Windows 8 vs. Windows 7: Benchmarked

Windows 8 vs. Windows 7: Benchmarked

Summary: Can Microsoft's upcoming desktop operating system keep up with -- or even beat -- Windows 7? Benchmark testing suggests that Windows 8 is Microsoft's fastest Windows to date.


Now that Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system has hit the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) stage, it's time to see how it stacks up against the incumbent Windows 7.

Can the upcoming operating system keep up with -- or even beat -- Windows 7, or does Microsoft still have work to do to optimize performance?

Note that the RTM version of Windows 8 is the version that is sent to OEMs to load onto new systems. 

I have previously benchmarked both the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Windows 8 Release Preview releases.

The hardware

The following hardware platform was used for benchmarking the two operating systems. The system was purpose-built for the job of benchmarking:

  • Intel Core i7-2600K processor
  • Crucial 4GB DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) RAM
  • EVGA 01G-P3-1460-KR GeForce GTX 560
  • GIGABYTE GA-Z77MX-D3H motherboard
  • Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB hard drive
  • CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 650W power supply unit

Everything on the system was set to stock speeds, with no component overclocked.

For the tests I used a Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB hard drive with the Windows 8 RTM 64-bit installed on it. All drivers and updates were installed, along with all the software that would be needed for the tests. The drive was then defragmented using the Windows tool before the benchmarking was carried out.

Data related to the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Windows 7 was collected from the a benchmark test of Windows 8 I carried out in April and the Release Preview data dates back to June.

The benchmark tests

Here's a rundown of the tests that were run on the three operating systems. I've chosen a mixture of real world and synthetic benchmark tests.

Each test was run three times and the results averaged.

  • Boot time 
    Measured using a handy tool called BootRacer. This measures both the time it takes to get to the logon screen and the time to boot to the desktop.
  • Audio transcode time 
    Transcoding an audio test file from WAV to MP3 format using iTunes. A measure of the operating system's ability to handle multimedia.
  • Video transcode time 
    Transcoding video test file from DVD to MP4 format using Handbrake. A measure of the operating system's ability to handle multimedia.
  • PCMark 7 
    A benchmark run with PCMark 7. The industry standard PC test for CPU, HDD, SSD, memory, and graphics performance.
  • 3DMark 11 
    A benchmark run with 3DMark 11. This is a set of six demanding benchmark test measuring the graphics performance of gaming PCs.
  • FurMark 
    A benchmark run with FurMark. This is a VGA stress test, GPU burn-in test and an excellent OpenGL benchmark. This is a very stressful benchmark and can damage -- or even destroy -- hardware if used incorrectly, and as such I do not recommend running this tool on a system unless you know exactly what you are doing and fully understand the risks associated with it.
  • Cinebench 11.5 
    A benchmark run with Cinebench 11.5. This is a real world cross, platform test suite that evaluates a computer's CPU and GPU performance capabilities.
  • Heaven 3.0 
    A benchmark run with Heaven 3.0. This is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the advanced UNIGINE engine. Not only does this tool give the maximum frames per second (FPS), it also records minimum frames per second, which is handy observing dips in performance during heavy load.
  • Alien vs. Predator 
    A benchmark run using the in-built benchmark tool available in Alien vs. Predator. The benchmark is run at 1920x1080 screen resolution with DirectX 11 enabled. This is a real world gaming test.

Topics: Windows, Hardware, Operating Systems, Software

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  • so..

    you did a speed test with itunes installed?
  • So...anyone with a Technet sub see W8 yet?

    Just checked mine and it's not there yet. Wondering if anybody else sees it.
    • Well, and where did Adrian get his?

      Something doesn't seem right. It's not on MSDN (it should be soon).
      Schoolboy Bob
    • :)

      me 2 XD
      the awesome BOB
  • Q: Why are you still benchmarking with a traditional hard drive?

    Most other places have moved to SSDs as they offer more consistent results. Perhaps this is a non-issue as you did mention you had achieved consistent results across all three runs.
    • That's what most people have

      Traditional hard drives are still here for a long time, as long as SSDs don't get more reliable and pack more gigs for the buck they're not going to be mainstream.

      And it the end, an SSD saves a couple seconds of loading time, but 99% of the time the computer is not doing heavy work on the disk unless there is not enough RAM and swap is needed.

      I still don't see the need for it.
      • I'm referring to consistency

        SSDs offer more consistent benchmarking. At least that's what I've seen from the other guys. Nothing wrong with a mechanical disk. Until SSD cost / capacity decreases SSDs are a niche.
      • A Voice of Reason

        I was just thinking the same thing. Many are under the impression that SSDs can provide a superior degree of performance for an equitable price. One day, but not just yet.
      • You're a moron.

        SSDs improve system performance so much you won't even think you're using the same computer. Drive access is very important. Those off-kilter numbers you've stated only apply to someone that's barely using the computer for web browsing or similarly simple tasks. For you to make a comment like that, it's obvious that you've never owned an SSD.
        Gthirtyfive Forsale
  • Win 8 makes a good impression at bootup

    Win 8 is also much better than Win 7 with built in firewall and anti-virus and also takes less space with much better multi-monitor support. Will run kinda maintenace free, if you choose the express setttings while installing. I was surprised to find out that one of my home network printer was installed automatically.
  • I Lost Interest in the Boot Time Game a While Ago

    I lost interest in the boot time game a while ago. It seems like most newer operating systems that are concerned with boot time try to get you to a desktop right away, but you're still better off waiting another minute for background tasks to complete before you actually try to do anything. Yes, they are quicker, but not as much so as they try to make themselves appear.
    • SSD's are your friend

      Massive all around improvement in OS function, including a damned near instant boot time. With an HDD, I understand waiting for background processes, but an SSD will be just about finished with them by the time you even see your desktop.
      • Agreed

        I finally gave in and purchased an SSD when my primary drive took a dump. Not only did boot up time massively improve, but even general program performance improved. I've ran programs installed on my standard drives and there's a really good noticeable improvement overall. A great upgrade.
        Those who hunt Trolls
      • SSDs have a poor capacity / cost ratio making them difficult to recommend

        At least for the average user. Yes boot times are increased and application launch times as well. But neither is worth the added cost and reduced capacity SSDs offer. While there are some workloads where an SSD has tangible gains for the average user doing Facebook, web browsing, and e-mail the benefits of an SSD is wasted.
        • dont be retarded

          Not everybody stores 500GB of porn on their system like you. For the huge majority of people, anything over 30GB is just bonus. For gamers, that threshold is closer to 100GB. It's only when you get into pack rats that spend every day downloading movies and porn only to watch it once and then store it forever, never to be seen again, in an endless pit of drive storage. For those INCREDIBLE few people that actually need such massive quantities of storage (i.e. audio/video editting or MPC), you can install a small SSD with the OS and store your data on another drive.
          Gthirtyfive Forsale
        • there are other benefits

          Does anyone around here play games? SSD provide great proformance boosts in alot of video games (depends sure on HDD access and stuff) but ive noticed it makes loading much faster games like minecraft youll get a huge fps boost espicaly durning times of land generation i noticed in a macbook air i had playing arma 2 with a normal HDD the game was completely unplayable but with an SSD it infact helped and made the game playable since the computer was barely wasteing time loading textures and resources
          Akabara Strauss
    • Standby to login/desktop

      This should be the test now. 99% of the time I just put my computers in standby when I'm away both laptops and desktops, not even bothering for shutdown unless Windows Update requires a reboot.

      Standby --> Login
      Standby --> Desktop

      These are better tests now and from what I saw Windows 8 seems to have that improved. It sure improved the wireless connection speed on boot/wakeup compared to Windows 7, now you're almost always connected before login.
      • Agreed

        The emphasis on boot speed is an almost useless metric. Yesterday I rebooted my PC for the first time in a month because of Patch Tuesday. Every other time it just goes to sleep and takes seconds to awake and become usable.
      • boot time

        keep in mind that boot time is still going to vary wildly form machine to machine, depending on the hardware installed and the hardware connected. My boot time is in minuets not seconds, but i can save a lot of time by disconnecting all the USB devices, currently about 8 hard drives, couple printer/scanners, and a video encoder. Built the computer just before windows 7 was released, so was first loaded with vista, when i upgraded to win 7 there was no noticeable improvement, maybe i could have measured it with a stop watch. The idea the win 8 might save me a few seconds just doesn't appeal to me enough to spend the money.
  • Application loading?

    That was Windows 7 main performance issue compared to XP. Although with falling SSD prices and overall hardware advancements, one would hope that any new midrange PC can just power through any application or OS sluggishness.