Performance profiles for Vista

Performance profiles for Vista

Summary: Should Microsoft make it easier for users to tweak Vista for better performance?

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Should Microsoft make it easier for users to tweak Vista for better performance?

As a rule I'm more than happy with the performance of my systems, but there are times (.... gaming .... gaming ...) when there's no such thing as having too much power.  Once you start messing about with apps like Fraps which show you clearly just how much performance you're getting out of a game, the desire to get better and higher frame rates starts to take over.

The problem with having the desire to achieve higher and more consistent frame rates is that this can adversely affect the common sense region of the brain and you start taking risk, both with hardware and software.  You embark on an overclocking frenzy of components such as the CPU, GPU and RAM, cautiously at first but after a while you're chucking extra voltage into delicate silicon with utter abandon.  Same goes for software.  Services running in Windows are looked upon as performance roadblock no matter what their purpose is and you spend hours enthusiastically disabling services.  Unless the that tiny common sense node of the brain kicks in at some point and urges you to be restrained, this all ends with some vital component releasing the magic blue smoke and having to reinstall Windows.

Over on InformationWeek, Alexander Wolfe posts a request for a new feature in Windows:

This one's actually an interesting proposal, which I haven't seen elsewhere. It keys off a great site called BlackViper.com, run by a guy who describes himself as an unemployed 35-year-old who "enjoys computers." (Hey, somebody give this guy a job.)

He apparently enjoys Vista enough to have posted a really interesting, detailed discussion of Vista configuration settings. The idea is to turn off unnecessary services with an eye toward boosting system performance.

Anyway, my take-away is that Microsoft should have built-in performance settings, which you can select by clicking on them in, say, the sidebar. So there could be "full Vista (aka a complete but slow configuration), "reduced" (say, diagnostics turned off), and "screaming" (just the basics).

I'm not a big fan of BlackViper.  It's nothing personal, it's just that I've got a large collections of emails from people which go something like this:

"The other day I was on BlackViper.com and now my system won't boot up."

It's not that the instructions on the site are poor or ambiguous in any way, it's just that messing with services is a lot like messing with the registry - things can go real bad, real fast.

Wolfe's suggestion is a good one and could be a really useful feature for those who want the maximum performance from their system.  Not only would this be useful to gamers but also for those doing demanding work such as video rendering or audio conversions.  There'd have to be limits and it would be nice if there was a visual reminder on-screen for the duration that the unnecessary services were disabled but it would be useful because people wouldn't have to go delving into the bowels of the OS to make changes.

Thoughts?

Topics: CXO, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, IT Employment, Windows

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  • Hard to make any substantive changes

    Even if you did find a stable tweak, there's a good chance MS would come along and dork it for you, particularly on Vista.

    36 updates and counting:

    [b]Another surprise: There were 36 other necessary updates, mainly security, bug fixes and enhancements. That number doesn't include the optional updates, such as other drivers. Thirty-six updates later, plus the video driver, I rebooted Vista, which came up with the correct graphics driver installed and optimal screen resolution. But Aero was missing. Vista loaded the Basic user interface, instead.[/b]

    http://www.microsoft-watch.com/content/vista/thirty-six_updates_laterand_counting.html

    This would have borked and graphics tweaks and most attempts to improve your frame rate.

    And, not coincidentally, this is one of the big problems in a Windows shop, especially if you have auto updates enabled. Of course, auto updates in an enterprise setting is an operational death wish. Still, it's a monthly ritual of sorting out the things that stop working after updates go out.

    Ironically coincidental that I'm sitting here helping one of the execs salvage his personal laptop. Something corrupted the boot sector. Luckily I had a Knoppix CD. Soon as we get done backing up his personal folders and his kid's iPod library we'll run the disk utilities and see if we can salvage this boat anchor. The recovery CD doesn't work but all the data is still there.
    Chad_z
    • I call bluff on this one

      I am no apologist for Microsoft; over the weekend I intend to play around with (X)Ubuntu 7.10 on my P-II and see whether it is as fast as they make it out to be. But this is a bit too much.

      Forget the lamentable piece of merde that is Vista. your exec's laptop cannot be as hosed as you make it out to be. A corrupted boot sector? Holy moly, easiest thing in the world to fix. But never mind that. Your exec has no backup? You don't use UBCD4Win? Just a simple dump of everything into an external drive, wipe the drive, use the recovery CD and dump everything back in. Done. Or if you want to be more discriminating, then spend another day or two to separate proggies from data, reinstall all necessary s/w and dump data back in.

      Boat anchor indeed.
      Da-G
  • with your ideas, you could OWN the Rock...

    Unless you are already filthy rich, you could consult with MacroSoft for a Bundle O' Dough.
    rjh@...
  • Adrian i think that would be cool a button to go into

    Adrian i think that would be cool a button to go into basic mode. where vista would only have stuff running that runs in vista basic.

    i tell ya vista basic is fast. i'm thinking about slapping a new hard drive in my gaming box and run it just to game with.

    and i will use ultimate for the rest of my everyday computing.

    but i just don't think Microsoft will do what you say it would be nice though.
    SO.CAL Guy
    • e: Adrian i think that would be cool a button to go into

      [i]i'm thinking about slapping a new hard drive in my gaming box and run it just to game with.[/i]

      Interesting. If you need one OS for gaming and another OS for everything else then gaming no longer is a hurdle to Linux adoption. Cool.



      :)
      none none
  • Unused Desktop Items as a clue ?

    Wouldn't be possible, as the overhead for the monitoring is already there, to check for services that are never used ( ports that never got a connection, for instance) ? This way the system will be kept on the safe side as only things that are really not important get disabled by the system itself.
    fredramos
  • I would be a happy gamer if

    MS would release a gamer edition, nothing fancy but a screamer that is highly configurable. We gamers like to control our system, not have it dum'ed down to no end.

    That would narrow down hardware configuration as well. There is not as much to choose from if you want gaming performance. Most apps I use are going online anyways, there is nothing n Vista Ultimate I could not live without.

    No bloat just performance. Thats all I care about!!!

    Let me browse and get email I am happy and I think the gaming community would agree. I already do everything but game on my Linux box for free!
    terrance.lacluster
  • Black Viper is back?!

    Wowza, Black Viper is back?!

    I thought he was gone for good - for a while there, he just fell off the map.

    Well, glad to hear he's back - his list of services has always been useful.

    "it???s just that messing with services is a lot like messing with the registry - things can go real bad, real fast."

    Yeah, I'd agree with that. Don't mess with them if you don't know what you're doing.

    "There???d have to be limits and it would be nice if there was a visual reminder on-screen for the duration that the unnecessary services were disabled but it would be useful because people wouldn???t have to go delving into the bowels of the OS to make changes."

    Even better, I'd like to see a tool that sets up several "configurations" so that somebody can switch between a "gaming" profile and a "regular use" profile. And don't just limit it to services: If a game is single threaded, the tool should also do stuff like set all of the affinities on a multi-core CPU so the game can have a core dedicated to it. I see a lot of automation potential here.
    CobraA1
  • RE: Performance profiles for Vista

    I found that I too was having to compromise between gaming performance and usability (my workstation is also used for entertainment). Being tired of having to tweak the system for every gaming session and having entertainment software cluttering up my workspace I came up with this solution.
    Using a SATA backplane, I have one HDD for gaming and four for workstation purposes, swap/scratch/Virtual Disks, system, unique data, backup. (I have had some really bad experiences with RAID, this configuration seems to work better for me anyways.) When I want to game I hibernate the computer, turn off the workstation HDDs with the front switches, turn on the gaming HDD, and boot the computer up. The gaming HDD has a clean install of XP with all games installed and no non-gaming related software. Over clocking software is tuned up, fan speeds optimized for performance, SLI enabled ect.
    When I am done, hibernate, hit the backplane switches and boot back to workstation mode with all the cushy usability software. Vista, SLI disabled (multiple monitors), fan speeds reduced, cool n quiet enabled, IIS, virtual LAMP server, ect.
    With hibernating switching modes does not take very long, it actually saves me from having to mess with configurations every time.
    toddo12
  • another way to tweak performance

    Install a hard drive with higher through-put. I know, I know - duh? But it has some unexpected impact on Vista Experience Scores.

    I replaced my notebook's stock 100GB/5400RPM SATA drive with a 250GB/5400RPM SATA drive. When I re-ran the Vista performance tests I was hopeful that my system wasn't slowed down. I was surprised at the categories that went UP.

    For example, my 3-D graphics score jumped 25%, from 2.4 to 3.0 - wuh? Okay, this ultralight notebook wasn't purchased for gaming, rather it travels coast to coast with me for business tasks - by and large I don't care what the 3-D score is.

    What is obvious is that, at least Microsoft's test, if not actual GPU performance, is partially dependent on your hard drive.

    By the way, my speculation on the increases are that the new drive utilizes perpendicular recording technology. While the drive doesn't spin any faster, the data is denser so more bits fly past the heads for the same time span.
    Jim Johnson