If you had been or are still a gamer on PC, chance is good that you had faced Windows’ multiple options of displaying a running game.
In the earlier iterations of the Windows operating system, there were only two options: namely, the fullscreen and windowed mode. But now, there is also the third option, that is, the borderless windowed mode.
While it is easy to differentiate the first two from the outset, the third entry in the options list makes for a confusing or, rather, obscure addition for PC users. But more importantly, perhaps, is knowing which among these choices is best. So, which is it, really?
The fullscreen mode is very much self-explanatory based on name alone: it lets users experience gaming on the full spectrum of the display’s 2D plane. Basically, fullscreen mode lets you run the game at exactly the same resolution the desktop is running with e.g. 1920×1080 (1080p).
Although essential programs might still be running from the background in order to support the system, the real high priority lies towards the game itself thus providing optimum performance in rendering the game.
Pros: Great allocation of computer resources to sustain high-framerate when playing games; prevents accidental switch between displays when using more than a single monitor.
Cons: Mouse control is locked on one monitor at a time; switching monitor display requires alt-tabbing out of the game.
Comparing the difference between a fullscreen mode from a windowed mode is obvious from the outset. Unlike fullscreen mode, windowed mode uses less display space, essentially making a smaller box on a screen whose dimensions you can manipulate at the whim.
For a kind of display mode which do not take full advantage of the screen’s total display area, the windowed mode does not take the same level of priority as a game running on fullscreen mode during processing. Meaning, if there are other running apps in the background that are not necessarily core to the operating system, such processes will run side-by-side while you are running a game.
Although the idea of running multiple programs simultaneously is no longer a big deal in today’s fast computers, the issue involving slowed performance during gaming while in windowed mode is still apparent in other cases involving slow computers.
Pros: Offers seamless switching between running apps when doing multitasking; lets you adjust the dimension of the windowed screen.
Cons: Ostensive input lags when gaming; potential framerate drops; some games look worse in smaller frames.
Borderless Windowed Mode
Combining the best of both worlds, borderless windowed mode inhabits both the span of a fullscreen mode while at the same time in windowed mode, only without borders. Unlike fullscreen mode which locks you into a single screen, borderless windowed mode allows you to make a smooth transition between displays when using multiple monitors. However, essentially inhabiting a windowed mode element still, any other apps running in the background are also prioritized in line with the running game.
Pros: Lets you switch between displays smoothly even in full-screen.
Cons: Might take some of the computer’s needed resources that would have ensured better performance to the running game.
There is not necessarily a better mode from any of the choices as the need for each display mode varies according to certain conditions.
Fullscreen mode is best when the user would like to dedicate most of his computer’s resources to sustain optimum gaming performance. Windowed mode, on the other hand, is ideal for multi-taskers who prefer multiple boxed screens on the monitor, provided that the system’s resources are able to manage the task. Lastly, windowed borderless mode is the display mode of choice for users who prefer the benefits of both fullscreen and windowed mode in one go.