By limiting background tasks, Game Mode seeks to increase the smoothness of games running on Windows 10, redirecting your system towards the game when it is activated. Microsoft stated that the feature would have modest improvements for Win32 titles, due to the non-standardized environment. But the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) games typical of the Windows 10 Store should see immediate benefits.
I was curious as to what (if any) real-world benefits Game Mode would have for multitasking on my devices, and I came away with some mixed results. Keep reading for specifics.
Heroes of the Storm — Minimal multiitasking
First, I decided to test the Win32 game Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard's whimsical MOBA title that features iconic characters from various Blizzard universes. It is not a particularly intensive game, and the Razer Blade 14 should be able to totally crush it, with or without Game Mode.
Game Mode seemed to generate some modest improvements to the game's unlocked frame rate, sending it from 90 frames per second (FPS) to 100 FPS, up to 100 FPS to 110 FPS. In real-world terms, you're not going to notice a difference at such high frame rates, but it was a decent enough basis to start with.
These shots were taken with the bare minimum multitasking. I had my Slack app running in the background, but that's about it. Most of my programs are disabled at startup, giving me a relatively clean slate to work with.
Heroes of the Storm — With multitasking
While it seems like there were some modest gains to be had at a basic level, testing Heroes of the Storm in a multitasking scenario — which is essentially what Game Mode is supposed to be for — was the next obvious test.
With Microsoft Edge, Bluestacks' intensive Android emulator, and Netflix playing in the background, these are the effects Game Mode had on performance.
Again, not much is noticeably different here. But Heroes of the Storm isn't a UWP game, which Microsoft said would gain a larger benefit from Game Mode than Win32 titles.
Killer Instinct — Minimal multitasking
The best UWP test is probably Killer Instinct, which has an in-game benchmarking tool of its own. Here's a quick look at how it fared with Game Mode turned on and Game Mode turned off, with the same minimal background processes as the Heroes of the Storm test above.
Without multitasking, you can see that the results are locked across the board. The Razer Blade 14 probably has plenty of overhead for a game like Killer Instinct at 1080p, and as such, Game Mode isn't going to make a sliver of difference in this scenario. Turning Game Mode on improved Killer Instinct's benchmark score by a single point, but that's about it. With multitasking, however, it was a different story.
Killer Instinct — With multitasking
While Game Mode made zero difference in the non-multitasking scenario, with Bluestacks, Slack, Microsoft Edge, and a Netflix video playing, Killer Instinct's benchmarking test scored far higher with Game Mode enabled.
As you can see, Killer Instinct performed far higher in the multitasking scenario with Game Mode turned on. And I replicated these results after running through the same test three times.
Game Mode does produce some modest gains in certain scenarios. Perhaps you're grinding in a game, but need to render an Adobe Premier video in the background; Game Mode should enhance your gaming experience in some small way on higher-end hardware.
The Razer Blade 14 is a powerful machine, with a quad-core Intel "Kaby Lake" i7 processor and a GTX 1060 GPU. It can generally handle multitasking extremely well anyway, making Game Mode a little redundant.
We plan to run similar tests in the future on the Surface Pro 3, which has far less powerful internals. Until then, let us know in the comments if you have any positive (or negative) experiences with Game Mode for the Windows 10 Creators Update.