August 22, 2009

Windows 7 vs Vista VGA game performance

Windows 7 (Final) vs Windows Vista VGA game performance analysis
ATI and NVIDIA -- Single versus Multi-GPU.

Last week Microsoft released the final build (RTM) version of Windows 7 to MSDN members, yes Windows 7 has gone gold, though you as a consumer might have to wait a while longer (October) for you to be able to upgrade to Windows 7. MSDN members already have access to the final build and as such can prepare and migrate to the new Operating system.

Guru3D received a couple of licenses and as such we started to install our test systems with Windows 7 Professional edition, and we were curious. See, when Windows Vista was released we consumers ran into a stack load of driver issues. I remember Catalysts received WHQL status, yet the drivers secretly missed out on half of their functionality.

But it wasn't as bad as NVIDIA, no Sir. NVIDIA arrived on the scene with their Windows Vista driver massively late and under-developed. In fact "VISTA GEFORCE CRASH" was one of the most popular Google search combos at that time.

Credit where credit is due, once the press started to really tackle the issues NVIDIA and ATI were both nearly ready with some proper drivers. Initially though, overall game performance was still lacking opposed to Windows XP with a 10~15% performance differential. The bugs and negative performance impact was one of the many things that made Windows Vista spin into a negative spiral, from which for the bigger part, Microsoft never recovered. It's a branding stigma similar to say the TLB bug that haunted AMD with the first Phenom release.

Fact remains that over time all these issues ironed themselves out, and to date I consider Windows Vista to be a lovely platform to work and game with. But now there is the pending release of Windows 7; roughly two months ago I had already been contacted by parties like NVIDIA and AMD asking if we wanted to test their drivers with the Windows 7 Beta. I refrained form that offer as I strongly felt it makes no sense whatsoever to publish results based on a beta driver with a beta operating system. Last week Microsoft released the RTM build of Windows 7, this is the final build that is going gold. With ATI and NVIDIA releasing Windows 7 compatible drivers for a while now, we figured now's a good time to see how well game graphics performance is on Windows 7 and how stable the platform actually is.

The good news is that both ATI and NVIDIA for the Windows 7 release did their homework this time around. As such in this article we will check out the current Windows 7 drivers, look at performance in-between Windows Vista and Windows 7 and look at stability.

We can already say that not only do we like Windows 7 very much, but also the VGA drivers are extremely mature and performance is actually right on par with the latest Vista drivers.

Let's start off this article, with a VGA performance overview in-between Windows Vista 64-bit and Windows 7 64-Bit.



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