Windows 8 delivers the goods on benchmarks

CNET has released its system benchmarks comparing Windows old and new, and we've discovered that Microsoft's controversial new operating system doesn't steamroll over Windows 7 as much as it gently shoves it out of the way.

(Credit: CNET)

OS Boot
MS Office
Windows 7 SP1 45.2 7.7 408 127 343 16,985
Windows 7 SP1 47.5 7.8 412 124 344 17,116
Windows 8 31.4 8.8 372 123 340 15,300
Windows 8 26.4 11.7 367 123 340 17,114

Our test bed is a Dell XPS desktop, running a 3.2GHz Core i7 processor, with 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a Nvidia GeForce 8400 GS PCI-Express with a 512MB RAM graphics card and a 1TB Western Digital hard drive (model WDC3200AAKS).

We tested Windows 7 Service Pack 1 twice, and Windows 8 RTM twice. The second time we tested Windows 8, we updated the operating system, because Microsoft claimed that the update was a big improvement to the OS. We conducted the "wake from sleep" test only once on Windows 7 because of its recent addition to our benchmark tests.

A word of caution about these benchmarks: they provide a snapshot of how our specific test hardware performs under strictly controlled conditions. They are not always representative of actual real-world performance.

We excluded our new "wake from sleep" test from the chart, because the results were erratic. The second Windows 8 "wake from sleep mode" test gave us an average of 17 seconds, significantly slower than our experience with a real-world Windows 7 computer running Windows 8. Our Toshiba DX1215 all-in-one touchscreen, running the Windows 8 RTM with all of the updates, regularly wakes from sleep in under two seconds. That's a major win for Microsoft, even if our Windows 7 hardware running Windows 8 resulted in erratic tests.

Nevertheless, you can see that the Windows 8 RTM from August and the big October update to Windows 8 proved to boot significantly faster than Windows 7 Service Pack 1. Boot time shrank by around 45 per cent between Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8 RTM updated, and that's a key metric in making Windows 8 appealing.

Claims about sluggishness in Windows will be slightly harder to prove in Windows 8. Our in-use performance tests were fairly even, because the tests have not been optimised to run on Windows 8. However, the Microsoft Office performance test shows Windows 7 taking around 410 seconds to complete its tasks, to around 370 seconds in Windows 8 — about 10 per cent faster.

Shut-down times in the lab were recorded at about the same speed for both Windows 7 and Windows 8, which parallels our real-world experience. Windows 7 SP1 has never been beastly for us when shutting down, although that hasn't been the case for everybody.

So, what we can conclude from all of these lab tests is that on the key metric of how long it takes you to get going on your computer, Windows 8 lives up to its promise. But, as always, your personal configuration could greatly affect your device's performance.


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