Directx 11 vs 12: What’s The Difference?

Directx 11 vs 12: What’s The Difference?

DirectX is a set of APIs created by Microsoft to provide hardware acceleration for multimedia and gaming applications on Windows-based computers. With over two decades under its belt, DirectX continues to innovate, with each new version offering various improvements and features.

Two popular versions in recent years are DirectX 11 and DirectX 12. While both offer significant advantages in gaming and multimedia production, it’s good to know their differences so you can choose the right one for your needs. Our DirectX 11 vs DirectX 12 guide below explains the differences and helps you decide the version.

Directx 11 vs 12: Side By Side Comparison

SpecificationDirectX 11DirectX 12
Hardware supportWindows 7 and laterWindows 10 and later
Graphics performanceGoodExcellent
Multithreading supportLimitedImproved
CPU overheadModerateReduced
Resource handlingCPU-intensiveGPU-efficient
Tessellation supportLimitedImproved
Memory usageHighReduced
Asynchronous computingNot supportedSupported
Virtual reality supportLimitedImproved

Directx 11 vs 12: What’s the Difference?

With each new version of DirectX, there have been significant advances in graphics and multimedia capabilities and performance and efficiency gains.

Whether a gamer or multimedia professional, understanding the distinctions between DirectX 11 and 12 can help you select the ideal API for your requirements.

Hardware Support

best optimized OS
DirectX 12 works best with the latest versions of Windows.


One major distinction between DirectX 11 and 12 is hardware support. DirectX 11 was first released alongside Windows 7 and is compatible with that OS and later versions. If you’re running an older version of Windows, you won’t be able to utilize DirectX 12.

On the contrary, DirectX 12 is designed for compatibility with Windows 10 or later, making it the only choice for gamers and multimedia professionals who have not upgraded to Windows 10.

This discrepancy in hardware support is due to DirectX 12, which heavily relies on Windows 10 features like its low-level hardware abstraction layer and support for new hardware architectures.

As a result, while DirectX 12 offers significant performance gains and new capabilities, it is only compatible with newer hardware and software platforms.

Graphics Performance

Graphic Cards and Gaming
Graphic cards are essential components in gaming rigs and PCs.

©Aleksandr Grechanyuk/Shutterstock.com

Another key distinction between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 is graphics performance. DirectX 12 offers substantial improvements over DirectX 11, particularly regarding draw calls and CPU overhead.

 Developers can optimize their applications to send more graphics work straight to the GPU, saving CPU overhead for each draw call. This results in more efficient system resource use, improving overall graphics quality.

DirectX 12 not only reduces CPU overhead, but it also supports asynchronous computing – the ability of the GPU to work on multiple tasks simultaneously. This feature can significantly boost graphics performance in applications utilizing complex shaders or other computationally intensive tasks.

Multithreading Support

Multithreading support is another notable distinction between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12. While DirectX 11 only partially supports multithreading, DirectX 12 fully leverages multicore processors and supports multithreaded programming.

This feature enables developers to optimize their applications using multiple cores for more efficient graphics processing and multimedia tasks.

DirectX 12 divides the graphics pipeline into multiple threads, each handling a distinct task. This approach facilitates better workload balancing and more efficient use of system resources, leading to improved performance and smoother frame rates.

Therefore, DirectX 12 boasts improved multithreading support, making it a more efficient and effective API for developers and users looking to take full advantage of today’s multicore processors and get the best performance out of their systems.

CPU Overhead

CPU overhead is an important factor when comparing DirectX 11 and DirectX 12. With DirectX 11, the graphics driver significantly affects how much CPU overhead is needed for each draw call. However, it must manage many of the tasks necessary for successful execution, leading to increased consumption of resources.

DirectX 12, on the other hand, is designed to minimize CPU overhead by giving developers more control over the graphics pipeline.

With DirectX 12, developers can directly send draw calls to the GPU, circumventing many tasks drivers typically manage. This approach reduces overall CPU consumption for each draw call and may lead to significant performance gains.

Resource Handling

DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 are two graphics APIs created by Microsoft for use in games and other visual-intensive applications. One key distinction between these DirectX versions is how they manage resources.

The API manages DirectX 11 resources such as textures, buffers, and shaders. While applications can create and manipulate these resources, it’s up to the API to manage their lifetime and usage. As a result, applications have limited control over resource usage, and optimizing performance for optimal efficiency may be difficult.

DirectX 12, on the other hand, gives applications much greater control over resources. It exposes a low-level interface that lets them directly manage resources giving them more versatility and potentially leading to significant performance gains.

Nonetheless, developers also require additional work to manage these resources efficiently and effectively.

Tessellation Support

DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 are two graphics APIs developed by Microsoft that offer tools for creating complex 3D visuals. One major distinction is their support for tessellation, an art style popular in gaming.

Tessellation is a 3D graphics technique used to increase the level of detail on curved surfaces by subdividing them into smaller, more manageable triangles. DirectX 11 introduced support for tessellation, but it was limited to an established pipeline with specific parameters.

DirectX 12, on the other hand, offers more comprehensive support for tessellation. With its API, developers can create custom pipelines with more flexible parameters to give them greater control over the process. This feature leads to efficient resource usage and improved performance.

Memory Usage

Computer memory


DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 are graphics APIs developed by Microsoft that enable developers to produce stunning 3D visuals in games and other applications. One notable distinction between the two DirectX versions is how they handle memory usage.

DirectX 11 manages memory allocation through a system of pools. When an application requests resources such as textures or buffers, DirectX 11 allocates memory from one of these pools. However, this could result in wasted space if more memory is required than allocated.

On the other hand, DirectX 12 provides more control over memory allocation, enabling applications to manage resources directly on an as-needed basis and reduce waste while improving performance.

This DirectX 12 approach also makes for efficient use of available memory in applications with high memory requirements, such as virtual reality or real-time rendering.

Asynchronous Computing

DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 are graphics APIs developed by Microsoft that offer tools for creating complex 3D visuals. A distinction between the two versions is their support for asynchronous computing, allowing you to work more quickly than usual.

Asynchronous computing is a technique that enables tasks to be executed concurrently rather than sequentially. This feature helps improve performance by enabling the CPU and GPU to work together simultaneously.

DirectX 11 introduced support for asynchronous compute shaders, allowing developers to execute certain tasks on the GPU while the CPU handled other tasks. Unfortunately, this support was limited, with not all hardware configurations able to take advantage of it fully.

DirectX 12, on the other hand, offers much broader support for asynchronous computing. The API enables multiple CPU threads to work on the GPU simultaneously. Furthermore, DirectX 12 offers improved support for multi-threaded rendering, boosting efficiency.

Directx 11 vs. 12: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • DirectX 11 and 12 are graphics APIs developed by Microsoft. DirectX 12 is the more recent version, released in 2015.
  • Although DirectX 11 remains widely used due to its compatibility with older hardware and software, DirectX 12 offers better performance on more modern systems.
  • DirectX 12 introduces multi-threading and asynchronous computing, offering greater control over memory allocation. Furthermore, DirectX 12 offers improved flexibility and control over resource handling – including tessellation.
  • DirectX 12 is designed to support low-level, high-performance graphics programming. Conversely, DirectX 11 is more suitable for simpler graphics and older hardware configurations.
  • Developers must choose which version of DirectX best meets their project requirements and hardware capabilities.

Directx 11 vs. 12: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

The choice between DirectX 11 and 12 depends on various factors, such as the project requirements and hardware capabilities. DirectX 11 remains a viable choice for simpler graphics and older hardware.

Of the two, DirectX 12 offers better performance on more modern hardware and greater flexibility. This performance also includes control over resource handling, multi-threading, asynchronous computing, and memory allocation.

Think about your project’s needs and target hardware’s capabilities when selecting between versions of DirectX. Ultimately, choose the version that best meets your requirements and offers the optimal balance of performance and compatibility.

Directx 11 vs 12: What’s The Difference? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How does DirectX 12 handle multi-threading compared to DirectX 11?

DirectX 12 gives developers more control over multi-threading than DirectX 11, which relies on the driver for thread management.

Does DirectX 12 offer better performance than DirectX 11?

DirectX 12 can perform better than DirectX 11 in certain scenarios, especially on systems with modern CPUs and GPUs. However, this depends on the game or application and how well-optimized this API it’s running.

How difficult is it to develop games using DirectX 12 compared to DirectX 11?

Development games with DirectX 12 can be more complex than with DirectX 11, requiring more low-level programming knowledge and hardware optimization to reach optimal performance.

Can DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 be used together in the same game?

DirectX 11 and 12 cannot be combined in the same game, as they are distinct APIs with distinct programming approaches.

What hardware is required to run DirectX 12?

To run DirectX 12, your system requires a graphics card supporting DirectX 12 and an updated version of Windows with this API (such as Windows 10 or later).

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