Understanding the Windows Experience Index Score

A low score in any category will bring down the base score.

Windows Vista and Windows 7 introduced a new score built in to Windows, called the Windows Experience Index. This index tells you how advanced your PC is and how well it can run Windows. In fact, a score of 3 or lower when you install Windows will automatically disable the special effects in Windows Vista & 7, called Windows Aero.

The index ranges from 1 to 5.9 on Vista and 1 to 7.9 on Windows 7.

This index is useful if, like me, you have a PC that’s several years old. However, any new off-the-shelf laptop or desktop may pass the Windows Experience Index with flying colors, but it’s still useful for finding potential deficiencies, such as with integrated video.

Since we’re all about holding on to your machine as long as possible, this Index has its uses. Though Windows ran this test when it installed itself, here’s how to view it and run the test again. It’s useful to run this just after upgrading or installing new hardware, or when moving your drive with Windows on it into a new PC.

What the Index Doesn’t Measure

There are other things that can slow your PC down, things not tested by this tool. Here’s a list:

  • Too many applications open in the background
  • Too many programs running when Windows starts up
  • A hard drive that’s gone too long without being defragmented or checked for errors
  • A hard drive that’s too full, meaning Windows can’t use it for virtual memory
  • Windows that hasn’t been updated with Windows Update
  • Drivers that need updated
  • a Windows Registry that needs optimization
  • Viruses or malware

We have a list of nine steps that can remedy some of these causes. Here’s the article for more on that subject.

The Windows Assessment Tool

To view and run the Windows System Assessment Tool, which generates the Windows Experience Index:

  • Click Start
  • Click Control Panel
  • Click Performance Information and Tools
  • Click Re-Run the Assessment

The assessment will take several minutes, and your screen will flash. Afterward, you’ll get a base score equal to the lowest subscore among the Processor, RAM, Graphics, Gaming Graphics, and Primary Hard Disk categories. Low scores are a good indicator that you might need an upgrade, and can also indicate that you should stay away from graphics-intensive games or memory-intensive applications.

One final note: This score is in Windows 8 too, with a higher possible maximum of 9.9. When you get around to Win 8, try it there and see if your score is higher!

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