Vista 32-bit vs. Vista 64-bit - Benchmarked

Vista 32-bit vs. Vista 64-bit - Benchmarked

Summary: My benchmarking marathon last week seemed to generate more questions and requests for further benchmarking. A popular request from you, Constant Reader, was to see Windows Vista 32-bit benchmarked against Windows Vista 64-bit.


My benchmarking marathon last week seemed to generate more questions and requests for further benchmarking.  A popular request from you, Constant Reader, was to see Windows Vista 32-bit benchmarked against Windows Vista 64-bit. 

You asked, I delivered.  Enjoy!

The Test System

Vista 32-bit vs. Vista 64-bit - BenchmarkedTo carry out this run of benchmarks I chose a base system that represents the sort of system that someone might want to have 4GB or more of RAM installed and therefore want to go the 64-bit route.  I'm certain that my choice of system will generate a lot of feedback relating to its suitability.

Here’s the spec of that system:

  • Phenom 9700 quad-core processor
  • ATi Radeon 3850 graphics card with 256MB RAM
  • ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe motherboard
  • 2GB (2 x 1GB) Corsair Dominator CM2X1024-8500C5D RAM
  • Western Digital Raptor 10,000RPM 150GB primary hard drive
  • Western Digital Caviar 7,200RPM 500GB secondary hard drive

The following OS combinations were tested:

  • Vista 32-bit RTM
  • Vista 32-bit SP1
  • Vista 64-bit RTM
  • Vista 64-bit SP1

Each system was fully patched with all patches available from Windows Update. 

Other noteworthy points:

  • The only driver installed was the graphics card driver - Catalyst 8.2.
  • No optimizations were carried out other than to process idle tasks and defrag the hard drive between each test. 
  • Windows Defender was left on for all tests. 
  • The Microsoft SP1 testing guidelines document was followed closely.

Next -->

The Tests

This time we’re going to use a purely synthetic benchmark - PassMark PerformanceTest 6.1.

Note:  With PassMark ratings, the higher the number, the better the score.

Each test was run four times and the lowest score from each run was discarded.  The remaining results were then averaged to produce a final PassMark rating.

The Results

Let's look at the average PassMark rating for the four different platforms:

  • Vista 32-bit RTM PassMark rating: 1002.4
  • Vista 32-bit SP1 PassMark rating: 972.3
  • Vista 64-bit RTM PassMark rating: 1183.1
  • Vista 64-bit SP1 PassMark rating: 1128.8

Vista 32-bit RTM    Vista 32-bit SP1 Vista 32-bit RTM left, Vista 32-bit SP1 right

Vista 64-bit RTM    Vista 64-bit SP1 Vista 64-bit RTM left, Vista 64-bit SP1 right

Taking a closer look at the PassMark PerformanceTest output shows an almost across the board improvement in performance when comparing 64-bit to 32-bit Vista (only the disk component of the test showed a decline in performance on 64-bit). 

Note:  If you want to take a closer look at the results, you can download them here: Vista 32-bit RTM | Vista 32-bit SP1 | Vista 64-bit RTM | Vista 64-bit SP1.

Number Crunching

Some quick number crunching reveals some interesting data.

  • Windows Vista 32-bit SP1 gets a PassMark rating that's 3.0% lower than Windows Vista 32-bit RTM.
  • Windows Vista 64-bit SP1 gets a PassMark rating that's 4.6% lower than Windows Vista 64-bit RTM.

So far, we're seeing PassMark ratings that are in line with earlier benchmarking tests comparing Vista RTM with Vista SP1 - that is, the SP1 system returns a lower PassMark rating than RTM.  OK, but this test was to compare 32-bit Vista against 64-bit Vista.  Doing this gives us some very interesting results:

  • Windows Vista 64-bit RTM gets a PassMark rating that's 18.0% higher than Windows Vista 32-bit RTM.
  • Windows Vista 64-bit SP1 gets a PassMark rating that's 16.1% higher than Windows Vista 32-bit SP1.

Advantage Vista 64-bit.

Boot Up Times

For completeness I also measured the boot up time.  I took this as the time from the boot loader to a usable desktop. 

Average results were as follows:

  • Vista 32-bit RTM Boot up time: 27 sec
  • Vista 32-bit SP1 Boot up time: 31 sec
  • Vista 64-bit RTM Boot up time: 44 sec
  • Vista 64-bit SP1 Boot up time: 42 sec

Advantage Vista 32-bit.

Next -->


The results from this set of benchmark runs have turned out to be quite clear.  Let me summarize the results here:

  • SP1 causes a drop in PassMark Performance ratings on both Vista 32-bit and Vista 64-bit.
  • The drop in the PassMark Performance ratings is greater for 64-bit Vista than it is for 32-bit Vista.
  • However, both RTM and SP1 versions of Windows Vista 64-bit show a much higher PassMark Performance rating Windows Vista 32-bit.
  • Boot times for Vista 64-bit are longer than Vista 32-bit.

Later I hope to see which platform delivers the best frame rates in some of my favorite games.


<< Home >>

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

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Had the choice.

    Had the choice recently, between 64 and 32 bit. I went with 32 bit because I'm not confident enough yet in the maturity of 64 bit drivers and applications for what I specifically want in my pc. It wasn't an easy choice, I admit!
    • I had the choice as well...

      So I took an RTM disk of Vista Ultimate 64 (for "testing" :) ) and loaded it up on a dell xps 410 (with the memory & video card upgraded from factory specs) and it installed beautifully. The WOW feature resolves any issues with the 32bit-64bit programs. Ofcourse the only game I run is world of warcraft, and it runs flawlessly (avg FPS 50 over a wireless link). The driver signing problem ISNT as big as everyone is making it out to be. A few nuances like you cant install adobe flash in IE64 because they dont make one (but MS gives you a 32bit version of IE installed, actually you have to hunt for the 64bit version..there is no default icon..only to the 32bit version).
      So my advice to you, test it out, you may be plesantly surprised -- I enjoy only rebooting due to Patch Tuesday and not having my system crash. (Cuz we know its 'bad' drivers that cause windows to crash anyway...)
      • Message has been deleted.

    • Printers, printers, printers.

      I hate printers on the best of days.

      For the last couple of days I've been testing Windows Server 2008 as a possible upgrade for my existing Windows 2003 based print server. There are "vista compatible" drivers for my Canon multifunction devices and HP lazer printers so I thought I'd give it a shot. I figured that while I'm at it, I might as well go 64 bit too. Well, I quickly found out that those "Vista Compatible" printer drivers work fine in 32 bit 2008 Server but not 64 bit. So I also tried the drivers with 64 bit vista and 32 bit vista and found the same story.

      With the drivers installed on the 32 bit 2008 server, my 32 bit Vista and Windows XP clients both have no problem printing - but any of the MS 64 bit OS's, including Windows XP X64, Vista X64 or 2008 Server X64 all fail.

      This is all very interesting in light of the fact that I've seen on the MS web site where MS says they consider all 32 bit server installations to be "legacy" and that all new installs should be x64. Guess Canon just hasn't caught up, but regardless of whose fault it is, it doesn't work.
  • RE: Vista 32-bit vs. Vista 64-bit - Benchmarked

    just a couple of typos, in case you're interested:
    page 1
    represents the sor(f)t of system that someone
    page 2
    when com(o)paring 64-bit
    • Thanks ...

      ... that's what I get for fiddling with a live post!

      I'm just finishing the lst polish now.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • (nt)Boot up times are most likely due to to drivers

  • RE: Vista 32-bit vs. Vista 64-bit - Benchmarked

    Thanks Adrian. These tests are quite entertaining. I'm running Ultimate 64 RTM with 8 gig on a C2Duo @3.5 and it seems quite fast and responsive to me. Never understood what all the fuss was about over Vista being sluggish or piggish - but then again I never tried it on a slow machine.

    Looks like I should stay with what I got.

    Be nice to see XP 64 benched against Vista 64. I have been told that XP 64 has come a long way since the early days. Though I have yet to retry it myself.

    Vista 64 was a very pleasant surprise to me and I recommend it highly even though I get some raised eyebrows. Wonder how many of the Vista haters have really given it a fair shake and how many (like Dvorak) have never tried it but still badmouth it.
    • 64 bit is great

      I've been running 64 bit from the beginning. Qutie happy with the performance. My system ishn't as decked out as I only have 1 gig on a C2Duo @ 2.3, but none the less it has been stable for over a year, and fast. I'm planning on adding more memory this month, but when I built the machine, 2 512mb DDR2 800 sticks were still $140plus. Because the system was fast and I didn't have excessive paging, I held off. Now I can get what I want for $50. Glad I waited.

      And I'll agree, I suspect that most that are having problems haven't tried 64 bit. BTW, I'm running VISTA Ultimate x64
    • RE: Vista 32-bit vs. Vista 64-bit - Benchmarked

      I would also like to see XP64 vs. Vista 64. I run XP64 on a couple PCs and I feel it runs great. I use Firefox so I didn't experience the flash issue. I've only seen driver issues on old hardware and some laptop hardware (which should be provided be the laptop manufacturer).
    • XPx64

      I use XPx64 because it does everything I want it to do without the Vista DRM crap, and the driver issue is a non issue. Epson has the best print drivers and Linksys wireless cards work with the Ralink driver. File transfers are quicker and easier on XPx64. I have Vista Ultimate on one of my computers but I seem to do all my work on my AMD5000x2 with Xpx64
  • RE: Vista 32-bit vs. Vista 64-bit - Benchmarked

    Adrian, have you ever thought about benching with "Office bench" - that benchmark which was famously blogged about a while back, which supposedly showed XP with a big lead over Vista sp 1 and an even bigger lead after xp got sp 3. (These SPs were not final I suppose, since this was done a month or two ago).

    Any opinion about those tests?
  • PassMark is NOT a good test: use PCMark Vantage!

    PassMark is NOT a good test.
    You should use PCMark?? Vantage that's developed for Vista 32.
  • PassMark is NOT a good test: use PCMark Vantage!

    PassMark is NOT a good test.
    You should use PCMark Vantage that's developed for Vista 32 and 64-bit.
  • defender is not sp1 compatible, at present.


    • Turn off your cap locks!

      It doesn't help your message. Windows defender is compatible with SP1. What defender are you reffering to?
      • Maybe there's a difference...

        ... between Defender and DEFENDER?

        Hallowed are the Ori
        • How would you know ....

          .... with the whole post being capitalized? That is why I asked the question.
  • Pleasant Surprise

    I (just yesterday, in fact) built a new machine and chose Vista 64 as the operating system. Having read all the commentary, I was prepared for major issues and hunting for drivers, etc. etc.

    Honestly, this was the easiest OS install I've ever done. Vista recognized my SATA 3.0 HDD without needing a disk to load a driver for it. It recognized everything perfectly. I was incredibly surprised when after 40 minutes (give or take 5 or so) I had reached the Vista desktop.

    Vista connected to Windows update and began updating in the background. Everything was quite snappy. I had the ATI drivers downloading, Windows update working and was generally exploring the new desktop neighborhood (in terrible resolution) without a hitch.

    Once the ATI drivers downloaded and installed, wow. Vista may be a resource hog, but it feels faster to me than my XP box does. Of course, I have better hardware here (I am on my Vista machine now), but based on how so many people had said it was such a pig, I expected it to bog on stuff. It doesn't if you've got the right hardware to run it.

    Honestly, based on this experience, short though it is right now, I'd say the decision with Vista of any flavor is not whether it is better than XP on the same machine. It's not as mature an OS, and I'd say the answer is no at this time. The question is whether it will meet my needs on the machine I have. The answer to THAT question might be no on a machine that you're used to running XP on because Vista was obviously designed to run on beefier hardware. I don't think it should be judged against XP in that way.

    My thinking would be that Vista is not really an 'upgrade' to XP for those running systems designed for XP. It is more something that you consider when you're building or buying your next computer. Perhaps some who are running XP on the newest hardware can consider an upgrade to Vista, but I think the average consumer that buys a PC once every year or three, probably shouldn't be concerned with Vista until the next cycle comes around for them.

    Old system: ASUS A8V Deluxe, 1GB RAM, AMD 3800+ X2, nVidia 6800GS 256 MB
    New System: MSI K9A2 Platinum, 2GB RAM, AMD 5000+ BE, ATi HD3850 512MB
    • Makes Sense

      What most people don't realize is Vista was designed for a different hardware class. And is OPTIMIZED for modern hardware. So no wonder crappy machines can't handle it. That's why with a new machine it will work FASTER than XP (again, becuase of optimizations).

      Another thing is the SAME people that moan and complain about how slow vista is and how fast XP is, are the SAME people that complained about XP when it first came out (anyone remmember 300 Mhz and 128 MB of ram?) versus Windows 2000!

      I don't think its at ALL fair to compare XP to Vista.

      1.) XP is now a 7 year old product. Not only is it designed for different hardware, it has plenty of time to mature and for people to get to "know it" as well as any problems to be fixed.

      2.) When XP first came out, it was significantly slower than 2000. People complained. But now the same people vouch for hwo good XP is and how bad Vista is. Its just part of Vista's "growing pains".