Vista Gaming Framerates

This week I took my XP-based gaming rig and decided to install Vista on it.  Even though I'm running Vista on my other machines, I decided not to touch this machine because it was mainly used for gaming, and early reports were that the framerates in Vista were pretty bad compared to equivalent XP machines.

I decided to dual boot so I could test this myself.  Up first: Half Life 2/CS:S.  I ran the default benchmark -- I set the resolution on 1680x1050, no anti-aliasing, all other options on high.  My CPU is a dual core AMD Opteron 180, with an old NVidia AGP 6800GT.   I'm using the latest drivers as of this date.

When I first ran the test, the XP machine was benching much better, but then I realized I had RivaTuner overclocking the video card on XP.  With all that normalized, the XP machine was able to outperform the Vista machine, but only by 2 fps.  (81 fps vs 79 fps.)  This is hardly a noticeable difference and certainly within a margin of error.

Next I tried Company of Heroes.  This is a very demanding RTS, and one that was getting horrible performance scores in Vista when it was first released.  I kept the resolution high as well (1680x1050) but most other settings were set to low.  Here, Vista actually outperforms XP, yielding an average of 50.4 fps on Vista compared to 48.6 on XP.  Again, only a 2 fps difference. 

Obviously, these tests aren't completely comprehensive.  But it's a good starting point, and proved to me that Vista is just as capable of gaming as XP; in fact, I think over time as dual core chips become all the rage and multithreaded application design and 64-bit architecture becomes the norm, Vista will pull ahead. 

So why the bad numbers early on?  Most likely the driver optimizations weren't there.  As migration has continued and hardware vendors have had time to tune their drivers for the new Vista driver model, the performance has improved.

Have another test you want run?  Let me know, I'll see if I can do it.

Comments (2) -

Michael K. Campbell
Michael K. Campbell
9/28/2007 11:26:40 AM #

Hey Brian - I've actually seen a number of 'legit' and 'fully comprehensive' reviews on a few gaming sites lately showing the diff between XP and Vista framerates.

With the latest batch of video drivers, it sure looks like Vista is really so close to XP now that it doesn't matter anymore which platform you use.

Almost makes me entertain throwing down a second boot partition with Vista 64 on it....

Brian
Brian
9/28/2007 5:59:32 PM #

Hey Mike-

Yep, I read some of those articles as well which basically made me say, "hell no" to installing Vista on a gaming rig.   I think the articles are right on -- and as you said, fully trustworthy sources. 

But I hadn't seen any done recently, which made me wonder if the performance had gotten any better.  (If you can point me to ones done within the last 3 or so months, please do!)  But, in the end, the only benchmarks that matter are the ones you do on your machine, with the games you play, as you're the one who has to live with it!

The whole reason for this test, btw, was that my machine was giving me hardware problems (same one I used to haul into CWC every-so-often!).  I decided to upgrade to a dual core CPU since they are so cheap now, but when doing so, my XP install started having some minor issues with some of the software I had installed.

I had an old Windows XP x64 boot partition, so I just paved it with Vista 32-bit.  I am tempted to try x64, but decided to stay 32 as the drivers seem more functional and easier to get up and running (it's also got a RAID array, and finding x64 drivers for it didn't seem like a fun task).

If you do this, let me know how it goes -- my hunch is XP will still slightly outperform Vista on many games, but I suspect this is a narrowing window.

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