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I like having Aero enabled when I have to work. Sometimes I like to play games though.
What's the performance hit on games? Is there a performance hit at all from using Aero?

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If anyone wants to actually do some testing and find out, the Super User Blog can provide a free copy of GameBooster 3. It would be interesting to see the results of testing the FPS with Aero enabled vs. Aero enabled with GameBooster turned on vs. Aero disabled completely. If anyone is interested, let me know. – nhinkle Nov 9 '11 at 4:44
@nhinkle - I'm interesten in actually making some benchmarks. 3DMark, games, etc. Contact me if you see this message and your offer is still "active". – Shiki Nov 10 '11 at 15:04
@Shiki send an email to Kronos, as he was the one who got contacted with the offer for a copy of gamebooster for review. – nhinkle Nov 10 '11 at 19:17
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Statistically, there is no performance hit.

There are numerous benchmarks that turning off Aero does not imporve frame rates. An often cited article is the Firing Squad article.

Another more recent article is the Lifehacker article.

You would think a bunch of computer geeks would know how to keep AERO on(technically the DWM) AND still play their games.

The technical explanation is that only one program can have exclusive control of the GPU. So the program can either ask DWM to disable itself, or it also does so by itself if a program tries to make a direct call to the primary graphics driver rather than, you know, crashing the system.

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This is half-true. Aero consumes 200-350MB of VRAM depending on if you're multi-monitor. If your VRAM is capping out by less than that amount disabling Aero will make a BIG difference since you're no longer swapping textures to DRAM. Also I'm not sure about exclusive fullscreen killing Aero (sounds plausible) but windows / borderless mode definitely do not. – Arthur Kay Jun 3 '15 at 16:37

Yes, there most definitely is. Aero keeps taking away video memory that could otherwise have been spent on the game.
If you want to put a stop to this, I can recommend you Game Booster. I see they're at version 3 already, but I've used version 1 and 2 in the past, and it worked very well for me. It disables a lot of unnesecary things when you start your game. Once you quit the game, it can restore everythign to how it was.

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-1. For any machine that's already going to play your games acceptably, there's no perceptible performance hit. For any machine that's going to have a perceptible performance hit, it's already going to have issues playing your games. This is true in 95% of situations - anything else is an extreme corner case. (Also, a lot of fullscreen games disable desktop composition ALREADY) – Shinrai Nov 8 '11 at 18:14
Video memory is one thing, thanks for pointing it out. I'd like to know if there is a hit on FPS ... on the actual performance. I know memory belongs to performance too, but in a different way. Modern GPUs got ~1-2gb of memory on-board, which is usually ~30-60% used during a modern game. (My card comes with ~790mb AFAIK.) – Shiki Nov 8 '11 at 18:15
This doesn't make any extrawdinary difference on the framerate, I think. Still, Game Booster can help greatly as it disables unneeded services and applications while playing a game (restoring them afterwards), so I did notice a great improvement in framerate using Game Booster (may be good to tell you that my laptop isn't really made for games, so that's a great factor as well). – RobinJ Nov 8 '11 at 18:18
Or, one could just turn off Aero when playing games (check Compatibility options for the game's EXE). Even better, exit Explorer and then start the game via Task Manager. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Nov 8 '11 at 20:02
@techie007 Game Booster does much more than that. – RobinJ Nov 8 '11 at 20:04

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