Should You Use Fullscreen or Borderless Windowed Mode?

Staff – January 28, 2020 at 10:21 AM

One of the benefits of gaming on a PC is the ability to customize your in-game settings to match the needs of your system or your personal preferences. Every person’s setup is unique, so being critical about the way you manage in-game settings is paramount for ensuring you have an optimal experience.

One setting that’s easy to overlook is the display mode settings. Typically, games provide “windowed,” “fullscreen,” and “bordered windowless” display modes. Though the latter two enable the game’s display to take up the entire screen, they possess a couple of key differences that could have a significant impact on your gaming experiences.  


When to choose fullscreen mode

When an application is open in fullscreen mode, Windows grants it full control of the screen’s output. Assuming a game is optimized for the system and display being used, fullscreen mode has the potential to boost performance when compared to borderless windowed mode.

The catch, however, is that running a game in fullscreen mode hinders the player’s ability to access additional monitors or applications. The mouse cursor remains locked to whichever screen is displaying the game. To navigate out of the game, the player would need to use the Alt+Tab shortcut. 

When to choose borderless windowed mode

The borderless windowed mode was devised as a compromise between a game’s fullscreen and windowed display options. In essence, games played in borderless windowed mode appear as though they’re being played in fullscreen, though in reality they’re really being displayed in borderless windows that have been stretched to cover the screen.

The primary benefit to playing a game in borderless windowed mode is its flexibility. Unlike fullscreen mode, borderless windowed mode allows users to mouse over additional monitors without undue interruption, making other applications much more accessible. 


Which is right for you?

So which mode is right for you? The answer depends on your setup and preferences. If your setup only uses a single monitor fullscreen mode might be the right option, especially if you play competitive games and want the absolute best performance. If you want other applications more easily within reach, borderless windowed mode is the way to go.

Keep in mind that performance differences between the modes will vary depending on your hardware. Try them both to determine which is better suited to you and your setup. 

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