TechSpot: Windows 8 vs. Windows 7 Performance

Back when Vista first arrived I remember comparing how it performed to XP and being extremely disappointed with the results. Vista was generally rough around the edges and that included drivers, so gaming and productivity applications were more often than not slower in the new OS. Microsoft's PR machine has been hard at work over the past few months, trying to explain the numerous improvements Windows 8 has received on the backend. The good news is that it shows.

Coming from the two previews and now the final release of Windows 8, the OS seems smoother than Windows 7. It has been well documented that Windows 8 starts up and shuts down faster, so that wasn’t much of a surprise. Of course, this is merely an informal observation and we are here to back up those impressions with hard numbers (read: lots of benchmarks in the coming pages).

For comparing Windows 7 and Windows 8 we will measure and test the performance of various aspects of the operating system including: boot up and shutdown times, file copying, encoding, browsing, gaming and some synthetic benchmarks.

Read: Windows 8 vs. Windows 7 Performance

These articles are brought to you in partnership with TechSpot.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Razer Deathstalker Ultimate PC keyboard announced

Next Story

This is how the iPad Mini will probably look

49 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Where do i start pointing out the issues with that performance test?

They test on the fastest hardware, using SSD's etc. About 98% of people will not have the latest hardware, thats a fact.

But roll on with tenuous statistics using hardware that 2% of the population will ever use...

So that makes pretty much every test irrelevant and only of any interest to performance ******s, or gamers as i call them, who, after all are really the ones driving hardware update/upgrade cycles. The rest of us sane people who actually use the computer for meaningful, crazy things like work, will not see a scrap of difference whatsoever.

*yawn*

LiquidCrystalMeth said,
Where do i start pointing out the issues with that performance test?

They test on the fastest hardware, using SSD's etc. About 98% of people will not have the latest hardware, thats a fact.

But roll on with tenuous statistics using hardware that 2% of the population will ever use...

So that makes pretty much every test irrelevant and only of any interest to performance ******s, or gamers as i call them, who, after all are really the ones driving hardware update/upgrade cycles. The rest of us sane people who actually use the computer for meaningful, crazy things like work, will not see a scrap of difference whatsoever.

*yawn*

Please - what about those of us that are reporting the same thing, yet actually have hardware closer to what you say the majority of users have?

Take my own desktop (that's right - desktop). No touch. Older 1TB HDD. An Intel quad-core (Q6600) that Intel hasn't even manufactured since 200x (it dates back to XP), a notebook GPU in desktop clothing (AMD HD5450), yet it's used for everything from Office to gaming to software development. And Windows 8 *still* wins.

No SSD, either. (In other words, a mix of dead and last-legs hardware.)

Sounds more like you're looking for excuses not to upgrade, as opposed to looking for reasons to upgrade (the OS, not the hardware).

PGHammer said,

Please - what about those of us that are reporting the same thing, yet actually have hardware closer to what you say the majority of users have?

Take my own desktop (that's right - desktop). No touch. Older 1TB HDD. An Intel quad-core (Q6600) that Intel hasn't even manufactured since 200x (it dates back to XP), a notebook GPU in desktop clothing (AMD HD5450), yet it's used for everything from Office to gaming to software development. And Windows 8 *still* wins.

No SSD, either. (In other words, a mix of dead and last-legs hardware.)

Sounds more like you're looking for excuses not to upgrade, as opposed to looking for reasons to upgrade (the OS, not the hardware).

Yet, i bet when you bought your quad core it was at the time pretty much the fastest thing available? Certainly not mainstream.

My commentary was on the unrealistic hardware they always use on these "tests" and also on the hardware upgrade/update cycle only serving basement troll gamers and how that hardware doesnt even translate or resonate with people who actually use their PC's for productive, non gaming, tasks. I garauntee you the average user has never timed their boot or obsesses over it like gamer and hardware spec ******s

My point is that the original article is basically pointless because they tested using hardware that has little basis in reality for 98% of windows users.

My comment wasnt at individual users performance tests, mainly because that wasnt the topic of the story

And since youve brought up the user experiences subject theres a psychological component that if youre looking for increased performance, chances are you will infer it even if its not there. If i gave you a sugar pill when you had a headache, chances are better than 70% you would get relief from it The human mind is a fickle thing.

I still want to know if they used an old windows 7 install vs a fresh windows 8 install !
We all should know that an OS accumulates crap and degrades over time in a multitude of ways. SO unless both OS's are compared on fresh installs then its not a fair comparison at all !

Another fan boy site doing a review. And as always, everyone is afraid to pit XP vs something new in fear XP will out perform the newcomer. We did our own tests here at the shop, and while not over-the-top, XP was indeed faster on the same hardware vs 7 and 8.

But yes, 8 is marginally faster than 7 nothing noticeable outside of boot times. <rolleyes>

Mike Frett said,
Another fan boy site doing a review. And as always, everyone is afraid to pit XP vs something new in fear XP will out perform the newcomer. We did our own tests here at the shop, and while not over-the-top, XP was indeed faster on the same hardware vs 7 and 8.

But yes, 8 is marginally faster than 7 nothing noticeable outside of boot times. <rolleyes>


uh-huh, until you realize you're comparing an OS made in 2001 and a OS made in 2012.

Windows 8 has a gazillion more new features than Windows XP, it is absolutely outstanding for a OS that arrived 11 years later to deliver similar performance on the same hardware.

P.S. You're a fanboy yourself if you still think Windows XP is thee greatest thing ever.

Mike Frett said,
Another fan boy site doing a review. And as always, everyone is afraid to pit XP vs something new in fear XP will out perform the newcomer. We did our own tests here at the shop, and while not over-the-top, XP was indeed faster on the same hardware vs 7 and 8.

But yes, 8 is marginally faster than 7 nothing noticeable outside of boot times. <rolleyes>


... and boot times are faster because it basically uses hibernation.
Disable that and then compare boot times with Windows 7.

Mortis said,

... and boot times are faster because it basically uses hibernation.
Disable that and then compare boot times with Windows 7.

That's easy enough to do - start both OSes cold.

I mean shut down *completely*, unplug each computer. Wait five minutes, then restart. Windows 8's shutdown/restart cycle is faster than that of 7 - so much faster that it's scary. And I'm not running on new hardware - the hardware is an Intel Q6600 (three years dead), ASUS P5G41-M LX2/GB (consumer-stable and thus sans OC), AMD HD5450 512MB passive-cooled (notebook GPU in desktop clothing), 4GB DDR2-800, 1TB WD10EADS (and ex-MyBook at that) with 8 on the larger of it's two partitions (the other is home to Windows Server 2012).

PGHammer said,

Windows 8's shutdown/restart cycle is faster than that of 7 - so much faster that it's scary.

Anyone who leaves their computer on all the time doesn't care.

PS And don't be scared! Microsoft will try and fix this horror in Windows 9.

PGHammer said,

That's easy enough to do - start both OSes cold.

I mean shut down *completely*, unplug each computer. Wait five minutes, then restart. Windows 8's shutdown/restart cycle is faster than that of 7 - so much faster that it's scary. And I'm not running on new hardware - the hardware is an Intel Q6600 (three years dead), ASUS P5G41-M LX2/GB (consumer-stable and thus sans OC), AMD HD5450 512MB passive-cooled (notebook GPU in desktop clothing), 4GB DDR2-800, 1TB WD10EADS (and ex-MyBook at that) with 8 on the larger of it's two partitions (the other is home to Windows Server 2012).


You confuse standby and hibernation. Even if you unplug your computer, when it'll start, it'll un-hibernate.

SuperFetch performance has been increased noticeably. Apps such as Photoshop CS6, and VS 2012 as mentioned, start very fast.

Upgraded to the Radeon drivers for W8 released yesterday, noticed several bugs gone and smoother performance. Drivers will catch up quick, and releases timed around the same as W8 Retail will yield much better results.

I'm running Win8 Release Preview as a virtual machine with VMWare Fusion and it runs ridiculously smooth. Even loading Visual Studio 2012 Express is lightning quick with it in the virtual world. This is on a MacBook Pro 13 (2012), loaded with an SSD drive for extra kick.

Win8 boots and runs much quicker as a virtual machine than it takes for Mountain Lion to boot up itself. Weird.

Edit: VS 2012 loads incredibly quick in Windows 8. I am thoroughly impressed.

So on average, a 2% difference? That's well within the margin of error, therefore I'd have to conclude : Except for startup/shutdown times, it seems there's no "real world" differences.

Raa said,
So on average, a 2% difference? That's well within the margin of error, therefore I'd have to conclude : Except for startup/shutdown times, it seems there's no "real world" differences.

Which is good - more features, less overhead, less memory used; what is there to complain about?

Mr Nom Nom's said,

Which is good - more features, less overhead, less memory used; what is there to complain about?

maybe that this is the main reason people are promoting it ?
Saying its way faster and then saying its 2% faster is a big difference lol

Mr Nom Nom's said,

Which is good - more features, less overhead, less memory used; what is there to complain about?

Features - neglible
Boot speed - hasn't mattered in a decade since people leave their computers on
Overhead/Memory - hasn't mattered on any computer made in the past 10 years.

Loss of productivity - substantial on the desktop
Loss of eye candy - deal breaker for me 8)

Yes, I am being facetious, but the truth is that no matter how much they try to spin this, Windows 8 is going to be a very confusing turd of a release on the desktop.

I look at what I eat before i put it into my mouth..
It's a good habit to get into

so uhh little observation..

Where is the part of the story where they state for a fact
that they reformatted the hard drive (cleared mft record etc)
and installed both to the same hardware for a fair comparison.

If you don't do that the test results are contaminated and useless.

If i said i compared a 2008 Ford Mustang against a 2012 one
and then claimed that the new one was 6% faster how many of you would see the obvious ?

I will admit if the drivers for the gpu on Win8 are beta etc
then that would make it unfair for windows 8 (unfair advantage for Win 7)

To make it clear I'm rooting for Windows 8 to have better performance than Win 7
Operating system performance should be judged fairly though.
and 1 machine doesn't really prove much either.
If i did the same tests on my machine and published them should everyone
expect the same results on theirs ? Probably not..
Finicky stuff the Operating system is lol
Yesterday i was notified of Win 7 updates available and i today decided to install them
and after the malicous software tool started i got a BSOD and the
'ole generic hardware fault code (124) and i know for a fact my machine has been running with 0 bsods and no performance issues at all since my re-install about a month or two ago. Many reboots and retries and for now I've settled on disabling
the windows update service and ignoring the remaining updates.. no problems now

edit:
i should do a comparison of my stripped down windows 7 with 35 background process (taskmanager listed) against a fresh Windows 8 install. I bet my machine would stomp the hell out of windows 8 in a heart beat !

Edited by I am Not PCyr, Aug 16 2012, 2:05am :

I am Not PCyr said,

edit:
i should do a comparison of my stripped down windows 7 with 35 background process (taskmanager listed) against a fresh Windows 8 install. I bet my machine would stomp the hell out of windows 8 in a heart beat !

And then install a stripped down Windows 8 and watch it stomp your Windows 7. At least even the playing field. And it sounds like you need to un-strip your Windows if simple updates are giving the OS fits.

spedanden said,

And then install a stripped down Windows 8 and watch it stomp your Windows 7. At least even the playing field. And it sounds like you need to un-strip your Windows if simple updates are giving the OS fits.

that is probably the cause but if its not that I suspect that i killed Windows DMO video and Windows audio in SHark007 so i can redirect that to FFDshow.
Its trange though because i have spent brutal amounts of time investigating all services on every ver of windows and until now i havn't had any issues.. sometimes there are weird ones too. Like if you kill / disable either application experience or app information (forgot which) many people notice a problem with refreshing explorer windows after creating new files etc.
I will find out what the problem is though i always do.

got it figured out basically.. looks like a TON of other people are having issues too
anyone curious ? please google the KB numbers for help and added info etc

I am Not PCyr said,
I look at what I eat before i put it into my mouth..
It's a good habit to get into

Then how does your foot end up in there so much?

I am Not PCyr said,
i should do a comparison of my stripped down windows 7 with 35 background process (taskmanager listed) against a fresh Windows 8 install. I bet my machine would stomp the hell out of windows 8 in a heart beat !

And here's where you lose what little credibility you had left. Stripped down Windows 7? So what, you turned off services? Used a 3rd party program to remove features from the OS? That doesn't make your OS faster, it makes it far more likely that you'll break something, and you probably did.

It's a little sad that these days, new versions of OS/software being faster (or at least not slower) is now considered an amazing accomplishment. Whether its mobile or desktop, we're all a little bit relieved when the newest and greatest doesn't turn out to be slower, which is not often the case now.

Phouchg said,
No surprises here, just like a minor release should. Modern thrown on top hastily, time will tell.

Minor uh? So outside of the new Modern/Metro UI, there are close to 10,000 changes and new features (using the Apple metric of what a feature is.) Including the new WinRT platform, this jumps to over 20,000 changes/features.

This is not a 'minor' update. Just the video driver model alone is more of a change than OS X has had in its entire lifetime, and the WDM 1.2 changes are minor when compared to the Vista revamp of the new WDDM/WDM 1.0 or even the Windows 7 WDM 1.1 changes.

Just because you only hear about the goofy little things like the Start Screen, does not mean there are not a lot of new features and changes throughout the OS.

Are you all being paid for posting this shyte?

Even when someone says Windows 8 is an ok thing, you butt the f* in, even though your own experience with the actual changes is preview testing and reading blogs.
Because, obviously, there's no acceptable substitute for placing your idol on an altar.
Leave us alone!

I don't normally shut my computer down - just put it to sleep mode, so I guess unless if I have to keep on restarting my computer, the shutdown/reboot time does not really matter?

Speaking of which.. does Windows 8 still ask you to restart on every update like the other Windows?

:: Lyon :: said,
I don't normally shut my computer down - just put it to sleep mode, so I guess unless if I have to keep on restarting my computer, the shutdown/reboot time does not really matter?

Speaking of which.. does Windows 8 still ask you to restart on every update like the other Windows?

I also have not used startup/shutdown outside of required update restarts. Going back to the XP days when Microsoft got sleep and hibernate to operate fairly flawlessly, there has not been a need for constant restarts.

With the AcPI move in Vista, the hibernate and sleep modes had a few issues on bad mainboards that didn't fully support the ACPI features and required BIOS updates.

However, with Windows 7, this was once again flawless and with the stability of Windows 7, restart and boot times are irrelevant. In our management logs, 99.9% of the laptops/notebooks are only restarted for updates, with users using hibernate and/or sleep.

So the 'faster boot' time of Windows 8 is a non-important issue, but with so many people, like these reviews, still using this as some form of metric of relevance, Microsoft did punch the speeds, using suspend state technologies to give a hibernate like boot when nothing has changed or updated.

There is far more to Windows 8 with regard to Storage spaces, the new backup features, the online integration, the speed, the new video driver model, and a long long list of features that are important.

thenetavenger said,

...

Totally agree with you. But to add it, in my case, I restart the machine when I start to feel it charged, and needs a RAM discharge by reseting the computer. Other than that, Hibernate all the way.

I've been using it, it feels faster and more polished. Startup time is really noticeable, mines boots up in around 5 seconds. It actually takes longer to get to the Windows logo for me.

well obviously when final optimized drivers are released for the RTM version from different companies , I would imagine the performance overall will be even better than what these benchmarks are showing now, anyways good test and shows that they have indeed improved on W7.

spy beef said,
Test set up is fail since guy did not consider that many Windows 8 drivers are still in Beta.

It isn't a fail test setup, as the tests STILL demonstrates that Windows 8 is faster than Windows 7 at everything but SSD performance and Gaming. And in those areas is Win7 was marginally better. It just means that it can only get better once the drivers are refined .

It would only be a fail setup if it showed Windows 7 being faster than Windows 8 at everything. Then I would suspect that drivers need to be optimized a little more before a real benchmark can mean anything. This benchmark means something.

Shadrack said,

It isn't a fail test setup, as the tests STILL demonstrates that Windows 8 is faster than Windows 7 at everything but SSD performance and Gaming. And in those areas is Win7 was marginally better. It just means that it can only get better once the drivers are refined .

It would only be a fail setup if it showed Windows 7 being faster than Windows 8 at everything. Then I would suspect that drivers need to be optimized a little more before a real benchmark can mean anything. This benchmark means something.

Exactly - it means that 8 still whips 7 like a RHSC *despite* still-beta drivers. (RHSC=Red-Headed Step-Child).
Reboots - 8 actually requires fewer than 7; update scenarios that would trigger a reboot in 7 no longer do in 8 (updating VC++ runtimes, for example). During the Previews, I checked WU/MU daily, yet would still go days before a reboot would be needed.
Performance - Now I have hard data from a respected outfit to back up what I've been saying since the Developer Preview.

ThePitt said,
interesting numbers. An average of 6% faster. That makes a (huge) difference!. No?


drivers still in beta some are in beta some are in RC state so ummm your statement is premature and so is the article to not note that cause it will take a few months for really sweet drivers

ThePitt said,
interesting numbers. An average of 6% faster. That makes a (huge) difference!. No?

But hey! Just by upgrading an OS? At least I can give more breath to my almost 4 year old lappy.

ThePitt said,
interesting numbers. An average of 6% faster. That makes a (huge) difference!. No?

Seriously, the video drivers are no where near fully optimized. The preview and beta release versions of the WDM 1.2 drivers from NVidia and ATI are holding the numbers back a bit.

However, unlike Vista, there is not a 10% FPS drop in video drivers, which was the undoing of Vista at release.

There is still room for a lot of optimization in the 1.2 driver model with more core changes of the scheduler and less overhead that 1.2 offers.

thenetavenger said,

Seriously, the video drivers are no where near fully optimized. The preview and beta release versions of the WDM 1.2 drivers from NVidia and ATI are holding the numbers back a bit.

However, unlike Vista, there is not a 10% FPS drop in video drivers, which was the undoing of Vista at release.

There is still room for a lot of optimization in the 1.2 driver model with more core changes of the scheduler and less overhead that 1.2 offers.

Vista's problems had nothing to do with the so-called 10% drop and everything to do with GDI hardware acceleration removed resulting in the whole operating system (still very reliant on GDI) to slow down considerably - add to that the lack of scalability of GDI and scheduler issues in the kernel itself, it was a recipe for a disaster waiting to happen. Windows 7 addressed those issues as noted in the following:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/e7/arc...r-graphics-performance.aspx

McKay said,
How does he get it like that? White window borders but nice dark taskbar?

Yeah, white borders usually triggers a horrible smokey looking taskbar, looks almost dirty.

McKay said,
How does he get it like that? White window borders but nice dark taskbar?

That's how it looks by default when open Windows are not on the top.

Ely said,

That's how it looks by default when open Windows are not on the top.

I thought default was blue, as is the taskbar colour, although transparent...

McKay said,
How does he get it like that? White window borders but nice dark taskbar?

You can edit the registry for that. I forgot the exact entry. It was on the forum, though.

McKay said,
How does he get it like that? White window borders but nice dark taskbar?

As Marcin Kurek suggested, this isn't a screenshot from the RTM build. This is the screenshot Microsoft provided months ago when they mentioned that they would update the theme for the RTM build. Judging by the the actual RTM theme, it seems their plan may have been to allow for a white window border and a blue taskbar but they didn't implement that in the final build. I'm not sure why the author of the article chose to use this old image.