In this latest installment of our very popular “Do Security Solutions Slow Down Your PC?” series, I finally got around to testing GFI’s VIPRE Antivirus 2012. The company claims that it’s the “antivirus that doesn’t slow down your PC” and specifically targets those who are annoyed with the bloated solutions out there.
AV-Test rated GFI’s antivirus protection as being mid-range; it scored an okay 4.5 rating but bombed in the repair and usability departments. However, for many users out there, security solutions’ impact on PC performance is more important than things like the user interface or a boatload of features. In this part of our series, we put VIPRE Antivirus 2012 to the test, to see if it really works wonders on system performance.
The test rig
Our nearly three-year old rig (a 2009 laptop that sports a Core 2 Duo 2.93 GHz, 4 GB of RAM, a 256 GB hard disk, and a GeForce 9600M GT) should reflect the average performance of most mid-level PCs. It should also demonstrate the impact security solutions can have on systems that are more modern.
Timecode 00:00:00 – Scenario starts/boot performance
Boot time is still a critical performance point for many of our readers. As with my other tests, we used a stopwatch to determine how long it took for our laptop to boot up to the desktop and also how long it took to launch Windows Live Messenger which is set to automatically run on boot. In addition, we took the ultimate Microsoft benchmarking tool, Windows Performance Toolkit, for another spin to determine the exact time needed to boot the PC—from initializing the bootloader all the way up to loading the last third-party tool. Here’s what we found.
Wow! In terms of raw boot performance, GFI is the definite winner so far. There was no noticeable boot delay. The handful of seconds that were added only came up during the very exact Windows Performance Toolkit (Xperf) benchmarks. Nice job!
Timecode 00:10:00 – Resource check
Task-Manager is the perfect tool to determine how much memory antivirus solutions like VIPRE Antivirus 2012 eat up and how many processes the tool actually launched.
In total, three processes and one service amounted to a very low memory consumption of 77 MB. With the 2, 4, or 8 GB of main memory available on today’s systems, this isn’t really noticeable.
The four additional processes (including the one service) did not cause a lot of increased CPU activity as long as no virus scan was being run.
Timecode 00:11:30 – Browser start
As with out other application benchmarks, we used AppTimer to determine the impact on the start-up time of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9).
The browser is one of the most run applications on the desktop, which is why it’s crucial for it to run as fast as possible. Gladly, this antivirus software did not add a lot of overhead and only caused a 0.3-second delay. Do you notice that in day-to-day operations? No.
Timecode 00:12:30 – Launching Outlook
Outlook is another application that loads dozens of smaller files (its application/plug-in files) and larger amounts of data (your inbox file).
This disk-heavy access should prove quickly what kind of an effect you can expect when installing GFI’s VIPRE Antivirus 2012.
Thankfully, the antivirus software did not add a whole lot to the process. A 0.01 difference can be attributed to the usual test variances.
Timecode 00:14:30 – Launching PhotoImpact X3
Opening a high-resolution photo in PhotoImpact X3 always took a couple of seconds and is a relatively CPU- and hard disk drive-intense operation. Let’s see how GFI’s VIPRE Antivirus 2012 changed things.
For the first time, the antivirus solution caused a more noticeable delay between 0.5 seconds on subsequent launches and 0.8 seconds for the first launch. Of course, it’s not a massive slowdown, but it goes to show that the activity increased due to the software.
Timecode 00:19:30 – Converting a 10-Minute Windows Media Audio Clip into AAC with iTunes
The next task on our list is extremely CPU-intense. We converted a short Windows Media Audio file clip into the AAC format using iTunes. How long did it take?
The increased background activity caused a four-second delay. I repeated the same task over and over again and noticed that during each conversion, the antivirus software’s processes spiked several times up to 50% (on both CPU cores).
Timecode 00:35:00 – Extracting large files
I expect a good antivirus solution to check file archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.) very carefully when I download and extract them. VIPRE Antivirus 2012 is no exception to this rule.
Upon extracting the large file, GFI’s software’s processes again ate up to 50% of CPU power.
The additional protection slowed down the entire extraction by 12 seconds.
Timecode 00:47:00 – PCMark 7 results
PCMark Vantage tests a variety of critical performance areas such as file copying, text editing, file compression, etc.
PCMark showed only a slight decrease in performance. None of the benchmarks took a severe hit—in fact, each and every test had such slightly different results, I’d say that VIPRE Antivirus 2012 had no impact on performance whatsoever.
The overall results
All in all, I can safely say that GFI’s VIPRE Antivirus 2012 is the fastest antivirus solution that I’ve tested so far. It’s extremely lightweight and only bogs down systems during some operations such as extracting files. Unfortunately, it’s not the best antivirus in terms of raw protection and usability. I don’t give out any recommendations but this software seems to be right for users who prefer to have protection with the most minimal impact on performance.