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Review: Windows 7 - Part 7: Performance and Final Verdict

by Parm Mann on 22 October 2009, 16:36 4.5

Tags: Windows 7, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

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Gaming and DirectX 11

OS - Far Cry 2, 1,920x1,200 DX9 HQ
Average fps, higher is better
7 Home Premium, 64-bitXP Pro SP3, 32-bitVista Home Premium SP2, 64-bit

Run at the built-in benchmark's high-quality settings, the three operating systems exhibit near-identical performance.

OS - Far Cry 2, 1,920x1,200 DX10 HQ
Average fps, higher is better
7 Home Premium, 64-bitXP Pro SP3, 32-bitVista Home Premium SP2, 64-bit

The reason for no score being attributed to Windows XP is down to the fact that DirectX 10 isn't officially supported on the older operating system. Note the performance speed-up under DX10?

DirectX 11

Windows 7 ships with an updated API, and there are no prizes in guessing that it's the graphics-oriented DirectX 11 (DX11).

One of the main purposes of an update to a graphics API is to provide developers with a standardised, enhanced feature-set which makes it simpler to author code for better-looking effects.

In particular, DX11 introduces three main new features; hardware tessellation, GPGPU processing, and better multi-threading support.

Ready for some techno-jargon? Hardware tessellation works by taking a low-polygon model and generating geometry via the application of what are termed patches. Powered by the GPU, tessellation therefore adds detail to low-res designs, leading to better-looking high-detail models without unduly burdening the CPU.

The DirectCompute component of DX11 enables the use of a graphics card as a general-purpose processor for non-gaming tasks - stream computing, for example. DirectCompute is supported in DX10, as well.

Lastly, DX11 brings better multi-threading support, which means that multi-core CPUs can be better used to provide the system's GPU with instructions and code. Again, this feature is available on DX10-class GPUs but may not work as efficiently.

As Windows Vista and 7 are based on the same underlying technology, Vista (SP2) will also receive an update that enables the DX11 features for the operating system. The update should arrive within a few days of Windows 7 launch, although Microsoft hasn't finalised a date yet.


Based on the core technologies found in Vista, application performance in Windows 7 is at least as good as its direct predecessor. Better memory management and behind-the-scenes tweaks make Windows 7 feel smoother than Vista, too, so there's little reason to opt for Vista over 7 if planning a new operating-system installation.

What's more, the wide-ranging compatibility of Windows 7 means that OS and driver installation is the simplest of any Windows to date. 7's perceived performance derives from its enhanced usability and efficiency rather than straight-line benchmarking speed.