Windows XP vs Windows 7 – Benchmarks

Now that Windows 7 is widely available for testing, the obvious question is how does it stack up against XP? The short answer – hold on to XP? And a chance to win a prize.

NOTE: This article is targeted to our readers who have older PCs that function perfectly well but are a few generations behind current gear and curious about upgrading to a new OS.

To be fair, this is a beta version of Windows 7, so things could be better by the official launch date. However, considering that Windows 7 appears to be Vista II, these results may not be far off the mark. These benchmarks are about as “apples to apples” as I could make it. Here’s what I did:

I ran some benchmarks using the same PC but on different hard drives, one a 30 GB WD with 2 GB cache and the other an IBM 120 GB with 8 GB cache. The XP was loaded with programs and Windows 7 a clean install on the WD HD. I used Passmark’s Performance Test 6.1 for the benchmarks with XP yielding a combined score of 315.3 and Windows 7 209.1. These were the best scores of three runs, with the others showing similar marks.

Needless to say I look at these results and figure the different hard drives MUST have something to do with the difference. So I wipe the 30 GB HD clean and do a fresh install of Windows XP Pro with SP 2. The only programs I loaded were AVG 8 antivirus and Passmark’s Performance Test 6.1. I ran the benchmarks three times. Then I wiped the drive again and did a fresh install of Windows 7, loading the same programs and running the benchmarks again three times.

The PC I used was not a girly machine – not as current as some might like, but not lacking for horsepower:

  • Abit I7 motherboard
  • Intel Prescott running at 3.0 GHz
  • 2 GB RAM
  • Nvidia GeForce 7600
  • WD Caviar 30 GB HD

By all accounts, this PC is well suited to run Windows 7. The following are the best results from the three benchmark runs:

Windows XP vs Windows 7 Benchmarks


Windows XP

Windows 7




2 D












3 D






The 2D results show the largest difference between the two, but consistently among all the benchmarks I ran, Windows 7 underperformed XP in every category. The closest was for the HD, which is reasonable considering the same HD was used each time.

However, I have been using Windows 7 to get a feel for it and the benchmark difference does not seem to reflect my experience with Windows 7 – I can’t perceive something like a 50% difference between the two. So as a quick test, I ran four Photoshop 7 filters timing them using the same image on an XP Pro machine loaded with stuff (not the clean XP install) and on the Windows 7 clean install; this admittedly rough test gave a 1-2 second advantage to XP.

So I’m a bit perplexed as to what exactly this benchmark tells us – Passmark’s Performance Test 6.1 is Windows Vista capable, so Windows 7 should run OK.

So how about a helping hand here – anyone can get Windows 7 free during the next two weeks, so grab a copy, run your own tests and drop me a line on what you find. I’ll make this a contest and select someone at random for a prize.

I should also add that some features in Windows 7 I like a lot – more on this later after I play with it some more.

About Joe Citarella 242 Articles
Joe Citarella was one of the founders of in 1998. He contributed as a site administrator and writer for over 10 years before retiring. Joe played an integral part in building and sustaining the community.

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