Vista SP1 - The promised performance gains are there

Vista SP1 - The promised performance gains are there

Summary: People are very anxious to know whether Windows Vista SP1 brings with it any noticeable performance gains when carrying out day to day tasks. My preliminary results seem to indicate that SP1 offers measurable benefits when carrying out a variety of tasks.


Note: These are very preliminary results - I'll be carrying out more tests over the coming days.

People are very anxious to know whether Windows Vista SP1 brings with it any noticeable performance gains when carrying out day to day tasks. My preliminary results seem to indicate that SP1 offers measurable benefits when carrying out a variety of tasks.

I've carried out a number of tests:

Real world tests

  • File copy (disk to disk)
  • Copy files to compressed folder
  • Extract files from compressed folder


  Vista RTM Vista SP1 Change
PassMark PerformanceTest 6.1 489.2 pts 479.5 pts -9.7 pts
Boot time (from BIOS handover to usable desktop) 53 sec 44 sec 9 sec
PCMark Vantage 2701 pts 2683 pts -18 pts
Copy 2477 files (20 folders) 239 sec 199 sec 40 sec
Copy 55 files, 193MB to compressed file 26 sec 25 sec 1 sec
Expand 55 files, 193MB from compressed folder 28 sec 27 sec 1 sec
Copy 1 file, 664MB to compressed folder 79 sec 84 sec -5 sec
Expand 1 file, 664MB from compressed folder 80 sec 57 sec 23 sec
All scores based on averages over three runs.
Note: No system tweaking was carried out to improve the score (no disabling services and so on). I did make sure that all idle tasks were processed and defraged the drives prior to testing, but that was it. I've tried to keep these are real world as possible.

So, overall, real world tests show an improvement while synthetic benchmarks show a small drop in performance (I'm putting this down to drivers - and possibly even the bench software - not being SP1 ready yet). This is promising, but since this data is based on the results from a single test machine, it's too early to declare SP1 a winner.

More to come real soon ...

Over the next few days I’ll be sharing more of my experiences here. If you want to keep updated about SP1 and how it handles a variety of tasks on a selection of PCs, subscribe to the Hardware 2.0 RSS feed.


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

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  • My experience

    Vista spends a lot of time thinking before it executes. Did you take the measurements for the execution time or when you placed the order, so to speak?
    • Good point!

    • Do you mean "calculating remaining time"?

      I'm pretty sure that in most situations, Windows starts the copy right away, but waits a given amount of time before making a time estimate -- enough so that the transfer rate evens out. According to Mark Russinovich ( the wait used to be 12 seconds but has been reduced in SP1.
      • Copying from a CD is painfully slow

        Whenever I copy files from a CD to my Vista PC (Dell Inspiron 531), the amount of time the copying process spends "calculating" I could play several rounds of poker by the time the files are actually copied to my hard drive.

        On the other hand, copying files from CD to my XP (SP2) PC is immediate.

        Who though up this silly time-waster in Vista? Will this problem be solved in SP1?
    • Performance gains

      The Nascar team enjoyed performance gains at a recent test when they removed the kitchen sink from the DRM caravan they were towing around.
    • Developing for the past, or the future?

      If you are in charge of developing a new software product that is likely to have a 80% plus market share, do you develop a product that is meant to look backwards and work on all older machines and maximize immediate saturation, or do you, realizing that people are going to buy new computers every 2 or 3 years on average anyway, develop a product that can grow in market share organically, encourage new computer sales (good for everyone), and bring some new functionality that won't look and act dated a month after it is released?

      Seriously, I don't see why so many people have a problem with MS's development methodology. They are making an operating system that has to run on an infinite combination of parts and other software... there is absolutely no way that you can test a piece of software with EVERY combination. The only way to do it, is to test as much as you can and then release to the public, get as much feedback as you can and react as quickly as possible. Does it suck for those that end up with problems? Sure, to some extent. But who are those people? Early adopters who, in general, should expect that they are going to have problems to deal with (not like this is the first buggy release in the history of the world). I've helped a few people who have purchased new computers with Vista on them and they have all been very stable out of the box. It is generally only when people are adding older software to new equipment with Vista or Vista to older machines that problems occur. I just can't bring myself to be surprised by that if I'm being a rational person. I mean, really... go to and just browse motherboards, RAM, and processors. Now do the math on how many combinations of those three basic building blocks of a computer there are. Now add video cards. Sound cards. Hard Drives. Then start thinking about software. The combinations are mind boggling. It is impossible for a finite group of developers of any software to account for all of these things.
      • Finally, someone who gets it...

        I love hearing from all of the anti-Microsoft zealots who always point out how "inferior" Windows is to other OSes but they always don't think about the things you just stated.

        Oh, OSX is stable they say? Well if I developed an OS for a small handful of hardware components, it damn well should be. If MS had to develop and test every single combo of hardware and software, they'd never release the next version of Windows because it would be impossible. Instead, it's up to the hardware and software vendors to get off of their butts and put out quality drivers.

        Even Linux, in all of it's glory, is forced to use, in some cases, generic compatible drivers to get basic funtions out of hardware.

        No OS is perfect. No OS is 100% secure. After all, Vista RTM was a heck of alot better than XP RTM but I guess there weren't blogs like this that people could spew anti-MS propaganda.
        • Completely agree!

          I completely agree with your statement that there's no such thing as a perfect and 100% secure OS.
          I've been working with Linux and Windows (For both server and personal use), And I can tell that I've had more problems with Linux than with Windows.
          About Vista:
          I've had less problems with Vista than with Windows XP.
          Though Windows XP SP2 was a very stable OS.
          So far, I've had just a few problems getting my programs to run on Windows Vista, But I was able to resolve them all quickly with a bit of additional coding.

          Vista's security isn't perfect, But if you'll look at the Secunia vulnerabilities tracking stats, You'll probably notice that so far, Windows Vista have 1 unpatched low-risk security vulnerability.

          About peroformance issue:
          Well, Windows Vista official requirements are higher than the Windows XP official requirements, But Windows XP is more than 5 years old.
          Windows Vista should run just fine on most current PCs.
          I've never had any performance issues on any of my current Vista-Based PCs.
          I've even worked with some quite old Vista-Based PCs, And they all worked fine.
        • OSX stability myth

          While you're absolutely correct that OSX should be much more stable than Windows in light of Apples's control of both the hardware and software, my experience living with both is that this edge is marginal, at best. I've regularly had issues with my iMac that rival the problems I experience in Windows....they just have a slightly different look and feel. Don't get me wrong...I think the Mac is way-cool and the interface gurus at Apple are second to none in design, but the myth that OSX is fault-free is just that...a myth.
      • There's a flaw in your analysis...

        Yes, there are TONS of hardware options and so forth - but Microsoft doesn't simply release a product as important to their bankroll - like Windows - without ANY sort of testing.

        For Vista, there were alpha and beta builds released to MSDN and other sources for testing purposes. In addition, Microsoft released Beta 2 and RCs 1 and 2 to the general public for testing purposes.

        While such testing only yields a random sampling of the hardware available, it DOES provide some feedback to the programmers as to what needs to be fixed. It's also true that this does not cover EVERY possible combination of hardware out there - it certainly DOES cover a fairly wide selection.
  • Test possibilities

    1. Network throttling on media playback (sorted yet?)
    2. Machine- machine copy
    3. Comparison to XP (you're 'XP is Vistas biggest competitior theme'). Too much hassle I know but I'd really like to see the figures for W2K!
    4. DX9 graphics speed test.

    Q. What happened to the 'my EULA does not allow me to post benchmarks' slant ;-)
  • Pls add XPSP3 stats as well

    • I'm Sure He WIll When XPSP3 Goes Gold/RTM

      XP SP3 is still in beta, so any benchmarks he could generate now would be tentative at best, misleading at worst.
  • RE: Vista SP1 - The promised performance gains are there

    Good benchmarks. Thanks for adding pros/cons.
  • RE: Vista+SP1+-+The+promised+performance+gains+are+there


    Your tests/measurements don't really impact Vista users and leave much of Vista's SP1 to the imagination.

    A rush to judgement?

    Rich Reynolds
  • No, It is Slower!

    Oh My God! You actually consider this a performance test?!! These tasks could not measure performance my friend! Why don't you try to load applications and games and see for yourself! I tried it with Flight Simulator X, and is much slower with sp1!
  • RE: Vista+SP1+-+The+promised+performance+gains+are+there

    This sure doesn't soound like the touted 25% speed increase in copying files from one folder to another on the same computer. At best I see twenty percent tops; at worst just shy of five percent.

    So will there be tests conducted in transferring files from one computer to another with the same OS and SP? How about from a Vista SP1 machine to a non-Windows machine?
  • RE: Vista SP1 - The promised performance gains are there

    Vista is still the joke of the year...
  • RE: Vista+SP1+-+The+promised+performance+gains+are+there

    If you think these figures are an improvement - then you must be one of the eskimo's who bought the ice back.

    I cannot believe any credible reviewer could announce this as being good .. unless of course there are a lot of free lunches coming your way courtesy of Bill or Microsoft.

  • Microsoft should concentrate on their core business

    Vista is still the joke of the year...