Windows 8 Consumer Preview vs. Windows 7: Benchmarked

Windows 8 Consumer Preview vs. Windows 7: Benchmarked

Summary: Can Microsoft's upcoming operating system keep up with -- or even beat -- Windows 7, or does Microsoft still have work to do?


The results

Here are the results from each of the benchmark tests. Each test was run three times, and the average taken from all three runs.

No significant variance was seen between the three runs in any of the tests, a consistency that gives me confidence in the results.

Boot time

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview manages to shave a few seconds off the boot time and the time it takes to get to a usable desktop.

Audio transcode time

Audio transcoding using iTunes is slightly faster on the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. The difference is more noticeable when large files are being transcoded.

Video transcode time

Windows 8 Consumer Preview is comfortably faster at transcoding video using Handbrake. Again, this becomes more noticeable when transcoding larger files.

PCMark 7

Once again, the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is faster than Windows 7, but this time the difference is staggering. The difference was primarily made up by an increase in the "creativity" score, which measures multimedia and DirectX performance.

3DMark 11

There appears to be no significant difference between the two operating systems.


Again, I saw no significant difference between the two operating systems..

Cinebench 11.5

OpenGL is slightly faster on Windows 7, but the difference between the two operating systems bears little significance.

Heaven 3.0

The interesting thing here are the minimum frames per second (FPS) scores. This test suggests that the minimum FPS score for Windows 8 Consumer Preview is lower than for Windows 7, showing that in-game FPS drops on the new operating system are greater than they are on Windows 7. This is significant because the lower minimum FPS drops, the worse the in-game experience becomes.

Alien vs. Predator

There appears to be no significant difference between the two operating systems.

The conclusions

We can draw some interesting conclusions from these benchmark results. The first and most obvious is that boot times have been cut quite nicely. Microsoft promised us this, and it seems that the promise has been delivered. We don't reboot out PCs anywhere near as often as we once did, but a fast boot up time is still appreciated.

Next there's the fact that, as far as the synthetic and gaming benchmarks go, the differences between Windows 7 and the Windows 8 Consumer Preview are negligible. This is quite interesting, because at this stage for Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, we were seeing poorer results for anything that relied heavily on the graphics system. It usually takes AMD and NVIDIA some time to optimize and perfect their drivers for a new operating system, with drivers having to mature for several months before we see similar performance between the new operating system and the old one.

With the Windows 8 Consumer Preview we seem to be getting very good results from the current crop of drivers, which is good news for gamers who are planning to make a swift switch to Windows 8 when it is released.

We're also seeing quite an improvement when it comes to audio and video transcoding. This is something I've come to expect from betas of Windows operating systems. It's an area that Microsoft seems to put effort into improving, and that trend continues with Windows 8.

The higher than expected PCMark 7 score for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is interesting. Normally, I would be suspicious of such a difference between the two operating systems, and would be tempted to put it down to a bug with the benchmark tool. However, given that the bulk of the improvement was made up by an increase in the "creativity" score, and the fact we've seen an overall improvement in multimedia handling in other tests, I'm tempted to believe that this improvement is genuine.

The only result I am concerned about comes from the Heaven 3.0 test. The minimum FPS scores in this test seems to suggest that when the frame rate drops in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, it drops further than it does for Windows 7. If this translates into real world gaming, it would mean a poorer visual experience under Windows 8.

However, it's quite likely that this is a driver issue, and something that will most likely be fixed when Windows 8 specific drivers come out.

All in all, I've very pleased with how Windows 8 is coming along. It is shaping up to be quite a capable operating system as far as performance is concerned.

Bonus: Overclocking with Windows 8

Over the past few weeks I've had a number of emails, mostly from gamers, asking me what Windows 8 is like when you overclock the hardware. There seems to be some concern that the operating system might make it harder to push your hardware to beyond what it was intended to do.

Given that I had a test-bed set up, I decided to see what I could do.

I was able to push the Core i7-2600K CPU up from the stock speed of 3.4GHz all the way to 4.7GHz without any problem at all. After some tinkering with multipliers and voltages, I managed to reach 4.9GHz with no stability issues and without the operating system throwing the towel in. At this point I decided to call it a day since I didn't want to put a smoking crater into the motherboard.

Next I turned my attention to the GeForce GTX 560. Using AfterBurner I managed to raise the core clock from the stock 810MHz to 975MHz, the shader clock from 1,620MHz to 1,954MHz, and the memory clock from 4,008MHz to 5,126MHz by raising the GPU voltage. Again, the Windows 8 Consumer Preview didn't complain.

These sorts of overclocks are what I'd expect to be able to achieve on Windows 7, so I would say that Windows 8 won't make overclocking any harder. In fact, the faster boot times makes it a lot easier, because if there's one thing you do a lot when overclocking, it's rebooting.


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  • Minimum FPS

    I'm not sure if you marked your graphs wrong or if you read them wrong but the Windows 8 DX11 min FPS is higher, albeit only by 1, than the Windows 7 DX11 min FPS in Heaven 3.0. Since Heaven is really a DX11 benchmark I'm not surprised that their DX9 test would show some odd variations.

    Other than that this is line with what most people have found. Also, you should compare the Windows 8 hybrid shutdown to normal Windows 7 shutdown on a mechanical drive. From end of post to login on my Core i5 laptop it's about 11 seconds on 8 and it was about 20 or so on Windows 7.
  • Windows 8 Consumer Preview vs. Windows 7: Benchmarked

    Microsoft Windows 8 is better in almost every way, that's a good sign of things to come. The most impressive part is that this is still beta code so its not optimized yet meaning when its release time you will have a much more improved OS.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Disagree completely

      Windows 8 is Windows 7 with an added interface! What is improved for desktop, and laptop users??? Give me 10 reasons why people should upgrade and spend 200 on windows 8!!! Perhaps the reason it is better is you do not have anything installed on win 8 compared to windows 7. Windows 8 is a major step back, in windows designand evolution!!! You are probably a newbie to windows os, and never used windows XP!!!
      Pollo Pazzo
      • In FACT ...

        ??? Windows 8 is a substantial re-working and re-factoring of the entire OS from the bootloader up.

        Whilst, yes, the core underpinnings of the OS remain substantially the same, the entire OS has been completely deconstructed and reassembled in a FAR more modular fashion, with clean layering replacing the ball of string that the Windows code-base used to be.

        Not only this, but thanks to the effort MS put into re-factoring the OS, it now consumes less memory, requires less CPU cycles and IO can now be built for different platforms (i.e. ARM) and many of the OS' previous limitations and issues have been eliminated, resulting in Windows being FAR more scalable, agile and efficient across the board.

        All this whilst not breaking any existing software or apps.

        That's quite the feat in my book.
    • Actually...

      This whole exercise is rather pointless in trying to gauge Windows 8's performance. We have no idea how much debug baggage Windows 8 is carrying, these results might have VERY little in common with the true performance.

      In short we have little to no idea how much Windows 8 was handicapped in these tests. It could easily be that just recompiling the OS would yield better results.

      Additionally PC hardware continues to evolve, and not at an even pace. Windows 8 is, in all likely hood, optimised for tomorrows' PC, not todays'.

      The trends I'm thinking about are: More CPU cores, and multi-GPU setups, moving from spinning disks to SSDs.
      • I expect that the W8CP is doing a lot of telemetry logging

        MS probably will be tweaking the OS a lot, especially the Metro stuff, as a result of all the telemetry they have gathered from the CP.
      • Debug baggage

        Usually Microsoft releases dedicates "checked builds" with debug information in the kernel. The Consumer Preview is not such a build, so it carries very little "debug baggage". True, it does report telemetrics back to MS and it may also log a little more.

        But such overhead is negligible compared to kernel optimizations, parallelized startup processes and - above all - driver optimizations. I think this benchmark is a good indication of the final perf. of Windows 8. It may improve a little due to optimization efforts still going on, but don't expect it to jump.
  • After seeing these benchmarks... we need Windows 8 why?

    • Great Reply Bitcrazed.

      Hopefully, my company will take and spend some money in the 1st quarter of 2013, and upgrade to Win 8 from XP...It really is getting to be old...

      Now, that said, I don't believe on a personal note that I'll upgrade from Win7, on my desktop to Win8. The two laptops we have are still running good, so we'll have to wait and see.

      We still have Win Vista on these, and IMHO, they've been working very well and we're happy with them. So it might come down to how much for the upgrade, and if I can locate all the drivers for them...

  • What about resume from sleep ?

    Adrian, you say :

    We don???t reboot out PCs anywhere near as often as we once did, but a fast boot up time is still appreciated.

    That' OK. But we do resume from sleep mode a lot more than we reboot - my Win7 laptop takes quite a while to come back from sleep zzzzz !

    Have you measured anything related to coming back to life after sleep mode (the computer that is ;)
    Alain in Québec
    • Mine wakes very quickly...

      I basically only reboot when necessary; normally after a MS update. I use sleep mode everyday and mine wakes up almost instantly. Have you checked to make sure your problem isn't related to a particular program or device driver?
    • My resume from sleep is almost instantaneous... 0.5 to 1.0 sec.

      The Danger is Apple
      • Ditto

        FWIW, both my Sony Vaio Z Series (v1) and MacBook Pro running Win8 CP both resume from sleep within 1s - usually before I even get to touch a key on the keyboard.

        If I've left the machine asleep for an extended period, the computer will hibernate (allowing it to stay asleep for weeks). Before Win8, resuming from hibernation usually took 60-90s. Resuming from hibernation in Win8 takes about 15s - a VERY significant improvement over previous versions of Windows.
    • Wakes up fast

      On my Acer Aspire with SSD it takes under 7 seconds for Win 8 to be back. It may take another 10 seconds or so before wi-fi is live
      • Connected Standby compliant hardware will make WiFi and 3/4G instant

        CS is what will make W8 more like a phone/tablet OS as far as connectivity responsiveness goes.
  • Am I dreaming

    A positive AKH article related to MS ? Maybe someone is feeling a tad ill ? I expected my on shedule Windows bashing article! ;)
    • Perhaps it's a question of finding something positive

      Here Adrian found a marginal improvement in OS speed and was able to write an article about it. Enjoy;-)
      Richard Flude
    • And he had to put his iPad down!

      Perhaps it was in for repair or he realised he had to regain his tech cred.
  • Just wait...

    until all the debugging and error reporting code is removed. There should be an even bigger difference between the two.

    Also, my bootup experience is MUCH faster than Win7, as someone else mentioned. :-)
  • Boot Time

    Just curious if you tested boot time with WIN 8 connected to an AD Domain and then compared boot times in the presence of a domain controller and then by relying on cached domain credentials.

    I find that boot times are great until you connect windows to a domain and then they start going up.

    Since a lot of people connect to domains from work, that would be a useful boot time test.

    Also, are you testing boot times logging in locally? Or with the Windows LiveID that Win8 prefers?
    Freddy McGriff