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Beginners Guide: Exploring CPU Performance in Windows Vista vs. Win 7

Beginners Guide: Exploring CPU Performance in Windows Vista vs. Win 7 - PCSTATS
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Abstract: Stuck with an older PC that runs slow in Vista? Upgrading to Windows 7 might breath new life into that PC and extend its useful life. Find out as PCSTATS tests multiple CPUs under identical Vista and Win 7 environments.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Beginners Guides May 01 2011   Julian Apong  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > Beginners Guides

DIY Guides: Exploring CPU Performance in Windows Vista vs. Windows 7
Stuck with an older PC that runs slow in Vista? Upgrading to Windows 7 might breath new life into that PC and extend its useful life. Find out as PCSTATS tests multiple CPUs under identical Vista and Win 7 environments. - Version 1.0.0

Looking back, if your PC hardware was slightly older, upgrading from Microsoft Windows XP to Windows Vista absolutely sucked. True, Vista had some neat new features and functionality that XP lacked, and was arguably a lot nicer looking... but it also demanded some pretty steep hardware requirements that caught many migrating computer users by surprise. PCSTATS helped many of you out that jam with our beginners guide to downgrading Win Vista back to XP - never before have we had to write a guide on how to ditch an operating system. Yes, Vista was and is not well liked.

Those who adopted Windows Vista quickly discovered that aside from its minimum 2GB of insatlled memory requirement, and the uselessness of ReadyBoost for improving PC speed, that Vista's Aeroglass graphics features wouldn't run properly on the majority of integrated graphics solutions of the time. The real killer however was CPU usage. Particularly prevelent with single-core processors, Windows Vista would often hang, stall or chug along because an increased number of background services were eating up precious CPU cycles, instead of focusing enough on the application at hand.

The bottom line is that Microsoft Windows Vista quickly developed a ridiculously bad reputation - Ford Pinto bad. Droves of early adopters retreated back to the safe confines of old but reliable Windows XP, and laptop manufacturers even offered "downgrade options." Microsoft doubled its efforts to make Windows 7 its salvation, and Win 7 has largely succeeded in that regard. While most of the attention has been directed at Win 7's improved user interface, there are still several questions about its performance on older computer systems.

The CPU landscape has changed dramatically from 2006 to 2010, and while it wasn't uncommon to be using a single-core CPU four years ago, it's next to impossible to find a processor with less than two cores nowadays. Quad-core CPUs and HyperThreading have entered into the lexicon and a lot of software is now written to take full advantage of current multi-threaded chips.

With increased CPU horsepower available, selecting the operating system that can manage CPU workloads best is critical. If the operating system is bogging down the CPU with background tasks, at the wrong times, applications will respond sluggishly. Similarly, if applications can't access the full capibilites of the CPU, you'll never see the full potential of the PC you've invested in.

In this DIY Guide PCSTATS is going to compare the performance of a handful of AMD and Intel processors running under Windows Vista to Windows 7, with an eye towards answering this question; "Will upgrading to Windows 7 breath new life into older PC hardware previously sluggish under Windows Vista?"

Countless pixels have been spelled about the benefits of upgrading physical items like system memory, videocards and processors for improved PC performance... today PCSTATS aims to find out if upgrading Vista to the Windows 7 opertating system will have any benefit.

Microsoft has touted some optimizations made on the kernel-level that should improve Windows 7's performance on multi-core CPUs in particular, so it will be interesting to examine which scenarios (dual core, or multi-core) take the best advantage of Windows 7.

Measuring the Benefits of an OS Upgrade

To find the answer to these questions we need benchmarks. So let's begin...the PCSTATS test bed consists of a mixture of processors that represent both mainstream and high end computers. Representing mainstream computer usage are value-oriented processors like the AMD Athlon II X2 240e and Athlon II X3 435. In the midrange there's the dual-core Intel Core 2 Duo e8400 , quad-core AMD Athlon II X4 620 and Intel Core i5 750 processors. Rounding out the high end are the Intel Core i7 920 and AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Processor. For exact test system specs please see each respective in-deth review.

PCSTATS Benchmark Report Cores Clock Speed

Cache

High End Processors

Intel Core i7 920

8 2.66 GHz 8MB L3

AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE

4 3.4 GHz 6MB L3
Mainstream Processors

Intel Core i5 750

4 2.66 GHz 8MB L3

Intel Core 2 Duo E8400

2 3.0 GHz 6MB L2

AMD Athlon II X4 620

4 2.6 GHz 0 MB L3
Value-Oriented Processors

AMD Athlon II X3 435

3 2.9 GHz 0 MB L3

AMD Athlon II X2 240e

2 2.8 GHz 0 MB L3

Everyone uses their PC in a different way, so this PCSTATS DIY Guide aims to examine the "is Windows 7 going to breath new life into my Windows Vista PC" question through the lens of the most common usage scenarios. Specifically, we will be looking at CPU performance running applications that are multi-threaded, running multiple applications at once, and single applications that are single threaded.

Incidently, 'multi-threaded' means the software can make use of more than one processor core to spread the load as it were. 'Single-threaded' applications by comparison are capable of using only one processor core at a time, so if you opened up Task Manager you'd see CPU load high on a single CPU core while the others would remain largely idle. First though, let's take a look at some purely synthetic processor benchmarks to find out what difference, if any, exists between otherwise identical computer systems running Windows Vista and Windows 7.

SiSoft Sandra 2009 SP2 - Processor Source: Sandra

Sandra is designed to test the theoretical power of a complete system and individual components. The numbers taken though are again, purely theoretical and may not represent real world performance. Higher results are best.

PCSTATS Benchmark ReportSiSoft Sandra 2009.SP4 - Processor
Processor Arithmetic Dhrystone ALU: (GIPS) Points Ranking
Intel Core i7 920 - Win 7 68.22
Intel Core i7 920 - Win Vista 68.25
Intel Core i5 750 - Win 7 59.78
Intel Core i5 750 - Win Vista 54.13
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win 7 25.8
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win Vista 23.56
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win 7 46.7
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win Vista 46.33
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win 7 33.72
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win Vista 35.42
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win 7 29.87
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win Vista 29.77
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win 7 19.18
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win Vista 19.06
Processor Arithmetic Whetstone iSSE3: (Gflops) Points Ranking
Intel Core i7 920 - Win 7 60.34
Intel Core i7 920 - Win Vista 60.22
Intel Core i5 750 - Win 7 33.88
Intel Core i5 750 - Win Vista 34.31
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win 7 20.84
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win Vista 22.17
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win 7 45
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win Vista 44.81
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win 7 34.46
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win Vista 34.31
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win 7 28.87
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win Vista 28.68
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win 7 18.47
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win Vista 18.49
Processor Multi-Media Int x8 iSSE3: (Mpixels/s) Points Ranking
Intel Core i7 920 - Win 7 119.33
Intel Core i7 920 - Win Vista 119.35
Intel Core i5 750 - Win 7 95.56
Intel Core i5 750 - Win Vista 95.45
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win 7 54.17
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win Vista 54.17
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win 7 130
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win Vista 133.5
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win 7 98.48
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win Vista 102.07
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win 7 85.62
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win Vista 84.95
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win 7 54.52
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win Vista 54.06
Processor Multi-Media Float x4 iSSE2: (Mpixels/s) Points Ranking
Intel Core i7 920 - Win 7 96.57
Intel Core i7 920 - Win Vista 95.4
Intel Core i5 750 - Win 7 59.4
Intel Core i5 750 - Win Vista 59.45
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win 7 31.27
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win Vista 31.22
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win 7 58.5
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win Vista 58.49
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win 7 44.76
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win Vista 44.69
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win 7 37.41
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win Vista 37.39
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win 7 24.13
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win Vista 24.07
Processor Multi-Media Float x2 iSSE2: (Mpixels/s) Points Ranking
Intel Core i7 920 - Win 7 49.67
Intel Core i7 920 - Win Vista 49.63
Intel Core i5 750 - Win 7 30.29
Intel Core i5 750 - Win Vista 30.29
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win 7 15.8
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win Vista 15.76
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win 7 32
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win Vista 32
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win 7 24.46
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win Vista 24.69
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win 7 20.47
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win Vista 20.47
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win 7 13.14
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win Vista 13.16

SiSoft Sandra's CPU test is a purely synthetic test of a processor's potential speed, so results are largely the same and independent of the operating system.

SiSoft Sandra 2009 - Memory Source: Sandra

Sandra is designed to test the theoretical power of a complete system and individual components. The numbers taken though are again, purely theoretical and may not represent real world performance. Higher bandwidth and lower latencies are best.

PCSTATS Benchmark ReportSiSoft Sandra 2009.SP4 - Memory
Multicore Efficiency Bandwidth: (GB/s) Points Ranking
Intel Core i7 920 - Win 7 32
Intel Core i7 920 - Win Vista 30.51
Intel Core i5 750 - Win 7 13
Intel Core i5 750 - Win Vista 13.21
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win 7 9
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win Vista 9.11
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win 7 4.75
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win Vista 4.65
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win 7 3.22
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win Vista 3.23
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win 7 3
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win Vista 2.98
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win 7 3.1
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win Vista 3.09
Multicore Efficiency Latency: (ns) Points Ranking
Intel Core i7 920 - Win 7 19
Intel Core i7 920 - Win Vista 17
Intel Core i5 750 - Win 7 59
Intel Core i5 750 - Win Vista 60
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win 7 47
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win Vista 44
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win 7 88
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win Vista 75
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win 7 102
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win Vista 103
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win 7 83
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win Vista 81
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win 7 97
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win Vista 95
Memory Bandwidth Int iSSE2: (GB/s) Points Ranking
Intel Core i7 920 - Win 7 18.87
Intel Core i7 920 - Win Vista 18.86
Intel Core i5 750 - Win 7 16.6
Intel Core i5 750 - Win Vista 16.3
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win 7 7
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win Vista 7.26
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win 7 12.22
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win Vista 12.26
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win 7 11.22
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win Vista 11.23
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win 7 11.16
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win Vista 11.17
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win 7 10.27
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win Vista 10.23
Memory Bandwidth Float iSSE2: (GB/s) Points Ranking
Intel Core i7 920 - Win 7 18.86
Intel Core i7 920 - Win Vista 18.86
Intel Core i5 750 - Win 7 16.58
Intel Core i5 750 - Win Vista 16.25
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win 7 7.1
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win Vista 7.27
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win 7 12.23
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win Vista 12.25
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win 7 11.23
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win Vista 11.23
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win 7 11.18
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win Vista 11.18
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win 7 10.25
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win Vista 10.24
Memory Latency (Random): (ns) Points Ranking
Intel Core i7 920 - Win 7 80
Intel Core i7 920 - Win Vista 81
Intel Core i5 750 - Win 7 78
Intel Core i5 750 - Win Vista 79
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win 7 88
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win Vista 77
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win 7 82
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win Vista 82
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win 7 93
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win Vista 93
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win 7 92
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win Vista 92
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win 7 86
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win Vista 86
Memory Latency (Linear): (ns) Points Ranking
Intel Core i7 920 - Win 7 9
Intel Core i7 920 - Win Vista 9
Intel Core i5 750 - Win 7 8
Intel Core i5 750 - Win Vista 8
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win 7 12
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 - Win Vista 11
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win 7 15
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) - Win Vista 15
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win 7 13
AMD Athlon II X4 620 - Win Vista 13
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win 7 15
AMD Athlon II X3 435 - Win Vista 15
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win 7 13
AMD Athlon II X2 240e - Win Vista 13

Synthetic memory tests also give largely the same results in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, the choice of operating system doesn't affect the speed that data can be written to or read from memory. Synthetic benchmarks show that either operating system can maximize CPU performance in an isolated environment. The maximum speed the processor is capable of is largely unaffected by the choice of operating system. If you're leaving a PC alone to do a single intensive task, the choice of operating system won't have a huge affect on overall speed.

A lot of users don't have the luxury of having a dedicated PC for running a single application, so next let's take a look at some more realistic usage scenarios...

© 2014 PCSTATS.com
Please respect the time and effort that went into creating each PCSTATS Beginners Guide, do not illegally copy. Thank you.
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Contents of Article: Beginners Guides
 Pg 1.  — Beginners Guide: Exploring CPU Performance in Windows Vista vs. Win 7
 Pg 2.  Real-world Heavy Application Usage - SysMark
 Pg 3.  Real-world Heavy Application Usage - PCMark Vantage
 Pg 4.  Gaming under Vista and Windows 7 - Cyrsis
 Pg 5.  Synthetic CPU and Final Thoughts

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