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Windows 11 PCs are getting an upgrade to compete with MacBook Pros

Windows 11 wallpaper with blue Windows 11 logo superimposed
(Image credit: ADeltaX/Microsoft)

Windows 11 has been out for a few months now, and while it's a decent operating system it hasn't offered many of us a compelling reason to upgrade from Windows 10. In fact, if anything we've spent the last few months monitoring the list of Windows 11 problems and wondering when Microsoft will finish rolling out the Windows 11 features promised at launch — most notably, native Android app support.

However, this week Microsoft unveiled a new feature coming to Windows 11 that may please video professionals who use Windows machines for work. In a DirectX Developer Blog post (opens in new tab) Microsoft's Sil Vilerino announced the release of a new DirectX 12 Video Encode feature that helps apps tap the power of GPU-accelerated graphics engines to perform more efficient video encoding.

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 sitting on a patio table

Windows 11 PCs need all the help they can get to compete with the video rendering muscles of Apple's 2021 MacBook Pro  (Image credit: Future)

That's significant because Windows PCs have often been snubbed by video professionals in favor of Apple hardware. That's only become more common in the last few months now that Apple's 2021 MacBook Pros have arrived; they're some of the best laptops for video editing you can buy because they offer incredible performance and features aimed at video pros, including dedicated video encode/decode engines and ProRes (Apple's video codec) accelerators. 

The new DirectX 12 Video Encode feature in Windows 11, by comparison, supports the popular H264 and HEVC codecs, with open extensibility for new codecs. It should make Windows 11 a bit more useful as a platform for pro video work, though the feature is still in preview and currently only supported on select Nvidia and Intel graphics hardware — Microsoft is working on support for select AMD graphics cards, and expects to have it live midway through 2022. Here's the current list of supported chipsets:

Windows 11 Video Encode API supported platforms
VendorSupported platformsMinimum video driver version
AMDRadeon RX 5000 series or greater | Ryzen 2xxxx series or greaterIn development - ETA Q2 2022
IntelTiger Lake | Ice Lake | Alder Lake (from early 2022)v30.0.100.9955
NvidiaGeForce GTX 10-series and up | GeForce RTX 20-series and up | Quadro RTX | Nvidia RTXv471.41

In addition to its efficiency, Microsoft claims this new DirectX12 Video Encode API offers a lot of freedom in terms of exposing parameters of the encoding process that developers can configure as they wish. Curious devs can read more about how it works over on Microsoft's Github (opens in new tab), or check out a preview version by downloading the latest DirectX12 Agility SDK (opens in new tab).

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. He currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.