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).
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.