Things aren’t quite as clear-cut once we move on to real-world applications. Even benchmarks that usually react only to CPU speed show some unexpected results. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: drivers are most likely provoking the slowdowns on the newer OS. Possibly, they cause higher CPU load during disk access, resulting in lower performance.
AVG is one of the few cases in which Windows RC1 actually overtakes Windows XP, and by a clear margin, too. Since AVG is a multi-threaded application, this could indicate that Windows 7 handles threading more efficiently.
PDF Conversion and File Compression
These are two benchmarks that basically only react to CPU speed. They also allow us to check the hypothesis that Windows 7 is better at dealing with multi-threaded apps. Unlike Adobe’s PDF converter, WinRAR (version 3.80) can use multiple threads.
Interestingly, things don’t go that way at all. While the release candidate is faster at creating our PDF file, Windows XP churns through the WinRAR compression much faster. This can either mean that Windows 7 isn’t that much better at threading after all or--yes, again--that the drivers need some more love and optimization.
Although it can split its workload into two threads, iTunes is another example of an app that loves CPU power. Nonetheless, the older version of Windows comes in a few seconds ahead.
While using Photoshop CS3 is a gross misinterpretation of what the netbook platform is meant to do, this test should give us another interesting data point in the discussion about threading and resource management. Of course, it all depends on the filters you use, as some are multi-threaded while others aren’t. At any rate, Windows 7 is able to best XP this time around.