Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Review

Article Index

Test Setup and Cross-Platform Tests

Our Test Methodologies: As the MacBook Pro uses the Mac OS, we weren't able to use our normal arsenal of Windows-based comparative benchmarks. So we devised a number of new tests that we could use to compare the MacBook Pro against a number of other Macs and Windows systems. These tests are broken up into three sections: The first set (below and on the next page) are cross-platform tests, where the same workload was run on both the Mac and Windows systems. The second set is Mac-only tests. The third set is Windows-only tests that were run on the Windows comparison systems, and the MacBook Pro using Boot Camp and a native installation of Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit). All tests were run several times on each system to ensure consistency. The comparison systems are as follows:

  • An older MacBook Pro that dates back to what is referred to as a "Late 2006" model. This older MacBook Pro's config is: a 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo T2500, 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, an ATI Radeon X1600 (128MB), a 120GB 5,400-rpm hard dive, and running Mac OS X 10.6.4. We readily concede that due to the age and low-end components (comparatively speaking) of this model, it is not the best comparison system; however, we chose to include it to exemplify how far the MacBook Pro's performance has come since the model was first introduced.
  • A two-year old, 24-inch iMac. The iMac's config is: 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X7900, 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM, ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro, 750GB 7,200-rpm hard drive, and running Mac OS X 10.6.4. When this iMac was released, it represented close to the top-end of available configs, and it is still considered reasonably powerful--especially when compared against a laptop.
  • One of the two Windows comparison laptops has this config: 2.13GHz Intel Core i3-330M, 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM, Integrated GMA HD, 320GB 5,400-rpm hard drive, and running Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit).
  • The other Windows comparison laptop has this config: 1.2GHz Intel Core i3-330UM, 3GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM, Intel GMA HD and ATI Radeon HD 5450 (512MB) switchable graphics, 500GB 7,200-rpm hard drive, and running Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit).
CineBench R11.5 (64-bit)
Content Creation Performance
Maxon's Cinebench R11.5 benchmark is based on Maxon's Cinema 4D software used for 3D content creation chores and it tests both the CPU and GPU in separate benchmark runs. On the CPU side, Cinebench renders a photorealistic 3D scene by tapping into up to 64 processing threads to process more than 300,000 total polygons; while the GPU benchmark measures graphics performance by manipulating nearly 1 million polygons and huge amounts of textures.

It's no surprise that the Core i5-based MacBook Pro is the best performer of this group; but there are two interesting take-aways here. The first is that both the OpenGL and CPU scores of the MacBook Pro with the Mac OS are just a hair faster than when the laptop was running Windows. While the performance difference is between only 1- and 2-percent, it indicates the potential for more efficient code with the Mac OS than the Windows OS with some tasks. Even a 1-percent difference adds up after a while when you are crunching workloads that can take hours to complete. The second interesting observation is that the Core i5-based MacBook Pro trounces the 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme X7900-based iMac. Despite that fact that the iMac's processor has a faster clock speed, the MacBook Pro's processor--with support for up to four simultaneous threads (two cores plus HyperThreading)--gets the advantage on this multi-threaded test.

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