Effects of XP SP3 update on gaming

Does XP SP3 boost gaming performance? Let's find out!

Does XP SP3 boost gaming performance? Let's find out!

The tests

The tests will be carried out on the AMD Spider platform that I have set up in the lab (Phenom 9700, Radeon 3850 graphics card, 2GB of RAM …). I’ve used this system as the platform for a number of benchmarks over the past few months (for a full spec, see this post).

Here’s the deal. I took an XP SP2 image used for a previous benchmark and applied the XP SP3 update. The graphics card driver used was ATi Catalyst version 8.2. The FRAPS utility was used to measure frame rates.

Here’s a list of the games used:

  • BioShock
  • Call of Duty 4
  • Company of Heroes
  • Crysis
  • Doom 3
  • F.E.A.R.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Supreme Commander
  • Unreal Tournament 3
  • World in Conflict

For these tests we chose not to rely on any of the canned benchmark tools supplied with some of these games. Instead we relied on real-world play - that is, playing the same bit of the game on each of the platforms (a technique that HardOCP use when benchmarking). While this method is subject to variations, if you’ve played games for long enough and are familiar with the map, you can pull this off quite well.

Note: Why not used canned benchmarks? Well, by not doing so we are ruling out the possibility that the graphics card drivers that we use (or even the OS) has in any way been optimized to produce better results for the canned benchmarks that you might see in the game.

All the tests were run at 1280 x 1024 resolution in full-screen mode with the games set to either medium or high quality graphics.

So to come up with the average frame rate (measured in frames per second) we play the same bit in each game with FRAPS recording, repeat this four times. Once we were happy with the data we averaged it out to get a final frame rate score.

The results -->

The results

I took the results for XP SP3 and combined these with data that I collected in February when I benchmarked XP SP2, Vista RTM and Vista SP1.

Here are the results:

Effects of XP SP3 on gaming

Effects of XP SP3 on gaming


XP SP3 offers no meaningful gains or losses compared to XP SP2 when it comes to gaming. However, on the upside gamers can feel confident applying the update without fearing a drop on frame rates.

As always, your mileage WILL vary!


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