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Windows 11 is now widely available, but gaming performance regressions and File Explorer memory leaks remain unresolved

Microsoft still has quite a lot of bug fixing to do with Windows 11. (Image Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft still has quite a lot of bug fixing to do with Windows 11. (Image Source: Microsoft)
Insiders have noticed a few show-stopping bugs with Windows 11, which is now officially available for all eligible PCs. Users have noticed that virtualization-based security, which will be enabled by default in all OEM PCs, can have a drastic impact on frame rates in games. Also being observed is a File Explorer memory leak bug in which closing the Explorer windows does not release back the allocated memory.

Windows 11 is now official, but it seems that the OS is far from done yet. Users are finding issues in several crucial areas of the OS, which may negatively impact the overall experience. 

Reduced gaming performance with VBS

Windows 11 forces several security measures for the overall good, but they seem to negatively impact gaming performance, which was touted as one of the highlights of the OS at launch. Gaming performance deltas can vary as little as being within the margin of error to something as large as a generational gap between two GPUs. The culprit here seems to be Microsoft's implementation of Virtualization-based Security (VBS). This was also confirmed in a press release by UL Benchmarks, makers of the popular 3DMark and PCMark suite of benchmarking tools.

For those not in the know, VBS uses hardware virtualization capabilities to isolate certain security features in memory. This secure enclave prevents any vulnerabilities in the main OS from affecting these functions. For instance, kernel mode code integrity uses a VBS feature called Hypervisor-enforced Code Integrity (HVCI) to check if all kernel mode drivers are properly signed or not before loading into memory.

VBS will not be enabled by default if you are doing an in-place upgrade from Windows 10 or even for most clean installs, but OEM machines will have it turned on by default — and that can dent your fps numbers while gaming.

PC Gamer tested several titles to see how VBS impacts gaming. They found performance regressions of up to 5% in Far Cry New Dawn, 25% in Horizon Zero Dawn, 24% in Metro Exodus, 28% in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and 10% in 3DMark Time Spy.

File Explorer memory leak

The other major bug that was noticed by Insiders (via u/gyrohan269 on Reddit) is a File Explorer memory leak. Essentially, any well-written process should free up the allocated memory space once it has been terminated. Looks like that's not the case with File Explorer in the public release of Windows 11 (Build 22000.194).

The issue appears to affect all Windows 11 installs; we could replicate this issue ourselves as well. Just open multiple windows of File Explorer and notice the RAM usage in Task Manager. Now, close each window to see if the RAM usage declines accordingly. In all likelihood, it doesn't.

If you work with File Explorer a lot with too many Explorer windows open, you may eventually end up with a sluggish PC. This problem may not necessarily impede those with fast RAM kits and the likes, but it does pose an issue for systems with lesser (and slower) memory.

Nevertheless, this is a problem that should not exist in the first place. Third-party apps such as Files v2 and Shrestha Files Pro do not suffer from this bug, so it's high time Microsoft fixes this on a priority. If you notice this issue as well, be sure to log it in the Feedback Hub for an increased probability of redressal.

Have you upgraded to the official release of Windows 11 and noticed any show-stopping bugs? Let us know in the comments below.


PC Gamer (1) and (2)

u/gyrohan269 on Reddit

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Vaidyanathan Subramaniam
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam - Managing Editor - 1586 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2012
Though a cell and molecular biologist by training, I have been drawn towards computers from a very young age ever since I got my first PC in 1998. My passion for technology grew quite exponentially with the times, and it has been an incredible experience from being a much solicited source for tech advice and troubleshooting among family and friends to joining Notebookcheck in 2017 as a professional tech journalist. Now, I am a Lead Editor at Notebookcheck covering news and reviews encompassing a wide gamut of the technology landscape for Indian and global audiences. When I am not hunting for the next big story or taking complex measurements for reviews, you can find me unwinding to a nice read, listening to some soulful music, or trying out a new game.
contact me via: @Geeky_Vaidy
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 10 > Windows 11 is now widely available, but gaming performance regressions and File Explorer memory leaks remain unresolved
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2021-10- 5 (Update: 2021-10- 5)