The Windows Experience Index grows upSay goodbye to those times when the maximum score that a Windows Vista PC could return was 5.9. With the introduction of Windows 7, the Windows Experience Index has evolved from 5.9 up to no less than 7.9. However, at the same time, other aspects of the WEI have not changed in the least. The score that Windows 7 will return will continue to be based on the lowest subscore, taking into consideration hardware resources such as Processor; Memory (RAM); Graphics; Gaming Graphics (typically 3D); and Primary Hard Disk. But while the scoring is the same as the one debuted in Vista, the WEI can now go as high as 7.9.
“In Vista, the WEI scores ranged from 1.0 to 5.9. In Windows 7, the range has been extended upward to 7.9. The scoring rules for devices have also changed from Vista to reflect experience and feedback comparing closely rated devices with differing quality of actual use (i.e. to make the rating more indicative of actual use.) We know during the beta some folks have noticed that the score changed (relative to Vista) for one or more components in their system and this tuning, which we will describe here, is responsible for the change,” Michael Fortin, one of Microsoft’s distinguished engineers and head of the Windows Fundamentals feature team, revealed.
With Windows 7, the maximum score possible will be 7.9, a good couple of points up from Vista's 5.9. What will take for a computer to achieve the new WEI peak? Well, according to Microsoft, nothing short of the key technology improvements as they go mainstream, namely solid state disks, but also high-end graphics and multi-core processors, plus a consistent volume of RAM.
“For these new levels, we’re working to add guidelines for each level. As an example for gaming users, we expect systems with gaming graphics scores in the 6.0 to 6.9 range to support DX10 graphics and deliver good frames rates at typical screen resolutions (like 40-50 frames per second at 1280x1024). In the range of 7.0 to 7.9, we would expect higher frame rates at even higher screen resolutions. Obviously, the specifics of each game have much to do with this and the WEI scores are also meant to help game developers decide how best to scale their experience on a given system,” Fortin added, indicating that graphics remained an area with the largest amount of scores available.
The bottom line is that, in order to achieve a perfect 7.9 Windows 7 score, users will have to buy a computer powered by at least an 8 core processor. However, the processor is simply not enough. Customers will also have to feed their machine with RAM, somewhere in the vicinity of 8 GB. At the same time, Solid State Drives (SSDs) with very high random I/O rates and as low as possible latency issues will also contribute to getting close to 7.9. When it comes to graphics, users will need a card with at least DirectX 10 support and a WDDM 1.1 driver.
Windows 7 Beta is available for download here.
Product keys to activate Windows 7 Beta are available here.