XP, upgrade from Vista?

Gamespot  did a couple of test to see the efficiency of the new Vista service pack 1 released a couple of days ago. Here are some stuff they found out.

The release of Service Pack 1 might be good time to revisit the debate of whether or not to get Windows Vista. Over the past year Microsoft’s been busy patching away at the operating system, and it just might be ready for the discerning gamer. Service packs are basically gigantic patch files for operating systems that contain hundreds of minor and major fixes. Most of what’s in Service Pack 1 is already available via Windows Update, but Microsoft added a few fixes to the operating system that hadn’t yet been released for widespread consumption. For the most part, service packs do a lot to increase stability, compatibility, and security while at the same time bundling hundreds of fixes all up into one nice file or check box for the user to click. If you’re keen to peruse what’s in the update you can find a full list here.

Vista’s built-in Windows Update utility is the easiest, and likely the fastest, way to get the new service pack. The system will automatically download only what it needs to complete the installation. Depending on how long it’s been since you’ve updated your computer, the length of the download and installation process can vary. You’re probably better off downloading the stand-alone file and installing it yourself if you’re starting with a fresh Windows Vista installation. Don’t be surprised if your computer takes more than an hour to install the service pack.

According to Microsoft, computers with Service Pack 1 should experience numerous performance benefits. Many of the enhancements relate to networking and file-transfer speeds. Service Pack 1 will reduce the time it takes to get out of hibernation and standby modes, and will improve battery life for some laptops. Service Pack 1 will bring no new gaming performance enhancements, but Microsoft states that gaming performance should move upward slightly.

We compared Windows Vista SP1 to an unpatched installation of Windows Vista and to Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 installed. The operating systems were tested with a variety of video cards to get a better picture of how gaming performance varied. We used single-card systems from Nvidia and ATI, and we included an SLI setup from Nvidia and a dual-GPU graphics card from ATI to see how some of the more exotic flavors fared.

Nvidia – Windows Vista SP1 Gaming Performance

(More points are better)

3DMark06, 1280×1024

Windows Vista SP1 – GeForce 8800 GTX
11408
Windows Vista – GeForce 8800 GTX
12179
Windows XP SP2 – GeForce 8800 GTX
13385
Windows Vista SP1 – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
14797
Windows Vista – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
14201
Windows XP SP2 – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
17171

Crysis, 1600×1200, High Quality

Windows Vista SP1 – GeForce 8800 GTX
25
Windows Vista – GeForce 8800 GTX
25
Windows XP SP2 – GeForce 8800 GTX
28
Windows Vista SP1 – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
30
Windows Vista – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
31
Windows XP SP2 – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
42

BioShock, 2048×1536, High Quality

Windows Vista SP1 – GeForce 8800 GTX
47
Windows Vista – GeForce 8800 GTX
47
Windows XP SP2 – GeForce 8800 GTX
47
Windows Vista SP1 – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
67
Windows Vista – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
67
Windows XP SP2 – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
89

Call of Duty 4, 1600×1200, High Quality(Low Quality Water)

Windows Vista SP1 – GeForce 8800 GTX
66
Windows Vista – GeForce 8800 GTX
58
Windows XP SP2 – GeForce 8800 GTX
66
Windows Vista SP1 – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
106
Windows Vista – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
107
Windows XP SP2 – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
113

Oblivion, 2048×1536, Maximum Quality, Shadows of Self/Grass Disabled

Windows Vista SP1 – GeForce 8800 GTX
63
Windows Vista – GeForce 8800 GTX
51
Windows XP SP2 – GeForce 8800 GTX
57
Windows Vista SP1 – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
64
Windows Vista – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
51
Windows XP SP2 – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
64

Team Fortress 2, 2048×1536, High Quality 4xAA/8xAF

Windows Vista SP1 – GeForce 8800 GTX
55
Windows Vista – GeForce 8800 GTX
55
Windows XP SP2 – GeForce 8800 GTX
62
Windows Vista SP1 – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
56
Windows Vista – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
59
Windows XP SP2 – GeForce 8800 GTX SLI
73

System Setup: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9775, Intel D5400XS, 4GB FB-DIMM (2x2GB), 750GB Seagate 7200.10 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista 32-bit, Windows Vista 32-bit SP1. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB. Graphics Drivers: Nvidia ForceWare beta 174.53. The single-GPU GeForce 8800 GTX experienced gains in games like Call of Duty 4 and Oblivion when we compared Windows Vista to Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 installed. Performance stayed mostly flat in other games. Pairing up two 8800 GTXs for an SLI setup yielded similar results. When we compare Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 to Windows XP SP2, the GeForce 8800 GTX kept up in Call of Duty 4 and BioShock. Vista with SP1 actually took the lead in Oblivion, but it’s hard to ignore XP’s victories in Crysis and Team Fortress 2. SLI performance was decidedly better under Windows XP than Windows Vista with and without SP1 in almost all of the tests.

Conclusion

Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 is a step in the right direction. Gaming performance increased in comparison to a fresh installation of Windows Vista. Windows XP SP2 provides better overall performance, and remains the place to go for dual-GPU solutions. Windows Vista is not quite the ideal gaming platform yet, but the new OS is getting close to dethroning Windows XP.

SP1 wasn’t really designed as a gaming pack – it adresses the issues people had with vista in general such as file extraction taking 10+ minutes for 1 MB files. In terms of operating systems vista is by far the most stable one yet, I’ve not had a single crash or freeze since I installed it. So even if XP is faster, I’m not interested in changeing back right now or ever.

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