Gaming Benchmarks - Direct3D

There are an incredible number of tests we wanted to run in order to explore all the different aspects of gaming on Vista versus gaming on XP both in 32- and 64-bit modes. For this first look, however, we will be sticking with single card setups on Vista x86, Vista x64, and Windows XP x86. In the future, we plan on looking at multi-GPU performance as well as the performance of games on Windows XP x64. With Vista, Microsoft has improved the gaming on 64-bit landscape significantly, and we would like to see just how far we have come.

For now, we will be looking at a selection of cards from AMD and NVIDIA: five cards from the Radeon X1K series and five cards from the GeForce 7 series, as well as both current 8800 parts. These tests will look at GPU and CPU limited situations, and we will be comparing Vista x86 with Windows XP as well as Vista x64 to see where there are any differences. We will also look at resolution scaling on each of our three test operating systems, but only with two cards representing AMD and NVIDIA: the X1950 XTX and 8800 GTX.

In terms of APIs, one DirectX and one OpenGL game will be tested. Oblivion will represent the MS API, while Quake 4 will be showing off OpenGL performance on Vista. We have also taken a look at a native 64-bit game. Valve's Half-Life 2: Lost Coast will be run on all three operating systems in native mode. We would like to have compared HL2:LC running in WoW at 32-bit under x64, but we have not been able to figure out how to test it without running in 64-bit mode yet.

First up is Oblivion performance. DirectX performance should be as close as possible to Windows XP performance as this is Microsoft's baby. First, let's take a look at Vista x86 numbers divided by Windows XP scores for CPU limited and GPU limited cases. This will give us the speed up (numbers above one) or slow down (numbers less than one) as compared to Windows XP. Just remember that there is some normal fluctuation in performance on both sides, so we could see a wider margin of error here than in our standard comparisons.

Vista Gaming Performance Normalized to XP

Vista Gaming Performance Normalized to XP

For CPU bound tests, almost every card performs better under Windows Vista than under Windows XP; the lone exception is the X1900 XT 256MB. This indicates that Vista is better able to provide system resources to DirectX games, which is actually quite surprising considering the overhead that Vista adds to the system.

When we take a look at the GPU bound case, we see almost the opposite with only the 8800 GTS performing better than it does on Windows XP. This does line up with what we would expect. There is more involvement from the OS in the rendering pipeline and less direct access to the hardware by games. Vista is now able to manage graphics memory and graphics drivers must support sharing of hardware resources between multiple programs. Luckily, the differences aren't that huge. While the hardcore gamers won't be happy with any performance loss, Microsoft is betting that in the long term the advantages will outweigh the loss in framerate.

Now let's take a look at how Vista stacks up against XP in an x86 vs. x64 comparison

Vista x64 Gaming Performance Normalized to XP

Vista x64 Gaming Performance Normalized to XP

On the CPU limited results, most of the cards again run faster on Vista x64. This is frankly amazing, as even Microsoft expects performance to be slightly slower on Vista. In the GPU limited results, we see basically a random scattering of cards that are slightly slower or faster under Vista x64. Given that Oblivion is a 32-bit application running in WoW, we would be pretty happy with only small performance losses, and any performance improvements are unexpected but welcome. All in all, x64 performance looks good, and we haven't seen the types of compatibility and stability issues between the two that we did with XP x64.

Last up for Oblivion is resolution scaling.



Both the 8800 GTX and X1950 XTX scale very similarly across platforms. There does seem to be more difference in CPU limited settings, while performance seems to converge as resolution increases.

Graphical Gotchas Gaming Benchmarks - OpenGL and x64
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  • Zak - Thursday, February 1, 2007 - link

    I've finally got around to installing RC2 last week: Dell Inspiron 2GHz CoreDuo, 2GB RAM, 7200RPM HD, 256 Nivdia video. Vista is slow, network transfers are 50% slower or so than in XP, GUI is sluggish and all the improvements are pretty annoying. Interface is too busy and overdone. A simple copy message contains a long unnecessary explanation of what's about to happen. Even after turning off the security features one can't escape the annoying popups and messages. And my hard drive was crunching non-stop all day, I can't even imagine what it does to battery life. I haven't had a virus or spyware in years and I don't see any compelling reasons to switch to Vista. I haven't even tried any multimedia features as none of my DVD and video playback software worked properly and I will not use WMP if my life depended on it, so I can't comment nt on DRM and stuff but I've had enough after few days and restored my XP image back to the laptop. If MS tries to force this on people as its, without major improvements, I see Apple and Linux getting lots of switchers. But them XP was bad at first too so maybe Vista will become usable with SP2:) I myself will desperately look for an alternative to Vista. I don't play games that much any more so this won't be "a must" for me.

    Z.
    Reply
  • Zebo - Thursday, February 1, 2007 - link

    I'm very afraid Zak. I will upgrade due to Microsoft forcing the issue on us gamers with dx10 vista only but with total dread. I may have to start listening to those console fans and linux fans after all. But the lack of TBS games kills consoles for me...SIGH..

    I totally agree with you about Virus and spy/malware issues. All are resolved or blocked with free third party apps many years now for anyone with the slightest clue. Same goes for Firewall/searching and other features MS lists on their "100 advantages" site. Vista is just late to the party with what we all know how to do and cripples your computer performance and makes everything so dumbed down visually and practically.
    Reply
  • mlambert890 - Saturday, February 3, 2007 - link

    You guys must be using a different OS. I havent heard of anyone with this dismal of an experience at all. If you hate the UI, just run it in legacy mode and it will look like XP. Disable all of the security add ins and they ARE gone. Ive take a Vista machine and set it up to the point that the person using it had no real clue it was Vista but did notice that their laptop seemed quicker.

    Have fun on Linux though. Linux is a LOT easier to use/live with than any MS OS! (I need an eyeroll smiley here)
    Reply
  • jonp - Monday, February 5, 2007 - link

    I would be interested to know if you have installed and worked with SUSE 10.2? as I assume your "...a LOT easier..." is sarcasm. Reply
  • kalrith - Thursday, February 1, 2007 - link

    The second sentence of the third paragraph states, "The reason the low end AMD cards look better off here".

    I think you meant ATI instead of AMD.
    Reply
  • kalrith - Thursday, February 1, 2007 - link

    Another typo is in the last sentence on the first page. It says, "What's a question we hope to answer..." What's should be That's. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 2, 2007 - link

    Technically, ATI is now AMD, which is why we are now referring to the cards as AMD cards. Same thing as ATI, but since they were bought out.... :) Reply
  • kalrith - Friday, February 2, 2007 - link

    You're right...I completely forgot about that. Reply
  • stash - Thursday, February 1, 2007 - link

    WMDC was RTM'ed yesterday: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?Fa...">http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/deta...0-af33-3... Reply
  • stash - Thursday, February 1, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Similarly, launching an application that requires administrative rights is still more difficult than it needs to be. As we touched upon this briefly last time, with the launch of Vista a lot of common 3rd-party applications will continue to require administrative privileges to run correctly, and it will continue to be this way for some time until everyone has had a chance to retrofit their applications for Vista


    Which common 3rd-party apps are you referring to here?
    Reply

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