Windows XP vs. Vista: The Benchmark Rundown

What You Should Know About Benchmarking

Knowing that Windows Vista has its SuperFetch feature, it is important to set up your test system to receive maximum performance that is reproducible. This means that you should either make sure SuperFetch works as efficiently as possible, or that it doesn't have a varying impact on your benchmarking. The latter is only possible by returning to a cold memory state before commencing the benchmarking. Cold memory means that SuperFetch doesn't know about applications that it wants to buffer into the main memory. You can accomplish this by reinstalling Vista, or by restoring a system image that you created earlier.

The opposite of a cold memory state is a highly populated main memory. SuperFetch will adapt to usage patterns, proactively putting applications into the main memory, and keeping them there unless the memory is needed by other applications. Please note that this is different from conventional application caching, which leaves application data in the main memory after it is terminated.

In order to make Vista/SuperFetch aware of a popular application, it makes a lot of sense to train the system. This training is important for benchmarking purposes - which we'll talk more about in an upcoming article - but also is appealing to enthusiasts, who would like their systems to run as smoothly and quickly as possible. To train the system, make sure you execute your applications and workload several times before you start measuring performance. This might not have much of an impact on single applications, but benchmarking suites such as SYSmark can show significant differences between the first runs and later repetitions with SuperFetch flexing its muscles.

Our everyday work with Vista became more pleasant as Vista learned about our preferred applications: Microsoft Office Outlook launched noticeably faster, and Skype launched almost instantly. This smoothness, however, doesn't mean that applications run faster. It simply means that they are available much more quickly by relocating frequently accessed files from the slow hard drive into the quicker main memory.

Benchmarking Checklist

  • Tweak the OS: turn off animations and AeroGlass for maximum system performance.
  • Disable User Access Control to prevent it from interrupting certain benchmarks.
  • Have the OS process pending idle tasks
  • Turn off system restore
  • Install all applications, and execute them several times (with restarts in between) to make SuperFetch aware that you want them to be available.
  • Don't use the system after reboots during your SuperFetch training period: this way, Vista gets sufficient idle time to "superfetch" applications.
  • I can't tell if you were using 32 bit or 64 bit Vista? I think it makes a big difference.
  • They were using 32 bit version
  • I herd that Vista has been so bad in a number of different ways that Microsoft have decided to give up all hope and have started building a new operating system witch will scrap Vista once on the market, is there any truth in this?
  • @crazyjew: They are in fact making a new Windows (codenamed "Vienna") but this is just a scheduled release - they can't make money if don't make a new OS every few years!

    Well of course "Vista feel faster and smoother". It manages to use about 4 to 5 times as much RAM as XP. That's QUINTUPLE the memory! This is hardly an achievement, considering.
  • Vulcan64
    i am running a AMD6 X2 5600+ with 3gig DDR2 800mhz ram and a Nvidia 8600GT. And i have rund Vista 32bit and 64bit service pack 1 and i can say vista sucks i have problems with some of my software(updated for vista) and games don't run or they run but very crappy. On Xp Service pack 2 every thing run 110% without any problems. So i say stick to Xp for now and Please dont run service pack 3 there is something wrong with it, i don't know what but me and some others have notice some problems with it(performance and networking).
  • salem80
    I think Vista are laggy software
  • Vulcan64,
    i recomment u to return to teh old and good and really fast DOS. Remember it? no graphics, no mouse, no sound, no multitasking, no security, nothing fancy. but teh OS didn't consumed almost any hw resources. you would love it :)
  • lmao people are you serious? You're going to wait for Windows to come out with a NEW OS?? why? Switch to MAC or Linux. At least they aren't just trying to scam everyone out of their money, they deliver results and even have better support options. Whatever brainwashed opinions you have that Windows is a good brand, it's not true.. please open your eyes and get over your Microsoft "Crush" and see them for who they are.
  • Can you do benchmark tests, with service pack 1, with actually address the issue of slow file operations.

    Vista, actually uses all spare memory for caching, unlike xp which didn't and thus you had unused ram, I would rather have memory been used rather idle.

  • Fetching applications is good, so you end up USING your ram (if I have 4Gb ram is because I WANT to use them) but the drawback is that booting and starting rarely used apps became *slow as hell*, and also waking up from standby because the os must read out from disk lots of useless memory. What if your usage pattern varies much? You won't benefit at all from superfetching. That is exacly what happened to me... I gave up vista after a month or so of usage: a day it took almost 20 minutes to boot and start vmware server and a virtual machine on a 2Gbram/duo core2 laptop: a collegue with a single core,1Gb older laptop and gentoo linux booted and started 2 istances of the same vm in less than 5 minutes!!!