Apple trounces Microsoft in performance showdown

Apple trounces Microsoft in performance showdown

Summary: Research which pitted Windows PCs against Macs found that Vista works better on a Mac.


Research which pitted Windows PCs against Macs found that Vista works better on a Mac.

The May issue of Popular Mechanics includes a comparative review of Macs running OS X Leopard with PCs running Windows Vista without SP1. The verdict: Vista PCs are slower.

While PCs were able to install some software faster than on a Mac, Apple's laptops and desktops proved to be better on overall performance than PCs, according to the reviewers.

"In our speed trials... Leopard OS trounced Vista in all-important tasks such as boot-up, shutdown, and program launch times," Glenn Derene writes in the review.

Comparing each desktop's boot times, the iMac — using a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 1 GB DDR2 RAM with a 320 GB hard drive — booted up in 28.7 seconds compared to the PC — using a 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 3 GB DDR2 RAM with a 500 GB hard drive — which took one minute and 13 seconds.

Installing Microsoft Office on the iMac took two minutes less at four minutes 17 seconds than for the PC which took over six minutes. Testing each platform's Web browsers, Safari and Internet Explorer, also saw the Mac launch the programs twice as fast as the PC at 3.3 seconds.

The performance of Vista running on a Mac using Boot Camp was also tested, and was found to run faster on a Mac than on the PCs tested. "We ... found that both Apple computers ran Vista faster than our PCs did," Derene wrote.

However the reviewers did not test the performance of Vista with Service Pack 1. Microsoft IT pro evangelist, Michael Kleef, told that Microsoft has improved Vista's performance with SP1.

"We worked on improving the overall system responsiveness and feel [of Vista in Service Pack 1]. Simple things like minimising windows should feel responsive, and not seem to lag or do nothing while you're expecting it to," he said.

However the improvements saw Microsoft re-employ methods used in XP, such as how the system manages memory capabilities. Microsoft removed XP's cached memory, hoping it would improve how the system writes to disk.

"That was what we called un-cached or unbuffered I/O. It wasn't as efficient as we'd hoped it to be," said Kleef of the version of Vista released to manufacturers.

"Some of those areas caused pressures in the operating system that affected responsiveness as well as throughput on the network... So we sort of came back towards XP, not completely, but we did come back a bit of a way, especially in the way of the cached I/O."

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Try it on a real computer

    If the tester had bothered to try a machine with an AMD processor then the comparison may have been fairer. I've always found a computer with an AMD-made equivalent to an Intel processor to perform far better, be more stable and display less latency.

    Even if the Apple machine still won at least it would have beaten the best of its opposition.
  • What the?

    If only we spent our days doing installations and loading our web browser... then we'd all be on Mac's!

    Instead and back in reality, we install these products ONCE and then actually use them - shock horror!!

    Surely Popular Mechanics is more intelligent than this article!!
  • What the? Part 2

    Having read the article now... talk about taking stats out of context!! They didn't even compare the same hardware ... so of course a 2.4GHz Mac is going to install/run something faster than a 2.0GHz PC!!!

    Shockingly bad reporting by PM!!
  • What?


    I read that and thought... well yea... no matter how much ram you throw at it, its still not going to go faster... 2.0ghz core2 =/= 2.4ghz core2...

    I wants full specs of the machine.
  • Apples and Oranges

    The real problem with this comparison was that it was a 'popular science' approach to comparison which cannot really hold up to any scrutiny, but it great to grab a headline. Its kind of 'A Current Affar' of benchmarking. If PM focussed just on the Vista comparison it may have been close to scientific. All the same, it would be interesting to see the speed difference when testing an Apple and PC laptop with the same CPU spec, hard disk spec (including RPM!) and memory spec BOTH using Vista 64 bit...
  • the horse had bolted!

    joking right? you guys should have put mind into motion before mouth into action.
  • visat

    c'mon guys we all know vista is a slug no matter what the hardware.
  • Crapware?

    Was it a clean installation of Vista, or was it an OEM build pre-loaded with crapware? That would explain some of the slowdowns, and also why Vista on the Mac (clean install, no crapware) ran faster.
  • Vista not compelling

    Well for me, there really isn't any point to putting Vista on a Mac. As long as XP remains available I'll stick with what works. I actually DID purchase an OEM copy of Vista Home Premium for use with Parallels, and after dealing with the VM locking up I just deleted the file and went back to using XP. Boo Vista.
  • Vista + Mac = good / VIsta + PC = bad

    I'm running Vista SP1 under boot camp on my MacBook Pro 2.6ghz core 2 duo w/ 4gig of mem and it runs faster and more stable then any other vista pc I've ever seen. I will never buy anything but a Mac to run Windows ever again.
    Vista also runs flawlessly on the MS certified Dell 830 laptops that my coworkers were given (standard issue for MS employees).
    There are too many companies pushing crap drivers so they don't miss vista based sales. Apple took the time to make sure there drives are stable, which makes for a much better Vista experience.