Windows XP vs. Vista: The Benchmark Rundown

Is Windows Vista Faster Than XP?

Our Windows Vista coverage began with a hands-on diary by MobilityGuru's Barry Gerber, followed by an assessment of gameplay under Windows Vista by graphics presidente Darren Polkowski, as well as a complete feature rundown of Vista. Barry took the new operating system and its look & feel with a grain of salt, while Darren was disappointed because OpenGL support was dropped along the way, meaning that Windows Vista currently offers horrible performance for graphics applications utilizing the Open Graphics Library.

We are sure that mainstream users will appreciate the improved usability of Windows Vista, and the average office/multimedia user will likely never notice the lack of OpenGL. However, a chapter on the overall performance of Windows Vista requires more dedication. In particular, two things require an in-depth analysis:

  • Basic Windows Vista Performance
    How does Windows Vista perform compared to Windows XP? Will applications execute equally quickly, or will they even run slower due to the new features and the AeroGlass interface?
  • Windows Vista Performance Enhancements
    With SuperFetch and ReadyBoost, Windows Vista introduces two features to make use of today's technology in order to improve the user experience. This means that more application data should be actively cached into all available memory (SuperFetch), whether that is physical RAM or a USB Flash memory device (ReadyBoost). Microsoft's goal was to create balanced performance by removing delays in everyday work.

This article deals with basic application execution under Windows Vista Enterprise, which is representative of the other editions. We put together a high-end test system and performed a comprehensive benchmark session both with Windows XP Professional and with Windows Vista Enterprise to see if there are differences. And indeed, we found that there are some...

Software And Vista

Although the main Windows Vista core has undergone lot of modifications, many of your applications will work with Vista. There is, however, no guarantee. You should definitely try any essential software on Windows before you upgrade.

Process scheduling and thread pooling have been improved in Vista; a deadlock protection mechanism and hardware partitioning for virtualization support were added, together with many more features.

We tried lots of different programs under Windows Vista Enterprise, and came up with a list of software that definitely works.


  • Call of Duty 2
  • Far Cry
  • F.E.A.R.
  • Unreal Tournament 2004


  • Adobe Acrobat 8
  • Adobe Photoshop CS2
  • Autodesk 3DSMax 8.0
  • AutoGK 2.4
  • Hamachi
  • KeePass 1.06
  • LAME MP3 Encoder
  • MainConcept H.264 Encoder
  • Miranda Messager 0.5.1
  • Microsoft Office 2003
  • Microsoft Office System 2007
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Mozilla Thunderbird
  • Nokia PC Suite
  • Ogg Vorbis 1.1.2
  • OpenOffice 2.1
  • Picasa 2
  • Putty
  • Skype 2.5.x and 3.0
  • SmartFTP 2.0
  • Sungard Adaptive Credit Risk Calculation 3.0
  • SonyEricsson PC Suite 1.30.82
  • SQLyog 5.22
  • Symantec AntiVirus
  • UltraEdit 32 12.10
  • WinRAR 3.70
  • XviD 1.2.0


  • 3DMark 06
  • Cinebench
  • PCMark05 Pro
  • SiSoft Sandra 2007
  • SPECviewperf 9.03

In other cases there were some issues.

We found Vista updates for the Futuremark benchmark programs 3DMark and PCMark, as well as the popular data compression tool WinRAR. Lots of video-related software such as DivX could no longer be installed; new versions are required. The popular audio player WinAMP 5.32 throws up an error at startup, yet it works properly. Quake IV can still be executed, but the installation program did not work. Applications that run their own memory management won't benefit from Vista's SuperFetch function. For example, Adobe Photoshop takes care of creating a temporary work file every time it launches - Vista has no access to this process and cannot speed it up.

There are some types of software that you should only use if they have been specifically designed for Windows Vista: firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software needs to be Vista-Ready.

Join our discussion on this topic

  • 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!!!