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Is there a guide on the metrics required to obtain a certain Windows Experience Index?

A Microsoft guy said in January 2009:

On the matter of transparency, it is indeed our plan to disclose in great detail how the scores are calculated, what the tests attempt to measure, why, and how they map to realistic scenarios and usage patterns.

Has that amount of transparency happened? Is there a technet article somewhere?

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You're totally missing the point. It's not that WEI is useless, it's useful. But you're specifically trying to make it useless by finding ways to raise the rating without caring whether those things raise the thing the rating measures. (WEI is like estimating a car's MPG by measuring the size of its gas tank. Cars with low MPG tend to have bigger gas tanks. But you can't bolt on a smaller tank to raise your car's MPG. You will measure a higher MPG by the "tank size" method, but only because you made that rating meaningless.) –  David Schwartz Apr 13 '12 at 1:09
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I do not think that the amount of memory determines the rating. The "What is Rated" column states that the RAM is measured based on the Memory operations per second. To investigate further, I actually removed memory past your chart and still ranked at 7.9. –  kobaltz Apr 13 '12 at 1:10
    
@kobaltz i don't know what to tell you; i'm only quoting what Microsoft says, and i see in some of my old WinSAT logs. –  Ian Boyd Apr 13 '12 at 2:57
    
@DavidSchwartz I don't think WEI is useless. But when researching this question i found plenty of comments from people who were furious how useless WEI is, how Microsoft is stupid for having it, and anyone trying to use it to find which hardware upgrade would best improve the computer overall was a moron. i was trying to preempt any of those such comments. –  Ian Boyd Apr 13 '12 at 2:59
    
I think, it is not a benchmarking tool, it is a "not our fault" tool It is a few quick tests to determine if the hardware and drivers are set-up correct "To Run the OS" and its programs the specific way the OS works. That the system is operating up to par, and to possibly discover an area that is a complete fail. Other than that there are many many very popular benching programs all over the place that can do some major and fine testing, and even discover if the PC needs adjusting or cooling. Use it for what it is, and use the other 30+ programs available when you need deeper information. –  Psycogeek Apr 13 '12 at 5:02

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

If my score was limited by my Memory subscore of 5.9. A naive person would suggest:

Buy a faster RAM

Which is wrong of course, it is simply not only about faster but also about more.

From the Windows help:

If your computer has a 64-bit central processing unit (CPU) and 4 gigabytes (GB) or less random access memory (RAM), then the Memory (RAM) subscore for your computer will have a maximum of 5.9.

You can buy the fastest, overclocked, liquid-cooled, DDR5 RAM on the planet; you'll still have a maximum Memory subscore of 5.9.

So in general the knee-jerk advice "buy faster stuff" is not helpful. What i am looking for is attributes required to achieve a certain score, or move beyond a current limitation.

The information i've been able to compile so far, chiefly from 3 Windows blog entries, and an article:

Memory subscore

Score    Conditions
=======  ================================
1.0      < 256 MB
2.0      < 500 MB
2.9      <= 512 MB
3.5      < 704 MB 
3.9      < 944 MB 
4.5      <= 1.5 GB
5.9      < 4.0GB-64MB on a 64-bit OS
         Windows Vista highest score
7.9      Windows 7 highest score

Graphics Subscore

Score    Conditions
=======  ======================
1.0      doesn't support DX9
1.9      doesn't support WDDM
4.9      does not support Pixel Shader 3.0
5.9      doesn't support DX10 or WDDM1.1
         Windows Vista highest score
7.9      Windows 7 highest score

Gaming graphics subscore

Score    Result
=======  =============================
1.0      doesn't support D3D
2.0      supports D3D9, DX9 and WDDM
5.9      doesn't support DX10 or WDDM1.1
         Windows Vista highest score
6.0-6.9  good framerates (e.g. 40-50fps) at normal resoltuions (e.g. 1280x1024)
7.0-7.9  even higher framerates at even higher resolutions
7.9      Windows 7 highest score

Processor subscore

Score    Conditions
=======  ==========================================================================
5.9      Windows Vista highest score
6.0-6.9  many quad core processors will be able to score in the high 6 low 7 ranges
7.0+     many quad core processors will be able to score in the high 6 low 7 ranges
7.9      8-core systems will be able to approach 8.9
         Windows 7 highest score

Primary hard disk subscore (note)

Score    Conditions
=======  ========================================
1.9      Limit for pathological drives that stop responding when pending writes
2.0      Limit for pathological drives that stop responding when pending writes
2.9      Limit for pathological drives that stop responding when pending writes
3.0      Limit for pathological drives that stop responding when pending writes
5.9      highest you're likely to see without SSD
         Windows Vista highest score
7.9      Windows 7 highest score

Bonus Chatter

You can find your WEI detailed test results in:

C:\Windows\Performance\WinSAT\DataStore

e.g.

2011-11-06 01.00.19.482 Disk.Assessment (Recent).WinSAT.xml

<WinSAT>
   <WinSPR>
      <DiskScore>5.9</DiskScore>
   </WinSPR>
   <Metrics>
      <DiskMetrics>
         <AvgThroughput units="MB/s" score="6.4" ioSize="65536" kind="Sequential Read">89.95188</AvgThroughput>
         <AvgThroughput units="MB/s" score="4.0" ioSize="16384" kind="Random Read">1.58000</AvgThroughput>
         <Responsiveness Reason="UnableToAssess" Kind="Cap">TRUE</Responsiveness>
      </DiskMetrics>
   </Metrics>
</WinSAT>

Pre-emptive snarky comment: "WEI is useless, it has no relation to reality"

Fine, how do i increase my hard-drive's random I/O throughput?

Update - Amount of memory limits rating

Some people don't believe Microsoft's statement that having less than 4GB of RAM on a 64-bit edition of Windows doesn't limit the rating to 5.9:

enter image description here

And from xxx.Formal.Assessment (Recent).WinSAT.xml:

<WinSPR>
  <LimitsApplied>
    <MemoryScore>
      <LimitApplied 
          Friendly="Physical memory available to the OS is less than 4.0GB-64MB on a 64-bit OS : limit mem score to 5.9" 
          Relation="LT">4227858432</LimitApplied>
      </MemoryScore>
    </LimitsApplied>
  </WinSPR>

References

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Memory

I fully agree that, no matter how fast your RAM is, having 4GB or less will not give you the best experience, so a ceiling score of 5.9 is understandable. Granted, "Memory ops per second" is a bit misleading since other factors come into play here (like the amount of RAM) so perhaps they should have kept it even simpler (never thought that was possible) by just saying "memory subscore" and keeping it at that. I get 7.8 for memory.

Primary Hard Disk

What will give you better random IO is a SSD drive. That's what SSDs do: great sequential read speeds, and excellent random IO! My 2 years old Intel SSD gets 7.5:

<AvgThroughput kind="Sequential Read" units="MB/s" ioSize="65536" score="7.5">256.16625</AvgThroughput>
<AvgThroughput kind="Random Read" units="MB/s" ioSize="16384" score="7.8">205.25000</AvgThroughput>

Conclusion

It seems your problem is that Windows Experience Index does not provide you useful insight on how to improve your index. However, I'd argue that whatever index you do get today is relatively valid in itself. If you have 4GB of RAM and no SSD, well I can only agree with WEI in that your Windows experience will not be optimal. So WEI is doing its job of assessing your system's performance relatively well.

Even though there's some transparency in the subtest results, it may be lacking in fully explaining how those results are processed into final scores.

But WEI never claimed to provide hardware upgrade advice anyway. For that, you'll need to look elsewhere, perhaps on our site. Even though we lack your specific system details, here's my take at improving your memory and disk ratings: get more (DDR3) RAM and get a modern SSD.

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The numbers in the question were hypothetical anyway; my Memory subscore is 7.9. i was using it as a real-world example to explain why "buy faster stuff" is not a sufficient answer to the question. i was hoping for a guide on how the numbers are arrived at - which can help me make a more informed hardware buying decision. But good god... from 1.5 MB/s on spinning platters, to 205.25 MB/s on SSD. Sheeshkabuub. –  Ian Boyd Apr 13 '12 at 3:01
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Also, WEI does claim to provide hardware upgrade advice. *"The WEI score is very useful when upgrading a PC. ... After clicking it, she is directed to the Fabrikam web site which suggests a few upgrade options for her. She chooses the components she is interested in and is given directions for a self upgrade or for sending her PC in for the upgrade to level 3." Microsoft had a, i think good, hope that PCs and components would be scored. Whenever i go into Best Buy i flip all the notebooks to WEI score. It's a good way to gauge different PC performance. –  Ian Boyd Apr 13 '12 at 3:06

Is there a guide on the metrics required to obtain a certain Windows Experience Index?

There is no point in obtaining a certain Windows Experience Index, exactly because it is an indication and it is not meant to be a goal. It allows you to single out the overall worst component and improve upon that or in other words serves as a quick way to see what's limiting your overall performance.

You can buy the fastest, overclocked, liquid-cooled, DDR5 RAM on the planet; you'll still have a maximum Memory subscore of 5.9.

This is wrong, note how WEI actually calculates the score as you can see using the XML files. In their articles they simply outline the generic / especially devices, but you'll certainly get another score if you go outside the borders.

The information i've been able to compile so far, chiefly from 3 Windows blog entries:

Conditions is the wrong term there, because I have different scores on some test machines here.


I would at least suggest better instead of faster.

All the rest of your question is not constructive or rant, so I'm not willing to contribute any further...

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"You can buy the fastest, overclocked, liquid-cooled DDR5 RAM on the planet and you'll still have a maximum Memory subscore of 5.9". This is true. If you have 3GB of the fastest RAM in existence on Windows 64-bit you'll still be capped at 5.9. It is just true. "what's limiting your overall performance" My work machine has a memory subscore of 5.9. If i didn't know any better i would think that i would need to buy faster RAM. And if i did buy faster RAM i would still have a score of 5.9. That's why i want to know where the values come from. –  Ian Boyd Apr 14 '12 at 12:32
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Can you post your scores that differ from the information i've managed to compile. If something in my original question is wrong i'd like to update it with correct information. Also post the (Formal) xml file. –  Ian Boyd Apr 14 '12 at 12:33
    
Your first comment shows no effort, you haven't tried it and are just misunderstanding the word especially as well as interpreting guiding information as guidelines. Whenever you say this is true you are actually just saying these are my thoughts. Regarding your second comment, I would like you to read the last sentence again; or let me spell it out for you: You can't turn formulas based on size 'n speed into a summary in which you can divide the hardware. Note how WEI runs for some time and doesn't just read out your hardware; because it is computing this data, not looking it up.. –  Tom Wijsman Apr 14 '12 at 12:44
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i'm not sure why you're thinking they are my thoughts. i'm quoting Microsoft, i'm quoting the the xml files on my hard drive, i'm screenshotting the results. Are you running Windows 7 64-bit with less than 4GB of RAM and are seeing a score higher than 5.9? As best as i can tell, from official sources, and my own experiments, running Windows 7 64-bit with less than 4GB of RAM will result in a score capped at 5.9. If you are seeing any differently, please post the results from your Formal.Assessment (Recent).WinSAT.xml. This is the information i am trying to compile! –  Ian Boyd Apr 14 '12 at 13:12
    
You're just making assumptions based on what's given you; keep on trying, it will never be complete. I stopped reading at Memory sub score simply because you only base yourself on the memory size there, you're going to have a tough time incorporating memory speed there. And well, that's just the memory score; what about the others. Read my previous bold sentence again... –  Tom Wijsman Apr 14 '12 at 13:21

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