wei-only.pngThe Windows Experience Index measures the capability of your computer’s hardware and software configuration and expresses this measurement as a number called a base score. A higher base score generally means that your computer will perform better and faster than a computer with a lower base score, especially when performing more advanced and resource-intensive tasks.

During the upcoming week, we will start to measure system WEI increase (or decrease) when adding specific hardware.

Each hardware component receives an individual subscore. Your computer’s base score is determined by the lowest subscore. For example, if the lowest subscore of an individual hardware component is 2.6, then the base score is 2.6. The base score is not an average of the combined subscores.

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You can use the base score to confidently buy programs and other software that are matched to your computer’s base score. For example, if your computer has a base score of 3.3, then you can confidently purchase any software designed for this version of Windows that requires a computer with a base score of 3 or lower.

To view your computer’s base score*, open Performance Information and Tools
*only on VISTA

If you don’t see subscores and a base score, click Score this computer.

About your computer’s base score

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.

Here are general descriptions of the kind of experience you can expect from a computer that receives the following base scores:

  • A computer with a base score of 1 or 2 usually has sufficient performance to do most general computing tasks, such as run office productivity applications and search the Internet. However, a computer with this base score is generally not powerful enough to run Windows Aero, or the advanced multimedia experiences that are available with Windows Vista.
  • A computer with a base score of 3 is able to run Windows Aero and many new features of Windows Vista at a basic level. Some of the new Windows Vista advanced features might not have all of their functionality available. For example, a machine with a base score of 3 can display the Windows Vista theme at a resolution of 1280 × 1024, but might struggle to run the theme on multiple monitors. Or, it can play digital TV content but might struggle to play HDTV content.
  • A computer with a base score of 4 or 5 is able to run all new features of Windows Vista with full functionality, and it is able to support high-end, graphics-intensive experiences, such as multiplayer and 3‑D gaming and recording and playback of HDTV content. Computers with a base score of 5 were the highest performing computers available when Windows Vista was released.
  • The Windows Experience Index is designed to accommodate advances in computer technology. As hardware speed and performance improves, higher base scores will be introduced. However, the standards for each level of the index stay the same. For example, a computer scored as a 2.8 should remain a 2.8 unless you decide to upgrade the computer’s hardware.
  • If a particular program or Windows Vista experience requires a higher score than your base score, you can upgrade your hardware to meet the necessary base score. If you install new hardware and want to see if you score has changed, click Update my score. To view details about the hardware on your computer, click View and print details.

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About your computer’s subscore

The subscores 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. If your base score is not sufficient for a program or Windows Vista experience, you can use the subscores to help you figure out which components you need to upgrade.

The base score is a good indicator of how your computer will perform generally. The subscores can help you understand your computer’s level of performance for specific experiences:

  • 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 subscores in the CPU and memory categories are important. Subscores 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 subscores in the RAM, desktop graphics, and 3‑D gaming graphics categories are important. Subscores 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 subscores in the CPU, hard disk, and desktop graphics categories are important. Subscores of 3.0 or higher are usually sufficient in the memory and 3‑D graphics categories.

What do the base score levels mean?

The following are detailed descriptions of each of the base score levels:

  • 1.0
    A base score of 1.0 is intended to reflect the minimum specification needed to run Windows Vista™. PCs that meet this level will run Windows Vista™ in a basic, but acceptable manner. This is a “catch all” level assigned to any machine that can realistically upgrade to Windows Vista™ but won’t meet Level 2 specifications.

  • 2.0
    A base score of 2.0 represents the mainstream Windows Vista upgrade target system. This level of PC may run Windows Aero but users may see noticeable performance issues from time to time, especially on PCs with scores less than 2.5 and/or 64MB of graphics memory. Performance issues may also be noticeable when opening many application windows at the same time or when using very large monitors.

  • 3.0
    This level represents the value end of machines that will ship at the end of 2006 and into 2007. This is the lowest capability Windows Premium Logo PC that will ship with Windows Vistaâ„¢ pre-installed. Windows Vista will generally enable Aero automatically on level 3 machines. Aero will perform quite well on level 3 machines with single monitors. With dual monitors (especially larger than 1280×1024), users may see noticeable performance issues from time to time, especially on machines with scores less than 3.5 and/or 128MB of graphics memory.

  • 4.0
    This level of machine represents a very good performing machine. In late 2006 and 2007 machines at this level will be considered high end. All Windows Vista features will run well with snappy performance. HD playback and recording of one HD stream will work well. 3D games and other high-end 3D applications will run acceptably on Level 4 machines. Multi-tasking will be quite good on these machines (when an application makes use of this capability). Many mid to high level 4 PCs will have dual core CPUs.

  • 5.0
    This level of machine represents the highest end of the PC market – gaming machines, high performance desktops, powerful media center systems and the like. Level 5 PCs will dramatically exceed the Windows Premium logo requirements. They will easily run Aero-Glass on multi-monitor systems at high resolution. First person shooters, multiple HD streams, video creation, high end multimedia applications are all characteristic scenarios of people who will be using Level 5 systems. As Level 6 machines are not defined yet, it is possible that the highest performance and capable Level 5 machines may be re-leveled as level 6 in the future (i.e. that may happen if the new hardware is evaluated before the index is updated with the new capabilities).

  • 6.0 and beyond
    Base scores of 6.0 and higher are not defined yet. They will be defined when the time comes and new innovations in hardware allow new capabilities. From past experience, it is expected this will happen at a rate of once every 12-18 months.