Windows XP Performance

Wndows XP is fast. But how fast is fast? At ZDNet Labs, we use several different versions of Windows on identical desktop systems to find out the answer.
Written by Serdar Yegulalp, Contributor
After days of testing at ZDNet Labs using several different versions of Windows on identical desktop systems, we can summarize the performance of XP with this simple statement: If you've been using Windows 2000, the performance you'll get with XP is virtually identical; if you've been using Windows Me, 98 or 98 SE, or 95, your system is going to feel like it has a whole new lease on life.

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On BAPCo's SysMark 2001 test suite, XP was 10 percent faster than Windows Me and neck-and-neck with 2000. The differences were most pronounced on Internet content creation applications, and less significant on business productivity applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel. On our 3D graphics tests (MadOnion.com's 3DMark 2001 Pro), Me still comes out on top, though XP has closed the gap edging out 2000 at both 16- and 32-bit color. It was less impressive on our Adobe Photoshop 6.0 tests, where it lagged behind both 2000 and Me.

In addition to our usual battery of benchmarks, we also tested the boot, shutdown, and standby performance of XP--all of which Microsoft has been working hard to improve. XP shaves more than 16 seconds off the total boot time versus 2000, and 11 seconds versus Me. Oddly, the shutdown time was actually slower than either, especially Me which managed to do it in 5 seconds flat. XP performed well going into and out of Standby.

All tests were performed on Dell Dimension 8100 desktop PCs with identical components and drivers. We reported results using Windows XP Professional, however, ZDNet Labs also performed limited testing with the Home version, which yielded nearly identical performance except in the boot time tests, where it seemed to have a slight edge over Professional.

One other anomaly you should be aware of. XP has a number of self-tuning features that are designed to enhance performance based on your system configuration and usage pattern. For example, XP watches which applications you use and, once every 3 days during idle time, it will automatically place the associated files near one another on the hard drive and closer to the more dense outer edge of the disk. This reduces the seek times and should improve application launch speed, especially on larger hard drives. Currently, the BAPCo benchmarks do not measure application launch times.

  Windows XP Professional Windows 2000 Windows Me
OS version tested Windows XP Professional 5.1.2600 Build 2600 Windows 2000 5.00.2195 Service Pack 2 Windows Me 4.90.3000
Productivity Applications
BAPCo SYSmark 2001 Rating 167 168 152
Internet Content Creation Rating 184 189 162
Office Productivity Rating 151 149 143
3D and Gaming
MadOnion.com's 3DMark 2001 Pro (16-bit color) 4,721 4,672 4,803
MadOnion.com's 3DMark 2001 Pro (32-bit color) 4,202 4,183 4,253
Quake III Arena [FPS] 122.3 122.5 120.0
MadOnion.com's Video2000 - MPEG-2 Encoding Performance [FPS] 39.4 39.8 42.3
Adobe Photoshop 6.0 [minutes:seconds] 05:55 05:30 05:33
SPECviewperf 6.12 [tested at 1280x1024x32-bit @ 75Hz]
AWadvs-04 Viewset [FPS] 74.6 73.5 75.0
DRV-07 Viewset [FPS] 18.1 17.7 17.7
DX-06 Viewset [FPS] 27.0 26.5 26.7
Light-04 Viewset [FPS] 7.9 7.3 8.5
MedMCAD-01 Viewset [FPS] 18.1 17.7 18.0
ProCDRS-03 Viewset [FPS] 15.6 15.3 15.6
Desktop make and model Dell Dimension 8100 Dell Dimension 8100 Dell Dimension 8100
Processor Intel Pentium 4 1,700MHz Intel Pentium 4 1,700MHz Intel Pentium 4 1,700MHz
FSB Clock Speed 400MHz 400MHz 400MHz
System Memory 256MB RDRAM, 400MHz, PC800 256MB RDRAM, 400MHz, PC800 256MB RDRAM, 400MHz, PC800
Motherboard chipset Intel 850 Intel 850 Intel 850
Graphics chipset nVidia GeForce2 Ultra nVidia GeForce2 Ultra nVidia GeForce2 Ultra
Video memory 64MB DDR 64MB DDR 64MB DDR
Graphics driver nVidia nVidia nVidia
Hard drive Maxtor 5T060H6, 60GB, ATA/100, 7200rpm Maxtor 5T060H6, 60GB, ATA/100, 7200rpm Maxtor 5T060H6, 60GB, ATA/100, 7200rpm
File system NTFS NTFS FAT32
Lower scores are better
Bold type denotes top score.

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