Win XP vs. Mac OS X: amateur benchmarks

by Oliver Breidenbach

Two days ago, I installed Windows XP on our Intel iMac. Let's see how Windows XP compares to Mac OS X on the same hardware, shall we?

So here are a couple of tasks I tried.

Task Win XP Mac OS X
iTunes rip a CD AAC 128kbps 3:20 min 3:20 min
Copy 5 files (446.2MB) from CD to harddisk 3:18 min 3:18 min
Convert QT file to iPod format in QuickTime Player 12.4 s 17.5 s
Boot to login 35.3 s 19.5 s

Note that all that is hand timed.

QuickTime on Mac OS X with Intel seems to be slower than QuickTime for Windows. Well, I had the suspicion that maybe the QuickTime for Mac/Intel is not optimised yet when I did a comparision in January between iMac G5 and Intel iMac and found that QuickTime on the PowerPC is still a bit faster. Let's give them a couple of weeks, and QuickTime should be at least as fast on Mac OS X as on Windows.

Booting to login is different for both OSes and not entirely comparable.

Overall it seems as if Windows and Mac OS X in theory can both get about the same performance out of the hardware. Some tasks might be better programmed on Windows, others on Mac OS X, but there is no principal speed advantage or disadvantage to either of them in the areas I tested.

Although I would have wished for Mac OS X to be clearly in the lead, at least I am relieved that it does not lack behind either.

One thing that stands out however is the performance of the browsers. IE on Windows feels so much faster than Safari on Mac OS X that it is spooky. I hope the Safari team will not quit in frustration when they see that.

I am sure further down the road, some people will make more intensive tests and get some more refined results, but for now, my curiousity is satisfied and I can get back to business.


2006-04-07 09:39:26
Your first two tasks are entirely I/O-bound, so it's no surprise that they'd have the same performance on the same hardware. Either OS is twiddling its thumbs waiting for data from the CD drive.

I don't think it's fair to blame the Safari team for the difference in browser performance. An app's GUI performance is dependent on many layers of software below it. The window server and graphics engine in OS X are so much more powerful than on Windows (alpha channels, full antialiasing, advanced typography...) that I'm not surprised they have some extra overhead.

2006-04-07 18:58:24
IE feels faster unless you turn on the virus scanner ;-)
shane blyth
2006-04-07 20:02:35
IE maybe faster but who would use it it is way to "fast" at getting viruses..
It would be interesting to see you run firefox on both thought I think you have to hunt to find a beta of firefox that is universal as the standard one would have to use rosetta to emulate PPC
2006-04-08 01:13:53
There are nightly builds of Universal Binaries of Firefox available from their FTP server. I have tried them and they are fast... but not as fast as Camino 1.0 :)
2006-04-09 06:11:58
Except the browser-compare, every software is from Apple. The developers working their are trying hard to make software equaly fast on both platforms. Let's see what happens, when Photoshop is universal...