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Test notes
To assess SP1's impact on performance, we performed a clean installation of the "release-to-manufacturing" (i.e. original retail-boxed) edition of Windows Vista Home Premium x64 on our test system, and we ran a first round of benchmarks with no patches and only necessary drivers applied. Then, we downloaded the x64 Service Pack 1 standalone installer from Microsoft's Download Center, installed it, and ran our suite of benchmarks again.

Our testing methods
As ever, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers. Tests were run at least three times, and the results were averaged.

Our test system was configured like so:

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13GHz
System bus 1066MHz (266MHz quad-pumped)
Motherboard MSI P965 Platinum
BIOS revision 1.8
North bridge P965 MCH
South bridge ICH8R
Chipset drivers INF update 8.3.1.1009
Memory size 4GB (4 DIMMs)
Memory type 2x 2GB Corsair ValueSelect DDR2-667 SDRAM
CAS latency (CL) 5
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 5
RAS precharge (tRP) 5
Cycle time (tRAS) 15
Command rate 2T
Audio Integrated ICH8R/ALC883
with default Windows drivers
Graphics Zotac GeForce 8800 GT Amp! Edition
with ForceWare 169.25 drivers
Hard drive 2x Western Digital Caviar SE16 320GB SATA
OS Windows Vista Home Premium x64
OS updates Service Pack 1 (where noted)

The test system's Windows desktop was set at 1680x1050 in 32-bit color at a 60Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The tests and methods we employ are usually publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.