Does it matter that Zorin is based on an older Ubuntu LTS?

Ideally users should neither know or care about the base version of a distro, release model etc. And newer doesn't mean better. The Zorin devs do a lot of work and add a bunch of tweaks etc using newer packages. It takes a long time to do that, test, ensure stability etc.

With all those caveats out of the way, 16.2 is still based on a 2.5 year old Ubuntu LTS base. I did read that Windows 11/newer Ubuntu run faster on same hardware compared to Zorin - is that your experience?

I have no interest in running benchmarks and performance differences only matter if they are noticeable to average users. Much more imp is usability/stability etc.

Changes in Ubuntu are often desktop related which is going to be replaced in Zorin. The other 2 big ones are the kernel and Gnome version. How imp are those? Are there other imp things you'd want?

I know Zorin 17 or maybe 18 will move to 22 LTS.

Windows 11 booted faster but did not perform faster than Zorin OS (for me) during daily work.
However... there is a caveat of my own: At that time, Windows 11 was on the SSD and Zorin OS on the Spinning HDD.
Now... Windows 11 has been replaced by Zorin OS on the SSD. I am not sure which was faster, but Windows may have had Boot beat by about 2 or 3 seconds. The boot on Zorin is much faster now on the SSD.

Testing Zorin OS against Ubuntu... I do this a lot.
And Zorin OS performs (again, for me in my workflow and usage) faster than Ubuntu 22.04.
Much faster.
On Zorin OS, I can drag highlight about 40 icon images and right click > Open in Gimp and in about 15 seconds, they are all loaded on screen.
On Ubuntu 22.04, on same hardware, that takes about 34 seconds.
That's a big difference.
Not benchmarking or anything... And I do unusual things...

Zorin OS 16.2 is currently on the same kernel as Ubuntu 22.04.
Ubuntu 22.04 has a higher Gnome version... and they can have it.

Given past trends, Zorin OS 17 will be based on 22.04.

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This resonates strongly...

I still have one computer running Zorin 15.3 which I've been postponing to upgrade because it runs so smoothly that I keep forgetting about it. It takes about a good two minutes to boot up, considerably longer than the 20~30 seconds or so that Windows 10 takes, on the same machine (dual boot).

The difference however is that after it's done with the booting process you can start using the computer right away. Launch the browser, open spread sheets, etc.
Whereas with Windows I have to wait for another ~20 minutes or so to become fully responsive.

I swear I'm not making this numbers up, as it's the very reason I installed ZorinOS in the first place.
I got the call to fix a computer from a friend and when I saw how slow it was I didn't even bother and immediately installed ZorinOS as dual boot.

This was years ago already, and as far as I know the Windows installation has been collecting virtual dust and is severely behind in its updates...

Just to be clear, I'm not saying that you should ignore updates. My point is that Zorin worked so well that Windows is not being used anymore.