Windows Vista SP1 Gaming Performance Report

If you're going to install Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista, you might as well know how it affects your games.

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The release of Service Pack 1 might be good time to revisit the debate of whether or not to get Windows Vista. Over the past year Microsoft's been busy patching away at the operating system, and it just might be ready for the discerning gamer. Service packs are basically gigantic patch files for operating systems that contain hundreds of minor and major fixes. Most of what's in Service Pack 1 is already available via Windows Update, but Microsoft added a few fixes to the operating system that hadn't yet been released for widespread consumption. For the most part, service packs do a lot to increase stability, compatibility, and security while at the same time bundling hundreds of fixes all up into one nice file or check box for the user to click. If you're keen to peruse what's in the update you can find a full list here.

Vista's built-in Windows Update utility is the easiest, and likely the fastest, way to get the new service pack. The system will automatically download only what it needs to complete the installation. Depending on how long it's been since you've updated your computer, the length of the download and installation process can vary. You're probably better off downloading the stand-alone file and installing it yourself if you're starting with a fresh Windows Vista installation. Don't be surprised if your computer takes more than an hour to install the service pack.

According to Microsoft, computers with Service Pack 1 should experience numerous performance benefits. Many of the enhancements relate to networking and file-transfer speeds. Service Pack 1 will reduce the time it takes to get out of hibernation and standby modes, and will improve battery life for some laptops. Service Pack 1 will bring no new gaming performance enhancements, but Microsoft states that gaming performance should move upward slightly.

We compared Windows Vista SP1 to an unpatched installation of Windows Vista and to Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 installed. The operating systems were tested with a variety of video cards to get a better picture of how gaming performance varied. We used single-card systems from Nvidia and ATI, and we included an SLI setup from Nvidia and a dual-GPU graphics card from ATI to see how some of the more exotic flavors fared.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9775, Intel D5400XS, 4GB FB-DIMM (2x2GB), 750GB Seagate 7200.10 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista 32-bit, Windows Vista 32-bit SP1. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB. Graphics Drivers: Nvidia ForceWare beta 174.53.

The single-GPU GeForce 8800 GTX experienced gains in games like Call of Duty 4 and Oblivion when we compared Windows Vista to Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 installed. Performance stayed mostly flat in other games. Pairing up two 8800 GTXs for an SLI setup yielded similar results. When we compare Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 to Windows XP SP2, the GeForce 8800 GTX kept up in Call of Duty 4 and BioShock. Vista with SP1 actually took the lead in Oblivion, but it's hard to ignore XP's victories in Crysis and Team Fortress 2. SLI performance was decidedly better under Windows XP than Windows Vista with and without SP1 in almost all of the tests.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9775, Intel D5400XS, 4GB FB-DIMM (2x2GB), 750GB Seagate 7200.10 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista 32-bit, Windows Vista 32-bit SP1. Graphics Cards: Radeon HD 3870 512MB, Radeon HD 3870 X2 1GB. Graphics Drivers: ATI Catalyst 8.3.

Outside of 3DMark06, the single-GPU Radeon HD 3870 showed little sensitivity to the various operating systems. Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 has excellent performance, and is pretty much on par with Windows XP SP2 with the Radeon HD 3870. On the other hand, the Radeon HD 3870 X2 performed abysmally under Windows XP. We're chalking that up to immature drivers, as the video card is still on its first set of drivers.

Conclusion

Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 is a step in the right direction. Gaming performance increased in comparison to a fresh installation of Windows Vista. Windows XP SP2 provides better overall performance, and remains the place to go for dual-GPU solutions. Windows Vista is not quite the ideal gaming platform yet, but the new OS is getting close to dethroning Windows XP.

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santanu_k

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Edited By santanu_k

Cheaper with the dozens, but have you guys ever heard about Vista Gamers Edition 2009? Which is basically a tweak version of Vista Ultimate closing many unnecessary features and mainly gears toward gaming only; or anyone could have tried it out!?

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pb8185

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Edited By pb8185

If you don't just game, surf the net, use word, and IM, you'll obviously notice there are many other compatibility issues that exist with Vista for less popular software.

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kiloai

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Edited By kiloai

I like Windows Vista, for me Vista is evolution. I don't want to be a caveman like many others. XP forget about it. Never again.

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Armandm3

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Edited By Armandm3

For now I prefer to keep my XP SP3 and wait until SP2 for Vista is release.

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orcsblade

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Edited By orcsblade

i hope sp 2 is much better

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2p4eva

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Edited By 2p4eva

To be honest Vista has been great for me. I have been using it since i bought a new PC, and have had no problems. The performance wasn't the problem for me, compatibility was at the start. Now however this has decreased significantly

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freeshep

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Edited By freeshep

got vista with sp1 on a low end laptop - running games like dawn of war at high quality no problems - i actually like vista and have had no problems :P imagine that

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minoumaster

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Edited By minoumaster

i hate vista

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Lord-Shock

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Edited By Lord-Shock

Bah Microsoft must give us DirectX 10 in WinXP, Vista need tons of hardware and the performance isn't the best. so I'd recommend them to delivery DirectX 10 in WinXP, so we could enjoy the DirectX 10 without the necessity of installing Vista. Personally I used Vista two weeks and it was a complete nightmare, now I was thinking to give it a try with the new SP1 but after reading some reviews I declined my idea.

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DarkFadi

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Edited By DarkFadi

Vista is Vista no gameing changes...?

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xophaser

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Edited By xophaser

Got three Vista OS at home and it works great. With Vista X64 you can have up to 128GB of RAM. With memory mapping some of those are added to your video card ram. XP max out at 2GB and Vista 32 can have 4GB of memory, but your system will only read 3.25GB. X64 is the way if you like a lot of memory. I could installed my old Heros of Might and Magic III on the 64 bit OS.

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Mehfuz

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Edited By Mehfuz

no performance improvement, but i am not surprised

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gfile

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Edited By gfile

Maybe GS should try to make those tests on ATI sometimes, even the youngest kids here knew that GS anticipate NVIDIA cards:twisted:...i have SP1, Vista Ultimate X64 and Radeon 2900XT and games work exelent, cant complain.

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x-wing20

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Edited By x-wing20

i should have never pushed for the vista upgrade. I geuss thats what for being too loyal to Microsoft.

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spunkybob123

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Edited By spunkybob123

Honestly... working in a computer shop as a tech and hearing alot of peoples opinons, the only people that complain about vista are the people who have computers that cant run it well. My computer is not cutting edge except for my vid card (AMD X2 4600, 3GB DDR2, 8800GTX OC) and vista is awesome. So far i have only had 1 game not work and thats coz of starforce protection, might work with SP1 but i stopped caring. Im still getting 100+ FPS in games like HL2 and Dirt. DX10 is nice but crysis is boring as hell so i dont play it, Hellgate london looks pritty but i still run in DX9 mode coz its faster. I still rekon all SP1 did was add 80ish + mb of windows protection to stop people using OEM exploits and stuff.

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fmprodguy

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Edited By fmprodguy

The drivers are the problem... Not totaly blaming nVidia, but it's well documented that their drivers are no where near optomized. And on some systems they still don't have Vista drivers for some cards! BTW, for those with SHORT memories, XP was panned as *aweful for gaming* when it first came out because so many 95/98se games wouldn't run at all... and the SAME driver issues existed for about the same amount of time.

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Nulify

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Edited By Nulify

vista is sucking up

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frog154

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Edited By frog154

Its always been the case, you wait for an OS to be out a few years before you upgrade, after all the bugs have been ironed out and better machines are around at a more affordable price to take advantage of it. There are a lot of people who have upgraded to Vista because it looks better and has more supposed functionality - all of that comes at a price though.

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Pixy64

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Edited By Pixy64

look at this xp with dx9 has better performance

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toxicmog

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Edited By toxicmog

Vista works fine for me, My ATI HD 3870s in crossfire run better under vista than under XP.

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NUTTY_POO

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Edited By NUTTY_POO

i bought vista so i could get a dx10 compatible video card. however. i once saw someone install vista into a paper shredder. now i know why.

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SCPsyWarrior

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Edited By SCPsyWarrior

Make no mistake, I think eventually PC Gamers will be compelled to get Vista, simply because MS has insisted on placing DX10 only on that OS. However at the moment XP is faster and has wider compatibility. This is not hypocrisy, or me being a fanboy - in purely pragmatic terms, right now there is no compelling argument for me to take out my wallet. You go ahead and enjoy your whizzy partially-transparent 3D windows while I'll be £100 better off still with better or equal performance. As for DX10? I don't have a compatible graphics card yet, and I doubt there's a system yet invented that will use it to it's full capacity anyway.

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spongebob53186

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Edited By spongebob53186

"All of you XP worshippers are bunch of hypocrites, you're all nagging just because vista can't play you're favorite games, well I tell you this, personal computers are not just for games, if you really wanted to play cutting edge games, you shoud've bought game consoles instead," you have just shown your complete and utter ignorance of what cutting edge games are. what are you 12. why dont you go play with you teeny bopper friend on you xbox 360 or ps3 and drink you sunny delight. let the rest of the grownups play on the pcs which are more powerful than any consoles. people say that xp had bugs too when it was released. it did not perform this poorly off the base. vista is acting more like windows millenium when it came out, and we all know how windows millenium turned out.

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darkmessenger69

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Edited By darkmessenger69

To be honest with you guys i have installed both Vista Sp1 and Xp Sp3 on my PC , Vista is great .... but Some games runs faster on Xp for example : MEDAL OF HONOR AIRBORNE when i runs on vista at the Highest quality it runs slow but when i run the game on xp at the same sittings it runs smoothly "I have: P4 3.2 Ghz 2 Mb L2 cache ....Msi p4n sli....4Gb of ram" I can't get red of Xp yet but I'm sure that Vista is on its way of taking the lead .... thank you

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interpolation7

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Edited By interpolation7

Theres no doubt vistas numbers will suffer, lets face it DX10 its a monster. If anyones played a game with dx9's shaders then gone and tried it with dx10s API's you know what im talking about. It is the dividing line between feeling like your playing a game, and feeling like your IN a game. And what most people arent aware of is the fact that games like crysis are only utilizing a fraction of its actual graphical potential. What you will see in the next 5 years is the departing of games that mimic animation, and the entrance of the truly photorealistic. Real world light models using raytracing will actually recreate how light actually reacts, not to just fool your eye like current techniques. Character models and scenes that you cannot visually separate from actual reality. XP is about to look comically outdated very soon, and this will happen much sooner than the realization of Windows 7. Out with the old and in with the revolutionary. Just wait and see..

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Charmdevil

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Edited By Charmdevil

If there's any good in vista, is that because of the incompatibilty issues, even viruses, trojans, spyware/adware etc. & so on... are having the same incompatibilty issues with vista..LOL, believe it or not ever since I've used vista I haven't got any single malicious software as mentioned, and I'm just using windows firewall, defender, & default internet security settings with updates, without using any antivirus programs, and my browser and download speed is surprisingly faster than it ever did...

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Charmdevil

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Edited By Charmdevil

All of you XP worshippers are bunch of hypocrites, you're all nagging just because vista can't play you're favorite games, well I tell you this, personal computers are not just for games, if you really wanted to play cutting edge games, you shoud've bought game consoles instead, I've been using vista for quite some time now & I agree there are some issues,so what? XP also had those issues when it first release, if you ask me, they are just minor, nothing that can't be fixed, infact software companies todays are all already releasing vista compatible programs & as expected that a vista sp2 will be release, I wonder if you hypocrites can still nag after what, a year?or maybe sooner...

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SpoonHeroSR

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Edited By SpoonHeroSR

I was thinking of getting windows vista but I'll think I'll wait just a lil bit longer.

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aguatacaluseo

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Edited By aguatacaluseo

i had vista for only one week... XP for th3 win!!!!

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senza_dio

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Edited By senza_dio

I have an old Celeron 600 laptop with 64mb of ram. It used to have Windows 98 on it and I put XP on it and it runs faster now. XP is just a really good operating system when you consider the alternatives. Vista is geared more towards people that don't use computers for anything other than solitaire and checking emails. Plus idiots that want the "sick graphics". Vista is not a functional operating system in a business environment or for gaming. It's more like a Macintosh computer. It looks nice but it's pretty much useless. Vista is to XP just as Windows ME is to 98. Hopefully MS realizes this and starts working on something that can rival XP. Stick with XP SP2 if you want to get anything done.

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spankdamonky

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Edited By spankdamonky

OMG! It isn't really a decision. Vista users should just format their hard drives and install XP SP2 all over again.

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ldonyo

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Edited By ldonyo

Vista in any form still lags behind XP in the real world. Canned benchmarks mean next to nothing.

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Omar1313

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Edited By Omar1313

When you playing on your PC you need all system possibilities ... XP giving you that

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-V3NOM-

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Edited By -V3NOM-

u can say what u want but Vista is better then XP :)

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-V3NOM-

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Edited By -V3NOM-

u can say what u want but Vista is better then XP :)

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shogoh

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Edited By shogoh

Windows Vista SP1 is nearly as fast as Windows XP and 6 years of patches. DirectX 10 and Vista SP2 will dethrone XP that's for sure.

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SCPsyWarrior

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Edited By SCPsyWarrior

I do not understand your conclusion. In several cases SP1 is actually slower than clean Vista, and in almost all cases XP SP2 is faster. It's not just 'not quite' the ideal gaming platform, it's still a long way off. I'm sticking with XP for the foreseeable future.

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Limonadi

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Edited By Limonadi

You really cant see difference between DX10 and DX9 because DX9 is alot smoother than DX10

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dnp25

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Edited By dnp25

From my experience with vista so far it mostly wants system memory not cpu 2gigs to 4 gigs necessary . And it really needs it have you checked out aero glass its beautiful than any mac os.I AINT EXAGGERATING JUST the way it performs on idle is beautiful I am a believer . I dont think this OS is for everyone and I dont see why M$OFT should force people to buy what they dont need alas all early adopters are testers for microsoft and other software hardware companies ,and you all are right this wont get right until service pack 2 .ANYWAYS THis OS NEEDS WORK JUST LIKE XP DOES EVEN NOW. NO OS IS PERFECT.

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pogswarts

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Edited By pogswarts

JakRules, i actually had less crashes on vista than on xp

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JakRules365

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Edited By JakRules365

In some ways Vista is better than XP and in some ways it's worse. IMO Vista is not an improvement, its about as good as XP. Don't blow the 200 bucks unless you don't mind frequent game crashes. On the other hand, DX10 is very pretty.

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Wolf-5

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Edited By Wolf-5

I had vista running withe a Q6600 and the 8800GTX with no SP1 and all my games worked, oblivion, BF2, Crysis, sims 2, stalker, and many more.... with SP1... they all ran smoother and thats about it. My system seemd faster especially file transfers. Internet browsing seemed smoother too with no change with my Service Provider.

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kratospete

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Edited By kratospete

no vista user , im xp user

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sykonfc

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Edited By sykonfc

Who again uses V-Sync, kentauji?

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xisytenin

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Edited By xisytenin

I hate vista

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nathan94922

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Edited By nathan94922

i have vista now it was crap at playin these games before sp1 sims 2 simcity societies just cause nfs carbon battlefield vietnom nfs pro street when i got the the sevice pack update only just cause and sims 2 could play how good they should and sims 2 didnt even need the dvd then(i didnt give it the nodvd crack no dvd in drive and it still worked) lol! but all in all itis windows me!!

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kentauji

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Edited By kentauji

Vista SP1 is Horrible , It can't even use V-sync in the Gears Of War (Dx10).

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saitek11

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Edited By saitek11

I've never had a bad experience with vista. IMO it's definately better than XP. for those that say xp gets more fps, you're probably right, but let me put it like this: You run game X on XP, you get 120fps. You run game X on vista, you get 50fps. It may just be my eyes, but I honestly can't tell the difference between the two. As other people are saying: Vista is still new.

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Torment777

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Edited By Torment777

I dont think Vista is a bad OS at all, I've never installed a game it couldnt run, I just think if you want a truly next gen experience you have to have a next gen OS...but it will be a few years until computers that are affordable catch up. Kind of like the inverse of new gaming consoles, the games dont look much better until developers figure out how to use the new technology.

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hutapamo

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Edited By hutapamo

Xp remains baby...actually pretty good to know..:)