If you are running Windows Vista then no doubt you have come across the Windows Experience Index base score. But even if you are yet to swap XP for Vista, the Index has to be at least vaguely familiar to you as it is a subject that generated a consistent amount of "spilled ink." Windows Vista made quantifying the performance of a system configuration a streamlined process and an effortless solution.
Currently, Windows Vista will rate machines based on five core components: processor, RAM, graphics, gaming graphics and primary hard disk. The Base score that is given to a computer is determined by the lowest subscore and can range from 1.0 to a maximum of 5.9. Why 5.9? because Microsoft envisioned the Windows Experience Index base score as a continuously evolving rating system and designed it leaving space to grow.
"So why such an odd range of numbers? The index is designed to expand and evolve over time. At some point in the next 12 to 18 months, the Windows team expects to push the maximum score to 6.9, and eventually to 7.9 and beyond. Maybe someday the index will actually reach 10 (or 9.9). This will not change any scores on the low end. A PC rated 2.8 will still stay at 2.8 unless it is upgraded with new hardware components," revealed John Swenson, a writer on the Windows user assistance team at Microsoft.
But is there such a thing as a perfect 5.9 system? Well the answer is yes. With a Processor Intel Core 2 Quad CPU @ 2.40GHz, Memory (RAM) 2.0GB, Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GT, Gaming graphics 1001MB Total available graphics memory and Primary hard disk 596.2GB you will be able to achieve the top Windows Vista score.
As a matter of fact, an entire community has been building around the Windows Experience index base score. Over at ShareYourScore, you will be able not only to brag about the horsepower of your system but also to find out what are the top performing CPUs (AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5600+, and Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU @ 2.66GHz), the top performing video graphics cards (RV530 LE and NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GT/GTO) the top performing gaming video cards (RV530 LE and NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX), the top performing encoding video cards (RV530 LE and RADEON X800 XT Platinum Ed) and the overall top performing videocards (RV530 LE and Radeon X1900 CrossFire Edition).
The Quest for the Perfect Windows Vista Score 5.9
Check out what goes into a system configuration rated 5.9 by Windows Vista
Side by Side Comparison: Windows Vista Starter, Home Basic, Home Basic N, Home Premium, Business, Business N, Enterprise and Ultimate