After looking at three different aspects of Windows 7 vs Windows 8 performance, I think we have a pretty clear picture of which one performs better overall.
Gaming Performance – I’ll say this first of all – if you are gaming on an AMD FX CPU, you absolutely should upgrade to Windows 8 as soon as you can. Every game we tested performed significantly better in Wind0ws 8, especially when on an AMD CPU. The only exception was Batman: Arkham City.
Which brings us to another issue – driver maturity. While Windows 8 performed better in most games, there were a few instances where it was clear that Nvidia and AMD were having some slight driver issues. In Batman: Arkham City, the GeForce card had a less consistent frame rate than the AMD card. And in Crysis 2, this was reversed, although not significantly.
So if your main consideration with PC performance is gaming, a Windows 8 upgrade should be in your future, especially if you are on an AMD Piledriver or Bulldozer CPU.
Application Performance – Windows 8 is consistently faster in the office application scenarios we tested. Note that we tested the overall responsiveness of various applications, rather than simply testing the operations themselves. This means that we were able to take into consideration things like faster UI improvements that might not show up on standard benchmarks. Windows 8 may not run a particular operation any faster than Windows 7, but it will actually be more responsive when doing work.
Windows Components Performance – This is probably the least critical aspect we tested, but it’s worth noting that if you use software that makes use of integrated components like image manipulation (WIC), video encoding (WMF), or even Internet Explorer, Windows 8 is consistently faster overall. One outlier was the CNG cryptographe engine, but that was only off by 2%. There was also an issue with resizing video win PCMark 7, but basic transcoding performance doubled in Windows 8.
Whether you love or hate the Metro UI (and again I’ll repeat that you can ignore it by installing Classic Shell), it’s pretty clear that enough performance improvements found their way into Windows 8 that it shouldn’t be automatically dismissed. At the very least, it’s good to know that if you do choose to upgrade, performance won’t suffer.