XP SP2 vs. Vista RTM vs. Vista SP1: Gaming benchmark

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes from ZDNet.com executed the tests using the AMD Phenom 9700, Radeon 3850 graphics card, 2GB of RAM and ATi Catalyst drivers 8.2.

The three games which performed better on Vista than on XP SP2 were Call of Duty 4, F.E.A.R. and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
Vista gave The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion the best performance boost compared to XP SP2, working out at an average of 9 frames per second faster on Vista RTM and 13 frames per second faster on Vista SP1.

Seven out of ten of the games tested produced frame rate averages which were lower under Vista than XP SP2, however, a closer look at the numbers shows that when Vista is slower than XP SP2, the actual frame rate differences are only in the single digits.

Here are the results: average frame rates for each game on each platform

CoD4
XP SP2: 56 fps | Vista RTM: 58 fps | Vista SP1: 62 fps

Fear
XP SP2: 70 fps | Vista RTM: 71 fps | Vista SP1: 71 fps

Oblivion
XP SP2: 56 fps | Vista RTM: 67 fps | Vista SP1: 69 fps

Bioshock (DX9)
XP SP2: 50 fps | Vista RTM: 46 fps | Vista SP1: 47 fps

CoH
XP SP2: 30 fps | Vista RTM: 28 fps | Vista SP1: 28 fps

Crysis
XP SP2: 27 fps | Vista RTM: 24 fps | Vista SP1: 23 fps

Doom3
XP SP2: 157 fps | Vista RTM: 138 fps | Vista SP1: 142 fps

SC
XP SP2: 47 fps | Vista RTM: 44 fps | Vista SP1: 44 fps

UT3
XP SP2: 68 fps | Vista RTM: 64 fps | Vista SP1: 65 fps

WiC
XP SP2: 24 fps | Vista RTM: 22 fps | Vista SP1: 22 fps

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And how about using XP drivers on Vista for graphics? It would mean switching from LDDM (Longhorn Display Driver Model) to a WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model), so it would in turn mean losing Aero, and I'm not sure about losing DX10... But that would be fairer to Vista. But then it wouldn't be a real life scenario...

I think the point is the XP was a huge leap in terms of features and stability.

Granted, Vista has some good improvements, but nothing that most users see the need to dump XP for. THAT is the problem. If it was a huge jump, the extra hardware requirements would be justified.

But there isn't 'much' most users will notice, except for UI enhancements and a few fancy features - so on that basis, XP still rates highly because it does almost everything Vista does, but with nowhere near the hardware requirements.

Whats with the Vista vs XP, XP is almost nine years old for cryin' out loud. If you want speed and less features run XP then. I had enough of XP, got sick of it in the second year using it. I would hope that XP is faster because it should be. I could run 2000 and have a super fast machine too. But whats the sense? I run Vista Ultimate and it runs smooth as silk. Stop trying to compare apples to oranges. XP wasn't the OS it is now, and yea SP3 almost 9 years later people. cmmon leave it alone.

I would hope that almost nine years and PC's that were 300 Mhz or somewhat faster when it came out it was a DOG. People were sayin ohh Windows 98 SE is the best.

Alot has changed in the world since the consumer release in 2001. XP had it's day stop beating a dead horse and Vista will mature and as people go through growing pains like they did with the 98A, 98B, 98C to XP they will when Vista although needs some work and a few service packs for performance it will get better, as thechnology marches on and PC's get faster.

Just leave it alone for cryin' out loud.

I really hate contributing to posts like this, but since I have some experience with both XP SP3 (RC2) and Vista SP1, I'll share my experiences. Personally, SP3 _felt_ faster. This was on a machine with modern hardware and no extra tweaks. It could have been the novelty of installing it, because after a few days, it felt like SP2. As for Vista, I did notice a smoother response while navigating around, but nothing special. As far as gaming goes, XP has always been smoother to me. I have lost maybe 10 FPS here and there from switching to Vista, but it's not enough for me to wipe the drive, roll back to XP and forget Vista. Bottom line is this: You want faster perfomance? Get better hardware. Tweaks and service packs help, but don't rely on them as if they are the Holy Grail.

Unless the system is low on resources, this is only a driver issue. If I was to do some guessing, I would say "Vista performs worse in a low resource situation, but the same or better in a high resource situation". From my experience the biggest annoyance is not low FPS but when the game needs to access textures in system memory.

Average :

XP sp2
58,5 fps average
97,00735502 (point estimate)

vista
56,2 fps average
93,21714828 (point estimate)

vista sp1 beta
57,3 fps average
94,38363016 (point estimate)

Point estimate will give the same value (from a max of 100) for every game, so the bigger the better.

Conclusion :XP SP2 rules, vista sux, vista sp1 beta still sux!.

(Dakkaroth said @ #18.1)
Such a radical difference...

If XP was a update of Vista, then updating the system from vista to xp will give just a marginal earning, or you could say, update is not relevant.

But it's the opposite where vista is a update to xp, so there are not reasons (to the date) to update to vista, cause you are losing some performance (a bit but still you are losing something).

(Magallanes said @ #18.2)

If XP was a update of Vista, then updating the system from vista to xp will give just a marginal earning, or you could say, update is not relevant.

But it's the opposite where vista is a update to xp, so there are not reasons (to the date) to update to vista, cause you are losing some performance (a bit but still you are losing something).

You're right in saying that you do lose a bit of performance going to Vista, but you have to keep in mind that it's not a simple "update" to XP. Large parts of the OS are new, so even though it says "Windows" for both, they're pretty different when you get right down to it. Unlike say Win2k and WinXP which is closer to a simple upgrade in this case.

The other thing is that the XP performance we get now is something that's taking a few years to reach. When did SP2 come out? 2004? From the release of SP2 to today look at how many driver updates we've had to give us the numbers that you post. While for Vista it's only been a year and they're right up there with the XP ones. Give it a few more months and they'll probably pass the XP numbers and so on.

Yeah I am going back to install Vista x64 now that sp1 has been released. I did find that Vista did run my games smoother than XP. Especially considering AMD Dual Core support with XP is a bit dodgy. Even with the AMD Optimizer.

So Vista here I come... AGAIN

Dodgy how? My girlfriend runs an AMD dual core processor, 2GB RAM, and a 7600GT with XP Pro x64. Everything plays like candy on her computer. (and I'm jealous)

I had Vista and "upgraded" to XP 3 months ago...

If those figures are not what I felt then (XP SP2 vs Vista RTM) and by a long way, and those I know first hand, why should I believe the others (Vista SP1)??

nvidia + amd here

What are you all flaming about? I have an AMD with an nVidia, and still using XP. The only game I play is Wow, and I don't know if I should upgrade to Vista or not. Now that I know there isn't a big problem, I'll probably go ahead with the upgrade. Thank you Franzon (and Adrian Kingsley-Hughes).

Vista has got some great features and automation but vista feels like xp with paste. Even though vista is based on server and not xp as longhorn was, xp still feels like its under there somewhere as a sleek core that alot more can be done with. I rekon MS should have just sold a windows plus package like the old days to give xp aero and some new features and just taken longer bringing out longhorn. Or maybe XP SE2, ahh second editions the good old days where MS could make lots of money by re-packaging a product, too bad those apple people are pushing the market hard now, eh bet ya windows 7 with minwin core deletes the compeition for a while like 95 did and we will get like a billion frames a second.

I would have agreed with you about a month or 2 ago, but Ive finished building a pc with all current tech... Core2 etc. and I gotta say I am f'n blown away by Vista now. Theres nothing I throw at this it cant handle and it didnt cost me an arm and a leg. XP is dead to me now and thats something I thought Id never say. Vista really shines on the current technology.

(solardog said @ #13.1)
I would have agreed with you about a month or 2 ago, but Ive finished building a pc with all current tech... Core2 etc. and I gotta say I am f'n blown away by Vista now. Theres nothing I throw at this it cant handle and it didnt cost me an arm and a leg. XP is dead to me now and thats something I thought Id never say. Vista really shines on the current technology.

This is true. My machine could run Vista, but I know it wouldn't do it good. When I go to the stores and see the computers with a great processor and 2GB of memory, toying around with Vista was actually pretty nice. Everything was quick on load, and looked pretty while doing it, lol. On my next computer, I'll definitely dual boot XP and Vista (in case I change my mind).

(Dakkaroth said @ #13.2)
This is true. My machine could run Vista, but I know it wouldn't do it good. When I go to the stores and see the computers with a great processor and 2GB of memory, toying around with Vista was actually pretty nice. Everything was quick on load, and looked pretty while doing it, lol. On my next computer, I'll definitely dual boot XP and Vista (in case I change my mind). :)

It runs ok when you first set it up, but then when you start doing anything with it is when the trouble starts. Even dual-booting is more problematic with Vista than with XP or when using something like GRUB.

Why must MS always obfuscate and overcomplicate their OSes? They've gone so far with Vista that even MS can't reign in all the bugs that are growing exponentially as more and more hardware is introduced. I get the feeling that no one knows WTF is happening with Vista anymore. The specs and API are too complex for anyone to adhere to them.

(toadeater said @ #13.3)

It runs ok when you first set it up, but then when you start doing anything with it is when the trouble starts. Even dual-booting is more problematic with Vista than with XP or when using something like GRUB.

Why must MS always obfuscate and overcomplicate their OSes? They've gone so far with Vista that even MS can't reign in all the bugs that are growing exponentially as more and more hardware is introduced. I get the feeling that no one knows WTF is happening with Vista anymore. The specs and API are too complex for anyone to adhere to them.

this is a classic example of an anti vista comment
you basically say 'everything about it is bad'
but yet you don't give one single example?
maybe you just are new to vista and its confusing to you?

I think it's important to mention that fps while gaming will fluctuate +/-20 or so, sometimes even more than that depending on how much is being rendered.

I still prefer XP after using Vista for 6 months, it just feels more responsive and light.

(Ikshaar said @ #10)
I am going to be hair-splitter but for Doom3, 157-142=15 and 15 is not "single digits" !! or even 19 for RTM.

True, but only 1 out of 10 have a large difference. And when even the slowest still had over 140fps I can't say it matters that much, considering the age of this engine and the grand total of 4 games using it.

just run vista x64 and you get such a gain in performance! I've jumped from xp sp2 to vista x86 to x64 and x86 vs x64 is 2 different world. Now that we have decent driver support, x64 is way better. Not to forgot that vista was ment for x64

exactly. I am testing XP32, XP64, Vista32, and Vista64 on the same quad core 4gb ram machine and I'm getting SMOOTHER gameplay under Vista period. The main issue appears to be that XP still have bus contention issues between say an X-Fi card and any graphics card at the core OS driver levels that Vista (with the new sound path and display path) does not. Either way, now that Vista video drivers have achieved similar frame rates, the smoothness factor puts Vista in the win column for games for me.

I don't see why so many people claim that Vista is horrible for gaming. This study shows that the differences are basically moot. All 3 run the games roughly the same and newer games seem to perform better on Vista. Still its not a reason to run out and upgrade to Vista, but don't say Vista can't game about as well as XP.

oh, quick question guys ...

vista runs fine on my amd 900mhz with a voodoo 3 and 2x128 + 256 ram (a whooping 133mhz) no dual but still ok :).. do u think that with sp1 i will be able to run crysis? ... i think i can get a single digit here too (0 is a digit none the less)

lol yes mate it will even do FSAA after SP1 but dont try it before cos it will burn thru the antique silicon sandwich (too old for Silicon wafer) Voodoo3

a closer look at the numbers shows that when Vista is slower than XP SP2, the actual frame rate differences are only in the single digits.

Yea but when you're a bum like me who can't afford new hardware, single digit frame rates are sometimes all you've got!

I'm talking to YOU, Crysis.

I hope more sites begin benchmarking games with both XP SP3 and Vista SP1. Comparing the performance in both OS's really helps when you're a person who only has time to really crank on one game at a time while using older hardware. :redface:

(Chrono951 said @ #4.2)
because SP3 has not hit RTM yet.

Doesn't change the fact that there's a version available for testing.

(Dakkaroth said @ #4.3)

Doesn't change the fact that there's a version available for testing.


But also doesn't change the fact that nobody in mainstream is supposed to be using it either.

I didn't see benchmarks for Vista SP1 betas, and I don't think I should for SP3 betas. What happens if there's a major change and makes it better/worse? We'd be bitching a lot then (or celebrating)

Not long to wait now anyway and yes - im interested in seeing the final SP3 numbers too!

(Raa said @ #4.4)
But also doesn't change the fact that nobody in mainstream is supposed to be using it either.

I didn't see benchmarks for Vista SP1 betas, and I don't think I should for SP3 betas. What happens if there's a major change and makes it better/worse? We'd be bitching a lot then (or celebrating)

Not long to wait now anyway and yes - im interested in seeing the final SP3 numbers too!

Good point. Guess I'm just over-eager for SP3. :P

Why are they using a Phenom and ATI?

Why not an Intel Core2 Quad and a nVidia solution?

Interesting to see how different cpu & driver sets would do.

I agree. It's nice to see a comparison between different OS's. But to be completely thorough and meaningful, I'd like to see those same games/OS set ups running on a core2/nvidia platform. (mostly because thats the platform I am currently using :))

(PeterTHX said @ #3)
Why are they using a Phenom and ATI?

Why not?

As long as the tests were all done on the same PC setup, it makes no difference what the spec of the PC is. The point here is to show the difference in framerate between operating systems, not to provide an accurate benchmark of hardware.

Yeah, but couldn't it be argued that maybe Intel/Nvidia setup would have different results among the 3 tested OSes? I mean, if for instance, an Nvidia card got reverse results, I think it'd be fair to say that there's more to it than using simply different OSes.

That said, aren't the ATi or Nvidia drivers for XP and Vista rather different anyhow? Also, why is there a "(DX9)" mark on BioShock? Shouldn't they all be tested in DX9 since XP can't use DX10 anyway? Comparing a game in DX9 vs. DX10 doesn't seem like a fair comparison to me.

Dakkaroth makes excellent points

1) This should have included both AMD/ATi & an Intel/Nvidia solution, - DRIVERS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
2) Not a fair comparison to compare a DX9 game with the same game in DX10
3) WHAT ABOUT LOAD TIMES?
- my biggest pet peeve is that the LOAD TIMES for games such as Battlefield 2 are SO much slower in Vista.

(prospero said @ #3.4)
Dakkaroth makes excellent points

1) This should have included both AMD/ATi & an Intel/Nvidia solution, - DRIVERS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
2) Not a fair comparison to compare a DX9 game with the same game in DX10
3) WHAT ABOUT LOAD TIMES?
- my biggest pet peeve is that the LOAD TIMES for games such as Battlefield 2 are SO much slower in Vista.

We await YOUR results with great anticipation.

Seriously.

Put up or shutup.

(Davebo said @ #3.5)
We await YOUR results with great anticipation.

Seriously.

Put up or shutup.

That's dumb reasoning. If you're going to do something, do it right. If not, what's the point? :huh:

While this test could really have been done better, I don't think that someone should go through the efforts in seeing "what's the difference" because the difference isn't that great, and that's based off opinions of people who say the same game is faster/slower in Vista/XP. Everyone seems to have different results, and even then, it's not too great a difference I don't believe, unless you're one of those people who have to have every bit of fps possible. The biggest difference I see people talking about is between Vista x86 and x64, which of course weren't even tested.

I think simply having a better machine is what is going to determine the difference in fps, not XP or Vista. x86 and x64 though seem to be something you want to look at. Overall though, this test seems like a real waste of time. As previously stated, ATi drivers for XP and Vista are different from another, so the test can't really be done correctly; especially when driver updates can significantly impact certain games. Hell, how do we know Nvidia isn't doing better with Vista drivers?

Now, since you seem to be awaiting these kinds of results with great anticipation, I'm sorry to inform you that I do not have the resources to do this test. If you would so kindly donate a computer with an AMD Phenom 9700, Radeon 3850 graphics card, and 2GB of RAM, as well as an Intel/Nvidia solution, along with CoD4, CoH, Crysis, SC, UT3, and WiC (I have the rest), I'd gladly test this all out for you.

We await YOUR results with great anticipation.

Seriously.

Put up or shutup.


if you read my post, that's exactly what i'm telling the reviewer/benchmarker to do.... put up REAL comprehensive results or shut up... to benchmark is not my job.

Hmm, in other words, mixed blessings, but quite small differences in either direction.

The exception being Oblivion for some reason...

(Jugalator said @ #2)
Hmm, in other words, mixed blessings, but quite small differences in either direction.

The exception being Oblivion for some reason...

Good question. Maybe it's Oblivion's use of multithreading? But then that doesn't explain why Crysis with its multithreaded engine isn't receiving the same benefit.

Could also be some sort of error in the benchmark itself. That has been known to happen when comparing different OSes.

It might just be the ATi Catalyst drivers. In the end of the day a game benchmark is all about your video cards drivers more than the OS.

In my opinion with the core driver changes in Vista over XP, this benchmark shows that video card makers are finally starting to get Vista drivers up to what they are on XPSP2. And since it's only been a year into Vistas live, yet way longer for XP, I beleave that in time Vista performance will be higher accross the board.

(GP007 said @ #2.2)
It might just be the ATi Catalyst drivers. In the end of the day a game benchmark is all about your video cards drivers more than the OS.

In my opinion with the core driver changes in Vista over XP, this benchmark shows that video card makers are finally starting to get Vista drivers up to what they are on XPSP2. And since it's only been a year into Vistas live, yet way longer for XP, I beleave that in time Vista performance will be higher accross the board.

Yeah, I'd like to see tests with Nvidia hardware before assuming anything. I don't think Catalyst drivers are that bad by this point though,

(toadeater said @ #2.3)

Yeah, I'd like to see tests with Nvidia hardware before assuming anything. I don't think Catalyst drivers are that bad by this point though,

The Catalyst drivers always seemed to be a step ahead of the nVidia ones from the start on Vista. It's just a process that takes time. The point I was making though is that the Vista performance (at least using the above hardware setup) is on par or just a few frames behind that on XP one year into it's life. The performance we see on XP right now took a few years to get to where it is now. Give vista drivers the same ammount of time and they should, if the trend holds, pass XP performance all around.