Microsoft has made a point of advertising the performance enhancements and optimizations being made to Windows 8. Although Windows 7 was well received and typically offered better performance and stability than its much-maligned predecessor, Windows Vista, Microsoft had some loftier goals in mind for the jump to Windows 8.
Although its too early to confirm that Microsoft has achieved all of their goals, it appears they're on the right track. Windows 8 has generally been an improvement over Windows 7 on the few systems we've installed the RTM release on: they boot up and shut down quicker, for example, and overall performance seems faster. This makes sense, because the new OS is built to boot and shut down faster than previous editions, use less memory and disk space, consume fewer combined processor and GPU resources, and accommodate a wider range of devices and screen sizes.
The Windows 8 file manager, task manager, and even the setup process itself has been optimized; the ultimate goal for these improvements is to enhance performance and minimize resource consumption, which in turn would lower power consumption and potentially improve battery life on laptops, tablets and other mobile devices. So while it's not terribly expensive to build a new PC tuned for Windows 8 (check out our guide to building a speedy Windows 8 PC for under $500) you might want to try installing it on your old PC first and implementing a few of the tricks and tweaks we've learned from testing Microsoft's latest operating system.
While Windows 8 is designed to be installed on cutting edge technology, it was also engineered to work well on lower-performing hardware. In fact, Windows 8s system requirements are barely any higher than Windows Vistas, which was released almost six years ago.
According to Microsoft, Window 8s hardware requirements are:
- Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
- RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
- Disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
- Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
If youd like to take advantage of some of Windows 8s ancillary features and capabilities, these additional items will also be required:
- To use touch, youll need a tablet or a monitor that supports multi-touch.
- To access the Windows Store to download and run apps, you need an active Internet connection and a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 768.
- To snap apps, you need a screen resolution of at least 1366 x 768.
- Internet access (ISP fees might apply)
With that said, Windows 8 should still install and run on some systems that dont meet these requirements. To test that theory we installed it on an ancient Asus Eee PC 900, which is powered by a lowly, single-core Intel Celeron M 900MHz CPU and paltry integrated Intel 915GM graphics. The Eee PC 900 system had been updated with 2GB of memory and a 64GB solid state drive, though.
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