Up For Debate - Full Screen Vs Borderless Full Screen Vs Windowed PC Gaming

Written by Neil Soutter on Sun, Jun 26, 2016 11:30 AM

First up, whats the difference when running a game in full screen or borderless full screen or windowed? Some people I have talked to swear that running a game in a windowed version can deliver the best performance with their hardware.

Other people say that the pixel resolution of their game, when run in anything other than full screen, is slightly lower and therefore leaves your game looking a tiny bit blurry. So I decided to take a little look into this and give us all the chance to tell our side of this game screen debate.

We covered this windowed gaming topic a while ago and figured it was time to refresh our opinion poll and also revisit to see if the same is still true.

In fact it would seem that the Windows environment gives more hardware resources natively to anything running in full-screen, as it is deemed to be the primary operation. As such you should get more frames per second usually from a game running in full screen compared to a game running as a borderless full screen.

To help understand this a bit better. Borderless full screen is the same as running the game in a window. This is like the browser you are using right now to run this website, but the borders of the browser window are removed so your games viewing area expands to the very edges of your screen. Basically that means windowed and full screen borderless are practically the same.

This may seem obvious but it seems that if you want to run a game at your native screen resolution, lets say it is 1080p, then you would get a better FPS by selecting to run it Full Screen instead of borderless full screen.

However, if you havent got the hardware to run your game at your native screen resolution then you might choose to run it in windowed mode. This will run the game in a smaller window on your desktop. It means you keep the visual quality but can select a smaller resolution. However, you are running the game in a smaller window than your monitor screen, and that can annoy people sometimes.

Another use of borderless full screen would be if you have 2 monitors or more. You can set the game to run on one screen but your mouse would be able to move across to the other screen if you wanted to. This isnt a very pleasant experience in most games as it can be jarring if you are dropped out of your game mid play and find your mouse on another screen. But it really depends and this can suit other people who want that functionality and “freedom” as you can switch between your other windowed apps very swiftly and with nearly no delay. But your game will suffer a slight frame rate drop for this privilege.

Finally, something to consider is that those people using G-Synch or similar technology may find a different experience again as sometimes certain full screen borderless options have been disabled.

So where do you sit amongst the viewing preference when it comes to your game play habits? Are you all about full screen gaming or borderless full screen multi monitor or perhaps you like to have a handful of smaller windows always running a particular bunch of turn based strategy games, swapping from one to the other as your whim takes you? And what sort of FPS hits and boosts do you notice when you move from one game view method to the other? And what about laptop gamers out there, where do you sit with all this? Let the debate begin

Which game view do you prefer?

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19:00 Jun-28-2016

Have to play borderless windowed.. I have three monitors and am always doing things on them while gaming, so it's a must.

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21:37 Jun-28-2016

How do you call it "gaming" then? :D

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21:51 Jun-28-2016

Some games I play, such as overwatch, old school runescape, and FF14 has some downtime where I can multitask while playing those games, where I take some time to do whatever :)

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11:14 Jul-03-2016

true... like when i play dota 2. usually when you die.. your useless AF. haha

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08:12 Jun-28-2016

depends on what works best, sometimes it's borderless windowed, sometimes it's fullscreen :)

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01:32 Jun-28-2016

Full screen all the time.

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00:12 Jun-28-2016

I play all my games minimized

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07:51 Jun-28-2016

^ PRO

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09:33 Jun-28-2016

I gotta wonder, what do you do while you play games minimized, besides that.

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18:10 Jun-27-2016

i use multi monitors. one for gaming and one for media.. borderless windowed is a must for me, hate having to alt-tab all the time to change video.. so just dragging my mouse over to the other screen while in the pause menu is so damn handy

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11:28 Jun-28-2016

I second this

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14:28 Jun-27-2016

Like Maramps said. It depends on the game. For me i love playing dota 2 on borderless windows and i hate on full screen. I need to non stop see my screen there. But any other game i play it on Full Screen.

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11:15 Jul-03-2016

dota 2 ftw... add me in steam m8!

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09:07 Jun-27-2016

I voted full screen but..
It depends on the game.
I want the possibility to alt tab out of the game, and some games dont like that.
For these kind of games, i switch to borderless window with an external program.
If the game can handle it, then i stick to normal full screen :)

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04:40 Jun-27-2016

I play most game in Borderless Fullscreen Windowed. I have a keyboard with volume button, if I press it. I can see the slider on the screen. That slider not appear in Fullscreen Mode. The alt+tab thingy too also good, quick swap to Firefox. (P/S: Read game Wikia/Walkthrough)

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07:17 Jun-27-2016

Why don't you just use the Steam in-game browser? And alt-tab also works in fullscreen mode.

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08:24 Jun-27-2016

Not all game need Steam. Plus, no adblock for Steam browser. Too many fake ads like "Horny teens near your location"

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11:31 Jun-28-2016

Steam browser is the only one worse than i.e.

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04:31 Jun-27-2016

I prefer fullscreen -when it works properly- but Windows 10 has some neat features for windowed borderless that fixed issues I had with Fallout 4. The guy who made the dxgi.dll I use also made the fix for Batman: Arkham Knight.


https://github.com/Kaldaien?tab=repositories

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01:55 Jun-27-2016

I only use B.W when I want to see the two screens I have on each side of my triple screen setup to analyze GPU & CPU utilization speed and temps, or if I want to leave Facebook, or something like that open. Other than that I'm Full Screen gaming.

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19:38 Jun-26-2016

I use borderless fullscreen when the game natively supports it.(Call of Duty MW3 for example) But I don't use external software to make my games bordless fulsc

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18:48 Jun-26-2016

i use mostly fullscreen when gaming. but uses borderless when recording, so i can keep an eye on the recorder as well.

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18:43 Jun-26-2016

Depending on the situation....either B.Window or Fullscreen are best. I use a combination depending on the game, v-sync issues, and performance. As a tweaker I just try to find a sweet spot for best gaming experience.

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18:35 Jun-26-2016

Lol,not a single ''Windowed'' vote.

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17:32 Jun-26-2016

Became a fan of Borderless Window recently, the ability to alt-tab on a snap is nice, especially since i manage Teamspeak or some other programs frequently on my single monitor between game matches etc.


If i am not doing any of that, i might use proper FullScreen, but only if FPS loss asks me to.

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18:26 Jun-26-2016

to manage teamspeak better, make yourself some useful hotkeys.

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14:06 Jun-26-2016

only reason i play on windows borderless is becaurse it let me still swap easy to my other screen

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15:20 Jun-26-2016

This.

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13:57 Jun-26-2016

I played Far Cry 4 in borderless window mode and the game dropped from 45-50 fps to 33-35 fps on Very High settings at 1080p. The drop in fps was huge !!!

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13:46 Jun-26-2016

When you go borderless window, you never go back. But seriously, as long as the game works ok with borderless window it's awesome. Especially for multimonitor setups.

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14:30 Jun-26-2016

Too many performance issues with borderless. Exclusive is where SLI works and where you get the most frames out. Also depends on what you do with the multi-monitor when you're playing a game (I personally get annoyed if I'm disturbed when gaming xD). :)

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13:36 Jun-26-2016

I'm going with fullscreen, because borderless can casue problems in some games and it makes the game out of focus too easily.

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13:11 Jun-26-2016

Exclusive fullscreen all the way! Best performance, no SLI drop-outs (SLI only works in exclusive full-screen, in my experience, otherwise the first car jumps to 100% and the other becomes unused), you won't accidentally drop out of the game - it's just better. The ONLY reason I'd EVER use borderless is if I had multiple monitors and I absolutely HAD to use something on my other screen(s) at the same time and often. Usually I just leave the second screen full of monitoring software anyway and for things like chats and twitch - there's my Surface Pro 3 tablet by my side.
Just my opinion, ofc.

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Can They Run... |

Core i7-11800H 8-Core 1.90GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Mobile 8GB
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Core i5-6260U 1.8GHz UHD Graphics 620 12GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i3-9100F 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1070 Gigabyte Windforce OC 16GB
| 30FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i5-2500 3.3GHz GeForce GTX 750 8GB
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-3470 3.2GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Inno3D Compact 3GB 12GB
| 30FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-10750H 6-Core 2.60GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Mobile 16GB
Core i7-10750H 6-Core 2.60GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Mobile 16GB
| 30FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i7-3770 4-Core 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1650 MSI Ventus XS OC 4GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i3-9100 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB 8GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-3470 3.2GHz Radeon RX 470 Sapphire Nitro+ 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-10300H 4-Core 2.50GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i3-1005G1 2-Core 1.20GHz UHD Graphics 630 4GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 720p
Core i3-1005G1 2-Core 1.20GHz UHD Graphics 630 4GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3500 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Super Zotac Gaming AMP 6GB 16GB
50% Yes [6 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i5-7300HQ 4-Core 2.5GHz GeForce GTX 1050M Ti 4GB 12GB
Core i7-10750H 6-Core 2.60GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Mobile 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 720p
Core i5-4440 3.1GHz Radeon HD 6670 v2 Gigabyte OC 1GB Edition 16GB
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Core i5-10400F 6-Core 2.90GHz Radeon RX 560 4GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
Ryzen 5 2600X 6-Core 3.6GHz Radeon RX 5600 XT Gigabyte Gaming OC 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10700 8-Core 2.90GHz GeForce RTX 2060 6GB 16GB