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.

Gaming: DX10 Upgrade or Clean Install?


View All Comments

  • jkostans - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    I bought W7 Pro 64-bit OEM for $140 shipped on newegg. So far I am reasonably happy. The interface takes a lot of getting used to for someone who has been running XP since it's release. I do get some blue screens, but I've narrowed it down to an iffy 64-bit "kX Audio" driver I am using for my ancient SB Audigy.

    I definately noticed a speed improvement in general use. Everything from navigating folders to opening programs and browsing the internet seems snappier. I am running a decent setup, so maybe W7 can scale better with the additional power of todays machines. (Q6600 @ 3.4GHz, 4GB DDR2 1066 , HD4870, Spinpoint F1 7200rpm drives). I really want to see how a SSD helps performance, but I can't justify the price yet.
  • chrnochime - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    I'd say if it does scale well, your PC is provides a lot of power for it to work on. It's a quad-core OC'd to 3.4GHz, and that's far from being a slouch.

    Now to ponder over whether to wipe my HTPC clean just to install W7. No, I don't hope for smooth upgrade, never worked in the past for any Windows before, don't think it'll work for me now.
  • hydrocarbon - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    "Fine" is a weird term to use for 64-bit XP... Reply
  • SunLord - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    I always wonder about these Windows XP 64bit users seeing as how it has the worst driver support out of all recent Windows version. It also was the last to get WGA support... Funny that. Reply
  • Genx87 - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    People enjoy pain or like to be "different". The driver situation for that OS is hell and isnt going to get better. Reply
  • falc0ne - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    well, dear Xp user we have a short and straight to the point answer for ya: welcome to the 21st century:)
    it's not that we don't love old machines like Pontiac Firebird but....this doesn't apply to computer hardware or software:)
  • Martimus - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    Lol. That isn't an argument. In fact, I don't even know what you are trying to convey. That Windows 7 is newer, and thus automatically better? That isn't a very logical conclusion.

    Widows XP runs most programs fine. Why would anyone want to buy a new operating system, when their old one they already paid for works? I'll buy Windows 7 when I build a new computer, but there is no compelling reason to buy it for any other reason. After reading this article, I feel less compelled to change my operating system than I did before I read it - as there just aren't any compelling features added since XP (to me).
  • B3an - Monday, November 02, 2009 - link

    XP it a decade old, it REALLY should just hurry up and die. It's holding progress back, too many installs still use IE6 which is a massive headache for web developers, and it has more holes than my socks. 7 is massive upgrade from XP, even installing 7 is infinitely easier than XP. This article fails to mention many many features of windows 7, but then it's more about performance numbers.

    Yes XP "gets the job done", so would windows 98 for many people, but stop confusing that with the OS actually being any good these days.
    7 is Microsofts best OS by far, period.
  • leexgx - Tuesday, November 03, 2009 - link

    i guess you did not even bother to read his post....

    i am guessing he has his PC fully up to date
  • samspqr - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    it depends on what you are doing

    I don't doubt this site does its best to get the most perfect measures of general performance, but my measuremens tell a totally different story

    if you're doing serious 3D work, using programs like 3dsmax or maya, XP is between 21% and 200% faster than vista or w7:">">

    note 1: this is viewport performance; for rendering times, look at anandtech's numbers
    note 2: don't even look at specviewperf results, they are meaningless

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