Norton AntiVirus 2009 Gaming Edition Reviewed

Symantec has just released a gaming edition of their extremely popular Norton AntiVirus to the wild and for the past few days I have been testing it against my previous favorite antivirus for gaming machines: AVG Internet Security. I’ll start here by saying that though my previous reviews of Norton products have ended on less-than-spectacular tones, I went into this process giving Symantec a clean slate as a new program. This means that I put aside past disappointments and treated this program as if it was completely different from their previous offerings. Thankfully that appears to be the case here as I’ve never used a Norton program that has given me more reason to recommend it than their 2009 AntiVirus Gaming Edition.

Let’s start with the installation process. AVG has a pretty straightforward process including basic registration and minimal option selections. Norton goes about installation the same way, however they add a little extra in the way of customization options that relate to their market. Gamers will enjoy the settings allowing this program to run with minimal annoyances, especially while in gaming mode. Installation was extremely fast taking about 30-45 seconds and when compared to AVG it takes the flag against an installation time of 60-90 seconds.

As I am writing this, my computer is being scanned by Norton AntiVirus 2009 Gaming Edition and according to task manager it utilizes a steady 6MB of RAM idle though while scanning it holds on to 38MB of RAM, 15% Processor on a 2.2ghz 64-bit dual-core system. This is typical when compared to AVG that uses roughly the same system resources with varying memory usage between 36MB and 50MB on the same machine. The scans are taking about the same amount of time, but this version of Norton AntiVirus has a feature that allows you to scan for files that aren’t an active virus risk and remove them from the quick and automated scans. You can still do a full system scan that includes these files, but if you’re interested in speed and you don’t have high-risk critical data this may be a great option for you. Scans done with the abridged file structure took about 30 seconds to complete. This feature excluded roughly 82% of my over 1 terabyte of files. In the category of scanning footprint, I’d have to give this one to Norton AntiVirus 2009 Gaming Edition.

Let’s take a look price, shall we? AVG has only recently combined their anti-spyware, anti-rootkit, and anti-spam with their anti-virus with a yearly subscription fee of $54.99 USD. Norton AntiVirus 2009 Gaming Edition is available at a price point of $39.99 USD with yearly subscription renewals at the same price point. Feature-wise you get the same level of protection from the various classes of threats. This makes Norton a clear winner in pricing.

When it comes to updates, AVG does a daily scheduled update where it receives important virus definitions and program updates. One problem I have found with AVG is that it consistently has trouble connecting to the update server. This is a big deal when suddenly your program is incapable of updating for weeks on end. The only solution to this is reinstallation. I would normally omit problems like this except it has occurred in both versions 7 and now in 8. As I glance over at my laptop that still runs AVG, the update manager has crashed. Meanwhile, Norton updates every 5 to 15 minutes and during the time I’ve had this program installed, it has never failed to retrieve the update. Norton is the clear winner in this category.

Aesthetics should never be a deciding factor in your computer’s defense utilities, but they do help make the program more palatable. Norton has an unusual transparent ice and chain link fence look to it. It’s hard to really point out what it is the program has as a background design but it does have a bit of flair that grows on you over time. AVG has a fairly basic look though it makes up for its lack of pizzazz with a boost in intuitiveness. Most Windows users will enjoy the familiar menu style. Norton has a fairly intuitive interface for gamers, but if you’re appealing to a greater majority I think AVG wins when it comes to how aesthetics affect ease of use.

I would get in to a paragraph about accuracy and start quoting test after test run by various independent and not-so independent sources but the fact of the matter is an anti-virus should always be secondary to the user’s practices. I’m not hiding anything here as one test puts Norton above all others and another will cite Nod32 as the supreme anti-virus. The accuracy of a program is also dependant on their updates. One day AVG would reign as being the most protective then Nod32 comes out with an update that includes a new virus that AVG hasn’t added yet and the tables are turned. I’m going to declare a tie between AVG and Norton in the accuracy column.

Overall, the two programs have a certain appeal to their respective audiences. Norton AntiVirus 2009 Gaming Edition appeals to an audience of gamers that require full system resources for their more intensive games while AVG Internet Security provides a robust array of features that appeal to the average day-to-day user. Though Norton has, in the past, had a reputation for doing some unexpected things to a system this edition appears to deliver on its promise. Norton has received a lot of criticism from me and others for the LiveUpdate component and how it uninstalled. This has been a big issue for years and thankfully it is finally over as LiveUpdate is no longer separated from the main program. I’m going to have to give Norton my official recommendation for the first time in my life.

Written by: Matt Ryan
Edited by: Loonsbury

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