Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Windows 8 Versus Windows 7: Game Performance, Benchmarked

Windows 8 Versus Windows 7: Game Performance, Benchmarked
By

We already know that the look and feel of Windows 8 is very different from Windows 7. But once you fire up your favorite title, does Microsoft's latest affect your experience? We test 10 games and talk to one of the company's SDEs to answer that question.

If you're a Tom's Hardware reader, I'm willing to bet you've endured your share of fresh Windows installations, perhaps even dating as far back as 1985 and Windows 1.0. This one, like those before, will give us new features. We'll love some of them, and we'll hate others. Things we've used for years will break, and other things we've needed add-on driver packages for in the past will work right out of the box. Certain capabilities have the potential to improve performance, and more overhead elsewhere will gnaw away at it.

Really, we don't expect to see gaming performance change in the move from Windows 7 to Windows 8. AMD even let us know prior to the FX-8350 launch that a properly patched Windows 7 machine shouldn't behave any differently from one with Windows 8 on it (that's why you didn't see us include Windows 8 numbers). Companies like AMD and Nvidia have had plenty of time for driver development, and proper support for modern graphics cards was in place on Microsoft's launch day. For the most part, once you fire up your favorite game, your experience should be pretty similar.

"But wait a second," exclaims the well-read, now-troubled gamer. "What about Gabe Newell's statement that 'I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space'"? Gabe seems to know what he's doing most of the time, Valve Corporation is a respected game development company, and Steam is a massive digital distribution platform. Of course we raised our eyebrows when he declared that Valve is investing serious resources into a Linux-based version of Steam and adapting its games to run on the open-source operating system. So, what's the deal, really? Is Windows 8 irreparably bugged? Should gamers avoid it at all costs and stay with Windows 7?

I saw an interview where Gabe claimed that Windows 8 has a terrible interface, and that everything is a lot more difficult to do in the new OS. To his credit, I've been using the RTM of Windows 8 for a while now, and I agree that it should be possible to completely avoid the Metro interface on a desktop PC. But I don't think Microsoft's latest is a sign of the apocalypse.

It's very brash to sweep the desktop-and-icon paradigm under the rug. And yes, this is going to alienate a lot of people. But I'd also like to think that the enthusiast crowd is pretty adaptable. Figuring out how to launch games from Steam isn't going to take very long at all, and after some hands-on time, the folks determined to learn their way around Windows 8 will do so. Gaming won't screech to a halt unless the operating system outright breaks an older title.

I believe Gabe's main issue with Windows 8, and it's one he's addressed, is the new Windows Store. This is Microsoft's equivalent of Apple's App store, and the company similarly takes a 30% cut of everything sold there. An ever bigger concern is that Microsoft might disallow certain software to run on its new operating system. Sound a little like Apple's closed platform? The development community is rightly afraid that Microsoft's Windows Store is going down the same path. And while it's clear that the company will exercise control over what is offered in its Store, nobody is certain what will happen outside of it. Hence, Newell is willing to spend (or at least threaten to spend) big money on development for Linux.

As far as I'm aware, Microsoft hasn't done anything to wall off Windows 8. You can install Steam without an issue, along with any other legacy application. Of course, this is a different story entirely on Windows RT, which is being limited to applications available through the Windows Store. As a result, it's going to be harder for Valve to make as much money on Windows RT-based devices, and developers have to be worried that Microsoft may go a similar route in Windows 8 as well, taking a share of each sale they make. 

For the time being, then, aside from learning the new interface, the main concern you're going to have is how your favorite titles perform on the new operating system. Windows 8 does update DirectX to version 11.1 (Direct3D 11.1, DXGI 1.2, WDDM 1.2, etc.), but at least for the time being, we're not expecting much difference. Even still, we had to see for ourselves if frame rates or compatibility would be negatively affected. And so we're comparing 10 of our favorite titles in both Windows 7 and 8.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 202 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 48 Hide
    saintjimmy , October 27, 2012 4:49 AM
    I still plan on sticking with Windows 7 for a few more years...
  • 41 Hide
    mubin , October 27, 2012 4:42 AM
    Only the fast boot time is noticeable in win 8. But still win7 is great and i love it as its 1years+ old running in my system, no crash, still fast.
  • 28 Hide
    ojas , October 27, 2012 4:53 AM
    Hmmm...wasn't expecting anything else.

    No compelling reason to upgrade for me yet.

    Windows NT 7 is where it's at. B-)



    EDIT: I KNOW Vista, 7 & 8 are NT 6.
Other Comments
  • 41 Hide
    mubin , October 27, 2012 4:42 AM
    Only the fast boot time is noticeable in win 8. But still win7 is great and i love it as its 1years+ old running in my system, no crash, still fast.
  • 21 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , October 27, 2012 4:48 AM
    It's good to see that there aren't any major performance deficits when moving to Windows 8, like some past Microsoft OS's. For the most part everything looks to be within the margin of error.
  • 48 Hide
    saintjimmy , October 27, 2012 4:49 AM
    I still plan on sticking with Windows 7 for a few more years...
  • 25 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , October 27, 2012 4:49 AM
    steve360Another reason NOT to buy Windows 8...I mean Windows Vista 2.

    And what reason is that? It seems pretty positive from a performance standpoint, which was the purpose of this article.
  • 28 Hide
    ojas , October 27, 2012 4:53 AM
    Hmmm...wasn't expecting anything else.

    No compelling reason to upgrade for me yet.

    Windows NT 7 is where it's at. B-)



    EDIT: I KNOW Vista, 7 & 8 are NT 6.
  • 13 Hide
    lockhrt999 , October 27, 2012 5:05 AM
    My current win7 installation is more than 2 years old. I never used windows installations that are older than 4-5 months. Yes, win7 ages too but it's too slow and well managed compared to old windows OS.

    And yes win8 has better RAM and processor management as touted, but then you lose more time navigating through blocky interface. You complete your work a 3 seconds more with win8 but you had taken 5 more seconds to start that program from blocky interface.
  • 20 Hide
    mafisometal , October 27, 2012 5:15 AM
    lockhrt999My current win7 installation is more than 2 years old. I never used windows installations that are older than 4-5 months. Yes, win7 ages too but it's too slow and well managed compared to old windows OS.And yes win8 has better RAM and processor management as touted, but then you lose more time navigating through blocky interface. You complete your work a 3 seconds more with win8 but you had taken 5 more seconds to start that program from blocky interface.


    You do know that you can use a program called Star8 by StarDock to get your desktop and toolbar back...it works quite well, no problems over here.
  • 20 Hide
    A Bad Day , October 27, 2012 5:18 AM
    mafisometalYou do know that you can use a program called Star8 by StarDock to get your desktop and toolbar back...it works quite well, no problems over here.


    The problem is that Star8 and other 3rd-party tools haven't been able to fully replicate Win7's Start function.
  • 19 Hide
    Anonymous , October 27, 2012 5:30 AM
    looks like M$ is going the route of Apple and making a idiot proof OS, which is, well, good for IDIOTS :)  anyone who actually wants to more than check email and play a game needs to stick to windows 7
  • 19 Hide
    agnickolov , October 27, 2012 5:42 AM
    Seems like DirectX 11 only testing. What about DirectX 9?
  • 6 Hide
    killerclick , October 27, 2012 5:42 AM
    Another myth busted. Even the faster boot times are about making tradeoffs.
  • 10 Hide
    agnickolov , October 27, 2012 5:46 AM
    ojasHmmm...wasn't expecting anything else.No compelling reason to upgrade for me yet.Windows NT 7 is where it's at. B-)

    Well, Windows 7 is actually NT 6.1, while Windows 8 is NT 6.2...
  • 26 Hide
    mykebrian , October 27, 2012 6:13 AM
    what i really don't like on windows 8 is just the start menu. i hope they'll introduce an option if you want to have the metro style or the windows 7 style.
  • 8 Hide
    wildkitten , October 27, 2012 6:18 AM
    The main concern over Win8 is the question that is still unresolved...what is MS's approach to their Windows Store going to be. If they intend to try to close off outside development, well, it will kill Windows. What they need to do is come out and answer the question one way or another or else Win8 may very flop to begin with.

    I'm still confused about the interface and UI. Some articles say MS is trying to make it hard to have a classic desktop yet I've seen articles with screenshots showing a very Windows 7 like desktop.
  • 11 Hide
    tomfreak , October 27, 2012 6:18 AM
    lol I am pretty sure I get more performance upgrading RAM than paying upgrade cost to upgrade from win7.
  • -5 Hide
    ojas , October 27, 2012 6:32 AM
    agnickolovWell, Windows 7 is actually NT 6.1, while Windows 8 is NT 6.2...



    I meant Win NT 7 when it releases.
  • 6 Hide
    Bloob , October 27, 2012 6:43 AM
    wildkittenThe main concern over Win8 is the question that is still unresolved...what is MS's approach to their Windows Store going to be. If they intend to try to close off outside development, well, it will kill Windows. What they need to do is come out and answer the question one way or another or else Win8 may very flop to begin with.I'm still confused about the interface and UI. Some articles say MS is trying to make it hard to have a classic desktop yet I've seen articles with screenshots showing a very Windows 7 like desktop.


    Win 8 is pretty much identical to Win 7, Start menu has just been replaced with Start screen. Win RT does not allow applications to be installed to desktop ( people would just get confused why their x86 applications don't work on ARM ). Every store that currently works on Win 7, will work on Win 8.
  • 22 Hide
    Todd Sauve , October 27, 2012 6:47 AM
    I've been using the Win 8 Release Candidate for several months now on a spare PC I built out of used parts, with an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ CPU and 2 gigs of RAM. It works fine, though I hate the new interface and use the free Start8 utility to do away with it.

    After all is said and done I find that the only real advantage it has over Win 7 is that it starts and closes faster.

    To which I must conclude "So what?"

    If that is all there is to Win 8 I will gladly keep Win 7 and save myself a lot of aggravation and money.
Display more comments