New Windows 10 features for retro gamers

A look at some new features from the April 30th Update

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New Windows 10 features for retro gamers

Postby KingAndy » Tue May 01, 2018 2:57 pm

Yesterday the first major update for Windows 10, the Redstone 4 or commonly called April Update, was finally released after two delays over the course of this month.

We very well know many retro gaming enthusiasts still prefer to run older versions of Windows in order to avoid compatibility issues, but Microsoft proved to be a lot more PC gaming-friendly over the course of the last Windows updates, namely the Game Mode, the release of many Xbox exclusive titles for the PC and the usage of the Microsoft Store also as a gaming digital distribution platform.

However, any of the aforementioned features still quite appeal to retro gamers, but Windows 10 includes many very useful ones that the latest update either brought in, optimized or made a lot simpler to use.

Software scaling

Many older programs were simply not designed to be used at the higher resolutions modern computers do, and so Windows either displays them centered in the original maximum size, or scales them, often resulting in a blurry image. One notorious example of programs often used that suffers from such issue are old games, to which players using modern machines were dependent of custom mods and patches to fix the problem.

Since last year's update, you can finally set a specific program for Windows to fix how it handles the scaling of a specific program in its compatibility settings. However, this was not completely user-friendly and had to be assigned for each specific program. With the latest update, Windows allows to turn on an option so that it'll try to fix whatever program that has this issue.

The option is under Settings > System > Display > Advanced scaling settings


Assign programs to use a specific GPU on dual GPU systems

Newer computers, mainly laptops, usually include two different GPUs - an integrated graphics chip (such as Intel Graphics) and an higher performance Nvidia or AMD chip. The concept is that, in order to improve the power consumption of the machine, the computer with prefer the integrated, lower power chip and keep the higher powered one in standby, and automatically switch to the latter when the user runs a graphics-intensive program.

Both Nvidia and AMD also have specific option menus that allows the user to manually assign which GPU to use with certain programs. However, on older programs (and mainly older games), this doesn't work. For instance, in MM2 I was never able to use the Nvidia GPU because the computer would prefer the integrated graphics chip, yet manually assigning the Nvidia chip in its options would take no effect - this was a common problem in all older games, simply because that did not exist at the time they were developed and so the program "doesn't know" how to handle them.

Windows 10 now has a settings screen exactly for this, which will override whatever settings in the Nvidia/AMD preferences or in the program settings. You simply have to search for the program's executable file and assign to it either "Power Saving" mode (the integrated graphics chip) or "High Performance" (self explanatory, the alternate higher performing GPU).

Such option is under Settings > System > Display > Advanced Display Settings.


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