Laptop Performance

With the different power and performance characteristics of a laptop (not to mention the battery!) we’re going to break out our laptop results from the rest of our desktop data.

If you have seen our OS Mobility Explored article, where we compared laptop usage across Windows and Linux, then you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re about to see. The following is a selection of the most relevant data from that article, using Gateway’s very similar Intel and AMD power laptops: the NV5807u and NV5214u respectively.

Starting with the NV52, our Athlon 64 X2 laptop, we see some immediate advantages for Windows 7. In terms of battery life it edges out Windows XP in all situations, and clearly surpasses Vista, particularly in DVD playback. As laptops have been one of Vista’s most troublesome areas, it’s here where Microsoft needed to see some real improvement, and they have delivered.

Meanwhile performance in our limited suite of benchmarks is largely tied. Vista wins in PCMark 05 only due to higher scores in the transparent windows test (something we suspect is a product of the WDDM 1.1 memory optimizations), XP takes 3DMark 03, and Win7 takes PCMark Vantage. Our tendency is to put more weight in to PCMark Vantage, since it’s quantifying the improved laptop performance that we’ve been experiencing, but aren’t necessarily seeing in other benchmarks.

Finally we have boot and hibernation times. Microsoft has been putting some effort in to bringing down the boot times of Vista, and it shows here, although XP is too tough to beat. Hibernation is a similar story – it’s easier to resume from hibernation when you have less stuff to load.

The NV52 paints what’s probably going to be the average picture for Windows 7 on laptops. It’s as fast (if not faster) than XP and can pull off a slightly better battery life, but it’s not going to be able to beat XP in booting/hibernating.

Next we have the NV58, our Intel C2D laptop.

With battery life, we see some things similar to the AMD based NV52, and some things are different. Vista is still a loser, but Win7 doesn’t manage to build any kind of lead over XP in DVD playback, letting XP take it by a small margin. Battery life in our internet testing does go to Win7 however, once again with a small margin.

As for performance, we largely have the same results as with the NV52. Win7 wins PCMark Vantage, the test we care the most about, and pulls near-even elsewhere. 3DMark Vantage is an outlier this time, but this seems to be related to the Intel integrated graphics in this laptop.

Finally boot and hibernation times are similar to what we saw with the NV52. XP is still faster to boot and faster to return from hibernation, the benefit of an older, lighter-weight operating system. Win7 does handily beat Vista in all cases, however.

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  • DominionSeraph - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    "I just don't understand why holdouts on XP like to argue how good it is in comparison to Vista"

    Because they tried to cram Vista on to a PIII with 256MB of ram, and they're too young to have known REAL speed: Windows 98SE.
    Reply
  • chrnochime - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    Yes but with that REAL speed came frequent BSODs for me. I stuck with 98SE until end of 2002(!) and after moving over to xp, no more BSOD. Exact same hardwares too. Reply
  • ProDigit - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    What are you saying?

    Vista runs slacky on just about any laptop with specs lower than Core2Duo T5500, or Core2Duo's with lower than 1MB L cache, and a drive slower than 5200rpm.

    Even on an AMD dualcore 2,4Ghz with 4GB of RAM, I noticed the OS being sluggish!
    It performs worse than MacOs, XP, Linux, and Win7!
    It is possibly the worst OS ever created!
    Reply
  • Genx87 - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    I think just about any OS will slack when you stick it on a 4200 RPM drive. I am assuming you meant 4200 instead of 5200?

    I had Dell laptops back in 03-04 that performed like 386's because some bean counter figured we can save 20 bucks a laptop using 4200 rpm drives. Idiot didnt think about the wasted productivity when the user waits 10 minutes for the thing to boot and 2 mins to open outlook.

    Reply
  • DominionSeraph - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    XP ain't no sprite. When my Vista box went down, I ripped out its X2 5200+ to replace my backup XP box's 3200+, and with that huge leap it now equals what my Vista box was like.
    There really ain't a difference once you go dual-core with decent specs.

    Compare this to Win 98. Whereas XP dogs a 3200+ with 2GB, 98 has sub-10 second boot times on a PIII 700MHz, and you aren't gonna notice a difference in snappiness from a Celeron 400. (You don't get any faster than 'instant'.)

    XP is bloatware and really doesn't have a hardware niche. Anything that can't run Vista would be better off with Win98.

    Reply
  • poached - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    but you can't get drivers for windows 98. The installer will probably crash if you tried. plus, 98 was really unstable (compared to OSs of today) because programs could corrupt the memory easily. Not to mention no security of any kind. There is a penalty to make OS secure and stable. Reply
  • pullmyfoot - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    I bought Vista when it came out and dual booted it with XP. I didnt really like it, and Vista almost never got used. It was like that for a year and a half, and then I installed the W7 RC. I have not missed XP one bit.

    As for the people who say W7 is less snappy than XP, well in my own experience W7 feels more snappy than XP to me any day.
    Reply
  • ProDigit - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    I noticed the opposite when testing XP VS Win7 RC and Beta.
    I found XP to be more snappy than Win7, running it from a lower specced laptop.
    I did have XP optimized though. Perhaps if I give the final version of Win7 a Win2000 theme, and optimize it a bit, it will be as snappy as XP.
    Reply
  • ProDigit - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    I noticed the opposite when testing XP VS Win7 RC and Beta.
    I found XP to be more snappy than Win7, running it from a lower specced laptop.
    I did have XP optimized though. Perhaps if I give the final version of Win7 a Win2000 theme, and optimize it a bit, it will be as snappy as XP.
    Reply
  • andrewaggb - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    I'd be curious if you can get it to feel as fast as xp on a really slow laptop. I sold my netbook a year ago (1024x600 didn't cut it), but now that you can get ones with a better resolution screen I might consider getting another one with win7 if it doesn't run awful.

    Reply

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