Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


DWM causing a significant performance drop in games.

  1. #1


    Posts : 4
    Windows 8.1/7

    DWM causing a significant performance drop in games.


    Hi, after moving to Windows 8 I noticed a performance loss in many video games. After doing some testing I came to the conclusion that it is caused by the DWM(Desktop Window Manager) stealing CPU cycles from the games.

    In order to make completely sure DWM was the culprit I tested the same games in Windows 7 with DWM on and off and the results with Windows 7 DWM on were impacted very much the say way as they were in Windows 8. While running games in Fullscreen rather than windowed mode relieved some of the loss in Windows 8, Windows 7 with DWM off still performed better regardless of how the screen mode was set.

    In Windows 7 it was very simple to temporarily disable DWM by editing the shortcut of a game however from what I understand it is not possible to disable DWM at all in Windows 8. I can't understand why Microsoft didn't bother implementing a way around this issue fully knowing it had caused the same problem in their previous operating system.

    Has anyone come up with a way to eliminate the issues caused by the DWM in video games? I'm afraid if there really is no way to get around this issue I will be forced to go back to Windows 7.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 92
    Windows 10 Pro (x64)


    I don't know much about this issue but I can share my experience.
    I used Windows 7 DVM 1.1 and notice no impact of performance to my games and Windows 8 DWM has slight update 1.2 which still no impact to games.

    What I want to know if your trying to get the every single drop of performance or really DWM is drastically impacting your games?
    Looking at your system specs I can't tell if its the hardware not up to par or some software problem like a patch. Could you give like an example game that has a performance impact?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Orbiting the Moon
    Posts : 2,975
    Windows 10 x64


    Quote Originally Posted by adept View Post
    Hi, after moving to Windows 8 I noticed a performance loss in many video games. After doing some testing I came to the conclusion that it is caused by the DWM(Desktop Window Manager) stealing CPU cycles from the games.

    In order to make completely sure DWM was the culprit I tested the same games in Windows 7 with DWM on and off and the results with Windows 7 DWM on were impacted very much the say way as they were in Windows 8. While running games in Fullscreen rather than windowed mode relieved some of the loss in Windows 8, Windows 7 with DWM off still performed better regardless of how the screen mode was set.
    But how do you know DWM steals CPU cycles?
    Task Manager?

    There is no way to turn DWM off but you should try running a game on a hi-contrast theme or this one:
    AeroLite Sample Theme
    This means you switch from Aero to AeroLite to see if any difference but DWM should know what to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by adept View Post
    Has anyone come up with a way to eliminate the issues caused by the DWM in video games?
    There is no issue from what I've seen so far on most pc's. Install all "huge" windows updates that include stability and performance fixes.
    I also recommend you update graphics drivers to latest version and the latest Intel chipset drivers (if applicable) before playing.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 4
    Windows 8.1/7


    Hi, thanks for the replies so far. The way I found that it was DWM causing the issue was by running the Resource Monitor and checking the average CPU usage which showed DWM utilizing and average of ~5% of the CPU. Which also showed very similar usage and impact on my games in Windows 7 while it was on.

    As for my computer specs to be honest its a rather old system and I'm trying to squeeze it for everything its got.
    Core 2 Duo E7200 2.53 GHz
    2 Gigs RAM
    GTX 460(I know it's getting bottled necked by the other specs but it was a cheap purchase after my 9800 died so I'm not really worried about it)

    That being said its not really archaic and it manages to run games smoothly for the most part. But it seems since it is outdated the DWM does impact gaming performance.

    I do have all the latest Windows updates and I was using the 310.70 graphic drivers for the video card. As for the actual impact on games its an average loss of 10-15 fps which on this system can be devastating. It makes Team Fortress 2 very choppy and Blacklight: Retribution unplayable.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Orbiting the Moon
    Posts : 2,975
    Windows 10 x64


    That's normal for the newer game releases to have less fps on an older machine like that.
    DWM is using resources as it should.

    Try the AeroLite theme and see the difference otherwise you do what you think is best.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 4
    Windows 8.1/7


    Hopachi I think you're missing the point. The games run fine with DWM off. The choice to force it on in Windows 8 is a clear step backwards for gamers. There is really no need for any eye candy nor the start screen while you are playing a video game. Clearly Windows 8 was simply aimed at the tablet market and even there it failed horribly. I tried to ignore those issues because frankly I like the start screen and the overall cosmetic changes, however it seems that I was wrong in thinking Microsoft's agenda to place themselves in the tablet market wouldn't affect the usefulness of the OS for desktop users.

    TL; DR, moving back to Windows 7, Windows 8 is indeed a failure for video games and desktop use.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Orbiting the Moon
    Posts : 2,975
    Windows 10 x64


    The point I'm missing: DWM uses more cpu, cannot be disabled.
    You can be right though, I just didn't felt this lag on my newer pc's (dual cores and up). I also don't game too much.

    For older pc's I agree with you. I tested WIn8 on pentium 3 here (good old 32bit) and saw what DWM uses there.

    Still I was't expecting this on NVIDIA GTX 400 or dual cores yet.
    You are free to go back to Win7 in my opinion.

    Are you on 32bit? Because I'm on 64bit here on recent computers and didn't noticed any DWM lags so far.

    With 2GB ram you can still give 64bit a try (even Win7) since your cpu is fully capable.

    The decision is yours of course.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Posts : 26
    Windows 8


    There seems to be a way to disable DWM:

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Orbiting the Moon
    Posts : 2,975
    Windows 10 x64


    Oh good!

    For older Flash MX just go and setup a VM it will be a lot easier.

    To the OP:
    Go disable dwm: but I don't believe that you'll gain fps. I believe your problem are the drivers or hardware itself since Windows 8 is different from Windows 7.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Orbiting the Moon
    Posts : 2,975
    Windows 10 x64


    I did the test:

    Win8 x64... see specs.
    I'm doing a test that worked on Win7 to see the impact on Win8 as well.

    Running SpaceEngine (openGL 3.0) looking somewhere in space @45 fps.

    I stopped SpaceEngine.
    Stopped dwm sucessfully as the video in Tourniquet's post describes.

    Running SpaceEngine without dwm and looking at the same space @45 fps.

    Just as suspected: DISABLING DWM WON'T GIVE YOU EXTRA FRAMERATE!

    Thanks to tests like these, you see for yourself, on your own machine, and don't believe in some of those gfx myths anymore.


    I do have confirmed a few (5 - 10) frames increase when I was running this on Win7 Basic Theme compared to Aero but doesn't apply on Win8 anymore. The dwm in Win7 is different from the one in 8 and disable-tests will not give the same results.

    As a reminder: don't stop dwm in Win8 because you don't gain anything.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

DWM causing a significant performance drop in games.
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