Windows 8 Versus Windows 7: Game Performance, Benchmarked

With A Couple Of Exceptions, Gaming on Windows 8 Is A Similar Experience

Of the 10 games we benchmarked, only one demonstrated a significant difference in moving from Windows 7 to Windows 8, and only on Nvidia's GeForce GTX 660. That game was Borderlands 2, where our average measured frame rate dropped from 86.6 to 81 FPS. But at that speed, the five-frame drop is hardly worth fretting over.

More bothersome was the compatibility issue we ran into in Sleeping Dogs, which affected Windows 8, but not Windows 7. When we chose the High detail preset, most of the in-game models simply disappeared. Fortunately, that geometry shows up again if you dial down the graphics quality. Hardly a favorable solution, but it's what we have for now. 

Aside from those couple of idiosyncrasies, performance under Windows 8 is indistinguishable from Windows 7. Any speed-up or slow-down would be almost impossible to identify during game play, and we expect compatibility issues to get patched quickly by game developers.

Curious about how Microsoft approached Windows 8 differently than older operating systems, which might not have enjoyed such a smooth transition, we approached Chuck Walbourn, senior software development engineer for Microsoft, who reminded us that the company does perform a ton of application compatibility testing. More interesting, though, was a blog post he brought to our attention on MSDN. In short, it tells us that some of the performance, power management, compatibility, and battery efficiency improvements that would have required a service pack update in the past are now being made available through Windows Update much sooner. Thus, it's possible that, in some situations, performance and compatibility will improve on zero-day as a result of Microsoft's new delivery mechanism.

Chuck also wrote a good blog post to developers earlier this year, helping explain how they ensure compatibility moving forward. From a greater focus on Direct3D 11 and its feature levels that extend support to older graphics architectures to adopting modern compilers, Chuck's guidance is something ISVs probably already know, but enthusiasts might enjoy digesting.

For all of the consternation that Microsoft's new user interface is receiving, we can at least rest assured that performance and compatibility are generally quite good. As far as more future-looking worries about Microsoft's Windows Store, well, we'll have to stay tuned for more on that.

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  • mubin
    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.
  • steve360
    Another reason NOT to buy Windows 8...I mean Windows Vista 2.
  • dragonsqrrl
    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.
  • saintjimmy
    I still plan on sticking with Windows 7 for a few more years...
  • dragonsqrrl
    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.
  • ojas
    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.
  • lockhrt999
    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.
  • mafisometal
    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.
  • A Bad Day
    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.
  • 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
  • agnickolov
    Seems like DirectX 11 only testing. What about DirectX 9?
  • killerclick
    Another myth busted. Even the faster boot times are about making tradeoffs.
  • agnickolov
    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...
  • laugh, windows 8 works fine and i love it on my 50" bigscreen. enjoy your small Start menu.
  • mykebrian
    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.
  • wildkitten
    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.
  • tomfreak
    lol I am pretty sure I get more performance upgrading RAM than paying upgrade cost to upgrade from win7.
  • ojas
    agnickolovWell, Windows 7 is actually NT 6.1, while Windows 8 is NT 6.2...



    I meant Win NT 7 when it releases.
  • Bloob
    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.
  • Todd Sauve
    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.
  • hunshiki
    I already pointed this out at the other article, but I guess I have to cross-post.
    Please understand that there is no performance benefit. No. None.

    Boot speed, shutdown speed and the other yadda are just marketing buzzwords. If you ever used Windows 8 for a longer while (a week is enough) you will notice it's got the very same boot speed. Especially if you count that none of the benchmarks count the startup time as full boot. They count the time until Metro (Modern UI) shows up. Which means the desktop is not even loaded. It's like comparing a desktop OS with iOS or other mobile operating systems.

    Other "snappiness" and whatnot. The UI is full of effects, animations, transitions. It's a fake sense of "snappiness".
    Gaming benchmark? Hah. Some of the games won't even work, and the rest just runs with the same speed.
  • designasaurus
    Please don't take this the wrong way, but I really wish you guys (Tom's) had used an FX processor to do these tests. I haven't believed a word of all the "win8 scheduler will bring 10-15% improvements in Bulldozer performance" rumors since the moment they started, and it would be nice to have some tests to point to show the truth of things.
  • xrodney
    crymoarlaugh, windows 8 works fine and i love it on my 50" bigscreen. enjoy your small Start menu.

    You can simply get graphical application start menu as gadget if you need it you don't need to buy new windows just for that. And if i want to use it as media player simply start XBMC which is way better then anything M$ can offer.

    For me Windows8 is just dumbed down version of windows 7 with removed functionality, slightly improved CPU/Memory management and painful system administration.
  • memadmax
    Not worth the hassle unless you got a touch device...