So, from our testing here today, what conclusion do we come out with at the end of the day?
Vista Service Pack 2 RC managed to steal some surprising gaming wins away from Vista SP1 - some by a fairly large margin. SP2 RC managed to offer much better performance under the PT Boats benchmark by up to almost 33% in the average FPS. And under Crysis Warhead the minimum frame rate was vastly improved, moving from four FPS in SP1 to ten FPS in SP2.
That unfortunately is about as good as it gets, though, for SP2 - in some of the other tests, both ended up with very even results, but most of the time SP1 came out first on the podium.
As for hard disk drive performance on the Intel ICH9R controller chip, performance was rather poor under SP2. We are not sure at this stage if it is due to the service pack or a poor driver, but clearly something needs to be done. It affected read performance greatly, especially in the minimum read speed where SP2 dropped right down to around 48MB/s whereas SP1 stayed strong at about 136MB/s.
This impact on HDD performance also had a negative effect on loading times with SP2 taking a full 8.5 seconds longer to fully load into the Windows desktop. Likewise, game level loading was also affected with SP2 taking six seconds longer to load into a Far Cry 2 benchmark demo.
Unless you require some of the new features in SP2 or like the idea of having all the latest bug fixes and security updates, we wouldn't recommend upgrading to SP2 at this point in time. New drivers from the likes of Intel, AMD (ATI) and NVIDIA may help boost numbers, but at this stage of the game and if performance is what matters to you, stick with SP1.
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