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Benchmarking Windows 7: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger?

Test Settings

Modern hardware and software deserve each other, so we used some of our latest parts to gauge the performance difference of each operating system.

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-870 (2.93 GHz, 8MB Cache)
CPU CoolerThermalright MUX-120
MotherboardAsus P7P55D, BIOS 0606 (09/03/2009), P55 Express Chipset, LGA 1156
RAMKingston KHX2133C9D3T1K2/4GX (4GB) DDR3-2133 at DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24
GraphicsXFX GeForce GTX 285 XXX Edition 670 MHz GPU, GDDR3-2500
Hard DriveWestern Digital Velociraptor WD3000HLFS, 300GB, 10,000 RPM, SATA 3 Gb/s, 16MB cache
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerCORSAIR CMPSU-850HX 850W, ATX12V v2.2, EPS12V
New OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Legacy OSMicrosoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 190.62 WHQL
ChipsetIntel INF

We used Asus’ P7P55D motherboard. Featuring Intel’s latest LGA 1156 socket and P55 Express PCH, the board took top honors, alongside one from Gigabyte, in our recent mainstream roundup. Better compatibility with this tester’s ancient drive-imaging software made Asus the default choice.

The reason for using so modern a motherboard is to support Intel’s latest LGA 1156 processors. Turbo Boost allows its Core i7-870 to increase CPU multipliers up to 27x (3.6 GHz), 26x (3.46 GHz), and 24x (3.2 GHz) for single-, dual-, and multi-threaded applications.

One significant fact about LGA 1156 processors is that they require high C-states (sleep states) for three cores in order to allow the highest multiplier to affect a single core. Rumors of better C-state function under Windows 7, if true, could give the new OS a significant performance advantage in single-threaded applications.

Thermalright’s new MUX-120 cooler brings Cogage True Spirit performance to LGA 1156 processors.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 8x AA
Far Cry 2Patch 1.03, DirectX 10, in-game benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 8x AA
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear SkyClear Sky Benchmark version Test Set 1: High Preset, DX10 EFDL, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX10 EFDL, 4x MSAA
World in ConflictPatch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo Test 1: High Details, No AA / No AF Test 2: Very High Details 4x AA / 16x AF
Audio/Video Encoding
Apple iTunesVersion: x64 Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98.2, wave to MP3 Audio CD "Terminator II" SE, 53 min
TMPEGEnc 4.0 ExpressVersion: Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes) Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4 Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1 Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kbp/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Adobe Photoshop CS4Version: 11.0 x64, Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8.5Version: 8.5.287, Virus base: 270.12.16/2094, Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
WinZip 12Version 12.1, WinZip Command Line Version 3.0, Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00 x64, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4aVersion 2009.9.15.130, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
BAPCo SYSmark 2007 PreviewVersion 1.05.958 Official Run (with conditioning run)
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.