Windows 7 Release Candidate 1. That’s as close to fully baked as it gets, so we’re finally comfortable pitting it against Vista for some good ol’ fashion benchmarking. Windows 7 feels snappier. Is it?
We used 32-bit versions of both Vista and Windows 7 on the same machine for testing: 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM (but really 3GB available cause of the 32-bit issue), 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT.
PCMark Vantage and 3DMark Vantage—more traditional benchmarks, designed for Windows Vista. Here, Windows 7 came out ahead, only losing to Vista on a single test in 3DMark.
The overall takeaway sounds like a mixed message: Windows 7 RC1 consistently beat Vista in raw benchmarks by a small margin, and lagged slightly behind Vista in some very real world measures. What’s really interesting is that in regular usage, Windows 7 still feels faster and more responsive than Vista, even though the objective numbers say otherwise. It’s more than just a placebo effect: It points to a more slicker, refined user experience that makes you feel like the OS responds more hastily or smoothly to your whims. And that’s what really matters.