Windows Vista: Ready for Gaming?

Windows Vista is here, but the DirectX 10 games aren't. Find out how well Windows Vista plays your current DirectX 9 games.

James Yu and Sarju Shah - Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2007.

The general public may struggle with the decision over whether to move from Windows XP to Windows Vista, but there isn't much to agonize over for PC game fans--if you want to play games with advanced DirectX 10 graphics, you're going to have to upgrade to Vista. Windows XP owners will be left behind in the graphically inferior world of DirectX 9 once Vista arrives. The real debate for PC game fans is when to upgrade to Vista.

For PC gamers, Windows Vista is pretty much a next-generation gaming platform launch happening in slow motion. The operating system has been available since last year as a closed, then public, beta, and the hardware arrived last November, when Nvidia shipped the world's first DirectX 10 GPUs, the GeForce 8800 GTX and GeForce 8800 GTS. The cards themselves shipped with excellent Windows XP drivers, but Nvidia held off on releasing Vista drivers until now. The actual OS and hardware package finally came together today for the official launch of Windows Vista.

Vista's marquee DirectX 10 games aren't scheduled to arrive until later this year. Crysis, Crytek's visually stunning jungle shooter, has a summer launch window, and Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, an action adventure MMO, should be coming out this fall along with Hellgate: London. Supreme Commander has already gone gold, but the DX10 graphics game update won't arrive until March. Flight Simulator X and Company of Heroes will also get DX10 updates in the coming months.

We still don't know how the first DX10 games are going to look. Giving the graphics engine access to virtual memory will open the door for superhigh-resolution textures, and the geometry shader will make it easier for games to generate complexity; but many of the changes in DX10 will yield performance improvements rather than new graphical effects. The initial DX10 games will look better than DX9 games only if developers actually invest the newly freed power into additional onscreen clutter or more-sophisticated shader effects.

Mouse over the Age of Conan DirectX 9 image to see the DirectX 10 comparison shot.

All the DX10 game delays won't mean that early Vista adopters will be left playing Purble Place and Mahjong Titans this spring. They'll still be able to play World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade and Command & Conquer 3 just like everyone else, since Vista is backward compatible with DirectX 9 games originally made for Windows XP. The hardware manufacturers have been busy making new drivers to make sure all their products work with Vista.

We wanted to see how well games performed in Windows Vista compared to Windows XP. We tested four video cards, ranging from the high-end GeForce 8800 GTX down to the mainstream Radeon X1650 Pro, to see how Nvidia's and ATI's Vista drivers compared to their XP counterparts. We also compared the operating systems using different amounts of system memory because we wanted to see if Vista's increased memory usage hindered game performance. Note that we're only examining DX9 game performance in this feature, and we're in the process of testing OpenGL games for a future update. Visit CNET's complete guide to Windows Vista or our Windows Vista Hands-On preview for an overview of the new operating system.

Are you going to upgrade to Windows Vista? Have you already upgraded to Vista? Share your game performance results in the comments below.

3DMark06

Windows Vista comes pretty close to matching Windows XP in 3DMark06. Kudos to ATI and Nvidia for getting their Vista drivers competitive at launch. Hopefully, we'll see parity between XP and Vista after a few more driver updates. System memory size didn't affect performance until we got down to 512MB, when the XP installation outperformed Vista by about 6 percent in the 2048x1536 resolution test. Our Windows Vista test system used over 450MB of system memory while idling.


System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX, GeForce 7600 GT, Radeon X1950 Pro, Radeon X1650 Pro. Graphics Drivers: Catalyst 7.1, Forceware 97.46, Forceware 100.54.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), Corsair XMS Memory 1GB, Corsair XMS Memory 512MB, 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX. Graphics Driver: Forceware 100.54.

Are you going to upgrade to Windows Vista? Have you already upgraded to Vista? Share your game performance results in the comments below.

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

Performance was close again in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. Windows XP had a slight edge with most of our cards, but the GeForce 8800 GTX actually performed better with the Vista driver. World of Warcraft is already very tough on 512MB systems, but Vista's increased memory footprint reduced frame rates to unplayable levels.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX, GeForce 7600 GT, Radeon X1950 Pro, Radeon X1650 Pro. Graphics Drivers: Catalyst 7.1, Forceware 97.46, Forceware 100.54.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), Corsair XMS Memory 1GB, Corsair XMS Memory 512MB, 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX. Graphics Driver: Forceware 100.54.

Are you going to upgrade to Windows Vista? Have you already upgraded to Vista? Share your game performance results in the comments below.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Our video cards put up similar numbers on both operating systems in Oblivion. Again, memory size affected Vista performance only at the 512MB level, and the performance hit was more significant at the higher resolution.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX, GeForce 7600 GT, Radeon X1950 Pro, Radeon X1650 Pro. Graphics Drivers: Catalyst 7.1, Forceware 97.46, Forceware 100.54.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), Corsair XMS Memory 1GB, Corsair XMS Memory 512MB, 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX. Graphics Driver: Forceware 100.54.

Are you going to upgrade to Windows Vista? Have you already upgraded to Vista? Share your game performance results in the comments below.

Company of Heroes

Company of Heroes will get a DX10 patch in the near future, but it's still a DX9 game right now. Of all the games we tested, Company of Heroes showed the biggest frame rate difference between Windows XP and Windows Vista. The older Windows OS had its largest lead in the low-resolution 1024x768 tests, with frame rate leads ranging from 9 percent on the more powerful cards to 50 percent on the least powerful. You'll need at least 1GB of memory to get the game running smoothly in Vista.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX, GeForce 7600 GT, Radeon X1950 Pro, Radeon X1650 Pro. Graphics Drivers: Catalyst 7.1, Forceware 97.46, Forceware 100.54.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), Corsair XMS Memory 1GB, Corsair XMS Memory 512MB, 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX. Graphics Driver: Forceware 100.54.

Are you going to upgrade to Windows Vista? Have you already upgraded to Vista? Share your game performance results in the comments below.

Neverwinter Nights 2

Performance was fairly even on Neverwinter Nights at 1024x768. Frame rates in Vista took a noticeable hit at 1600x1200 on the GeForce 8800 GTX. Windows Vista looks safe for gaming as long as you have at least 1GB of memory.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX, GeForce 7600 GT, Radeon X1950 Pro, Radeon X1650 Pro. Graphics Drivers: Catalyst 7.1, Forceware 97.46, Forceware 100.54.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GB x 2), Corsair XMS Memory 1GB, Corsair XMS Memory 512MB, 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX. Graphics Driver: Forceware 100.54.

Are you going to upgrade to Windows Vista? Have you already upgraded to Vista? Share your game performance results in the comments below.

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946 comments
Anitrex
Anitrex

Looks like in the XP verson the gamesetting have been set to Very Low and in the Vista version pumped up to Very High. Look at the Crysis Dx9 vs Dx10 screenshot for a better comparisn. And as far as i am concerned Dx10 will slow down you PC performance by more than 15%. Its simply not worth the sacrifice in performance until you have got something like an 8800GTS. .

Goosey67
Goosey67

Zoladex my old computer had a Nvidia 8400 , a quad core 5gb and vista it could play CoD4 on highest settings and its a horrible graphics card, your processor and ram aren't very important

zoladex
zoladex

Is the top picture a joke? the DX9 picture seems to have the graphics settings on super low. then they whack them up of DX10. bit of a stupid comparision. The one below is more believable. I think they should change them to crysis shots. crysis in DX9 looks about the same as the DX10 from the above ones. As of Vista. Boooo. I used vista on my bro's computer and nearly put my fist through the screen. I mean is ok if you have never used a computer b4, but if you have used XP its a nightmare. having to relearn where some of the tools are. The power demands. and probably the most retarded, the User Control Content (can remember the exact name), it seem it was design to annoy. It pops up for every thing, surpised it does pop up when you press the power button to turn the dam thing on. One that gave me the giggles was the one that says ''ask of admin permission' even when u are one. Before you nag, i know it can be turn off, but i have yet to find an upside to it, should it not be turn of by default. And also before u nag. i have yet to find a person to say they would prefer Vista over XP(not including the shop staff). about 20% of them have gone back to vista, 50% want to go back to XP but dont want to format, and the other 30% say it satifactory of what they use it for. Im i right on thinking Vienna is suppost be better than vista? the forums say its a more user friendly version of Vista. Edit: For the performance comparison. sorry its a bit of a lame survay thing. Game: Cod 4 Computer1: Desktop Vista, geforce 8400 GS. Low Spec Dual core(dono name) 2GB RAM. Computer2: Laptop XP, geforce 7300 Go. Slighty better Dual core. 1 GB RAM. Result: Draw. both have to be set to low everything for good FPS. shows how much power vista sucks up. however the PC can have some settings set higher. But the point is that the PC is much more powerful, yet only a small increase of performance. Analysis: Gamers stick to XP till the high spec GPU prices drop.(only really applies if your Comp if boarder line specs) Work users stick to Vista, saddly it IS the way forwards.

westsidejedi360
westsidejedi360

Company of Heroes runs great on my 8500GT Vista machine at 1440x900

Salvaticus
Salvaticus

Well, many months and bad drivers later, this article is left a bit hollow I think. Less advertorials and more investigation please.

Al3x_n90
Al3x_n90

yeah right i bought windows vista ultimate, i installed it, i wanted to see how the games play, and games like gtr2 or nfs carbon worked horribly the game that worked the same as on xp was battlefield2142,kinda strange, anyway i gave up windows vista, just because of the games, in general it ran perfectly and i have a 7600gt 2gb ddr2 and a 3600mghz amd athlon, my opion: it isn't worth it to upgrade to vista..YET...

Nirvana08223
Nirvana08223

Sickside, i actually disagree with you. Most vista game's i've played have run BETTER than XP did. my specs are intel core duo x2 2.13ghz, 2gb RAM, nvidia 8800GTS 320mb GDDR3. My framerates for SOME games were at least 20fps better, but SOME were a lil worse. idk only problem i have with vista is the blue screens in the internet browser... o.o

sickside6
sickside6

Upgrading to Vista isn't worth it, Yet! You need a really good computer to run it in the first place and then even if you can run it, it will take over all your system resources and slow down your game playing badly. When in normal running mode XP has around 40 processes running compared to Vista's 60. So yeah, unless you've got some kind of top end computer that can both run Vista and Games at the same time, then it isn't worth it.

technolusty
technolusty

I replaced my laptop with a Vista machine back in March. Due to the fact that I have a dual-core processor, a friend thought it was high time I entered the gaming world. So I can't compare what games like Tomb Raider looked and played like before. But I'm having great fun. I just need to upgrade my RAM :-).

Bloodnecron
Bloodnecron

yup, most good last last year games cant run on vista

sitebent
sitebent

as a former Microsoft clone (quit last month) I have to say that I am really disappointed in the compatibility of the latest hardware and Vista. I just built a new dedicated gaming machine, Intel Quad Core, ASUS Extreme Striker MB, 2GB Corsair Dominator PC8500, dual 8800GTS 640MB HDOC in SLI, 1TB Raid 0 HD with quad boot for Vista 32-Bit, 64-Bit and XP Pro and have had nothing but issues with software and drivers for all three operating systems. Since most of the drivers currently available are BETA, they crash or cause one system error after another. I built this machine for the anticipated release of Crysis. Since the release was delayed until Nov 16th, hopefully nvidia and the rest of the companies can pull their heads out of their asses long enough to get all this crap to function correctly. I always tell myself to never buy the first edition of anything as it is usually filled with errors, wish I would have listened to myself this time… Live and learn…

jlvmvpgt3
jlvmvpgt3

i had xp then i got vista it good but just useing it came push your R.A.M all way it 400-500 mb of ram and if you are useing Windows Media Center i have 1gb of ram and makes it stop the computer from working gameing no differents it works just like xp dam i need more ram

chechak7
chechak7

offfff ....vista .. vista ...vista .....offFFFF vista=neEd money+hardware upgrade+drivers problemo+header pin so without DX10 +some other thinks VisTA is s***t

viliamos
viliamos

Meh... I don't see much difference. Actually I don't really care about Vista at the moment. I'll stick with XP until they start making (good)games only for DX10.. then I might upgrade to Vista.. maybe...

Leonick
Leonick

Oh come on lieing xp fan boys dx 9 games work fine on dx10 and if your system is to slow for vista just turn of the aero effects and it takes up a lot less resources i even think thats recommended for gamers

kevinprochazka
kevinprochazka

People amaze me, with XP the slowdown when having multiple programs installed is too big for me. I have Vista Ultimate, runs perfect and much more stable than XP ever did on my system. The backwards compatability is there. all you have to do is let the game install any missing components. DX10 is not there just for new games. It improves visuals of a lot of games. Sadly i have not been able to try it out as i have an X1650 Pro 512 MB ddr GFX card. However i will be buying a new system soon with a 8800 gtx. Anarchy online, call of duty, battlefield 1942, battlefield 2142, neverwinter nights 2, oblivion all work perfectly.

phairfan
phairfan

I've only had a few tiny crashes with Windows Vista. Overall, it runs decently, but XP Pro is still more stable. I've not had any problems playing the following games with Vista: Civ4, Desperate Housewives, Sid Meier's Railroads, and Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich. I've only had occasional tiny problems while playing Morrowind GOTY. Vista isn't horrible. Plain and simple. It is quite decent and a step in the right direction. If you think it is a system hog, well, get with the times. This isn't the year 2000 anymore. Just remember than when Windows XP first came out, everybody said it was a system hog because it demanded more resources and RAM than were commonplace at the time. But now, everybody is praising XP. Go figure. Vista is a brand new operating system. You'll need updated resources and memory and not using a 10 year old computer.

god13g
god13g

dx10 is good but not that good for all the bugs and viruses so ill stay with xp till they make all xp games work on vista then i may upgrade

Seobazz
Seobazz

WHY VISTA? what's wrong with XP? I damn don't have any money to upgraded! Microsoft eat my money geez !

indianapepsi
indianapepsi

i will not move to vista, i have a collection of over 500 games dating back 7 years, all of which run fine on xp and most will not run on vista, and those that will run will only run on a very high end machine (double reccomened specs) i did the vista upgrade check and my machine was only 8.3% compatible with vista so not a chance. my friend has vista, (2gig ram, 250gig hdd, g-force 256mb graphic chip and duel pentiums4GHZ i think) the sims 2 with all exp packs (my favorite game) runs but is choppy at full setting and has froze on him 3-4 times in 2 weeks. I have xp (1gig ram, 160gig hdd, ATI 256mb graphic chip, althon 2.4GHZ processor) the sims and all exp packs work fine, never crashed on me before after 2+ years, runs really well on full settings, even after hours of play it hardly slows down, so i wont be switchin to vista any time soon! Now if they decide to to a DX9 backward compatiblity upgrade i might consider if but that would be the only way.

Athonline
Athonline

I may be able to get for myself a free legal, not pirate copy of Vista, but still with just 1,5 Gbs Ram it may bottleneck my system. I will whait until SP1 or real DX10 games come out.

Gamepost
Gamepost

Windows is dead. Ubuntu rulez. We just need OpenTTD and Freeciv anyway.

ldavidtw2000
ldavidtw2000

I'm not upgrading until all the bugs and problems are gone. Vista is essentially worthless for current gamers. yes, I dunno how DX10 will do but currently gamers who upgraded to Vista is "not smart".

calebralph
calebralph

Dear noobs, Google Windows XP reviews 2 months after its release....

Kreean
Kreean

Upgrade for what? For Conan, Crysis and Halo 2? No wait; for a new system with new bugs and virus attacks? ... ahh I got it; I need Vista because of all those fancy little gimmicks like Aero, Page Flipper and so on... Sorry but I stay with XP... Oh yeah and making DX10 Vista-only is a hell of a crime! Shame on you Microsoft!

ams20
ams20

I might upgrade.

matt168
matt168

and plus xp beat vista by just a bit in every test

matt168
matt168

i'd wait until sp1 for vista is released before getting it but i'm happy with my xp.

gameniko
gameniko

WIndows XP is faster. Microsoft really screwed up with Vista. I will think twice b4 I upgrade to Vista. There is a new and improved windows on the way called "fiji" basically an improved version of Vista. Its gonna be released in about 2 years so worth waiting for that.

JOSE24DGUEZ
JOSE24DGUEZ

Vista rules... Let's wait and see how DirectX10 ready games run on it...

retiredoldlady
retiredoldlady

I just got a new core2 6600 with gforce 8800gts but held off on vista until the bugs are worked out

windfish113
windfish113

i absolutely love vista ultimate it looks sooooo great with aero, page flipper? swweeet! and all i can say is dreamscene = MONEY!!! and it kicks ass on all the games i need it to, quake 4 cs:source fear etc work great and i wasnt looking forward to halo 2 vista but now i cant wait. and that slick chess game is taking over my life ugh

hutwhilz
hutwhilz

i'll wait a year before i buy vista...... after all the updates are done..... when ........ if it happens

LouieV13
LouieV13

Vista crashes most of my games except the ones that were made by ms game studios lol

rta
rta

Vista is ready for chess! WOOHOO!

human15
human15

I see a big difference. but directx10 will not be avaible for windows xp!!?? is this true?

Jecko750
Jecko750

The layout may be confusing in vista's new explore interface or desktop with the other tools. After awhile you get used to it. (although they should of left the clock alone.) It's gonna be a while for me to upgrade since all I need is more RAM and updade this really old graphics card.

360gamerz
360gamerz

i'm gettin vista 4 free but is that a gd thing? who knows aslong as company of heroes is better!!!

Muppetchief
Muppetchief

Vista is the biggest load of b******s ive ever seen because the only improvements are the stupid clock at the top of your screen. I used windows vista ultimate and i was really dissapointed by the lack of work they have put into making it better. Its going to take a long time for Microsoft to get vista working properly becuase it took them long enough to get XP running properly didn't it. I say wait either wait until they have sorted the problems with it or don't bother and just stick with lovely old XP becuase you can run basically everything from XP. Muppetchief ______________________________________________ Pwning noobs since April 2006

adam_laher
adam_laher

i am running pentium 4 512MB ram 1.7 GHZ 40GB hard drive Nvidia geforce Got vista on and perfect for me including the games

adam_laher
adam_laher

yup,a huge improvement recommended for those who are addicted to games

lageste
lageste

AS AN AFTERTHOUGHT: I definately won't be upgrading until the last minute, gauging the last minute is completely subjective, but i will let all the clowns who dash out to buy VISTA be the free ms fault finding service, hehehehehe. I wait till its stable. :)

lageste
lageste

TIME TO CUT THROUGH THE CRAP: Unfortunately if you are serious about gaming it is not a matter of if, but, when you will upgrade to Vista, this is self explanatory. (As othe commenters have explained). The Price is the primary concern for me, ( i admit i have not studied any benches yet). Upgrading will be expensive, but an effective upgrade may be very very costly, depending on how taxing the Vista Os turns out to be. I will explain what i mean: for those of you commenting on needing to upgrade to 8 gig of ram i say keep your uneducated nonsense to yourself: Lesson 1: x par2= 32 bit address bus= max addressable ram= 4 gig. I would like to see some reliable benches on system load to determine how much $ an upgrade is gonna cost me in real terms, i.e: ugrading may not involve os alone. A+/net+ certified it engineer.

RPG_Ash
RPG_Ash

I'll be waiting a few months before it comes out (which is now in the UK) before i will be bying a whole new PC anyway and Vista.

hurrikayn
hurrikayn

I just wanna know wich graphics is good and cheap so I can play oblivion because I'm switching to windows vista.

dead_rose
dead_rose

I was thinking about upgrading my computer to Vista and I think I am going to do it... CHECK OUT THE PERFOMANCE BARS!!!