Live: 300+ Best Black Friday Deals Live: Black Friday TV Deals BF Deals Under $25 BF Deals Under $50 5 BF Splurges 8 BF Must-Haves 15 Weird Amazon BF Deals BF Cheat Sheet
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

Windows 8 delivers the goods on benchmarks

Most people may swear by the number seven for luck, but results from CNET Labs show that Microsoft's new favorite very well could be lucky number 8.

A few of the coming Windows 8 computers.

CNET Labs has released its system benchmarks comparing Windows old and new, and they've discovered that Microsoft's controversial new operating system doesn't steamroll over Windows 7 as much as it gently shoves it out of the way.

Operating system Boot time Shutdown time MS Office performance iTunes decoding Media multitasking Cinebench
Windows 7 SP1 45.2 7.7 408 127 343 16985
Windows 7 SP1 47.5 7.8 412 124 344 17,116
Windows 8 RTM 31.4 8.8 372 123 340 15,300
Windows 8 RTM update 26.4 11.7 367 123 340 17,114

*All tests measured in seconds, except for Cinebench. On the Cinebench test, the higher number is better.

Our test bed is a Dell XPS desktop, running a 3.2GHz Core i7 processor, with 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, a Nvidia GeForce 8400 GS PCI-Express with 512 MB RAM graphics card, and a 1 TB Western Digital hard drive (model WDC3200AAKS).

We tested Windows 7 Service Pack 1 twice, and Windows 8 RTM twice. The second time we tested Windows 8, we updated the operating system because Microsoft claimed that the update was a big improvement to the OS. We conducted the "Wake from Sleep" test only once on Windows 7 because of its recent addition to our benchmark tests.

A word of caution about these benchmarks: They provide a snapshot of how our specific test hardware performs under strictly controlled conditions. They are not always representative of actual real-world performance.

We excluded our new "wake from sleep" test from the chart because the results were erratic. The second Windows 8 "wake from sleep mode" test gave us an average of 17 seconds, significantly slower than our experience with a real-world Windows 7 computer running Windows 8. My Toshiba DX1215 all-in-one touch screen, running the Windows 8 RTM with all the updates, regularly wakes from sleep in under two seconds. That's a major win for Microsoft, even if our Windows 7 hardware running Windows 8 resulted in erratic tests.

Nevertheless, you can see that the Windows 8 RTM from August and the big October update to Windows 8 proved to boot significantly faster than Windows 7 Service Pack 1. Boot time shrunk by around 45 percent between Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8 RTM updated, and that's a key metric in making Windows 8 appealing.

Claims about sluggishness in Windows will be slightly harder to prove in Windows 8. Our in-use performance tests were fairly even, which CNET Labs explained to me as being because the tests have not been optimized to run on Windows 8. However, the Microsoft Office performance test shows Windows 7 taking around 410 seconds to complete its tasks, to around 370 seconds in Windows 8 -- about 10 percent faster.

Shutdown times in the lab were recorded at about the same speed for both Windows 7 and Windows 8, which parallels my real-world experience. Windows 7 SP1 has never been beastly for me when shutting down, although that hasn't been the case for everybody.

So, what we can conclude from all these lab tests is that on the key metric of how long it takes you to get going on your computer, Windows 8 lives up to its promise. But as always, your personal configuration could greatly affect your device's performance.

Now playing: Watch this: Windows 8 leads with tiles, apps, sync -- and a learning...