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Published on 03.10.08 by Brent Trahan

Windows Experience Index Score Explained

This guide explains what the Experience Index Score is and how to use it when buying a new Windows Vista computer.

The Windows Experience Index Score was introduced in Windows Vista and used to give you a good idea of the capabilities of a computer. You can use a computer’s Experience Index base or sub score to help determine if it’s what you need when purchasing a new computer.

The Experience Index Score rates your computer’s components performance from 1 to 5.9 with 1 being the worst performing and 5.9 being the best. The score’s benchmarks were established when Windows Vista was released.

Base Score Explained

The base score represents the overall performance of your system as a whole, based on the capabilities of different parts of your computer, including RAM, CPU, hard disk, general graphics performance on the desktop, and 3-D graphics capability.

A computer’s Base Score is the lowest Sub Score (explained below).

Sub Score Explained

The sub scores are the result of tests run on the RAM, CPU, hard disk, general desktop graphics, and 3-D gaming graphics hardware components of your computer. Each component gets its own Sub score.

Using the Experience Index Score to Buy a PC

Open Windows Experience Index

To see a computer’s Experience Index Score:

  1. Click the Start orb.
  2. Select Control Panel.
  3. Click Classic View on the left of the Control Panel.
  4. Open Performance Information and Tools.

Here’s what an Experience Index Score looks like:

experience-index1.png

Base Score

The base score represents the overall performance of your system as a whole. Here are a few tips to help you choose a computer based on its base score.

  • Base Score 1-2: A computer with a base score of 1-2 would be good for word processing, e-mail, and internet. Aero (glass looking windows and visual affects) probably won’t be available.
  • Base Score 3: A computer with a base score of 3 would be good for word processing, e-mail, and internet. It will also be able to use Aero and some of its features. More advanced features like Windows Media Center will partially work. For example: Windows Media Center will play and record digital TV content but it’ll struggle with HDTV content.
  • Base Score 4-5: A computer with a base score of 4-5 will be able to use all of Windows Vista’s advanced features. For example: It will be able to play and record digital TV and HDTV with no problems.

Sub Score

The sub scores are the result of tests run on the RAM, CPU, hard disk, general desktop graphics, and 3-D gaming graphics hardware components of your computer. Here are a few tips to help you choose a computer based on its sub score.

  • Office productivity: If you use your computer almost exclusively for office productivity experiences, such as word processing, spreadsheets, e-mail, and web browsing, then high sub scores in the CPU and memory categories are important. Sub scores of 2.0 or higher are usually sufficient in the hard disk, desktop graphics, and 3-D graphics categories.
  • Gaming and graphic-intensive programs: If you use your computer for games or programs that are graphic-intensive, such as digital video editing applications or realistic first-person games, then high sub scores in the RAM, desktop graphics, and 3-D gaming graphics categories are important. Sub scores of 3.0 or higher are usually sufficient in the CPU and hard disk categories.
  • Media Center experience: If you use your computer as a media center for advanced multimedia experiences such as recording HDTV programming, then high sub scores in the CPU, hard disk, and desktop graphics categories are important. Sub scores of 3.0 or higher are usually sufficient in the memory and 3-D graphics categories.

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