by October 6, 2009 0 comments

Windows 7 being the cover story this time, we have decided to benchmark it
against three Linux and two Windows operating systems. These include Fedora 11,
Ubuntu 9.04, Open SuSE 11.2, Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Ultimate,
and Windows 7 Ultimate RTM. We considered both 32-bit and 64 bit versions of the
Operating Systems. We tested them on an AMD Phenom II X4 955 Processor based
machine with 4GB of DDR-3 RAMand a 80GB SSD hard-drive. The biggest challenge
for us was arranging for a benchmark which could run on both x86 and x64
architecture, and at the same time can run on all OSes including different
variants of Windows and Linux. We finally zeroed in on a benchmark called
Geekbench from Primate Labs. This is one of the very few benchmarks that can run
on any OS and any architecture including Windows, Linux and Mac. You can even
download and use the x86 version of Geekbench for free from

While analyzing the performance of different operating systems with Geekbench,
we also checked other aspects of the OSes, such as boot-up and shutdown time,
installation and time taken for copying a 100MB file from the HDD to USB, HDD to
HDD and USB to HDD. The results we got were very interesting.

Here you can easily make out that the performance of
Windows 7 and Vista are best when compared with other operating systems.
Plus a 64-bit version of Windows 7/Vista gives around 10% more performance.

64-bit or 32-bit OS
This is an old question, but very much valid even today. People hardly think
of going for a a 64-bit OS if their RAM is not more than 4GB. However, all
desktop processors today as we know except Atom are 64-bit and support 32-bit
applications. This makes for a big question -should we really go for a 64-bit OS
which also requires more space than its counterpart on your hard-drive. We would
say yes, as our test shows, at least.

In our test bed, each and every OS showed certain amount of performance
difference ranging from a mere 1% to as much as 12% to 13%. And if you’re going
to install Windows Vista or Windows 7, a 64-bit variant is of course better, as
both OSes gave around 12 to 13 percent performance benefit with their 64-bit
variant. But in both cases, the additional toll on the storage was around 40%.
Both the OSes took around 4GBs extra while installing their 64-bit variant.
However, given the capacity of today’s HDDs, this 4GB shouldn’t be a constraint
for selecting a 64-bit OS.

Windows Vs Linux
The duel seems to be ever enduring. However, in our test bed, Windows did
better in terms of sheer performance than Linux. The performance of Windows
Vista and Windows 7 was around 10% better than that of OpenSuSE and was around
40% better than Fedora and Ubuntu. This is indeed a substantial difference. But
yes, if you are on a HDD space diet, then Linux makes more sense as it takes up
around one third the space of its counterpart, and additionally gives you so
many applications including Office Suite, lots of games, image manipulation
software, etc along with the OS.

If, money is not the only deciding factor, then you have good amount of
storage space to spare, and you are not a diehard fan of FOSS, then Windows 7
and Windows Vista do make a lot of sense over the free Linux variants.

Win 7 Vs Win Vista
We came across in our test an unexpected fight between the two, while we
figured out that the performance of Windows 7 and Windows Vista is actually at
par. Windows Vista rather outshone Windows 7 by a couple of percentage points.
This is pretty obvious as both Windows 7 and Vista use the same kernel.
Microsoft didn’t develop a new kernel for Windows 7, rather they have refined
the Windows Vista kernel to use in Win 7. However, Windows 7 took less than half
the time when compared with Windows vista.

So, the deciding factor to choose between the two should not be only
performance but other enhancements that we see in Windows 7. You will read about
those enhancements throughout this story.

The Old machine test
While Vista and Windows 7 performed almost same or for that matter, Vista
was slightly better, we decided to try this test on an old P 4 machine. While
Windows 7 performed good on Atom based machines, we thought it would also
outperform Windows Vista on an old machine like P 4. We arranged an old P 4 box
with 1GB RAM first tried installing Windows Vista on it. The installation was
successful and took around within 27 minutes. Then we tried running the same
Geekbench benchmark on it, but this time on 32-bit as P 4 has a 32-bit
architecture only, we got an overall score of 497.

We then installed Windows 7 on the same box. The installation took around 26
minutes, which is time as taken by Windows Vista. We then ran Geekbench on it
and this time, we got an overall score of 566 which is 10% higher. The overall
use experience was also good as the mouse hover and over effect worked pretty
well on the same system. One very interesting thing we noticed was that on the
same machine a fresh install of Windows Vista at an ideal state consumed around
335MB of RAM from a pool of 1GB where as Windows 7 used only 285MB RAM, giving
some free space for applications to run smoothly.

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