Windows 8 Speed Tests: It’s Faster At Pretty Much Everything

Microsoft mentioned a few times that Windows 8 was supposed to bring a hefty performance boost along with it, and we were curious just how much speed you’d gain just by installing it. We ran a few speed tests with each, and here’s how they compare.

Note: As with all our Windows 8 coverage this week, this is all based on the developer preview of Windows. At the time of this writing, we still have a year before Windows 8 is officially released, so things are subject to change, but these are our preliminary tests of the software.

Instead of performing a bunch of synthetic benchmarks, we performed a number of everyday tests to get an idea of if one’s user experience would actually feel faster. All tests were performed on a clean installation of the OS, with the same programs installed. Overall, we found both to be pretty similar in performance, with a few exceptions.

The following tests were performed on an (overclocked) 3.8 GhZ i7 machine with 6GB of RAM, a 2TB hard drive, an Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT, and connected to the internet over Ethernet at a maximum speed of 20mbps.

  Windows 8 Windows 7
Boot Time (Windows Screen to Desktop) 0:10 0:35
Compress a ~700MB File 0:29 0:32
Decompress a ~700MB File 0:11 0:12
Duplicate a ~700MB File 0:01 0:02
Encode a Movie in Handbrake 8:06 8:15
Cold Start 9 Applications 0:46 0:46
Open 10 Tabs in Chrome 0:07 0:07
3dmark10 Score 6470 (5218 Graphics, 23098 CPU) 6455 (5199 Graphics, 23448 CPU)
Total Time 9:56 10:29

So what do all these numbers mean?

Windows 8 seemed to win in every section except for the application starts, which it tied with Windows 7. Really, though, most of the scores were close enough that you wouldn’t necessarily notice it in your day-to-day work, unless maybe you were on a low-powered machine, where the differences would be greater. Either way, it’s nice to know that there definitely aren’t any speed decreases in Windows 8.

The big exception to this is the boot time — Windows 8’s boot times were significantly faster than Windows 7’s, which is something we know Microsoft made a big effort in. However, I did find that Windows 8’s boot times were a little finickier than can be described in the table — sometimes I would get boot times more comparable to Windows 7, and sometimes it would be super fast. Right now, I’m chalking this up to quirks in the developer preview, since I’d seen it go fast on numerous occasions. We’ll see how that changes in a year when the final version launches, but for right now, we’re going to assume that this goal of fast boot times is resulting in some pretty hefty speed increases. Check out the video to the left and see the two OSes boot side-by side — you’ll see what I mean.

Music in the video by Julian Wass

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