There are so many different opinions flying around about this it's hard to choose one or the other. At this point I see no reason to not go with Vista if you are buying a new Windows install. As far as I'm concerned Vista SP1 and XP SP3 are the exact same for gaming. As for other applications well I'm not sure. Many people still have compatibility issues with older software.
Well as a VISTA SP1 and Windows XP SP3 user myself, I must say VISTA has gone a long way - now with recent drivers I find it running great for games, mind you I run DX10 games in VISTA. Be careful however with some older games - The thing about VISTA is that they removed the hardware abstract layer, and of course as you may have heard, hardware 3D sound / EAX - through DirectSound, however, the only exception to this is if a game is OpenAL compatible - otherwise if you want to enjoy EAX/3D sound and the game doesn't support OpenAL, you will be better off in XP. You can always use the Alchemy drivers for your supported soundcard (Audigy2 or XFi). At this point I dual boot and play DX9 games in XP and DX10 games in VISTA. There are certain games that play terribly in VISTA, one of them was Kane & Lynch to name a few, stuttering like crazy in some areas, where it would run smooth as silk in XP - It's trial and error, some games run just as good as XP some not....I'd recommend having both installed !
So really the question is.. what games are you playing? Older games may not even work on Vista.... really old games don't even work on XP (unless your running dosbox or something). If your only running new games I would just go with Vista x64. But if you can Dual booting will save you the trouble of having to decide!
I would say %85 of the games out there will work on VistaX64. I curently dual boot XP Pro 32Bit and Vista Ultimate 64Bit so I can run every thing theres only like like 4 ~ 5 older games that I run out of XP I would defenitly go for Vista since it supports DX10.
well...i run vista 32 bit sp1 and it improved games i was playing (Cyrsis, COD4) by about 4-5fps and stopped a horrible skipping bug in GH3
never used sp3 on xp for gaming because i bought vista before it was released.
if your looking for some newer things to play with, vista has it, but could also come with some headaches if your not patience
xp is stable on basically all hardware.
as well, do you have a system that would be good enough to run vista? mainly ram and video
if you have xp already do you want to spend money to get an upgrade?
if you say "i dunno" then that means no
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