Windows 8 vs. OS X Mountain Lion Performance Tests
The two latest and greatest desktop operating systems are now ready to go head-to-head against each other in performance tests.
Windows 8 has finally reached its “release to manufacturing” (RTM) status, and Apple’s Mac OS X Mountain Lion has been out for a few months. It is now time to pit the two new operating systems’ performance against each other. There are a few things to keep in mind for these performance tests:
The tests were run on an Apple laptop, since it is not possible to install Mountain Lion on anything but Apple hardware. This means that Apple gets the advantage of tuning the OS exactly to the hardware configuration. Windows, on the other hand, must run on a huge array of various different hardware combinations from many vendors.
The two operating systems were tested on a13-inch MacBook Pro (a 2012 2.9GHz Core i7 with 8GB RAM) using Boot Camp. The Windows 8 RTM 64-bit setup process should be uneventful, however it is likely that not all the Windows hardware drivers were perfectly tuned for the MacBook Pro. Nevertheless, after installation the Windows 8 system was snappy and responsive. See the performance results below.
|Mac OS X Mountain Lion||Windows 8 RTM|
|Startup (seconds, lower is better)||26.9||19.6|
|Shutdown (seconds, lower is better)||5.5||11.9|
|CD Ripping in iTunes (min:sec – lower is better)||3:42||3:47|
|Geekbench 2.2 64-bit score (higher is better)||8706||10068|
|Geekbench 2.2 32-bit score (higher is better)||7918||7549|
|SunSpider in Firefox 15 (ms, lower is better)||167||158|
|SunSpider in Safari/IE10||156||105|
|Mozilla Kraken 1.1 in Firefox 15 (ms, lower is better)||2510||2301|
|Mozilla Kraken 1.1 in Safari/IE10 (ms, lower is better)||2427||4352|
|Psychedelic Browsing in Firefox (RPM, higher is better)||1062||5709|
|Psychedelic Browsing in Safari/IE10 (RPM, higher is better)||3645||7224|
|Large file folder copy (seconds, smaller is better)||23.2||26.6|
Starting Up and Shutting Down
One of the most important gauges of speed for a computer is the time it takes to start up and fully boot. Also, this is not as critical, but nevertheless important is the time it takes the computer to shut down.
The surprise here is that Windows 8 starts up significantly faster on a MacBook Pro than OS X Mountain Lion does, although the Mac’s OSX shuts down in half the time of Windows 8. However note that hitting the power button puts Windows 8 almost instantly into sleep mode.
iTunes Ripping Test
iTunes a popular app used in both OSs, was used to measure how long ripping a CD took in each OS. This test did not show much difference between the two Mountain Lion or Windows 8 with the Mac OSX coming in a mere 5 seconds quicker. It took Windows 8 3:47 to rip a 60-minute disc to 256Kbps M4A tracks, while Mountain Lion took 3:42. On this test OS X gets a tiny advantage.
Synthetic Benchmark: Geekbench
Geekbench 2.3, from Primate Labs, is a cross-platform benchmark that runs a series of tests like text compression, image sharpen and blur, and memory stream tests.
Both the 32-bit and 64-bit tests for each OS were run in Geekbench three times and the average for each OS was taken. Though Geekbench is mostly designed to test hardware, it can at least show whether the OS is preventing fast access to the hardware. The result for this benchmark was surprising, Windows 8 in 64-bit mode performed better, delivering a score of 10068 compared to Mountain Lion’s 8706. In the 32-bit version of the test the Mac OS, Mountain Lion, was actually faster, with a score of 7918 compared with 7549 for Windows 8.
To test with a few popular Web browser benchmarks Mozilla Firefox was installed on both operating systems so that the browser engine would be less likely to determine the results. But since a case could be made for using the native browser for each OS, the benchmarks were run in Safari on OS X Mountain Lion and Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8, too.
A final browser benchmark, Psychedelic Browsing, from Microsoft’s IE Testdrive site, is designed to test graphics hardware acceleration of Web content. Microsoft has done a ton of work on this acceleration technology, and it shows in the results, using both Firefox and the native browsers.
File Copy Test
For this one, a folder containing 20 files weighing in at 636MB was timed how long it took to copy it from a fast USB thumb drive (a 16GB Corsair Flash Voyager GT) to the MacBook Pro running Windows 8 and then Mountain Lion. As when Windows 7 was compared with Windows 8, the operation took a few seconds longer in Windows 8. A Microsoft representative explained that this is because “in Windows 8, each file transfer is scanned to ensure there is no malicious code, which takes a little longer but is a better and safer experience for users.”
Windows 8 vs. Mountain Lion
This is not an exhaustive comparison of every kind of performance measurement you could use to compare operating systems. And indeed with (in most real life cases) different software running on each OS, it is hard to make direct, like-to-like comparisons. But the results do show that Windows 8 can stand up next to Apple’s newest operating system when it comes to performance. In particular what is impressive is with how quickly Windows 8 started up on the test MacBook Pro, and also with its faster Geekbench (64-bit) and SunSpider (in IE10) performances.