Windows 10 brings a slew of features to the table—the return of the Start menu, Cortana, the Xbox App—but the most interesting for gamers is obvious: DirectX 12 (DX12). The promise of a graphics API that allows console-like low-level access to the GPU and CPU, as well as improved performance for existing graphics cards, is tremendously exciting. Yet for all the Windows 10 information to trickle out in the three weeks since the OS launched, DX12 has remained the platform's most mysterious aspect. There's literally been no way to test these touted features and see just what kind of performance uplift (if any) there is. Until now, that is.
Enter Oxide Games' real-time strategy game Ashes of the Singularity, the very first publicly available game that natively uses DirectX 12. Even better, Ashes has a DX11 mode too. For the first time, we can make a direct comparison between the real-world (i.e. actual game) performance of the two APIs across different hardware. While earlier benchmarks like 3DMark's API Overhead feature test were interesting, they were entirely synthetic. Such tests only focused on the maximum number of draw calls per second (which allows a game engine to draw more objects, textures, and effects) achieved by each API.