The Performance Monitor is a great tool for IT pros, but it may be a bit daunting for the average user. Luckily, Vista has a simpler way for you to know, at a glance, which of your hardware components may be bottlenecks when it comes to running Aero.
Performance Information And Tools
A new feature in Vista is the Performance Information And Tools control panel, which analyzes your computer's hardware components and assigns a rating known as the Windows Experience Index (WEI) score. Your processor, RAM, graphics capabilities (separately rated for Aero and for gaming/3D), and primary hard disk are each rated individually. The lowest score determines your overall WEI score.
Possible scores range from 1.0 to 5.9. Generally, a computer needs a base WEI of 3.0 or better to satisfactorily run Aero and other advanced features. To find out your WEI, click Start | Control Panel | Performance Information And Tools.
Running this tool showed me why using Vista on my laptop was such a different experience from using it on my desktop. As shown in the screenshots, the desktop machine's hardware rated a 5.1.