Microsoft’s DirectStorage PC compatibility tool offers SSD speed checks


One of the big advancements with the latest generation of game consoles has to do with storage speed.  While PC gamers have enjoyed the benefits of SSDs for many years now, the previous-gen console did hold things back. Now that consoles fully support PCIe 4.0 SSDs, developers can build games to take full advantage of the speed SSDs have to offer. Microsoft’s DirectStorage technology will help with this, and it’s built directly into Windows 11’s coding.

Microsoft pitches DirectStorage as a main feature for PC gamers that use the new OS. As such, Microsoft released a new compatibility tool that will tell users whether their machine is ready to properly handle what DirectStorage requires.


The new need for (storage) speed

This new tool can be found in the Microsoft Game Bar, which was first introduced as a system-level feature in Windows 10. Activated by pressing Win + G, the tool allows for things such as monitoring system resources (CPU/GPU usage, framerate, etc.), taking screenshots/recording gameplay clips, among several other things (like controlling Spotify).

That’s presumably why Microsoft decided to lump the DirectStorage tool into Game Bar. For now, as PCGamer discovered, this is accessible to those who have Preview Builds of Game Bar, as Microsoft prepares to roll it out to the general public.

Those who would like to tinker with this Windows Insider feature can do so without much fuss, as Microsoft allows anyone with a Microsoft Account to register for the program.

Information super highway

In layman’s terms, DirectStorage is a new API from Microsoft that essentially allows the data transfer between your SSD and the game pulling data from it to function like a super highway. The goal is to boost loading times and free up system resources to keep the experience as smooth and stutter-free as possible.

If you’ve ever experienced a particularly stutter-prone title, especially one with large levels or an open-world map, chances are it isn’t because your system was too weak to run it. These stutters are often a sign of gaps in data transfer. Think of when you have to briefly slow down on the road because the car in front of you slows down. You’re still moving, but you’ve very clearly had to reduce speed, so your car jerks a bit. That’s pretty much what’s happening during this data transfer process; data isn’t flowing smoothly due to hiccups.

Directstorage For Windows Pc Forza Horizon 5

As games have grown considerably larger over the years (not just in filesize, but complexity as well), the necessity for faster storage mediums has become increasingly unavoidable.

Some modern titles like Forza Horizon 5 even have warning prompts for slower storage drives which state that the game data is having a hard time loading into the session, resulting in the aforementioned stutters.

More titles now come with recommendations to use SSDs rather than HDDs, and that trend will only continue. The aforementioned Forza Horizon 5 recommends it for PC users, as does Microsoft Flight Simulator, as another example.

While the magic of SSDs is certainly nothing new in the PC space, they were not too long ago considered a luxury, much in the same vein as a beefy graphics card or incredibly supped-up monitor. Now that fast SSDs are mainstream, prices have rapidly decreased and will continue to do so.


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