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Test System And Benchmarks

Do Virus Scanners Slow Down Your System?
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We begin by selecting the security software to test. We're curious to find out if Internet security suites might contain bloatware that could slow down a system more than a simple anti-virus program would, so we've included not only virus scanners, but also complete Internet security suites offered by noteworthy developers. This means we’re testing AVG Anti-Virus, AVG Internet Security, Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Kaspersky Internet Security, McAfee VirusScan Plus, McAfee Internet Security, Norton AntiVirus, Norton Internet Security, Trend Micro Titanium AntiVirus+, and Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security. [edit: we originally listed some obsolete versions of the AV software. The programs we actually tested were the newest available versions as of October, 2010]

Where benchmarks are concerned, we’ve assembled a suite of tests to exercise most aspects of PC performance, from gaming to office work. We’re testing raw application performance and also the time it takes for the system to respond to boot and to program launch requests. In order to do this, we’ve even developed some custom benchmarks, courtesy of our own Andrew Ku.

While we're running the benchmarks on an Athlon II X4 645, we'll be disabling two of the CPU cores for the majority of benchmarks. As a result, most of the benchmarks reflect the performance users can expect from a budget dual-core CPU. On page seven we run more benchmarks with only a single CPU core enabled, and also with all four CPU cores enabled, to see if the performance burden changes based on the number of execution cores available to the system.

With all this in mind, here are the particulars for our test system and benchmarks:

  Test System
MotherboardAsus M4A785TD-V EVO
Socket AM3, AMD 785G, BIOS 0410
ProcessorAthlon II X4 645
3.1 GHz, Quad-Core CPU
Multiplier set to 3.0 GHz
*CPU RESTRICTED TO DUAL-CORE OPERATION FOR MAJORITY OF BENCHMARKS TO DEMONSTRATE BUDGET DUAL-CORE CPU PERFORMANCE*
Single- and quad-cores enabled for CPU core comparison on page 7
CPU Cooler
Cooler Master Hyper TX3
MemoryCrucial DDR3-1333
Dual-Channel 2 x 2048 MB, 669 MHz,
CAS 9-9-9-24-1T
GraphicsRadeon HD 5830 Reference
1 GB GDDR5, 800 MHz GPU, 1000 MHz Memory
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 1000 GB
7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3Gb/s
Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 x64
DirectX Version
DirectX 11
Graphics DriversAMD Catalyst 10.9


And here's a list of the benchmarks:

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
High Quality, No AA
Audio/Video Encoding
TMPGEnc 4.0 ExpressVersion: 4.7.3.292
Import File: "Terminator 2" SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
Xvid 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
Productivity
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1.0 x64, All Benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2010Version 2010.1.16.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic
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Top Comments
  • 38 Hide
    Hupiscratch , November 30, 2010 6:44 AM
    I think Microsoft Security Essentials should be included if possible and there is a situation that I think it is greatly affected by anti-virus software: Windows start-up.
  • 32 Hide
    aznshinobi , November 30, 2010 5:48 AM
    Avast please?
  • 24 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , November 30, 2010 5:31 AM
    before i read the article, my guess is Norton is the slowest and most useless....
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    theshonen8899 , November 30, 2010 5:30 AM
    Great article, thanks!
  • 24 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , November 30, 2010 5:31 AM
    before i read the article, my guess is Norton is the slowest and most useless....
  • 24 Hide
    tony singh , November 30, 2010 5:41 AM
    How can u forget Avira , it's so popular & so good .
  • -3 Hide
    alyoshka , November 30, 2010 5:43 AM
    I guess the new ones are lighter than the earlier ones for some of them....
  • 4 Hide
    ruffopurititiwang , November 30, 2010 5:45 AM
    This is the kind of article that keeps me coming back to Tom's! Kudos!
  • 32 Hide
    aznshinobi , November 30, 2010 5:48 AM
    Avast please?
  • 4 Hide
    micr0be , November 30, 2010 5:49 AM
    talk about heavy modifications on the new set of AVs compared to the older ones ... my surprise is norton which i was expecting to cripple the system to a halt .... very nice article btw
  • 2 Hide
    tony singh , November 30, 2010 6:00 AM
    @Fip - Because when dirty viruses do their job, you'll get a headache.
  • 13 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , November 30, 2010 6:05 AM
    iam2thecrowebefore i read the article, my guess is Norton is the slowest and most useless....

    well i am really surprised
  • 2 Hide
    takeapieandrun , November 30, 2010 6:24 AM
    iam2thecrowewell i am really surprised

    I get Norton Security Suite free with Comcast. I was kind of bummed when I found out that's all they have available, but so far its been good to me. I haven't noticed any adverse effects, maybe startup is s little slower.
  • 24 Hide
    apache_lives , November 30, 2010 6:31 AM
    this is tested on a fresh install - the average system has a ~2 year old install and fragmentation and lower end hdd's, combind with a crapload of other software trying to startup - no really a real world benchmark.
  • 9 Hide
    Anonymous , November 30, 2010 6:31 AM
    it would have been useful to see a difference in the benchmarks using different HDDs like the 5400 RPM laptop ones, 7200 RPM and SSDs, that would have made a difference
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 30, 2010 6:43 AM
    Well the biggest slowdown you will experience with antivirus software is when you open a folder full of exe files and explorer tries to show all the icons of the executables. There is a very noticeable slowdown in that case.
    Also i would have liked a startup benchmark, because the antivirus also slowdowns somewhat the startup process.
  • 38 Hide
    Hupiscratch , November 30, 2010 6:44 AM
    I think Microsoft Security Essentials should be included if possible and there is a situation that I think it is greatly affected by anti-virus software: Windows start-up.
  • 5 Hide
    cjl , November 30, 2010 6:58 AM
    iam2thecrowewell i am really surprised

    Norton has VASTLY improved compared to what it used to be. I use Norton 360, and I have to say that it has been a great product.
  • -7 Hide
    Anonymous , November 30, 2010 7:04 AM
    2 ddragoonss
    thanks,
    AV is far from 100% protection, and could bring new problems (recently ESET NOD Smart Security causes problem with internet connection due to connection inspection / filtering ... ) For IT Pro is risk to get a virus very low, and if get one - few hours to get it out is worh instead of years of boring my pc with AV software
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