Windows 7 HD and SSD Performance Analyzed

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Windows 7 is undoubtedly the most exciting new operating system to come out of Microsoft within the past decade--and with good reason. The user interface is superb, gone are many of the oddball Vista quirks, and the operating system is light and snappy, marking a massive 180 degree shift away from the heaviness and bloat of Vista. Despite the fact that it's based on many of the same core Vista elements, Windows 7 is a different beast, and should be looked at in a fresh new light.



Windows 7 RC gets ready to take on a a pile of really fast drives.

As with any new operating system release, there are a lot of questions with regards to how it will perform on various hardware configurations--one of the more interesting ones being related to disk performance. One of Windows Vista's cardinal sins, in our opinion, was that the operating system was constantly thrashing the system's hard disk. Whether it was trying to do some sort of smart caching or indexing files for searching, it never felt like the operating system would settle down.  The disk was always active and performing reads or writes, which meant that whenever you had to actually run a program, you had to fight for disk resources.

This was noticed fairly early on, by large swaths of users, who complained about slow disk performance. Microsoft would eventually release an update to their disk caching algorithms embedded within Windows Vista Service Pack 1, which dramatically helped performance and snappiness of the operating system. However, the problem never felt completely resolved, and in the minds of most users, the damage was done. Windows Vista was, and still is, perceived as a slow operating system in the minds of most power users. One of the first things which most notice about Windows 7 is how "light" the operating system feels. It's quick to load up, it does not spend much time thrashing the hard disk once you're inside the interface, and your hard drive quickly settles down and lets you start working. It feels quicker, due to this fact, and as such, the entire computing experience on Windows 7 is much more enjoyable. All users, from those who use low-end netbooks to high-end workstations, will immediately benefit from Microsoft's new, more lightweight disk usage algorithms.

Today we're going to look at how various types of disks perform under Windows 7, both of the traditional platter based variety and new solid state disks. We're not only curious about how disk performance changes between the operating systems, but if Windows 7's new solid-state specific optimizations and tuning give you even greater performance compared to Vista.
 

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acarzt 5 years ago

Downloading Windows 7 now :-)

mentaldisorder 5 years ago

I want to install my Windows 7, but I'm not sure autocad will work on it...

acarzt 5 years ago

you can always run it in compatibility mode. Or if it has that virtual XP up yet?

bob_on_the_cob 5 years ago

I got this crazy feeling you dont wanna run CAD in a VM.

acarzt 5 years ago

i'm sure the slow down wouldn't be THAT bad lol....

fairlane32 5 years ago

Let me ask a really dumb question. If you have a SSD setup and the manufacturer releases an updated firmware version for the drive, do you have to reformat the entire drive and reinstall windows? Or can you update the firmware on the drive from within windows?

Sorry for being dumb, I had planned on contacting one of the manufacturers but thought I'd ask you guys first.

 

Thanks,

 

Philip

Marco C 5 years ago

[quote user="fairlane32"]

Let me ask a really dumb question. If you have a SSD setup and the manufacturer releases an updated firmware version for the drive, do you have to reformat the entire drive and reinstall windows? Or can you update the firmware on the drive from within windows?

[/quote]

The only dumb questions, is an unasked one...

To answer you, it depends on the nature of the update. Some maintenance releases do not require blanking the drive, but more comprehensive updates that change drive behavior may require blanking the drive.  It depends.

fairlane32 5 years ago

[quote user="Marco C"]

[quote user="fairlane32"]

Let me ask a really dumb question. If you have a SSD setup and the manufacturer releases an updated firmware version for the drive, do you have to reformat the entire drive and reinstall windows? Or can you update the firmware on the drive from within windows?

[/quote]

The only dumb questions, is an unasked one...

To answer you, it depends on the nature of the update. Some maintenance releases do not require blanking the drive, but more comprehensive updates that change drive behavior may require blanking the drive.  It depends.

[/quote]

Thanks Marco,

      I agree, no question is dumb, but I never know who is listening Stick out tongue You would think that manufacturers would try to keep from having to reformat the drive, even for major updates, but hopefully they won't happen too often, unless the update really makes the drive perform a lot better, otherwise it would definitely be a pain.

 

Philip

Super Dave 5 years ago

Great comparo, guys! That pretty-much seals it for Vista, IMO.

Kiristo 5 years ago

But SP2 just came out. That will make it better...right?

kksonakiya 5 years ago

Yeah, but he said that 7 is like 180 degree shift from vista. I don't think that just SP2 will cover that shift.

But anyway, they have released it with one year license up to July 2010, hence it is up to you. Well, I am running 7 RC and so far everything is fine. Except, Daemon Tools, Norton and few more programs, which are having compatibility issues and I am not able to run them in compatibility mode as well.

Dave_HH 5 years ago

We're actually planning a follow-up article that looks at both Vista SP2 and XP vrs Win7. Stay tuned!

bob_on_the_cob 5 years ago

To replace daemon tools I have been using virtualclonedrive on windows 7. I have no CD drive on my laptop so it comes in handy.

kksonakiya 5 years ago

Does it work fine like Daemon Tools? I had problems mounting an image file with Winmount (everytime I would run setup.exe an error stating "can't read from source" would appear) but Daemon Tools mounted it perfectly and I could install the program smoothly.

Well, I had Vista back then. I'll try the software you mentioned, I hope it emulates the DVD-drive perfectly.

iNsuRRecTiON 5 years ago

[quote user="Dave_HH"]

We're actually planning a follow-up article that looks at both Vista SP2 and XP vrs Win7. Stay tuned!

[/quote]

Hi there,

then please include the Super Talent Ultra Drive with the newest firmware (1370) in this test/article, thanks.

regards,

iNsuRRecTiON

kksonakiya 5 years ago

That will be great. I just went through an article stating the performance of 7 with respect to Vista and it told alot of great things and I cross checked them on my system and found them correct.

Boot time and run time has increased significantly, but in that article (somebody from Microsoft Admin) I read that working and performance time in microsoft applications and few others have not changed quite much.

Is it really so? Because I couldn't feel much of a difference . . . well, I've got an old hardware though. It will be really helpful if you provide a significant comparison between vista SP2 and 7 RC.

realneil 5 years ago

kksonakiya said: "Well, I am running 7 RC and so far everything is fine. Except, Daemon Tools, Norton and few more programs"

Since Norton Will not run, maybe you should try a much better, free solution for yourself. AVAST anti-virus will work on Win-7, 32 or 64Bit.

A simple registration is required for them to send you an unlock code for the software.

They never SPAM you either.

Get it at: http://www.avast.com/eng/download-avast-home.html

realneil 5 years ago

kksonakiya said: "Well, I am running 7 RC and so far everything is fine. Except, Daemon Tools, Norton and few more programs"

Since Norton Will not run, maybe you should try a much better, free solution for yourself. AVAST anti-virus will work on Win-7, 32 or 64Bit.

A simple registration is required for them to send you an unlock code for the software.

They never SPAM you either.

Get it at: http://www.avast.com/eng/download-avast-home.html

ClemSnide 5 years ago

I have to admit that I am a Vista-hater, and couldn't imagine that 7 would be anything worth getting. (I like to say that Apple's warranty games with the iPod cured me of being a Mac evangelist, and Windows Vista made me one again.) It didn't help that 3Btech sold me an OEM copy for the price of a retail copy. After going from XP to Vista, I was ready never to try a Microsoft product ever again.

 

However.

 

I tried (with a little difficulty) putting the Windows 7 RC onto my secondary drive, a moderately fast Maxtor 160 GB PATA. Vista had been installed (with considerable difficulty, since 3Btech hid the ULi drivers and gave no information how to use them) onto a faster Western Digital 120 GB SATA drive.

 

Even with a slower interface and HD, the difference is as night and day. The computer boots quicker. Applications launch faster. The drive doesn't go into a seek frenzy. There are way fewer "Not responding" issues, though that's not gone away entirely. And they've fixed the bug where turning off the monitor causes the network to disconnect!

 

I'll soon be using Acronis Migrate Easy 7 to move the Windows 7 disk onto the old Vista disk, and will most likely see a minor speed improvement. But unless something drastic happens between now and the official release, I plan on buying Windows 7.

 

My only question with regard to SSDs is how the page swap file is treated-- since the things do wear out, wouldn't using virtual memory cause them to wear out faster? Or is that also taken into account in 7?

farooge 5 years ago

I have an Asus M50 laptop and bought a OCZ Vertex last weekend, here's my numbers with Win7(x64) after I upped the firmware (adding 'Trim' support):

Power button to log in screen: 13 seconds

Typing my password: 3 seconds

Desktop loaded and NO disk activity: 3 to 5 seconds

 ...

My computer is COMPLETELY loaded in no more than 21 seconds; everything is just SNAPPY!

I've been building computers for a LONG time and I have never (ever ever) gained so much of a performance increase from a single upgrade (and now that I think about it more - I've never completely replaced a computer and had anything close to this much noticeable difference)

I consider it the best $400 (shippiong and all) I've ever spent on a computer.

kksonakiya 5 years ago

That's great, I upgraded my system with 2gb Kingston RAM 800 MHz. I think that's why I can't see that much performance boost like you guys.

I've got ATI 200 Series motherboard, what do you think, which ram should I upgrade to?

farooge 5 years ago

Or you, you know, the Super Talent a slow drive. (Sorry, but I'm pretty sure it is.)

The problem with the Super Talent (and all the others save the two exceptions) is with their controllers and random access times.  The throughput numbers that look so impressive in the advertising don't mean a hill of beans when you need to read 850 50k ones to display a screen.

The short message from a great review I read right before I ordered mine was basically everything he tested was completely unacceptable for daily use as a primary drive except OCZ's Vertex and anything Intel made - his suggestion was the OCZ and I'm glad I followed it. (I think OCZ has an even better one now...)

Office 2007 load time (it was the first time so it had to load the product activation wizard too): Umm, maybe 1/2 a second (max)

 

I LOVE this drive!

farooge 5 years ago

A newer SATA 2 controller using the factory (vs Windows) drivers for it is also a recommendation for max speed (OCZ's documentation).

I'm pretty sure it's impractical to add Trim while saving your data. (Trim is important)

AND - at least with the OCZ drives, be warned: Upgrading the firmware is a pain if all you have with a newer SATA 2 controller is a laptop.  It has to be done on port 0, 1, or 2 (no ESATA) and if you only have one port (it's a laptop after all) you'll need to boot (into WINDOWS ONLY) from a CD or USB device.

I used a CD utility called "Ultimate Boot CD for Windows" - you'll need a copy of XP to use it (it's software that builds the CD for you and not a Windows boot CD you can download)

Having said that, from everything I have read and experienced OCZ is a wonderful company that I plan on doing a lot of business with in the future.  As soon as the Win7 public beta really got started I have an upgrade/update that supports Trim before Intel on a drive that is just as fast and 1/2 the price.

RJB 4 years ago

My super-talent 128Gb SSD is fast. CrystalDriveInfo reports TRIM in use. The whole computer runs like greased lightning.  I'm not a gamer but I hate waiting!  

Intel DG45ID motherboard, 8Gb DDR2 two channel PC6400 RAM, 3.0GHz Intel quad processor, Super-Talent FTM28GX25H SSD, GeForce 9500 1Gb video card, 64 bit Windows 7 Ultimate.

I love the drive,  love this home built computer, and love Windows 7.  its incredible.

RJB

 

 

bchanman11 3 years ago

Windows 7 is amazingly fast, and even more so on a Solid state drive (SSD). For a direct comparison between SSD and HDD you can check out the following link:

SSD vs HDD

acarzt 3 years ago

[quote user="bchanman11"]

tiny_mce_markertiny_mce_markertiny_mce_markerWindows 7 is amazingly fast, and even more so on a Solid state drive (SSD). For a direct comparison between SSD and HDD you can check out the following link:

SSD vs HDD

[/quote]

A lot of the information in that link is inaccurate and dated.

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