Effects of XP SP3 update on gaming

Effects of XP SP3 update on gaming

Summary: Does XP SP3 boost gaming performance? Let's find out!


Does XP SP3 boost gaming performance? Let's find out!

The tests

The tests will be carried out on the AMD Spider platform that I have set up in the lab (Phenom 9700, Radeon 3850 graphics card, 2GB of RAM …). I’ve used this system as the platform for a number of benchmarks over the past few months (for a full spec, see this post).

Here’s the deal. I took an XP SP2 image used for a previous benchmark and applied the XP SP3 update. The graphics card driver used was ATi Catalyst version 8.2. The FRAPS utility was used to measure frame rates.

Here’s a list of the games used:

  • BioShock
  • Call of Duty 4
  • Company of Heroes
  • Crysis
  • Doom 3
  • F.E.A.R.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Supreme Commander
  • Unreal Tournament 3
  • World in Conflict

For these tests we chose not to rely on any of the canned benchmark tools supplied with some of these games. Instead we relied on real-world play - that is, playing the same bit of the game on each of the platforms (a technique that HardOCP use when benchmarking). While this method is subject to variations, if you’ve played games for long enough and are familiar with the map, you can pull this off quite well.

Note: Why not used canned benchmarks? Well, by not doing so we are ruling out the possibility that the graphics card drivers that we use (or even the OS) has in any way been optimized to produce better results for the canned benchmarks that you might see in the game.

All the tests were run at 1280 x 1024 resolution in full-screen mode with the games set to either medium or high quality graphics.

So to come up with the average frame rate (measured in frames per second) we play the same bit in each game with FRAPS recording, repeat this four times. Once we were happy with the data we averaged it out to get a final frame rate score.

The results -->

The results

I took the results for XP SP3 and combined these with data that I collected in February when I benchmarked XP SP2, Vista RTM and Vista SP1.

Here are the results:

Effects of XP SP3 on gaming

Effects of XP SP3 on gaming


XP SP3 offers no meaningful gains or losses compared to XP SP2 when it comes to gaming. However, on the upside gamers can feel confident applying the update without fearing a drop on frame rates.

As always, your mileage WILL vary!


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Topics: Windows, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software

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  • SSE Optimizations?

    From my various benchmarking efforts, the only real lead Vista seems to have is in handling SSE optimizations. Is that what these games are leveraging that see a significant boost on Vista?
    Uber Dweeb
    • threads handling are better in Vista

      threads handling are better in Vista
    • threads handling is better in Vista

      threads handling is better in Vista
      • And that helps us how...

        The charts don't really show it being a benefit.
        • Games are single trhreaded

          So if the premise that Vista handles threads better than XP then the relative performance of Vista will be better as game engines are optimised for multi-core i.e. they will have to become multi-threaded to take advantage of multiple cores.

          Threading is more important for things like file serving, web serving, databases. Basically business type applications since Vista and Windows Server 2008 share the same kernel its not surprising the Vista puts an emphasis on threading.
          • Games are multi threaded

            Right now the games are multithreaded
  • thought it was just a rollup

    of patches.
    • Rollup plus adds some backported vista features

      • Just a rollup, no back ported features.

        Patches fix more then just security issues.
        • at least two bakc ported features that come to mind.

          NAP and keyless install have been taken from Vista and back ported to XP via SP3.
  • no winner

    supreme commander is multitheading and will utilize dual cores but they must be in sync or performance will suffer
    the way i read it its a draw but to really test a gaming machine you must disable numerous services and i dont see where xp is 32bit or 64bit
  • RE: Effects of XP SP3 update on gaming

    Games are starting to take advantage of multi-threading. As mention Supreme Commander has it, UT3 has it, and World of Warcraft has it. To name a few. Expect to keep seeing more in the future.
    A. Noid
  • RE: Effects of XP SP3 update on gaming

    A ridiculous analysis of the numbers, that its good and safe to update to XP sp3.

    Most numbers are down by way more than the up numbers are up. Any fool can see if you play games not on that list, you are probably playing with fire updating.

    Good news is the writers of F.E.A.R. and Oblivion write good windows software, if you buy games written by them you are looking at good results for this and future upgrades.

    But how dare you look at those numbers and tell us update, you are a fool or a microsoft stooge.
    Fred Nurks