"Benchmark" results of Windows 11's native RAR support compared to WinRAR and other compression applications

Microsoft plans to release a major feature update for Windows 11 later this year. Version 23H2 is expected to introduce a series of improvements and new features to enhance user experience. Among them, one of the additions that has received the most attention is probably the ability to support original RAR files TAR, 7Z and other file compression formats built into File Explorer.

Until now, ZIP was the only native archive format supported on Windows. Therefore, users have to choose third-party applications to work with RAR, 7Z files, etc. Although there is no shortage of free and premium file compression applications in the market, native support is always good. More convenient for normal users, that’s obvious.

However, this addition also raises a question: Can File Explorer with built-in native RAR support replace WinRAR, 7Zip, NanaZIP and other specialized applications for those who regularly work with archive file formats?

To find the answer, Neowin conducted a test to evaluate the performance of File Explorer with native RAR support compared to WinRAR – one of the most popular compressed file processing applications, and NanaZIP – a 7Zip’s excellent fork for Windows 11. Experts tried downloading 24GB of Microsoft’s free Windows 11 virtual machine data, and packaged the files into three previously unsupported formats: RAR, 7Z (billion compression ratio 50%) and TAR. The team will then extract these files and measure the time it takes for File Explorer, WinRAR, and NanaZIP to complete the job on Windows 11.

Each application goes through three tests to produce average results. The system tested ran a Ryzen 5 2600 CPU, 32GB of DDR4-3200 RAM, an NVIDIA RTX 4060 GPU and a 500GB Samsung 980 SSD hard drive. The test procedure was then performed again on another laptop with an Intel Core i3-1125G4 configuration, 16GB DDR4-3200, and a 500GB NVMe SSD.

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Testing showed that File Explorer had no problem unpacking TAR archives and could keep up with WinRAR and NanaZIP in terms of speed: all three finished in about 80 seconds, an unsurprising result considering the nature of the TAR format.

Next was RAR and File Explorer immediately encountered some problems, causing the decompression process to take nearly six minutes, three times slower than WinRAR and two times slower than NanaZIP.

With 7Z, things were even worse as File Explorer took almost nine minutes to decompress, while WinRAR and NanaZIP completed in about a minute.

Tests on laptops with Intel chips showed almost the same results, proving that third-party apps extract files much better and faster than File Explorer on Windows 11.

Overall, Microsoft’s addition of the ability to decompress native RAR files to Windows 11 is a commendable effort, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to make things more complete. This is understandable and acceptable at such an early implementation stage. In addition to performance issues, decompression with File Explorer is also significantly less convenient than with third-party applications. For example, it doesn’t display a proper status bar (which lets you know how much time is left to complete the decompression), can’t open password-protected archives, and ZIP is still a supported format. Unique support when you need to pack multiple files into one compressed file (not to mention many other features such as file splitting, adjusting compression ratio, etc.).

Overall, programs like WinRAR will likely remain necessary for a long time to come. Let’s wait and see!

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