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We switched to VS2010 from VS2003 a few months ago, and there are many many improvements. But the speed of Intellisense is not one of them (although it does generate higher quality results, which is great).

I read that Intellisense and the MSDN help system has been improved in VS2012. I'm curious if its actually faster? The only data I could find were graphs of an early release (VS2011).

For the record, I am using a vanilla install of VS2010 with SP1 on Windows 7 SP1 (x64). No plugins or add-ins running.

What I'm looking for specifically:

  • Has the speed of intellisense auto-complete improved?
  • Has the speed of F12 (GoTo definition) improved?

The answers to these questions will help in determining if VS2012 is worth the money to upgrade at this time as the intellisense slowness would be the only major reason for upgrading.

I'd also be interested in knowing if the help system has improved. I'm currently using MSDN help from VS2008SP1 because it has filtering and is faster.

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what is your hardware spec.? –  Yusubov Oct 2 '12 at 18:18
Intel Core2 Quad Q6700 (2.67 GHz ea), 4GB RAM, WD Black 1TB 7200rpm 32MB Cache HDD. –  syplex Oct 2 '12 at 18:26
I think I can honestly say that VS2012 is generally faster on the same hardware then VS2010, or at least that's been my perception. Much better startup times and less laggy, though I do get the occasional "waiting for background operation to complete" –  Earlz Oct 2 '12 at 21:07
Thanks. The "waiting for background operation to complete" and the speed of F12 lookup are the main issues we're having with VS2010 SP1. Any real improvement on these would be quite beneficial. –  syplex Oct 2 '12 at 22:39
Perhaps the later Visual Studio has a bigger memory foot print? You might be able to view and diagnose the problem with resource monitor. If the newer Visual Studio is doing a ton of page swaps, it could be a sign you need more memory. If that is not practical, consider reducing the usage from other programs. –  DeveloperDon Oct 3 '12 at 2:13
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closed as off topic by MainMa, Jarrod Roberson, Glenn Nelson, Ryathal, Eric King Dec 11 '12 at 23:04

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes, Visual Studio 2012's intellisense is much faster than the 2010 one. After the first database build F12 normally does not take any time at all. I switched to 2012 mainly because of the extremly slow intellisense in 2010. 2012 can work with 2010 projects without changing the project files when a 2010 compiler is installed.

In 2010 I basically stopped using "Go to definition". It is much more accurate than the 2008 version thought, which 2012 still is.

I'm using 2010 and 2012 side by side because the XBox360 debugger is only working on 2010 atm, but everytime I have to make serious changes or write new code I do it in 2012 because the 2010 intellisense makes me really angry.

Another point to consider: The vs2012 c++ compiler does allow multiprocessor compilation of compile units which massively speeds up compilation on current hardware. 2010 did only support parallel compilation of seperate projects.

UPDATE: I made some tests using a Solution containing 7 c++ 2010 projects, one exe and 6 dll projects containing around 800k lines of code. Before each test I did a "git reset --hard" and "git clean -dfx" removing all databases and temporary files from Visual Studio. First I started VS 2010, compiled the solution and waited around 5 minutes after that, then I used F12 for a few symbols and measured the wait time after each press.

  • ~40% were executed instantaneously.
  • ~45% were executed in 2-5 seconds
  • ~15% took between 5 and much longer seconds; I normally stop these and use Ctrl+Shift+F instead

Next I reset everything using git and started VS 2012. I compiled the solution and waited a few minutes and repeated the tests.

  • 95% were executed instantaneously.
  • 5% took up to 2 seconds.

I don't see a pattern in vs2010, sometimes queries are executed very fast and sometimes it takes up to 30 seconds to find a function defined in the same file.

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Thanks for your answer. I wonder if you could open the same solution in 2010 and 2012 from a clean slate (with no documents open, delete your .sdf, .suo, etc) and then do a few F12's for the exact same items and time it to quantify the difference? That would make this answer golden. –  syplex Dec 11 '12 at 21:52
Awesome answer. Thanks, this is exactly what I was looking for. Not sure why the question was closed. –  syplex Dec 13 '12 at 23:35
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Short Answer: Speed of VS 2010 will depend on your hardware spec that you utilize. This is especially though for big scope projects, or the one that use ORM.

We are using SSD+i7+8GB RAM for dev machines. So far, i did not see a slow response in intellisense. The project that i am referring is a solution with 47 projects in it, including testing.

FYI, i do reboot my pc once a week and install the updates.

I would advice to upgrade the hardware first and use your VS2010. Because running VS2012 on the same hardware that u have with VS2003 would not give you a desired boost. Btw, here you are the reference on what is new in VS 2012.

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The question is specifically if VS2012 is faster than VS2010. Sure upgrading hardware will improve things but it would improve it across the board so it falls out of the equation. So VS2003 runs much faster than VS2010 on the same hardware for all of our solutions, the question is does VS2012 run slower or faster than 2010 on the same hardware? –  syplex Oct 2 '12 at 18:43
VS2003 runs faster because it doesn't consume as much memory as the VS2010 does. Going back to your question. On the current hardware that you have, it will not make difference having VS2010 or 2012. –  Yusubov Oct 2 '12 at 18:47
If VS2012 wouldn't be any faster than VS2010 on hardware X, then I wouldn't expect it to be any faster than VS2010 on hardware Y. Right? If not could you please explain what resources VS2012 uses that would improve its performance over VS2010. –  syplex Oct 2 '12 at 18:54
here is a link that compare with different specs - stackoverflow.com/a/12583769/1437962. Overall, my point is there would be very minimal improvement in performance when u compare VS2010 with 2012. –  Yusubov Oct 2 '12 at 19:16
I saw that page when I searched. It shows build throughput in VS2011RC is slower than VS2010 on all three machines (although certain stages are faster in VS2011RC than VS2010). But it doesn't address Intellisense. Have you used both versions and seen any difference in Intellisense and F12 speed for C++ projects? –  syplex Oct 2 '12 at 19:36
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