Now that Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system has hit the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) stage, it's time to see how it stacks up against the incumbent Windows 7.
Can the upcoming operating system keep up with -- or even beat -- Windows 7, or does Microsoft still have work to do to optimize performance?
Note that the RTM version of Windows 8 is the version that is sent to OEMs to load onto new systems.
The following hardware platform was used for benchmarking the two operating systems. The system was purpose-built for the job of benchmarking:
- Intel Core i7-2600K processor
- Crucial 4GB DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) RAM
- EVGA 01G-P3-1460-KR GeForce GTX 560
- GIGABYTE GA-Z77MX-D3H motherboard
- Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB hard drive
- CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 650W power supply unit
Everything on the system was set to stock speeds, with no component overclocked.
For the tests I used a Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB hard drive with the Windows 8 RTM 64-bit installed on it. All drivers and updates were installed, along with all the software that would be needed for the tests. The drive was then defragmented using the Windows tool before the benchmarking was carried out.
The benchmark tests
Here's a rundown of the tests that were run on the three operating systems. I've chosen a mixture of real world and synthetic benchmark tests.
Each test was run three times and the results averaged.
- Boot time
Measured using a handy tool called BootRacer. This measures both the time it takes to get to the logon screen and the time to boot to the desktop.
- Audio transcode time
Transcoding an audio test file from WAV to MP3 format using iTunes. A measure of the operating system's ability to handle multimedia.
- Video transcode time
Transcoding video test file from DVD to MP4 format using Handbrake. A measure of the operating system's ability to handle multimedia.
- PCMark 7
A benchmark run with PCMark 7. The industry standard PC test for CPU, HDD, SSD, memory, and graphics performance.
- 3DMark 11
A benchmark run with 3DMark 11. This is a set of six demanding benchmark test measuring the graphics performance of gaming PCs.
A benchmark run with FurMark. This is a VGA stress test, GPU burn-in test and an excellent OpenGL benchmark. This is a very stressful benchmark and can damage -- or even destroy -- hardware if used incorrectly, and as such I do not recommend running this tool on a system unless you know exactly what you are doing and fully understand the risks associated with it.
- Cinebench 11.5
A benchmark run with Cinebench 11.5. This is a real world cross, platform test suite that evaluates a computer's CPU and GPU performance capabilities.
- Heaven 3.0
A benchmark run with Heaven 3.0. This is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the advanced UNIGINE engine. Not only does this tool give the maximum frames per second (FPS), it also records minimum frames per second, which is handy observing dips in performance during heavy load.
- Alien vs. Predator
A benchmark run using the in-built benchmark tool available in Alien vs. Predator. The benchmark is run at 1920x1080 screen resolution with DirectX 11 enabled. This is a real world gaming test.