Windows 7 And Windows Vista: Performance Compared


Quick Scotty, beam me up!
Oct 27, 2009
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From Tom's Hardware Guide:

2:00 AM - 12/11/2009 by Patrick Schmid and Achim Roos

Table of contents

1 – How Much Better Is Windows 7?

Despite lots of innovation with SuperFetch and ReadyBoost, Windows Vista wasn’t popular. In fact, many users avoided upgrading from Windows XP to Vista altogether. Though the operating system was the first version of Windows with 3D animation, and it offered many new features, it didn’t deliver enough compelling reasons to replace XP, which can now be considered really mature (if not over the hill).

Indexing updates could be retrofitted to Windows XP, and Vista turned out to be more hungry for resources than previous Windows versions. Windows 7, however, has been out for a few weeks, and feedback has generally been great. We decided to revisit our first look at testing these two operating systems head-to-head and directly compare Windows Vista and Windows 7, to see if the reported benefits are really noticeable.

What is Performance at the OS Level?

Most people think of application performance when they talk about performance in general. However, the operating system plays a major role in the process chain that creates everyday computing experiences. The OS is what switches a processor between power-saving and fast operating states (or even intermediate active states that determine performance in Intel's Turbo Boost mode via P-states). The OS, or to be more precise its dispatcher, distributes threads across available processor resources, and Windows 7 is more aggressive about using thread headroom for the sake of performance.

However, performance also has to be defined by the user experience during ordinary operating system actions, such as system bootup, standby, application launching, hibernation, or shutdown. If the OS were a bit quicker on applications but consumed several minutes during start-up or shutdown, you’d probably want to ditch it. Hence our second round of testing not only includes benchmarks and application tests but also a look at these everyday operations..

From the Conclusion Page:

That Windows 7 was slated to be the next ”real” Windows shouldn’t surprise anyone, especially given such widespread use of the release candidates. However, how and where the final differences would be compared with Vista remained unclear. Now that we’ve run methodical performance testing of everyday operating system actions, such as bootup, standby (and resume), hibernation (and resume) and shutdown, we can finally see the reproducible benefits of Windows 7.

SYSmark 2007, once patched to version 1.06, can now run on Windows 7 and attest to Windows 7 performance benefits that are more substantial than what you’d get from purchasing the next faster CPU speed bin. Games also run faster on Windows 7. Other applications are mostly limited by CPU computing power rather than the operating system.

However, the most noticeable differences show up when you compare Windows 7 and Windows Vista doing everyday operating system operations. Startup, standby, and hibernation are much faster, proving that Microsoft had to turn many things upside down to reach these performance benefits. Given the fact that Windows 7 is more aggressive when it comes to performance versus power saving, considering the tangible performance benefits, and having felt the improved experience when handling Windows 7, our conclusion is rather strong this time: should you want to improve your Windows-based system, now is the time to change up to the next-generation edition—provided that you find driver support for all of your components, which may be particularly tricky for some notebooks.

Our conclusion is not only valid for fast PCs but also for all systems that aren’t top of the line anymore. We’ve installed Windows 7 onto many different systems and found that the new OS is even more favorable if your system hardware isn’t particularly fast.

For instance, we noticed significant differences between Windows Vista and Windows 7 on Atom-based netbooks. Windows 7 showed much less stuttering than Windows XP and Vista. Just make sure you have enough RAM for Windows 7, as insufficient memory will slow down any system on every OS.


Oct 22, 2008
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Has Windows 7 had a bad review yet? The performance is so much better on older hardware, whereas you might have expected the system requirements to actually be higher.

Windows 7 seems to win almost every performance test, especially bootup/speed ones. I would hate to go back to XP/Vista now.



Sep 1, 2009
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I think Vista has had its day, XPs days are numbered, and the future looks bright for Windows 7 :)

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