With Windows 7 just around the corner I decided to have some fun with my new Acer Aspire One D250 netbook. The D250 comes installed with Windows Xp on it, and well, Xp is old, sorry but it is, I’ve moved to Vista and have not had any problems with it at all. Anyway, I was curious to see how Windows 7 was going to perform on the Aspire One, so I did what I’m usually doing, that is taking things apart and tinkering with them. The D250 comes with a standard 160gb hard drive, and I just happened to have another floating around with nothing else to do, so I popped one out and put the other in to do a nice, clean install of Windows 7 on it. The idea here was to see how the Aspire One handled the new OS, but being who I am, I decided to really check things out and run tests for comparison of Windows Xp vs. Windows 7. I’ve got quite a bit of benchmarking software and I’ve put the Aspire One to the test to see how much of a performance difference there is between running the old Xp and the new 7. This wasn’t just done for comparison sake though, I wanted to see how difficult it was going to be to get Windows 7 installed on this little netbook, and it was surprisingly easy.
First off I have to say that installation couldn’t have been easier. I’ve read several ways to get W7 on a netbook and most seem to involve copying it to a USB drive and messing around with that, but I just hooked up an external DVD drive to the Aspire One and went from there, very easy indeed.
As the specs say the Aspire One I have comes with a 160gb hard drive, so I grabbed another 160gb HDD for the installation of Windows 7. The drives are different brands, but basically the same in all other respects so I figured it would make for a good comparison, both drives are 5400RPM with 8mb cache. There is one difference between the drives though, the Seagate is a 1.5G and the Hitachi is a 3g drive, I’m not sure how much of a difference that might make on this system though, most likely it’s negligible, especially with an Atom CPU.
Installation didn’t take that long, at least not as long as I expected, I’ve had XP installations take longer than this Windows 7 did for me.
I ran across no problems at all with any driver issues, the Wi-Fi worked instantly, and I was downloading updates within minutes. Windows Update had official drivers available for all of the hardware in the Aspire One, something that I could not find on the Acer website. Everything in the Aspire One worked exactly as it did on the XP installation.
Once I get Windows 7 installed I ran the self test to get my Windows Experience Index and got a whopping 2.1 score. The base score comes from the lowest score of the tests, and this would be from the desktop performance of Aero where I got the 2.1 score. If I based it on the next highest score it would still be a 2.2 as that’s what the Intel Atom scored, so whatever there I guess…
We’ll start off the testing with a simple one, calculating Pi, specifically the time to takes to calculate it to one million places using Super Pi. Specifically I use Super Pi Mod 1.5 for testing
As you can see here the difference between them is insignificant really.
For the next test I’m converting video from one format to another, specifically .AVI to .MPG. The file I used is small weighing in at 70.5MB, I didn’t change any setting just converted from one format to another. The program I used is WinX Video Converter and it’s free so anyone can get it and use it if they wish, it’s not a bad little program overall. We’re using an Atom CPU here, so we won’t expect super speeds, and that’s the main reason I didn’t use a larger file, I’ve used the same file for other testing and it works well for comparison sake.
So it’s the same time to convert… no difference there at all.
The next test is using CrystalMark 2004R3. This program works well at testing basically all aspects of a computer, in the graph I’ve got the overall results or marks, and I’ve included screen shots of the individual tests as well so you can see the exact results.
As you can see Windows 7 apparently lags behind quite a bit in this test, and if we look closer at the results in the screen shots we some some odd things going on. Not sure exactly why there are these disparities here, it could be running Windows 7, the program isn’t exactly made for it, but I didn’t get any errors either. So with this test we can’t be sure if it’s quite correct, so we can take these results with a grain of salt, as it were…
The next test I’ve got in Cinebench 10. If you don’t know what Cinebench is, then here’s a quote from the site:
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer’s performance capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real-world circumstances.
The test procedure consists of two main components: The first test sequence is dedicated to the computer’s main processor. A 3D scene file is used to render a photoreaslistic image. The scene makes use of various CPU-intensive features such as reflection, ambient occlusion, area lights and procedural shaders. During the first run the benchmark only uses one CPU (or CPU core) to ascertain a reference value. On computers that have multiple CPUs or CPU cores and on those that simulate multiple CPUs (via HyperThreading or similar technolgies), MAXON CINEBENCH will run a second test using all available CPU power.
The second test measures graphics card performance and is run inside the 3D editor window. The project file used can test all graphics cards that support the OpenGL standard. In this scene, only the camera was animated. This scene places medium to low demands on graphics cards and tests the maximum speed with which the scene can be properly displayed.
Here we see a, sort of, big difference over running Windows XP in this test, we see much better results with the new operating system.
And I’ve got a bunch more tests as well…
SiSoftware, makers of SiSoft Sandra, recently released service pack 4 for their 2009 Sandra program, which made it more compatible with Windows 7. I like using Sandra as it gives me a good comparison, and it includes several tests all in one program.
The first test is the Cache and Memory Test.
Processor Cache and Memory
Benchmark the processors’ caches and memory access (transfer speed).
Cache/Memory Bandwidth (MB/s) – higher results are better, i.e. faster memory bandwidth.
Speed Factor (MB/s) – lower results are better, i.e. less difference between processor cache speed and memory speed.
Combined Index: is a composite figure representing the overall performance rating of the entire Cache-Memory performance in terms of MB/s. The value is the logarithmic average of all the results for the entire address space. (Higher is better, i.e. better performance)
Speed Factor: is a figure representing the speed differential between the CPU’s cache and memory. The value is the ratio of the fastest cache (i.e. L1) bandwidth to the main memory bandwidth. (Lower is better, i.e. the memory is not very much slower than CPU’s cache)
Here we see a very slight increase in using XP, nothing though that would ever be felt in the real world.
The next test is CPU Arithmetic:
Benchmarks the ALU and FPU processor units. Shows how your processors handle arithmetic and floating point instructions in comparison to other typical processors.
Dhrystone (MIPS) – higher results are better, i.e. better integer performance.
Whetstone (MFLOPS) – higher results are better, i.e. better floating-point performance.
Here we see Windows 7 taking the lead, but again it’s a negligible amount really.
Next up is CPU Multi-Media:
Benchmark the (W)MMX(2), SSE(2/3/4), AVX processor units. Shows how your processors handle multi-media instructions and data in comparison to other typical processors.
Such operations are used by more specialised software, e.g. image manipulation, video decoders/encoders, games.
Multi-Media Integer (Pixels/s) – higher results are better, i.e. better integer performance.
Multi-Media Single/Double Float (Pixels/s) – higher results are better, i.e. better floating-point performance.
and yet again, Windows 7 is a bit better, again though it’s such a small difference that you most likely would not notice.
The next test would be the File Systems test:
Benchmark mounted file systems (i.e. volumes). Shows how your file systems connected to storage adapters and storage hosts compare to other devices in a typical computer.
This is not the raw disk performance that other benchmarks test – but the speed of the volume itself that depends on many more factors like file system, operating system cache, position on disk, etc. Thus this is the performance you get at the file system level.
Drive Index: is a composite figure representing an overall performance rating based on the average of the read, write, and seek tests, and file and cache size. The Drive Index is intended to represent drive performance under typical use in a PC. A larger number means better performance. The weighting of the results is not equal it represents the distribution of different files sizes as used on these devices (obtained through field research).
Here we see Windows 7 lags behind a bit in overall performance but the random access time is lower. If we go back and see where I mentioned about this drive being an SATA I or 1.5g drive and the XP drive being an SATA II or 3g drive, with this test we truly see that the interface does not matter much at all.
Next up we have the Memory latency test:
Benchmark the latency (response time) of processors’ caches and memory
The latency of caches is measured in processor clocks (i.e. how many clocks it takes for the data to be ready) as it is dependent on the processor clock speed.
The latency of memory is measured in nanoseconds as it is typically independent on processor clock speed.
So we see one nanosecond difference, I really don’t think you’ll feel it…
and the next test would be Memory Bandwidth:
Benchmark the memory bandwidth of your computer.
Integer Memory Bandwidth (MB/s) – higher results are better, i.e. faster memory bandwidth.
Float Memory Bandwidth (MB/s) – higher results are better, i.e. faster memory bandwidth
Strangely it’s the same memory but it performs differently with each OS, the difference again here is nothing to worry about.
And the final test of this little, or rather big, article is the Power Management Test:
Power Management Efficiency
Benchmark the power management efficiency of the processors. Shows how efficient the power management of your processors is in comparison to other typical processors.
The ability of the processors to step-down in frequency and voltage at different workloads is measured. The more a processor steps down in both frequency and voltage the better the score at the specific workload. The test stops when the workload is too great the processor even at 100% efficiency.
The ALU/FPU score is a geometric mean based on the whole range of workloads; thus the power of the processors does matter in obtaining a higher score.
The Power Efficiency score is a geometric mean based on the supported workloads only. Thus the power of the processors does not matter.
So here we see a rather large difference between running Windows XP and Windows 7 when it comes to performance, with Win7 taking the lead, but we see in the Power Efficiency test that Win7 lags behind a bit.
At the end of the day when all of the testing is done, there really is no clear winner is there? The winner would have to be based upon what you wanted the computer to do really, that is what it could be based upon. So everyone can read the results in a different light really.
If I had to declare a winner it would be Windows 7, only because it leads the testing it processor intensive applications and multi-media testing. Again though, the differences between the two operating systems when running on the Aspire One D250 are negligible at best.
Windows 7 looks pretty, and it’s new, I’m sure it will provide a better experience overall that the aging Windows XP will.