Gaming Performance Compared: Windows 7 vs Vista vs Windows XP
For some of you, Windows 7 is here. For others, it's coming soon. The question we as gamers all want to know is will Windows 7 finally deliver on all the hype that began during the run up to Vista’s launch. Will it finally "unite the clans": gamers who love Windows XP's performance and scalability, versus the Vista gamers who have been enjoying DirectX 10 visuals and performance enhancements found in games like Far Cry 2.
I’m not going to spoil the answer on the first page of this article – that’s what the benchmarks are for – but I will say that as much as I rightly criticized Vista’s gaming performance back in January 2007, it ultimately did get a bit of a bad rep.
Sure, eye candy features like Aero Glass performed terribly with some hardware, USB transfers were slower, and user account control was so annoying most people just turned it off, but just as Microsoft was to blame for some of Vista’s problems, equally culpable were the hardware manufacturers. Intel had no business lobbying Microsoft to lower requirements in order to get their 915 chipset certified as “Vista Capable”, and nearly all the manufacturers were too slow in optimizing their Vista drivers for performance, if they had a Vista driver at all. Despite the fact that Microsoft had issued numerous public betas and release candidates for Vista, graphics drivers for instance were missing features and suffered from poor performance in some games on launch day.
All this bad news weighed heavily on the Vista launch. As the saying goes “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Well, Microsoft learned this lesson the hard way with Vista. Even though many of these issues were resolved within 8 months of Vista’s launch
, public perception had already dragged Vista down.
With Service Pack 2 and the latest drivers, it’s now a great gaming OS, but no one knows it or is willing to admit it.
Today we’re here to see how Microsoft’s latest and greatest OS, Windows 7, stacks up against its predecessors, Windows XP and Windows Vista. Inside you’ll find benchmarks of the 32-bit and 64-bit flavors of all three operating systems, bringing the grand total of OS’s tested to six. We’ve also gathered a mixture of games to see which OS runs them best. There’s a lot of incorrect assumptions out there about 32-bit versus 64-bit, and XP vs Vista performance, so hopefully this article will help clear the air a bit.
As any enthusiast knows, one of the keys to game performance is graphics drivers. A good, up to date driver contains performance tweaks and optimizations for the latest software. This includes games and the OS. Both ATI and NVIDIA are using the same unified driver for Vista and Windows 7, but they’re claiming that memory management tweaks implemented in Windows 7 can lead to performance improvements in some situations.
We’ll be putting that to the test, as we’re comparing drivers from both manufacturers, including 2-Way SLI and CrossFire. We all remember what a mess multi-GPU performance was when Vista launched. It took months of work before ATI and NVIDIA had competent SLI and CrossFire drivers for Vista. We wanted to make sure history wasn’t repeating itself for Windows 7.
Let's get started shall we?