Windows Vista - RAM and Gaming

Article Index
Windows Vista - RAM and Gaming
Vista Gaming Test System Info
Gaming Under Vista Tests
Game Tests Continued

Software Product: Windows Vista RC2 Build 5744
Hardware Products: 2GB Crucial PC2-8000 & 4GB Crucial PC2-8000 (1GB Sticks)


Windows Vista has been making a lot of headlines as it has been one of the most open betas and customer previews that Microsoft has offered to the end-user.  While thousands of people flock to this concept, it really works well for the software giant as they gain a multitude of beta testers that work with the software on a wide variety of hardware.  In the end, this should help ensure a more rounded product that will work on a wide variety of systems.  What strikes people most about the product is the new Aero interface and how "pretty" it is.  While this is all peaches and cream for those who stare at their desktop all day, the truth is, out of the box, Windows Vista Ultimate is a pig on system resources.

In reality, this is no different that what we experienced at the launch of Windows XP Professional.  At that time, Windows 2000 ran quite well with 256MB of RAM, but really worked well with 512MB or above.  Windows XP on the other had required 512MB to run smoothly, but works much better with 1GB of RAM or better.  Today, 2GB Memory kits are very popular as people insist on running more applications, and software companies refuse to optimize their programs.  Instead of releasing a streamlined product, they push out their "latest and greatest" versions as fast as they can in order to make more money.  This has caused many Windows XP users to drop 2GB of memory in their systems to run games such as Battlefield 2, F.E.A.R. and more.

Today we are looking at the build 5744 of Windows Vista RC2 and running some real-world benchmarks on a decent selection of games to see how RAM affects gaming performance on this up and coming OS.  With RC2 as its last public release, we are expecting things to be wrapped up in the next month in order for Vista to ship to OEM and system builders.  As such, we would assume that the OS is basically finished and should reflect how the final product will perform.

What Microsoft Recommends:

Microsoft has been quite forthcoming with hardware requirements of this Operating System all along.  We swung by the Vista Site to see what they are calling for in "Vista Capable" and "Vista Ready" PCs.

A Windows Vista Capable PC includes at least:

  • A modern processor (at least 800MHz1).
  • 512 MB of system memory.
  • A graphics processor that is DirectX 9 capable.

A Windows Vista Premium Ready PC includes at least:

  • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor1.
  • 1 GB of system memory.
  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics with a WDDM driver, 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)2, Pixel Shader 2.0 and 32 bits per pixel.
  • 40 GB of hard drive capacity with 15 GB free space.
  • DVD-ROM Drive3.
  • Audio output capability.
  • Internet access capability.

Here are the footnotes for the indicators above:

    1. Processor speed is specified as the nominal operational processor frequency for the device. Some processors have power management which allows the processor to run at lower rate to save power.
    2. If the GPU uses shared memory, then no additional graphics memory is required beyond the 1 GB system memory requirement; If the GPU uses dedicated memory then 128MB is required.
    3. A DVD-ROM may be external (not integral, not built into the system).

With that information in mind, let's take a look at our test system and cover some basics on the next page.