Windows Experience Index in Windows 7

Microsoft has lifted the veil on some of the changes made to the Windows Experience Index system in Windows 7.

Microsoft has lifted the veil on some of the changes made to the Windows Experience Index system in Windows 7.

The Windows Experience Index (also known as WEI) is a suite of system tests that give the end user an idea of the performance capabilities of their PC. I've talked before about WEI in Vista so I won't cover that ground again (refer to this post for background information), but I will take a look at some of the most significant changes to WEI in Windows 7.

  • Windows 7 raises the top WEI score from 5.9 to 7.9. This takes into account faster hardware that's been released since Vista went RTM.
  • Five areas tested stays the same: - Processor - Memory (RAM) - Graphics (general desktop work) - Gaming Graphics (typically 3D) - Primary Hard Disk
  • The scoring rules have been changed, which means that scores on identical hardware relative to Vista might not be the same.
  • WEI scores of 6 and 7 represent high end systems.
  • to score a 6 or 7 in terms of gaming graphics, a system will have to support DirectX 10 and WDDM 1.1 driver. DirectX 9 support only, along with WDDM 1.0 drivers, will cap score at 5.9.
  • Hard drive scores for drives exhibiting what Microsoft calls "problematic" have been capped under Beta 1 of Windows 7.
  • As guidance, Microsoft claim that most quad-core CPUs will be able to hit high 6 to low 7 range, with 8-core rigs able to approach 7.9.

I've yet to see a system that scores a full 7.9 under Windows 7. To be honest, it might not be possible right now. As far as I can tell the Core i7 Extreme 965 doesn't score a 7.9, in which case to get a high score for the CPU you'd need an 8-core dual-CPU rig like a Skulltrail, but that platform doesn't support SLI or Crossfire, so you'd be hit on the graphics side. Maybe an insane overclock on the 965 would work, but that only goes so far. I'm sure you'd also need a quad-GPU graphics card too. Oh, and a RAID 0 array of really fast drives, maybe SSDs. And add to that fast DDR3. 

Given this it may not be possible to hit the magical 7.9 score just yet.

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