Exclusive: First Vista PC tests

The first batch of Vista-loaded PCs reviewed

It's been a long wait, but Windows Vista PCs are here. We evaluated the first batch of desktop systems preloaded with Microsoft's new operating system -- and the results of our exclusive benchmark performance tests show that even sub-US$,1000 systems can ably handle Vista. But some of the new OS's highly touted features aren't present in these first Vista desktop systems.

Vista by default?

If you're planning on buying a PC after January 30, you may be destined to get Vista on your machine whether you want it or not. Of the four vendors whose systems we tested, each is taking a different approach to integrating Vista. Once the new OS ships, Dell and Gateway are switching exclusively to Vista for consumer desktops and notebooks. These two companies will also continue to sell systems running Windows XP, but only through their respective business divisions. Meanwhile, CyberPower and Shuttle will continue to offer XP as an option on their consumer systems.

We found a similar schism among some other PC vendors that we've spoken with (but whose systems were not included in this story). Polywell will be sticking with XP as the default option, installing Vista only if the customer requests it. And even then, the company will install both Vista and XP, allowing the user to choose which OS they want to boot the system into. At this writing -- before Vista's retail store launch, but after manufacturers had received the final version of the operating system -- Polywell CEO Sam Chu claims that Vista is still having compatibility problems with many applications and drivers.

Chu is not the only vendor we talked to who expressed concern over the state of readiness -- or lack thereof -- of Vista's drivers. "Right now, we're seeing some issues on the R&D side," according to Marc Diana, product marketing manager for Alienware.

The issues, he says, are related to things like graphics card drivers (our test systems with both ATI and nVidia used beta drivers during testing for this story), and software, such as that used for Blu-ray Disc playback. "If this continues post-launch, we will give our customers the option of XP. Most likely, though, [these problems] will get sorted out before launch."

Barring ongoing driver issues, Alienware plans to offer only Vista Home Premium on its consumer desktops and notebooks. However, says Diana, "We will have XP available on our workstation line, because those customers are more sensitive to the idea of switching, and some of their applications may not work on Vista. We wanted to leave the option for them."

Hewlett-Packard, on the other hand, is taking a route similar to Dell's and Gateway's. In its online store for consumer systems, HP will switch to Vista at launch. At retail, the company will let existing stock run its course; Vista will be the OS thereafter. HP will continue to offer business desktop and laptop PCs with XP Professional and Vista as options, through the end of 2007. By early 2008, though, HP expects to offer only Vista on business PCs.

Velocity Micro will switch to Vista at launch, both at retail and via its online store.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Richard Baguley

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?