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.

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The conclusions

We can draw some interesting conclusions from these benchmark results. The first and most obvious is that Microsoft has obviously worked hard to cut system boot times, as Microsoft previously promised. 

We don't reboot our PCs anywhere near as often as we once did, but a fast boot up time is still appreciated, and a PC that arrives at the logon screen or desktop quickly makes a good impression on both Microsoft and OEMs.

Hybrid boot, UEFI firmware and better use of sleep will make startup under Windows 8 even faster.

Next there's the fact that, as far as the synthetic and gaming benchmarks go, the differences between Windows 7, the Windows 8 RTM, the Consumer Preview and the Release Preview are negligible. 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.

This time around it seems that things have settled down quickly and that we're seeing performance that is on a par with a mature operating system. We can assume that as time goes on the graphics card makers will be able to squeeze more performance out of the operating system.

This is good news for anyone who is planning to make a swift switch to Windows 8 but also for those who want the best performance possible from their hardware.

We're also seeing quite an improvement when it comes to audio and video transcoding. This is something I've come to expect from Microsoft. It's an area that Microsoft seems to put effort into improving, and that trend continues with Windows 8. As we take more photos and video and handle more content, the ability to process them faster is welcome all round.

The higher than expected PCMark 7 score for the Windows 8 RTM, Release Preview and Consumer Preview compared to Windows 7 is interesting. Normally, I would be suspicious of such a difference between, 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 believe that this improvement is indeed genuine.

When I tested the Windows 8 Consumer Preview back in April I was concerned about the results I saw from the Heaven 3.0 test. The minimum FPS scores I got from this test seemed to suggest that when the frame rate dropped in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, it dropped further than it did under Windows 7.

Translating this into real world gaming, it would mean a poorer visual experience under Windows 8. However, it seems that this is an area that Microsoft has been working on, and in the Windows 8 RTM version I'm not seeing the same frame rate drops as I was seeing with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

From a performance perspective, I've very pleased with the way that Windows 8 has turned out. While there are no major performance differences between the Windows 8 Release Preview and the newly released Windows 8 RTM version, performance seems solid, and in areas where the platform lagged behind Windows 7, Microsoft seems to have put in the effort to close the gap.

Topics: Windows, Hardware, Operating Systems, Software

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52 comments
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  • so..

    you did a speed test with itunes installed?
    danjames2012
  • So...anyone with a Technet sub see W8 yet?

    Just checked mine and it's not there yet. Wondering if anybody else sees it.
    Aerowind
    • 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.
    ye
    • 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.
      lepoete73
      • 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.
        ye
      • 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.
        cavalrygeek
      • 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.
    owllnet
  • 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.
    CFWhitman
    • 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.
      Aerowind
      • 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.
        ye
        • 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.
      lepoete73
      • 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.
        ye
      • 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.
        knelson276
  • 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.
    JustCallMeBC