March 26, 2012, 2:34 PM — Windows 8‘s Metro interface may be controversial, but it looks like few PC users will complain about the new operating system’s performance. Our PCWorld Lab put the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 through a battery of tests and found it generally faster -- sometimes a lot faster -- than Windows 7.
Our test system running Windows 8 Consumer Preview started up faster, ran through our WorldBench 7 benchmark faster, and showed superior performance when browsing the web, compared to the same system running Windows 7. In only one major test, our office productivity measure, did Windows 8 lag behind Windows 7 performance.
Obviously, these results are far from definitive, since they’re based on a preview, rather than a final version of the new operating system. But once Windows 8 is finally released, it is entirely possible its performance will improve, since we had to use drivers that weren’t yet tweaked for Windows 8.
The results also jibe with what readers who had installed the Consumer Preview told us in a recent survey. About 40 percent of respondents said their machines seemed faster with Windows 8, and only 9.4 percent said they seemed slower; nearly 45 percent noticed no significant change.
We tested using our WorldBench 7 tests, which were performed on our Lab’s baseline system built around a 3.3GHz Intel Core i5-2500K processor. That CPU is coupled with 8GB of DDR3 RAM clocked at 1333 MHz, a 1TB 7200RPM hard drive, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics card. Our testbed system is certainly no slouch, but it represents what we’d call a middle of the road PC.
We loaded the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 on the system and compared our results with the results we already had for the same system running Windows 7.
Windows 8 ran through WorldBench 7, our comprehensive performance benchmark, 14 percent faster than Windows 7. Generally, any difference of 5 percent or more on WorldBench is noticeable, so this is a difference you should feel when you’re running a Win8 machine.
(For the full breakdown on WorldBench 7, our testing methodology, and the ins and outs of the individual tests, check out Jason Cross’ How We Test PCs.)
If you hate waiting for your PC to get going, you should like Windows 8. Our system started up at least 35 percent faster running Windows 8 than it did while running Windows 7. Under Windows 7, our average startup time was 56.2 seconds. Under Windows 8, that time dropped to 36.8 seconds.