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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [03.05.08]


Startup Time

One area that can be affected by a Service Pack is the time it takes for Windows to start up. Many people (and I mean MANY) complained that Vista takes forever to load. After experiencing how much XP improved startup times over prior versions of Windows, I guess expectations are higher than ever.

To test startup time, I simply started timing after the system's POST was completed. In the case of this test system, this was after the AHCI detection took place. The results below are an average of 10 startups on each configuration, although each time was within 1 second of the other in my tests.

As you can see, Vista's startup time is no faster once SP1 is installed, and in fact takes about 1 second longer to boot. If waiting 28 seconds is really too long for you, maybe your life is too busy!

It should be noted that these system configs are very basic. They are essentially fresh installs, with just some drivers installed. The sidebar and opening 'information window' popup were both disabled.

In conclusion, it's easy to see that current Vista users should embrace SP1, and should probably install it as soon as it's made available.

In most cases, SP1 performs slightly higher than Retail - ranging from 4-8% in most every day Windows applications.

In a many cases with 3rd party applications that don't come integrated with Vista, performance is about the same; sometimes 2-3% higher, but mostly the same.

In a few select cases, SP1 actually breaks performance quite a bit. Copying large files (over 6GB) over USB takes far longer with SP1 installed than it does with normal retail Vista (about 43% slower). Smaller files (around 450MB) are faster though. Single files are also handled slightly better than a folder full of many files.

In a few select cases, we saw significant increases in performance. With HDD to HDD file copying, moderately sized files (in the 450MB range) saw transfer speed double over retail Vista. Using Vista's integrated Zip extraction software is also about twice as fast as Retail.

So now we know; SP1 makes Vista better. Is this going to convince you to switch over? Let us know in the forum (registration required) or blog comments (registration not required). I think the recent price drop of Vista may have more influence on people switching, but it certainly helps to be timed with the release of SP1.