Windows 8 CPU Slow Benchmarks!

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Windows 8 CPU Slow Benchmarks!

I tried out Windows 8 developer preview (32-bit) on a Dell E6500 dual core 2.26Ghz laptop and while the new UI is slick, the CPU processor is much SLOWER that the prior Vista 32-bit operating system it was running. Using PerformanceTest v7.0 (popular PassMark benchmark), the CPU benchmark went down from 2000 to 800!  Similarly Windows Experience Index score for the CPU category went from 5.2 to 2.4. That's a 1/2 performance drop! Now, I did have to install a Windows 7 nVidia Quadro NVS 160M video driver and a few other Windows 7 drivers (memory card reader), but nothing CPU-related. I understand this is a "preview" version of Windows 8, but it certainly isn't installing confidence. While I love the amazing ~12s boot time on the Dell E6500, there is a noticeable performance drop compared to the prior Vista Business operating system.

Since I already upgraded (downgraded?) the laptop to Windows 8 (fresh install) and didn't capture benchmark screenshots at the time, I ran PerformanceTest v7.0 on an identical laptop running Vista Business for comparison. Though there is a different hard drive on this Dell E6500 Vista laptop, which did score slower in the hard drive benchmark testing than the Windows 8 Dell E6500. You would think a slower hard drive, a major factor in system performance would cause the Vista Business laptop to be slower than the Windows 8 laptop. Yeah, well we'd both be wrong. The overall PassMark score for the Vista laptop was 611.6 while the Windows 8 PassMark score was 411.7. Mind you, the Vista laptop would have scored even higher, had not the slower hard drive affected its score.

Let's go to the video tape and compare each laptop's benchmarks by category:

Vista System:
windows-vista-benchmark-test-system.png

Windows 8 System:
windows-8-benchmark-test-system.png

Look at the red arrow above and compare with the prior image. You'll see that Windows Vista is using a 9X multiplier with a measured speed of 2261.1Mhz while Windows 8 is using a 6X multiplier with a measured speed of 1596.0Mhz. Well, there's the problem right there. For whatever reason, Windows 8 is underclocking the CPU - though I may be misusing that term. Interestingly, the Windows 8 laptop has a slightly faster Bus Speed and Front Side Bus, but not enough to make up for the fact that the CPU multiplier is only 6X.

Let's look at how this affects the other scores, including the 2D & 3D graphics score, memory score, etc.
Vista Summary:

windows-vista-benchmark-test-summary.png

Windows 8 Summary:
windows-8-benchmark-test-summary.png

Vista CPU Mark:
windows-8-benchmark-test-cpu-mark.png

Windows 8 CPU Mark:
windows-8-benchmark-test-cpu-mark.png

Vista 2D Graphics Mark:
windows-vista-benchmark-test-2d-graphics-mark.png

Windows 8 2D Graphics Mark:
windows-8-benchmark-test-2d-graphics-mark.png

Vista 3D Graphics Mark:
windows-vista-benchmark-test-3d-graphics-mark.png

Windows 8 3D Graphics Mark:
windows-8-benchmark-test-3d-graphics-mark.png

Vista Memory Mark:
windows-vista-benchmark-test-memory-mark.png

Windows 8 Memory Mark:
windows-8-benchmark-test-memory-mark.png

Vista Disk Mark: [only category where Vista scored lower due to different HDD]
windows-vista-benchmark-test-disk-mark.png

Windows 8 Disk Mark:
windows-8-benchmark-test-disk-mark.png

Lastly, I wanted to show a screenshot of the Device Manager demonstrating that Windows 8 properly detected the dual core processor and there are no yellow exclamation marks under System Devices:
windows-8-device-manager-system-devices.png

Conclusion:
Obviously, this is 'preview version' of Windows 8 (not even a beta yet) intended for developers and bleeding edge users - and not intended for production environments. Still, I wouldn't expect Windows 8 to not use the proper multiplier (9X) for the CPU clock speed. I upgraded the BIOS on the laptop, but that didn't help. I also tried turning off Intel SpeedStep to no avail. I also tried modifying my Power Plan to High Performance, thinking maybe the "Balanced" power plan was limiting the CPU clock speed. That didn't work either. I'm sure Windows 8 will work great on new hardware when it's released, but I for one will be hesitant to upgrade any computers/laptops because of the risk of a huge performance hit. Hopefully, Microsoft will fix the problem and advertise the fact that the CPU slowness issue was simply due to a driver issue or something else that is readily resolved.

Update:
Just ran the popular CPU-Z utility. According to CPU-Z, the Windows 8 laptop doesn't detect any multiplier and is running the clock speed at 1358.7MHz, while Vista's multiplier was usually 9X (though screenshot shows 8.5X) at a clock speed of 2261.1MHz. Definitely a problem with Windows 8's detection of processors and their capabilities.

Vista:
cpu-z-vista.png

Windows 8:
cpu-z-windows-8.png

Update 2:
I just realized that disabling Intel SpeedStep in the BIOS does improve performance, though it still doesn't match Vista's benchmark numbers. Still, it is much better now that I've disabled it. The prior screenshots were all taken with Intel SpeedStep DISABLED (faster). However, it is preferable to have this feature turned on. When I did have it enabled, performance was much worse. Here's 3 more screenshots showing Windows 8 performance with Intel SpeedStep ENABLED. If you compare with screenshots above you'll see a drastic performance drop with Intel SpeedStep turned on in the BIOS.

Windows 8 Summary: [e.g. PassMark drops from 411.7 to 243.7]
windows-8-benchmark-test-summary-speedstep-on.png

Windows 8 CPU Mark:
windows-8-benchmark-test-cpu-mark-speedstep-on.png

Windows 8 Memory Mark:
windows-8-benchmark-test-memory-mark-speedstep-on.png


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