to upgrade to Windows 10 or higher.
It’s just a matter of time until then.
Windows design is usually a personal choice, but generally speaking, people like the Windows 7 design more.
Microsoft opted for a flat design in Windows 8, which upset many users.
They stuck with it in the later versions of Windows, however, probably hoping that people would get used to it.
Windows 7 has a much simpler look and smaller icons that are ideal for a mouse-based user experience.
It’s easy and quick to find apps, and you won’t see any irrelevant items there.
Windows 10 has big, colorful tabs and icons and unnecessary ads on the start menu.
Some apps appear on the start menu, called the “Live Tiles.”
For the most part, Windows 10’s Start menu and Live Tiles are optimized for touchscreen devices rather than desktop PCs.
A slight advantage of Windows 10 is that you can download and install popular social media platforms and have them in your start menu for quick access.
Security is a major concern for people using older Windows in 2022.
Since Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 7 in January 2020, it’s a good idea to upgrade your operating system to a supported one.
That doesn’t mean that a newer version of Windows is 100% guaranteed to be safe, nor does it mean that Windows 7 isn’t.
You don’t have much to worry about if you keep your browsers up-to-date and install a reliable antivirus program with a firewall.
Comparing the built-in security systems in each Windows, without any antivirus software or apps, Windows 10 is twice as safe as Windows 7.
That’s because Windows 7 was developed back in 2009 when the internet wasn’t as dangerous today.
However, if you plan on sticking with Windows 7, remember to import and store your important data on a cloud or another device, like a hard drive.
There are no worries if you don’t have any important data and just use your computer for daily activities.