Crysis on Windows Vista SP1

Last week, we scoped out performance differences between Windows Vista in its clean installed form, Vista patched with several hotfixes that aren't available via Windows Update, and Vista with Service Pack 1. We were startled to discover that, at least on our testbed, the game's GPU benchmark clocked in lower with SP1 installed than in […]

Last week, we scoped out performance differences between Windows Vista in its clean installed form, Vista patched with several hotfixes that aren't available via Windows Update, and Vista with Service Pack 1. We were startled to discover that, at least on our testbed, the game's GPU benchmark clocked in lower with SP1 installed than in the other two tests.

What gives? We spent the weekend trying to find out. We first corroborated the results by running the exact same benchmark on the same configuration. Then we ran the same tests on a different system: We happened to have our Bang for the Buck configuration handy, so we used that.

Finally, we installed the latest Nvidia beta graphics drivers (version 169.44) and the new Crysis patch (v.1.2) and ran benchmarks on both systems yet again.

The Performance Drop Continues
The original testbed we used is configured as follows:

Component Make/Model
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 (at stock frequency)
Motherboard and chipsetASUS Striker Extreme
Memory4GB OCZ "Gold" series DDR2-800
Graphics2xGeForce 8800 GTX in SLI mode (stock frequencies)
StorageTwin SATA II Seagate 7200.10 500GB drives in Raid 1
AudioSoundBlaster X-Fi Fatal1ty

Let's take a look at our Crysis results as they appeared in the original article. Note that we were running Crysis v.1.1 with Nvidia's Microsoft certified 169.25 drivers.

Look at the bottom group (1920x1200, higest detail). With the service pack installed, performance unexpectedly dropped. Since that article, we uninstalled the service pack and all the hotfixes, and reran the testsfirst on an unpatched Vista Ultimate installation, then after installing the hotfixes, and then after installing SP1. Our results were nearly identical to the originalsand they corroborated the drop in performance.

Unsure why the service pack should affect performance negatively (and note that, out of all of our performance tests for the original piece, only Crysis was affected in this way) and unable to contact industry officials on the weekend, we proceeded to make two adjustments: We installed the new Crysis v1.2 patch, and we installed Nvidia's v169.44 beta Nforce drivers that the company released for use with the patch. Then we reran the tests yet again, with the following results:

Check it out: The performance drop is gone. While there's not exactly a grand leap in performance after the SP1 installation, the results are clearly more predictable.

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Windows Vista, Vista SP1, Crysis, Performance