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


    Apart from bootup, and my PC is bloody close! There isn't that much of a difference! Hopefully they will tweak it a bit more before launch!

    Any indications on whether it'd be worth installing the 8 preview on a netbook? Will it run more smoothly on, say, a dell mini than win7?

      Seen a few comments around the net loving it on touch screens!

        Yeah unfortunately I'm just talking a standard netbook.

          On my old EeePC 1000HE, Win8 DP is fast on boot-up [faster than anything I've tried, including bleeding-edge Linux distros] and even snappier than pre-loaded XP in day-to-day stuff.

          I'm very impressed.

    What im interested in is the boot time difference with a SSD? Probably wouldn't notice it.

      Yep, my Windows 7 machine doesn't even get to assemble the Windows logo on boot with an SSD.

        No clue how you can get it that fast, I have 17 2600k overclocked to 4ghz, 8gb 2100 RAM, 120gb OCZ Vertex 3 SSD and Windows 7 sits at loading screen for around 3-5 seconds after a fresh install with no apps installed etc. windows 8 dev preview is definitely quicker on my PC. Win 7 from end of BIOS stuff is about 10 seconds before it's usable. Windows 8 is around 5 seconds before usable.

          Got a UEFI board and RAID 0 crucial M4s. Takes 7 seconds total from when I press the button.

          At the rate SSD speeds are increasing, in 5 years time we will be measuring boot times in milliseconds.

      Have it running on my HP dv9205 from about 6 years ago.

      Only thing upgraded are memory (to 4GB) and a solid state drive.

      From the time the bios finished to being in windows is about 3-5 seconds. The only exception to this has been when I installed some updates available through WIndows Update (not supported but some how still gets updated).

      I have to say the start up boost is a wonderful delight compared to my office machine (which is running 7 and can take up to 3 minutes some days)

    speed is awesome

    boot time now on my old acer has to be about 3 seconds after bios. It used to be close to a minute with xp on it.

    From cold boot, less than 20 seconds to looking at the google search page. 4 year old laptop. Didnt need to install any drivers myself.

    For once Apple is falling behind in this area. Feels as though Lion should really make things faster.

    My MBA boots up in 20 seconds. What of it.

    And they still have the debug code active in this version! This is a Dev Preview v fully patched RTM. Imagine the improvements once this RTMs

    I'm hesitant to put windows 7 back on my machine, loving the near instant boot times with SSD.

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