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I've recently changed laptop and I would have expect it to be quite a lot faster, but it feels more or less the same? Is it just Vista? Will it be better with Win7?

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closed as off topic by Jeff Atwood May 6 '09 at 13:34

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What disk systems do they have? Perhaps the old one has a faster disk or the new one has a not-so-good SSD or something? "feel" is very subjective though, what particular operations "feel" slow? –  Oskar Duveborn May 6 '09 at 12:59

8 Answers 8

up vote 5 down vote accepted

There are a number of reasons why it may feel slower than your old laptop:

  • Vista uses more resources than XP, In my opinion Windows 7 is much better at resource use, so you may see an improvement if you upgrade.
  • Most applications are not written yet to take advantage of both cores of a CPU at the same time, so switching to a core2duo my not give you the extra speed you expected.. yet. It should still be an improvement as Windows is able to distribute tasks between cores.
  • Whilst you have 4Gb of RAM in your new machine, if your using a 32 bit OS you will have access to less than that. Whilst 32bit vista can address up to 4Gb of RAM, applications will be limited to 2-3Gb of virtual address space to use.
  • Finally, does the machine have all the manufacturers extra software installed? This can slow a machine significantly. A friend recently bought a new laptop and we thought it was slow, turns out the bundled version of mcafee was using 50% of his CPU!
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2  
+1 Manufacturer bloatware is usually a big performance thief –  Oskar Duveborn May 6 '09 at 12:56

Do you have the Vista 'Sidebar' enabled with a lot of modules running? The Sidebar app can eat a lot of memory very quickly, especially with special plugins for things like Pandora, etc.

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One problem you may have is that this entire question is based on what may be extremely subjective observations on your part.

There are a number of changes to the Vista interface that may actually fool you into thinking that it is slower than XP. For example, the time for a window to minimize to the taskbar is a bit longer than it was in XP if you have some of the flashy bits turned on. Right click Computer, choose Properties, go to Advanced System Settings->Advanced->Performance and you can tweak some of these visual settings. For more detailed tweaks for perceived speed there are a number of registry changes that you can make too!

Also, see this codinghorror article for a discussion on how the design of the Vista progress bar makes you feel like copy operations are taking longer than they really are.

Also, keep in mind that there are a number of places your system can be bottlenecked. Just because you have a faster processor, does not mean that disk operations will take any less time to complete. You can even see this codinghorror article which discusses the problem in more detail.

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In your use the bottleneck isn't CPU performance

Typically hard drive performance determines the perceived speed - it affects how quickly programs open and close, files open and close, and many, many other operations. But there are many other parts to the computer that may affect how fast the programs you use run outside the CPU.

If you want to see a difference, you'll need to put top-of-the-line everything else in the machine (RAID hard drives or SSD, fastest memory, best graphics card, etc) to show what the difference is.

And if you aren't running programs that really tax the processor, you simply won't see a difference even if you've removed all the other bottlenecks.

-Adam

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It could be a problem with your machine, or OS configuration, or something else, I have no way to know. Windows XP has less requirements than Vista, and yes, I have noticed that it runs "faster" than Vista on several machines I have worked on. My Windows 7 RC install is considerably faster than it's Vista predecessor, so yes, windows 7 will be better (feel faster, perform better, etc).

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Vista eats much more recourses itself. Put XP on Core2Duo laptop and it will fly.

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Vista is very resource intensive. Vista on a brand new machine feels like XP does on a 3-4 year old machine.

Looks like Windows 7 will be faster than Vista on the same hardware, based on the betas and RC, but we really won't know for sure until it's released "for real".

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"Feel" is a highly subjective measurement. Have you measured anything, or are you referring to the responsiveness of the desktop? Going from single to dual core at approximately the same clock rate will often not make any difference in responsiveness "feel." Many applications are essentially single-threaded.

For both laptops, you have enough RAM that it shouldn't be a factor. (I was embarrassed to discover years back that I built my parents' XP machine with 128 Meg of RAM. Adding RAM made a very noticeable difference in responsiveness, boot speed, etc.) Once RAM is large enough to not be a bottleneck, adding more won't make a big difference. Both your laptops pass that point.

For these reasons, plus given what we know about XP and Vista, I would expect the two machines to have roughly the same responsiveness. Your newer machine should perform much better for anything that's not single-threaded (or when running multiple CPU-intensive applications at the same time). While the speed difference between a 2 GHz Pentium Mobile and a 2.2 GHz Core 2 processor is big, it's not a factor of two. For a speed difference you can "feel," you need a fairly large speed difference between the processor. Vista's flashy GUI can easily eat up much of the speed differential, even if things are not in fact any slower. (Link is to Jax's answer.)

You didn't mention hard disk, but if the older laptop has a 5400 RPM drive and the newer one has a 4200 RPM hard drive, this would cause the newer one to perform slower in any I/O-bottlenecked task.

You also didn't mention the front-side-bus speed or RAM speeds of the two systems. Responsiveness depends on both the FSB speed of the CPU/chipset and the speed of memory that is in place. Also, are you using paired dual-channel memory?

There are many, many factors that can influence responsiveness, some objective and some subjective. We can give many reasons why your Vista system will be about as responsive as your older XP system. But without more specific information about details of the hardware, we can only speculate.

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