What is DirectX and how to install it on your PC

If you’re a gamer who has been playing for a while, then it’s highly likely that you’ve encountered DirectX at some point in the installation process of one of your games. It’s also highly probable that you have faced issues getting certain games to run due to compatibility issues arising from having the wrong version of DirectX installed on your system. 

DirectX is an entity that many of us are aware of but never really took the time to understand. In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about DirectX without getting too technical.

We will also show you how simple it is to get the latest version of DirectX on your PC.


Image source: Microsoft

What is DirectX?

In the simplest terms, Microsoft DirectX is a group of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) designed to handle multimedia tasks, especially game programming, and video. Fun fact: the ‘X’ in XBOX refers to DirectX technology since the platform was developed using this collection of APIs. 

DirectX features a collection of APIs under its umbrella. Here’s a list of some of the APIs in the collection: 

  • Direct3D
  • DirectDraw
  • DirectMusic
  • DirectPlay
  • DirectSound
  • Direct2D
  • DirectCompute 

Versions of DirectX

While the first version of DirectX came out in 1995 as the Windows Games SDK, DirectX 2.0 was released natively with operating systems, starting from Windows 95.

DirectX 9

DirectX 9 was released in 2002 and was supported by Windows 98, Me, and XP. It is still supported by Windows today, although it might be outdated for gaming in 2023. Microsoft has since discontinued support for earlier operating systems, and the API collective is only supported on Windows 2000, XP, or upwards. 

DirectX 10

DirectX is only available with Windows Vista, but it introduced a set of extensive improvements. Without getting into the technical details, it laid the foundation for the versions of DirectX that we so heavily rely on today.

DirectX 11 and 12

DX 11 was launched on October 27, 2009, while DirectX 12 was launched with Windows 10 on July 29, 2015. DirectX 12 features low-level programming APIs for Direct3D to drive overhead.

DirectX 12 is supported on all Nvidia GPUs and on Intel’s as well as Nvidia’s GPUs. However, the improvements of DirectX 12 for XBox are not as significant on its PC counterpart. In 2018, the all-important DirectX Raytracing update was announced, allowing for real-time ray tracing on supported hardware.

How to Install and Update DirectX

Now that you know all about DirectX’s long and complicated history, let’s get to how you can install it on your PC:

  1. Visit the DirectX download page.
  2. Download the setup file onto your computer.
  3. Follow the wizard’s instructions after clicking on the dxwebsetup.exe file. Remember to uncheck the add-ons that you don’t want. 
  4. Reboot your computer. 

By installing DirectX from Microsoft, you’ll be sure to get the latest version available. We hope that you never face compatibility issues while installing a game ever again.

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