Windows 7 build 7048 vs. Windows 7 beta 1 vs. Vista vs. XP performance shootout - which is best?

Windows 7 build 7048 vs. Windows 7 beta 1 vs. Vista vs. XP performance shootout - which is best?

Summary: How does the latest leaked build of Windows 7 (7048) compare to the beta 1 (build 7000), Vista SP1 and XP SP3 in terms of performance? According to my Hardware 2.0 inbox, this is a question that you want answered. Let’s see if I can answer it for those of you who are interested!

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Special Report: Windows 7

How does the latest leaked build of Windows 7 (7048) compare to the beta 1 (build 7000), Vista SP1 and XP SP3 in terms of performance? According to my Hardware 2.0 inbox, this is a question that you want answered. Let’s see if I can answer it for those of you who are interested!

Note: Before I go any further I feel I need to make a point, and make it clear. The builds I’m testing of Windows 7 (build 7000 and 7048) are beta builds, and as a rule beta builds are usually more geared towards stability than performance. That said, the performance of this build should give us a clue as to how the OS is coming along.

Important note: I have on several occasions contacted Microsoft for feedback on benchmarking Windows 7. At this point the company is not ready to discuss performance testing.

Rather than publish a series of synthetic benchmark results for the three operating systems (something which Microsoft frowns upon for beta builds, not to mention the fact that the final numbers only really matter for the release candidate and RTM builds), I’ve decided to put Windows 7, Vista and XP head-to-head in a series of real-world tests to find out which OS comes out top.

Let's look at the test systems and the tests ...

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The test systems

I’ve used two desktop systems as the test machines:

  • An AMD Phenom 9700 2.4GHz system fitted with an ATI Radeon 3850 and 4GB of RAM
  • An Intel Pentium Dual Core E2200 2.2GHz fitted with an NVIDIA GeForce 8400 GS and 1GB of RAM

The tests

There are 31 tests in all, most of which are self explanatory:

  1. Install OS - Time it takes to install the OS
  2. Boot up - Average boot time to usable desktop
  3. Shut down - Average shut down time
  4. Move 100MB files - Move 100MB of JPEG files from one hard drive to another
  5. Move 2.5GB files - Move 2.5GB of mixed size files (ranging from 1MB to 100MB) from one hard drive to another
  6. Network transfer 100MB files - Move 100MB of JPEG files from test machine to NAS device
  7. Network transfer 2.5GB files - Move 2.5GB of mixed size files (ranging from 1MB to 100MB) from test machine to NAS device
  8. Move 100MB files under load - Move 100MB of JPEG files from one hard drive to another while ripping DVD to .ISO file
  9. Move 2.5GB files under load - Move 2.5GB of mixed size files (ranging from 1MB to 100MB) from one hard drive to another while ripping DVD to .ISO file
  10. Network transfer 100MB files under load - Move 100MB of JPEG files from test machine to NAS device while ripping DVD to .ISO file
  11. Network transfer 2.5GB files under load - Move 2.5GB of mixed size files (ranging from 1MB to 100MB) from test machine to NAS device while ripping DVD to .ISO file
  12. Compress 100MB files - Using built-in ZIP compression
  13. Compress 1GB files - Using built-in ZIP compression
  14. Extract 100MB files - Using built-in ZIP compression
  15. Extract 1GB files - Using built-in ZIP compression
  16. Compress 100MB files under load - Using built-in ZIP compression while ripping DVD to .ISO file
  17. Compress 1GB files under load - Using built-in ZIP compression while ripping DVD to .ISO file
  18. Extract 100MB files under load - Using built-in ZIP compression while ripping DVD to .ISO file
  19. Extract 1GB files under load - Using built-in ZIP compression while ripping DVD to .ISO file
  20. Install Office 2007 - Ultimate version, from DVD
  21. Open 10 page Word doc - Text only
  22. Open 100 page Word doc - Text and images only
  23. Open simple Excel doc - Basic formatting
  24. Open complex Excel doc - Including formula and charts
  25. Burn DVD - Win 7 beta 1 .ISO to disc using CDBurnerXP
  26. Open 10 page PDF - Text only, using latest Adobe Reader 8
  27. Open 100 page PDF - Text and images, using latest Adobe Reader 8
  28. Far Cry 2 benchmark
  29. Call of Duty 5 benchmark
  30. Left 4 Dead benchmark
  31. Crysis Warhead benchmark

These series of tests will pitch Windows 7 build 7048 and 7000 32/64-bit against Windows Vista SP1 32-bit and Windows XP SP3 32-bit. The scoring for each of the tests is simple. The winning OS scores 1, the runner ups 2, 3 and 4 respectively and the loser scores a 5. The scores are added up and the OS with the lowest score at the end wins.

Let's check out the results ...

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The results

Here are the results for the two systems:

(click for larger image)

(click for larger image)

Conclusions ...

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Conclusions

It's clear that some of the results here are all over the place, and I'm putting this down this the fact that Windows 7 is still a work in progress (and realistically, probably will be for a good 9 - 12 months after launch) and drivers are still pretty new. However, four patterns do emerge:

  • Windows 7 is, overall, better than both Vista and XP.
  • As Windows 7 progresses, it's getting better (or at least the 64-bit editions are).
  • On a higher-spec system, 64-bit is best.
  • On a lower-spec system, 32-bit is best.

I'm looking forward to the RC release so we can really see how the 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7 editions compares to previous incarnations of Windows!

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

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278 comments
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  • Although I'm not a fan of pre-release comparisons...

    ...it's interesting to note that W7 does indeed appear to be a very effective OS.

    As for the 64 bit question, with Quad Core largely becoming standard I think the focus needs to be here although MS obviously need to cater for their legacy market too.
    Sleeper Service
    • Tell the applications vendors

      We're locked into 32 bit by software apps that aren't compatible, not by MS issues. MS does "cater" to legacy as best they can, but there is only so much they can do.

      The obvious answer is to switch to apps that don't have these problems, which we've done for hundreds of apps migrated to web services and not dependent on 32/64 bit compatibility, or even Microsoft compatibility for that matter.
      terry flores
      • Many apps don't NEED to be 64-bit

        What's the point of a 64-bit Notepad? Or Paint? Or Media Player? Or Tax Prep' app? Or Word Processing app? Or Order Entry System? ...

        Only apps that need > 2GB RAM for themselves will benefit from being ported to 64-bit. Note that 64-bit apps carry an additional overhead of increased pointer and many integer data sizes, so if an app doesn't need > 2GB RAM, then there's no benefit in porting it to 64-bit.

        HOWEVER, many people need a 64-bit OS. Why? If you run several apps simultaneously, each requiring several hundreds of megabytes each, there's a very good chance that all running apps combined will consume > 2GB RAM, thus forcing the OS to page infrequently used memory pages to/from disk, considerably slowing down your machine.

        If you have a 64-bit OS on a machine with 4GB RAM or less, then the OS can map most of your hardware's address allocations to addresses above the 4GB mark, freeing up 500-850MB of addressing space within your RAM's address space. Thus, the 64-bit OS gets access to RAM that a 32-bit OS would not. If, on the other hand, you have a machine with > 4GB RAM, you *must* have a 64-bit OS in order to access the full complement of RAM.
        de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
        • Yes they do need to be 64 bit

          or at least compatible. My home computer crashed and it was cheaper to buy new than fix/upgrade old. EXCEPT that all the new computers are 64 bit Vista. Of the programs I use most on my home computer, my email ap, Paint Shop Pro UX2 were the only 2 that were compatible. I had to purchase an upgrade of Office, and Photoshop-and those were the only 2 upgradable. That made it MUCH more expensive - especially given that no one had any idea whether the aps I was using previously were compatible with Vista anything to start with. Yes, I should have built my own system - but I didn't have the time; this was THE worst possible time to have my home computer crash. I'm only running a sideline business.

          Imagine if my livelihood depended on that computer? If you have to buy new hardware, you are most likely stuck with Vista 64, unless, perhaps, you intend to run a netbook.
          library assistant
          • not my experience...

            I am certainly not friend to Vista and I have found all sorts of software and hardware that isn't compatible, but whether it was 32 or 64 bit Vista has been completely irrelevent in my experience.
            kathygnome
          • 32 bit apps run fine in 64 bit windows

            Drivers are a different story.

            But the previous poster is correct. Many apps can remain 32bit and some probably will for some time.
            DevGuy_z
          • Really?

            Funny that the apps don't feel that way. For instance, SQL Server/Office interop code breaks in spectacular fashion. You'd think that Microsoft might have thought about the millions of lines of code out there that reads/writes data directly from SQL Server to Excel files. From a SQL stored procedure, you used to be able to easily peer into an Excel file to read data or write data out to an Excel file. Every single bit of that code breaks the moment you move from SQL Server 2005 on a 32 bit Windows machine to SQL Server 2005 on a 64 bit Windows machine. That's just one example of something I know for a fact to be broken going from 32 bit to 64 bit.
            jasonp@...
          • what do you call an "app"

            Since when is SQL Server an app? That's a server product.

            Apps are: Office, Trillian, Firefox, GVIM, Puty, Picasa, Adobe Reader, Visual Studio, Snagit, FeedDemon, Quicktime, Flash, etc.

            Server products are: Exchange, SQL Server, BizTalk, MOSS/SharePoint, etc.

            For the most part, all the 32-bit apps run fine on a 64-bit OS.
            whallify
          • change that to MOST 32 bit apps work fine

            in 64 bit. But no not all by any means.
            tech_walker
          • Of course they do...

            except for the ones that don't.
            jasonp@...
          • Sorry but you didnt load it properly...

            since i also loaded SQL to check performance as well as several other engineering and office apps as well as dedicated lab software and had no problems. I had none of the problems you expweriencedwith excel data so since i ran the tests on 4 different systems and it worked perfectly every time i can only conclude that you made mistakes in your test or your code was flawed to begin with. Please be sure you know what you are talkin about before you start talking about a supposed issue, it is stupid mistakes like that that give people unfounded fears about upgrading to a better and much more stable system.
            trundor1@...
          • Several aps install a basic version of SQL

            There are several aps that install a basic version of SQL on your computer as part of their install routine.
            Dr. John
          • And whose fault...

            ...is that?

            Any time you write software that ducks around the API for a little extra speed, you run the risk of getting shafted when new hardware comes out.
            fairportfan
          • 64 bit now

            I was using XP Pro 32 bit, with Office 2007. I upgraded my system to Vista 64 but, I still can use all my Office 2007 apps. I haven't found much of anything that doesn't work, then again, I'm still waiting for all those crashes and problems with the machine, every one talks about.

            I find myself using Intrepid Ibex almost exclusively, but when I need to get in my Excel or Access files, I have no problems. Vista is not that trouble prone, but I find that Ubuntu is a much faster system. I will probably wait to see what the cost of the Windows 7 will be before I commit to spending money on an O/S that I shouldn't have to.
            mjolnar@...
          • That's interesting. Because my SQL stuff works fine in 64 bit.

            That's interesting. Because I run several applications that have snuck in some SQL or SQL lite version, and they're all running fine on my 64 bit Vista machine.
            CobraA1
          • Not only 32 bit but older games ran fine too

            such as descent and diablo in fact i spend a good deal of time loading the oldest games and CAD and office produtivity software i could find to check on the compatability across the board and in every instance they ran perfectly.
            trundor1@...
          • DEAD WRONG!

            32 bit apps run fine under 64 bit - there is no 64 bit upgrade for MS office - what are you talking about?
            eggmanbubbagee@...
          • eggman, of course, u're right !

            *****32 bit apps run fine under 64 bit - there is no 64 bit upgrade for MS office******

            Sheafferer
          • If the software is well written

            It does not matter one bit. However badly written software will have a problem regardless. My experience is that my 64 bit machine will run well written 32 bit software in 32 bit mode, and run 64 bit software in 64 bit mode. But, if the software is poorly written it will not run it in any mode.
            eargasm
          • Vista 32bit and XP Pro downgrade

            Why not just use your 'downgrade right' that Microsoft offers you to install and activate Windows XP Pro ... or get a system with Vista 32bit ... both are easily available. We run Vista x64 Ultimate everywhere and 'very very few' apps will not work and we throw a lot of different software at our systems. Clients that want XP Pro, get XP Pro, no problem.
            Miss Wiggly