Vista's Aero UI impacts both memory and battery resources

Vista Window Manager RAM usage

Exploring dwm.exe while switching from Basic to Aero UI
in Vista with only Process Explorer running

The other day I spent some time tweaking the performance of my MacBook Pro (my new work machine) and while I’ve been using Vista for over six months I’m just now coming to realize the cost its new Window manager (dwm.exe) particularly when using the Aero UI in terms of system resources. Basically, I’ve reached the conclusion that on this machine it’s not worth the memory nor battery power for the pretty UI. Not only does it consume 15 times (you read that right) more RAM than the Aero Basic setting it really helps chew through the battery which up until now is something I wasn’t concerned about as I wasn’t a laptop kind of guy.

How does your mileage with Aero compare, is it taking the same toll on system resources?

2 thoughts on “Vista's Aero UI impacts both memory and battery resources

  1. I have to turn off it so as to use Delphi on a 1G RAM notebook. Even for a Vista Home Basic dwm.exe consumes too many resources.
    I find Stardock’s TweakVista (still in public beta) very useful when you want to tweak a Vista PC. Have a try.

  2. I’m finding it hard to judge performance in Vista/Aero actually, for a few reasons:
    1. Drivers aren’t exactly smoking yet. Seems like hardware manufactures are having to go back to some stable baseline, work with the new driver model, and then layer the performance back on. This makes it doubly annoying because unless your graphics card was released in the last 6 months they (NVidia, ATI) aren’t really working on your card. I’m enough of an engineer to know that I can’t exactly judge Aero if I have a non-performent driver.
    2. Vista does a lot more with your idle memory now. It actually uses idle time and memory to try and optimize your experience as well as "guess" what you might need and load that up into memory. It does this a lot more aggressively then XP and one of the downsides is that looking at the memory manager becomes practically worthless. I like this feature as it means that memory I paid extra for is actually doing something useful. I’ve always thought computers should make better use of idle resources for predictive optimizations and I like this approach.
    Now according to this study Aero has minimal impact on performance though it does say battery life is impacted if I remember correctly. Been awhile since I read it.
    Personally I’ve found a split, if your graphics card is being actively supported and you have a newer-ish machine then Aero flys, it’s *at least* as snappy as XP, on the other hand if you’re on the other side of the split it’s painful. My HP dv9000t rocks, my Dell Dimension 8300 though is a slug.
    One great thing about Apple controlling hardware + software is when Leopard comes out there won’t be a 6 to 9 month lag before quality drivers come out.

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