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Windows 10 vs. Windows 8: Performance benchmarks show a close battle for fastest

Gordon Mah Ung | July 20, 2015
Windows 8.1 will not roll over for Windows 10. DirectX 12 will rock, though.

But what about gaming?

There is more promise on the gaming side. DirectX 12, in games that implement it, should see healthy improvements. But in games that don't use DX12, it's probably going to be a lot closer.

For example, I ran Tomb Raider on our PCWorld zero-point system. It has an Intel Core i7-4770K, 16GB of DDR3/1600, and a GeForce GTX 980. I used the same Nvidia drivers with both OSes. Note that I ran Wndows 10 build 10162 rather than the current build 10240, as that's the last ISO of Windows 10 preview that Microsoft made available--no amount of coaxing would get Microsoft's servers to kick down anything newer. My tests show a definite, if small, edge for Windows 10. Here's Tomb Raider for you to gawk at: 

Other tests gave up a little more of a win for Win10, but this won't set the world on fire like DX12 is expected to once games that support it are out. We're planning a more in-depth look at Windows 10 gaming performance, so stay tuned.

Here are the takeaways: The first is that despite all the Windows 8 hate out there, the OS is actually quite fast. Anecdotal reports I've seen from when Battlefield 4 was released, for instance, attributed many performance improvements to running Windows 8 over the beloved Windows 7. Windows 8 offered improvements in video and audio decoding that made it faster, too. Another takeaway is that if Windows 8 was zippy, Windows 10 will be, too.

This isn't the last word

There's a lot my initial testing doesn't cover. Battery life improvements, file system improvements and other areas may indeed have been buffed by Microsoft. Once I get a proper ISO of the OS I can perform clean installs, and I'll have a better feel for its performance outside of the areas I've touched on today.

OS performance testing has other challenges. Many of the benchmarks I ran are designed to test hardware, not the OS. Cinebench R15, for example, is a pure CPU test, though the OS has some impact. Windows Vista famously destroyed USB performance until SP1 was released, and the overhead from the OS can pull down performance elsewhere too.

Conclusion

Windows 10 seems to offer basically no performance advantage over Windows 8 in mainstream tests, but let's not be too negative, because there's no reason to be. With Windows 7, Microsoft updated the scheduler for how the OS dealt with CPUs, which promised improvements and battery life savings for both Intel and AMD CPUs. That wasn't a check-off item for Windows 10. because Windows 8.1 performance was already very good. 

And, again, let's not forget that Windows 10 ushers in DirectX 12, which should very much yield significant performance increases in games that support it.

 

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