One often hears geeky Mac users comparing their uptime to see who has the most stable system. I decided to see what Windows 7 is capable of doing, so as of June 16 I have not performed a single restart or shutdown. Of course it isn’t much of a challenge to do so with an idle machine, so I had my CPU sweating it out running World Community Grid. That alone wasn’t enough, so I gave the graphics card its own workout using Bitcoin.
The test machine we used comprised of the following hardware:
- Phenom 2 1055T overclocked to 4.2GHz
Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme Black heatsink fitted with two Scythe Gentle Typhoon 1450RPM fans
4GB SuperTalent DDR2200 CL8 running at DDR1800 6-6-6-18
Inno3D GeForce GTX 480 with an Accelero Extreme Plus cooler
Antec Quattro 850w PSU
2x Samsung 1TB Spinpoint F3 in RAID0
Windows 7 64-bit
The machine is nice and snappy, no doubt partly due to the fairly fresh installation of Windows. Opera, Windows Media Player and My Computer (or, more accurately, just “Computer”) all open instantly, and switching between the various open applications is a breeze. RAM usage is sitting pretty at a fraction under 2GB while the CPU and graphics card are each sitting at 100%.
Opera has started to hang for about five seconds at a time with the hard drives thrashing badly. On closer inspection it would appear that there is a memory leak as even after closing all but one tab, Opera’s memory usage is still sitting at 1.8GB. Closing and re-opening the browser sorted out the issue.
Opening Opera can take as long as five seconds, while Computer and Windows Media Player are closer to ten seconds. Switching between programs once everything has settled down is still snappy, and in general the machine is still fairly snappy – much akin to a dirty Windows installation.
Slowdowns in Opera have become quite commonplace, but I blame that on the number of open tabs. At any given time there are around 70 tabs open so high RAM usage is a given. Usage here peaked at 94%.
After cutting down on the number of open tabs, Opera has stopped its nonsense and is once more nice and snappy. Memory usage is down to 84%, but while Opera is using significantly less RAM than it did on day 24 the system is using more RAM for Windows. With all open applications closed and ESET Smart Security running in the background, RAM usage is a high 51%.
Windows seems to have forgotten how to use RAM as nothing I do will push the usage past 88%. The system is CRAWLING, I’m tempted to pull the plug on this experiment as it now takes upwards of 50 seconds to open an episode of The Simpsons. There’s a LOT of hard drive thrashing doing on, the platters must be ready to hurl…
That’s it, I quit. Thankfully I checked the uptime before doing so as I had only four days to go. I can do this. I CAN do this. I WILL do this. The Start menu is taking about four seconds to appear and a simple Windows search for movies took over ten minutes. If there are computers in hell…
I’m so glad I can finally restart. While the system was rock solid without a single crash even though 100% load was maintained for a month and a half, Windows certainly is not meant for this type of use. If you’re just running a media server and not fiddling around with other programs you’ll be fine; likewise, if you’re just running World Community Grid you’ll also be fine. Heed my warning and don’t try to do all three at the same time, I have several bald patches from pulling out my hair. Jonathan Horne