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Tests: Snow Leopard overall faster than Windows 7

updated 10:45 am EDT, Fri October 16, 2009

Snow Leopard and Windows 7 benchmarked

A comparison test today revealed that Mac OS X Snow Leopard is faster than Windows 7 in common tasks. Benchmarks run on a 2.53GHz MacBook Pro by CNET show that Apple's own operating system is about 38.5 percent faster in multitasking with media apps than Microsoft's platform and is also more responsive as a whole, taking less time to start up or shut down. iTunes audio encoding is also faster, though as an Apple program it's expected to run faster in its native operating system.

No direct explanation is given, although Snow Leopard's Grand Central Dispatch feature is tailored to better juggle tasks across multiple cores. Windows 7 is multi-core aware but isn't as specifically optimized so far.

Battery life is also much longer in Snow Leopard and lasts up to 111 minutes in a stress test versus 77 in Windows, though here it's believed a lack of battery driver optimizations on Apple's part has hurt performance more than the operating system.

Mac OS X lags only in its historically weaker 3D graphics support. Without software drivers as optimized for the tasks, the platform is noticeably slower than Windows both in professional modeling tests such as Cinebench R10 or gaming tests like Call of Duty 4.

The combined results lead to a suggestion to buy a Mac when possible to take advantage of its extra speed and battery life while still having the option of Windows 7 when necessary.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. bjojade

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007


    My how times have changed.

    Back in the early OSX days the opposite was true. The Mac OS was a DOG by comparison.

  1. bdmarsh

    Junior Member

    Joined: Feb 2006


    not the best, but is interesting.

    wow, amazing how many people commenting on CNet have no idea what Bootcamp actually does.

    Ultimately the media tests were mostly slanted towards Mac OS X, there are 3rd party programs that might have been better to try as benchmarks.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. lolcat789

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2009


    Software maturity & CNET

    I don't take any of this into account unless Windows 7 gets SP1, which will indeed enhance many capabilities (namely battery and power management). I can also blame subpar drivers for such a large gap. CNET is worthless as well, there is bias towards apple in nearly every article.

    I'd love it if Electronista/MacNN could make their own comparison in-house, I would think the results would be more equal than overwhelming favor of apple.

    I find it funny how it's worse with 3D graphics, many people insist mac is better for them. I'll be using this as a reference from now on.

  1. pt123

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2007


    What OS?

    Whether I am on my Mac or PC, I really never think about what OS I am running when I am surfing the internet or sending email. However, bragging rights are important.

  1. IxOsX

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2009



    Write your post here...

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001



    iTunes audio encoding is also faster, though as an Apple program it's expected to run faster in its native operating system.

    I didn't realize iTunes was 'native' to OS X. So does that mean it runs through a virtualization or compatibility layer on Windows?

    And, technically, Apple's Boot camp software and drivers control most of the hardware while in Windows. So couldn't one claim that if Apple did a better job with their drivers, the results could be different?

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001



    A couple of notes on the 'review'.

    He used Windows 64-bit, because, as he said, "I chose Windows 7 64-bit as Apple claims Snow Leopard is now a pure 64-bit OS with most of its built-in applications being constructed with 64-bit code."

    But he makes no mention of actually booting OS X into the 64-bit kernel (I believe no Macs do that by default. Only xServes.) He could have improved his Mac results if he had done that.

    Secondly, he used two completely different drives to run the tests. He should have just tossed out the built-in drive and used two identical drives (or freaking just used the drive for Windows, reformat it, then test it as a Mac).

    Finally, he asides "By the way, thanks to the laptop's nice design, it was very easy to swap out the hard drives with the help of a small ".

    Yeah, great design, Apple. Now if only you could have figured that out three years ago. My MBP's drive was a bear to take out, and the rubber gasket on the case doesn't look as nice as it did before. (And you know something is screwed up when the instructions for taking a computer apart suggest getting a muffin tin or egg carton to store your screws. Just as bad when they say "You'll need a putty knife....")

    And I can't believe no one is harping on this line!

    Third, if you can get by with just software designed by Apple and if money is not a big issue, you will be happy with a Mac.

  1. DeezNutts

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008


    My results don't match

    I am running both operating systems and beyond startup and shutdown being 'faster' on OS X, there is no way in h*** that its 38% faster than Windows 7 on my hardware.

    Basically I have a Mac Mini running OS X 10.6 and an IBM Thinkpad running Win7.
    By specs the mini and the thinkpad have almost the exact same hardware (Same cpu, Intel ICH chipset, same audio, same RAM and matching HDs that I swapped at the same time on both). The only real difference is the Thinkpad has an Ati X1400 graphics card with 128 megs of RAM VS the integrated GMA on the mini.

    Windows 7 just feels snappier than OS X to me. Apps load far faster on the Thinkpad with Win7 then they do on OS X.

    It could totally be related to the video card differences alone I suppose. Maybe I'll throw Win7 on the mini and see how it adds up but I'm not buying no 38% difference at this point.

  1. Tanker10a

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2003


    OS X Snow Leopard faster than Windows...

    BIG hairy deal! Is crashing part of the speed-test?
    No direct explanation was given; so what's the problem. As Bill Clinton would say: "It is what it is.".
    Why would anyone expect anything otherwise?!?!?

  1. chirpy22

    Junior Member

    Joined: Jan 2006


    more info

    I would really like to know how fast each one is at opening and performing some operations on a 1GB Photoshop file.

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