According to speed measurements of more than 60 common business chores, which were conducted by North Carolina-based Principled Technologies for Microsoft, using the Aero interface "had little or no negative effect on Windows Vista's performance."
Matt Ayers, a program manager with the Windows Client Performance team, touted the results on the group's blog. "We put quite a bit of effort into making sure that the new visuals were as efficient as possible, and it really paid off," he wrote. "You can run Aero without guilt!"
Principled Technologies measured performance with Aero on and off using a Dell XPS M170 notebook equipped with 1 Gbyte of RAM, a 2.0-GHz Intel Pentium M 750 single-core processor, and a graphics card with 256 Mbytes of memory. The laptop's configuration met or exceeded Microsoft's own minimum system requirements for what it calls a "Vista Premium Ready PC," which is a system with sufficient horsepower to run Aero. Those requirements, for example, specify a graphics card with at least 128 Mbytes of memory.
Aero, which can be disabled by the user, is automatically ditched for a simpler, Windows XP-style interface, when Vista is run on lower-powered PCs.
The Vista performance report can be downloaded as a PDF file from here.