Here’s How We Booted Windows 10 in 4.9 Seconds (Now, Beat Us)

When you’re staring at the screen, waiting for Windows to start, seconds can seem like hours. And though PCs today boot faster than ever, there’s plenty of room for improvement. That’s why we set out to build the world’s fastest booting Windows 10 computer. After weeks of experimentation with different hardware and tweaking system settings, we were able to go from hitting the power button to opening the Windows desktop in just 4.93 seconds.

Below, we’ll show you how we achieved this time while giving tips on how to make your PC boot faster.  Keep in mind that, like yanking the passenger seats out to make your car a tiny bit quicker, some of this advice (ex: using a blank password) isn’t meant for everyday use. We’re eager to see if you can top our time (more on that below).

The Hardware

While just about anyone can get faster boot times with the advice below, having the right mix of hardware is a huge factor in getting an epic boot time. Here’s the exact configuration we used to achieve our results.

Motherboard
ASRock Z370M Pro4 ($119.99 On Amazon)
CPU Intel i7 8700K ($379.99 On Amazon)
RAM G.Skill Ripjaws V 3600MHz CL17 ($255.53 On Amazon)
PSU be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 850W ($199.00 On -)
SSDs Intel Optane SSD 905P (1TB) ($1299.99 On Newegg)
Intel Optane SSD 800P (118GB) ($198 On Newegg)
Samsung 970 EVO (1TB) ($399 On Newegg)
Intel SSD 660p (1TB) ($189.89 On Newegg)
Samsung 860 EVO (500GB) ($169.99 On Amazon)
WD Blue HDD (500GB) ($45.98 On Newegg)
Cooler CRYORIG H5 Ultimate ($46.99 On Amazon)
Case be quiet! Dark Base 900 ($169.99 On Newegg)

SSDs

It’s 2018 already so, if you don’t have an SSD in your system by now, it’s time to get shopping. SSDs are a game changer when it comes to the responsiveness of a system. You swap out your archaic HDD and throw in one of these speedy little guys and your boot time will plummet from the upgrade alone.  However, not all SSDs are created equal.

For the fastest boot times, get a fast PCIe NVMe-based SSD, instead of a slower SATA-based drive. PCIe-NVMe drives offer faster performance, and models like the Intel 660p even cost the same as its SATA competitors.

If you want the absolute fastest boot times and price is of no concern, Intel SSDs with Optane memory are the way to go. They have much lower access times than NAND-based SSDs and feature the fastest 4K read and write speeds we’ve seen from a storage device yet. You can’t get faster than the Intel Optane SSD 905P, but it isn’t compatible with laptops natively as it is a HHHL (Half-Height Half-Length) PCIe add-in card (AIC). For laptops you can grab the smaller M.2 2280 form factor Optane SSD 800P for your operating system. Alternatively, you can get the runner up, Samsung 970 PRO, the fastest NAND-based NVMe M.2 SSD out.

If these are too pricey for you, then then Samsung 970 EVO, ADATA XPG GAMMIX S11, or the cheaper Intel SSD 660p are good choices. If you need a SATA drive, there’s many options to choose from, but some our top picks right now are Samsung’s 860 PRO and EVO, Crucial’s MX500, and WD’s Blue 3D SSD.

Motherboards

Motherboard choice has major effect on overall boot time as well. Just think about how long you’re waiting for the computer to finish its POST (Power On Self-Test) process. Your motherboard is busy initializing and testing components before your drive even begins loading Windows.

For the best POST time, you need a motherboard that supports something called Fast boot, also referred to as Hardware Fast Boot or something similar (perhaps even “Windows 8 Feature.”). It almost goes without saying that this feature is only available on modern motherboards that use UEFI (Universal Extensible Firmware Interface) rather than the old-fashioned BIOS (Basic Input / Output System).

Motherboards from different manufacturers have different POST time optimizations and some motherboards will POST faster than others, even if they have similar features. ASRock has an Ultra-Fast boot mode that is faster than the normal Fast boot mode. To achieve our epic boot time, we used an ASRock Z370M Pro4, which can post in just 2.7 seconds if you configure it the way that we did.

RAM

It's crazy to think that RAM has an effect on boot time, but it does. Most PC enthusiasts know that using DIMMs in pairs yields the best performance. However, going after the fastest boot time we could we found out that using a single DIMM at a lower capacity resulted in a faster boot. We got our fastest result with a single, 4GB DIMM, which is  less RAM than anyone should use in 2018.

The UEFI POST only showed only a decrease of 0.2 seconds going from two DIMMs to one. Using one or two 8GB DIMMs resulted in essentially the same boot time as two 4GB DIMMs. Scaling out to 4 DIMMs, however, resulted in an approximately 3 second longer boot time. So more RAM, or at least using more DIMMs, can increase your boot time. Utilizing denser DIMMs could be advantageous.

RAM Config
Total POST TimeTotal Boot Time
Single 4GB DIMM2.7 seconds5.1 seconds
Dual 4GB DIMM (8GB)2.9 seconds5.3 seconds
Single 8GB DIMM2.9 seconds5.3 seconds
Dual 8GB DIMMs (16GB)2.9 seconds5.3 seconds
Quad DIMMs (2x4GB + 2x8GB)4.2 seconds8.17 seconds

Graphics Cards

Your GPU also has an impact on POST time. If you are using integrated graphics or have one of the latest cards out that support UEFI Graphics Output Protocol (GOP), then you are set. GOP is a new way the GPU and the UEFI communicate. It enables the removal of VGA hardware dependencies, which results in a more streamlined interaction between hardware.

If you don’t have a GOP compatible GPU, it’s time to upgrade. Nvidia and AMD 7 series GPUs and newer all support GOP. If you have a 6XX Series Nvidia card, you might be able to download an updated VBIOS (firmware) from the manufacturer to gain GOP support.

Also, having no graphics card installed in the system, using only the integrated graphics, will decrease boot time as well. When testing with a dedicated GOP compatible GPU we saw a 1.2 second increase in overall boot times. In other words, discrete graphics will slow your boot time significantly, but if you want to play games, you probably want a video card.

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54 comments
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  • Peter Martin
    nice.
  • David_693
    Link and info for the Intel 660p SSD are for the 512GB model NOT 1TB, $99 was too good to be true!
  • Peter Martin
    you know, I put an 850 evo in my kids asus laptop at it boots as fast or faster with fast-boot. we hit the button and it's almost instant. he loves that stupid laptop. when he got it, it had a 5400 rpm in it... lol, he hated it. i could not believe it once I installed the ssd and windows 10 fresh. I was stunned. i did a bunch of timings with my stopwatch, not that accurate but still, 3-5 seconds boot to usable is amazing.
  • Colif
    Software tab only talks about bios, mentioning you set up netplwiz in win 10 to auto login would have helped or PC wouldn't be getting to desktop in that speed :)
  • MrSpaccacerque
    How you calculated the starting up time?
  • stdragon
    Does booting from a Win10 VM stored on a RAM Disk qualify? :)
  • davidgirgis
    Here's How I rebooted Windows 10 in 4.5 Minutes:
    (Now, Beat Me)

    2012 13" Macbook Pro 9,2
    Windows 10 Pro via Boot Camp
    Restart from Desktop to Desktop in 2:29
    Not usable until the 5400 rpm hard drive goes down from 100% utilization at 4:27
  • davidgirgis
    Anonymous said:
    Does booting from a Win10 VM stored on a RAM Disk qualify? :)


    Yes. You qualify because you used a combination of Hardware and Software. Albeit, non-traditionally.
  • maestro0428
    Great article. Somethings I can try to speed up my boot times, although I typically leave my PC on 24/7.
  • Co BIY
    In the first table of boot times is the third place drive the 970 EVO or 970 PRO ?
  • spdragoo
    Although the NVMe drives are measurably faster, I have to say that most users (like me) aren't really going to notice the 1-1.5 second reduction in boot time. If I'm that much of a d****bag that I'm going to complain about a SATA SSD taking 6-7 seconds to boot vs. 5 seconds for an NVMe SSD, I just need to keep my opinion to myself.
  • geekinchief
    I don't think booting a VM should count. It's from hitting the power button to Windows desktop appearing. There's little or no POST time on VMs.
  • chrpai
    Isn't this typical? I can't say I go around measuring my boottime because it hasn't been an issue in years. I have a laptop with a core i7 and SSD and it's ready to log me in just moments after I pressed the power button.

    These days the problem seem to be more trying to get into bios setup screens, safe modes, boot network, book usb and so on because it all flies by so fast.
  • quimby999
    mines not 5 seconds but under 15 and I'm happy
  • boyevil
    Crunchbang: Hold my beer and watch this!
  • USAFRet
    Numbers like this provide a good look into how little Optane, or even the NVMe drives, really benefit over standard SATA III SSD.

    The uber fast Optane is only 1.17 sec faster than the garden variety 860 EVO SATA III. But at 7x the price.
    The 970 is only half second faster than the 860.



    Diminishing returns.
  • lordsnake
    My system already boots in about 6 seconds, which is more than fast enough. Making it boot 1-2 seconds quicker is going to make no difference in my life whatsoever, so really not worth spending on.

    I currently have a Samsung 860 evo SSD.
  • Colif
    Anonymous said:
    Isn't this typical? I can't say I go around measuring my boottime because it hasn't been an issue in years. I have a laptop with a core i7 and SSD and it's ready to log me in just moments after I pressed the power button.

    These days the problem seem to be more trying to get into bios setup screens, safe modes, boot network, book usb and so on because it all flies by so fast.


    You can access all of those menus from inside windows 10

    Bios screen -
    go to settings/update & security/recovery
    click Restart now button under Advanced Startup
    choose troubleshoot
    choose advanced
    choose UEFI firmware interface
    PC should restart and put you in the BIOS

    Safe mode
    go to settings/update & security/recovery
    under advanced start up, click Restart now button under Advanced Startup
    choose troubleshoot
    choose advanced
    choose start up options
    hit the restart button
    choose a safe mode (it doesn't matter which) by using number associated with it.
    Pc will restart and load safe mode

    Boot USB
    Put USB in PC
    go to settings/update & security/recovery
    under advanced start up, click Restart now button under Advanced Startup
    Choose Use a Device
    pick USB from list, PC will restart and boot from USB.

    what do you mean by Boot network?
  • seanwebster
    Anonymous said:
    How you calculated the starting up time?
    Taking video

    Anonymous said:
    In the first table of boot times is the third place drive the 970 EVO or 970 PRO ?

    970 EVO is the third in the chart. The 970 PRO is just slightly faster.
  • anort3
    I just read the article 3 times and either I fail comprehension or the article fails to mention how the times were calculated? Had to find it in the comments?

    Wouldn't it be amazing if there was free software, available for years, that would calculate boot times for you and avoid the hassle of taking video......

    http://www.greatis.com/bootracer/

    OK to be fair it ONLY calculates Windows boot times but motherboards vary greatly in POST times.