Review Intel Alder Lake: Windows 11 vs. Windows 10 Performance

  • 2021-11-17 07:00
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  • Recompile By Brian - CPU Review
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After looking at all the 12th Gen Intel Core CPUs released to date, today we're going to look at how these new processors compare using Windows 10 and Windows 11,  plus Windows 11 running VBS (Virtualization-Based Security).

We covered Windows 10 and Windows 11 performance briefly in our Core i9-12900K review, however, this time we'll dive deeper into the test to draw more solid conclusions. Furthermore, it is important to include VBS results, as this is how some systems are configured and it is assumed because Intel performed all of their benchmarking with VBS enabled. It probably doesn't affect newer architectures to the same extent as older generations.

VBS is an enterprise-class feature designed to secure corporate PCs by creating an isolated and secure memory area from the conventional operating system. Windows can use this 'virtual security mode' to host some security solutions, providing them with significantly increased protection from vulnerabilities in the OS and preventing the use of malicious behavior. Malicious exploits that defeat protections.

We don't feel VBS is a security feature that PC players need to enable, but how secure you want your system to be is up to you, plus your system can do a lot more is just playing the game. If the performance hit is just a few percent then it could be worth it, but that's not always the case with 10th and 11th generation Core processors, which often see performance gains. Game play increased by 10% or more.

It's also important to note that for most enthusiast-built systems, i.e. custom-built PCs using motherboards from Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, or Asrock, they won't have VBS enabled by default. In that case, it makes the most sense to test Windows 11 with VBS disabled as that would be the situation for the majority of our audience, but of course we'd also like to see Alder Lake in action as like with the feature turned on. 

We also feel that if you're building a new PC from scratch, or even just upgrading your motherboard and CPU, installing Windows 11 is the ideal route, which is why we spent two weeks updating all my CPU data on newer platform.

We know there's a lot of talk around how well Windows 11 works, which is common when new Microsoft operating systems are released, but we haven't had any bad experiences yet. several installs on multiple test systems. As for upgrading from Windows 10 to 11, it's an improvement over previous generations but it's far from perfect and it can affect performance, so we recommend a fresh install whenever which is possible.

For this 12th gen test, we're sticking with DDR4 memory using the MSI Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi DDR4. We have also included the Ryzen 7 5800X Windows 11 results for reference only. All game and application data was collected using Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics card.

Now let's dive into the results...

Starting with the Cinebench R23 multi-core results, we found that the difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11 was non-existent as both operating systems were able to maximize the performance of their latest Core i7 processors. Intel. That said, you should see a performance drop of about 5% with VBS enabled, which isn't a huge difference but worth noting.

We also found the same for single core performance, Windows 10 and 11 are very similar here, but enabling VBS on Windows 11 reduces performance by 5%.

The 7-Zip file manager compression performance is similar between Windows 10 and Windows 11, with both operating systems running with VBS disabled. However, enabling VBS will reduce the performance of Windows 11 by 10% with 12700KF.

VBS is not detrimental to performance on decompression work, but even so, we're looking at a 7% drop. Other than that, Windows 10 and 11 are the same.

We're looking at the same thing with the Corona benchmark, although Windows 11 with no VBS enabled in general produced the best results, beating Windows 10 by 5%. This time allows VBS to reduce performance by 8%, which is increasing and becoming noticeable.

Interestingly, Adobe Premiere Pro 2021 results between Windows 10 and Windows 11 running VBS are virtually identical. That makes Windows 11 without VBS 5% faster than Windows 10. Not a huge difference, but the newer operating system has delivered the best results.

We have another example where Windows 11 is faster than 10 with Adobe After Effects 2022, this time by 4%. VBS only reduced performance by 3%, which is a negligible profit margin.

We have another example where Windows 11 is faster than 10 with Adobe After Effects 2022, this time by 4%. VBS only reduced performance by 3%, which is a negligible profit margin.

Windows 11 provided the best results in the Factorio benchmark, beating the previous version by 7%. It's also faster with VBS enabled, so overall a good result for Microsoft's latest operating system.

We're looking at a 4% performance improvement for compiling work using Windows 11 out of 10, even though enabling VBS resulted in a 6% performance drop. The margins are small in this regard, but the performance trends are similar to other app benchmarks.

The last app benchmark we'll be looking at is Blender Open Data, and here we see that Windows 10 and 11 produce the same results, a completion time of 636 seconds. Enabling VBS slows Windows 11 down to 4%, which is negligible, but it makes Windows 11 appear to be slower than 10 when it's not.

This is interesting to note, the power usage between Windows 10 and 11 is identical, which means performance is also identical. However, despite the slight reduction in performance, VBS does not reduce power consumption, at least in this example. So, VBS enabled Windows 11 will provide less efficient data than Windows 10.

It's time to check the gameplay results and as usual the game data is mixed, but we will start with F1 2021. Here Windows 10 delivered the best results, beating Windows 11 with small margin of 3% when comparing data as low as 1%. Enabling VBS tank performance, however, drops the low 1% performance up to 14%, which is a huge frame rate drop and one that gamers should be aware of.

The results of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege using the Vulkan API are interesting. Windows 11 is up to 14% faster than Windows 10. We saw a 5% increase in Ryzen, but 14% with 12700KF is huge. It is also interesting to note that with VBS enabled, Windows 10 and Windows 11 deliver almost the same performance.

Borderlands 3 results are quite boring because both versions of Windows are the same. Enabling VBS reduces Windows 11 performance by up to 11%, seen when viewing data as low as 1%.

The Watch Dogs: Legion data is so shocking that I went back and double-checked just to be sure. Here, we see that Windows 10 and 11 are a match like we just saw in Borderlands 3. However, with VBS enabled triggering a performance boost for Windows 11, reducing frame rates by 14% on average. and as low as a staggering 29%. We have heard reports of VBS destroying gaming performance by up to 30% and here is an example of that.

In Guardians of the Galaxy, Windows 11 and 10 are mostly the same. But enabling VBS does not affect gaming performance. While we only looked at a 5% drop in average framerate, the lowest 1% saw a staggering 18% drop, not quite as severe as Watch Dogs, but still significant.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider performs slightly better on Windows 10, although we're only talking about a 2.5% improvement. That margin is small, but we found that enabling VBS reduces performance by 5-6%, which is small enough to worry about, at least in this example.

Performance in Hitman 3 is very similar between Windows 10 and 11, but with VBS enabled we're looking at a frame rate drop of up to 11%, seen when looking at the low 1%.

Age of Empires IV gives us what appears to be another typical set of results, which is comparable performance between Windows 10 and 11, with VBS-enabled Windows 11 configurations reducing performance by a large amount. significant, this time a 17% reduction to the low 1%.

Horizon Zero Dawn outputs some exceptional results. Windows 10 outperforms Windows 11 by up to 7%, in both average and 1% lower frame rates. Enabling VBS reduces low performance by 1% by 7%, even though the average frame rate is only reduced by 1.5%. Either way, this is an unusually weak display for Windows 11.

Finally, we have Cyberpunk 2077 where both Windows 10 and 11 behave similarly. However, enabling VBS destroyed the low 1% performance in this header.

Despite hitting just 5% of the average frame rate, the 1% low was crippling by almost 30%, similar to what was seen in Watch Dogs: Legion. So while extremely and somewhat unexpected, it is not exceptional as we have seen another example of this being a different CPU demanding header.

As for the average frame rates across our 10 game samples, we found that Windows 10 and Windows 11 a lot don't have more than a frame or two separating the two as long as VBS isn't enabled.

If we exclusively test Windows 11 with VBS enabled, the conclusion will be completely different. Here, Windows 11 is 7% slower than Windows 10 when comparing average frame rates and 15% slower when looking at 1% low data.

This can be seen as putting Microsoft's latest operating system in a pretty bad shape, which is not entirely accurate as both Windows 11 and 10 are capable of running with or without VBS enabled.

There's some stuff to unpack here, so let's break it down in a logical order. Let's start with something simple: how should reviewers test the 12th Gen Core series with Windows 10 or 11? The answer to that is simple. That doesn't matter, as long as the same OS is used for all hardware configurations and the same OS configuration is used for all tests.

Mixing operating systems in the same review can lead to inaccurate data, especially if the security features are different. For the reasons I outlined earlier, I think the best course of action is to update everything to Windows 11, but I also fully concede that there is no right or wrong option here, as long as everything software is fine.

The next point of contention will be, should Windows 11 be tested with or without VBS enabled? For now, we'll be testing with VBS disabled unless otherwise specified, and so far that's the default configuration for all of our new installs.

Interestingly, Microsoft claims that the default behavior is to enable VBS for Windows 11 on systems that support this feature, but again, that hasn't happened on any of the Intel Z690 systems we've seen. installed. Those systems support VBS and it can be turned on or off without changing anything in the BIOS, but Windows 11 doesn't enable it by default.

Apparently all you need for VBS to be enabled by default is an 11th Gen Intel CPU or higher, an AMD Zen 2 CPU or higher, 8GB RAM or more, a 64GB SSD or more, and virtualization enabled in the BIOS. Our test system met this criteria, but VBS is still not enabled by default.

In this article we have clearly shown the performance impact that VBS can have, at least for our hardware configuration, although we also know that in some cases, especially especially ambient games, impact can be increased due to the way we test, as we are using high end GPU at low resolutions which makes the game more CPU constrained than in most normal conditions, so the GPU is slower at higher resolutions.

But of course, this is the best way to highlight CPU performance and the data is accurate. But that means that under more GPU-limited conditions, VBS can only reduce performance by about 5%, which is quite insignificant.

In the end, I think for testing the best method is to disable VBS, but whether players and users in general should do this, it's best for them to decide. Personally, I have VBS disabled on my gaming PC, but I'll probably run it when it's on on my work PC as I'm willing to do a bit of performance there to improve security.

Now when it comes to choosing between these two operating systems for new 12th generation Intel owners, especially gamers, another factor is compatibility. There are a number of issues Intel faces with Denuvo's DRM software. In short, the DRM software doesn't realize what these new hybrid CPUs are offered, it's not developed as intended, and thus can cause the game to hang or even fail to load. Intel discussed this with the media prior to its release, so it's no surprise. Intel has solved the problem for a large number of games and has alternatives for the rest. This kind of teething problem with a whole new architecture is really natural, but sadly some shops are blowing it massively out of proportion.

Intel is still actively working on resolving any issues with the rest of the games and will soon patch them for Windows 11 users. Still only 30 games have compatibility issues running Windows 10 and ETA. when these games will be resolved may come out next year. That said, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is on that list, and we never had problems getting it up and running on Windows 10, so it could be very hardware-specific.

In the long run, Intel might actually be favoring gamers as some developers have simply chosen to remove DRM from their games and honestly that's what they should be doing for things like Denuvo is a cancer for gamers. Games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider are now 3 years old and sell for about $10 without DRM messing them up.