MacBook Pro Photoshop benchmarks

MacBook Pro Photoshop benchmarks

Summary: I've run some benchmarks on Apple's new MacBook Pro running an application that hasn't been optimized for the Intel chip yet - Adobe's notoriously resource intensive Photoshop CS. For the test I ran two Photoshop actions on my PowerBook G4 1.

TOPICS: Hardware
photoshop-bench.jpgI've run some benchmarks on Apple's new MacBook Pro running an application that hasn't been optimized for the Intel chip yet - Adobe's notoriously resource intensive Photoshop CS.

For the test I ran two Photoshop actions on my PowerBook G4 1.5GHz and on my MacBook Pro 2.0GHz. Both are similarly configured with 2GB of RAM and 120GB (5400RPM) hard drives. For the purposes of these tests both machines were booted into clean OS X user accounts with no other applications running. Photoshop guru Will Hammond created the actions and provided me with benchmarks for his TiBook 1GHz with 1GB RAM and 100GB HDD for comparison.

The first action creates a Kaleidoscope (pictured) from and existing image of a bolt. This action has scaling, rotation and blurring.

The second action takes a 10MB image and scales it losslessly to about 550MB. It does so in 110% steps with sharpening in between. To create the 550MB file it tortures the processor, RAM and HDD.

The results are very interesting... (Shorter times are better)

Test 1- Kaleidoscope

PBG4 1.5GHz    ->     0:29:59 (0 min, 29 sec)
MBP 2.0GHz      ->     0:42:87
TiBook 1GHz      ->    1:08:00

Test 2 - Bali Girl

PBG4 1.5GHz    ->     2:16:00 (2 min, 16 sec)
MBP 2.0GHz      ->     4:03:00
TiBook 1GHz      ->    6:45:00

There's a pretty big performance hit in Photoshop CS2 with the MacBook Pro when compared to the Aluminum PowerBook G4 due to the Rosetta emulation. MacBook Photoshop performance falls somewhere between the TiBook 1GHz and PowerBook G4 1.5GHz.

Topic: Hardware

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  • Try running native apps...

    [i]"the Core Duo was 129% faster than the iMac G5/2.1 --
    or 2.3 times faster -- just as Apple displayed on their iMac
    Graphics page. And for the record, we only had 128MB of
    VRAM on the Core Duo we borrowed"[/i]

    The above is based on universal binaries, not PowerPC code
    running in emulation.

    Check out Bare Feats, where the MacBook Pro, in some
    tests, runs nearly as fast as a Quad-core 2.5 GHz G5 when
    running native or universal binary apps.
    Fred Fredrickson
  • The point is....

    The point of this particular test was to see how much of a performance hit Rosetta gives non-binary apps.
  • Give it a rest

    Of course something emulated will run slower. Give it a rest, and so should Steve Jobs.

    It's like saying that Photoshop on 64 bit WindowsXP will give better results than on 32 bit XP. Who cares unless I can go buy everthing in nice retail boxes and go configure my system - as if that will happen with XP64 anytime soon...

    There is no end to the marketing hype, and as consumers we should be smarter. The Mac results are actually impressive **especially** considering the emulation, but Jobs should shut up until the software is on the shelf to take advantage of the power of the system. To do otherwise is to risk disappointing people.
    • I think you might have misunderstood

      I am in the market to replace my aging TiBook. I was curious to know if the MBP using Rosetta was still faster than my TiBook (to justify upgrading now vs. when the binary Photoshop CS3 comes out in a couple of years) thats all. I have no problem with there being a performance hit, I just wanted to know how much. The MBP still runs circles around my TiBook even with emulation.
  • Thanks

    Good to see further confirmation that the right thing to do now is wait, at least if you're a heavy user of programs that don't yet have a universal binary.
    tic swayback
    • Wait

      If you're after OPTIMAL software, you'll probably find that right now, 80-100% of the programs will run optimally on PPCs, and some ~0-40% (depending on what you're looking at) will run optimally on Intel Macs. That'll change and look differently in maybe 1, and 1.5, and 2 years.

      As always, the main question for your computer hardware decision should be: What software do you need? Time, price, performance?
      • Yep

        Too much in emulation right now. Plus, I've had issues in the past
        with Apple's 1st iteration of a new design (first TiBooks had major
        issues with the slot loading drive, for example).
        tic swayback
    • Thanks

      Not everybody who has considered upgrading to an Intel Mac is moving from a G5 machine. I was actually looking for a PPC application comparison between a G4 Mac and an Intel/Rosetta Mac. Seems there is still a noticable performance hit when compared to a G4. Still it's not that bad and as someone already said... it will only get better from here.
  • A suggestion

    Now that you have a MacBook Pro... (which I don't and won't), I have a suggestion for you.


    1- download the gimp in src form (
    2- compile using the latest gnu compilers
    3- benchmark on both simple and floating point intensive opts (e.g. time a perl script applying a bunch of filters).

    4- download the same gimp code to the G4 Powerbook
    5- download the Altivec enabled GLIBC from // (you'll want to install the latest Gcc stuff first)
    6- compile using the freevec lib
    7- run the same benchmark.

    Now you have native x86 code with some adaptation to the two environments - and I'll bet the G4 still blows away the core duo on floating point intensive image ops (e.g filters) while the duo (mainly because of the new GPU) seems faster on simple interactive ops like rotation or scaling.
    • possibly

      possibly could, with altivec...

      but if your using altivec... why not use everything the core duo has
      as well?

      or are you still just stuck on the "G4 is a better chip than intels"
      • and you don't think Intel OS X use SSE?

        This should prove to most people how much a downgrade Intel's
        Core Duo really is/was.
        • sure

          OSX does use SSE, but talking about a seprate app here.

          just because the OS uses it, doesnt mean the apps will use it.
    • Suggest that to the BareFeats guys

      They have 'mad scientists' running all sorts of weird stuff, maybe someone will pickup your idea and try it.
      Fred Fredrickson
    • Your bet - based on what?

      Come on Murph. We need to be scientific here. PowerPC vs Intel benchmarks on variety of real world applications have already been done. Taking the same source, re-compiling. With Intel far surpassing G5 performans (uh 2X or more). This is like Prof. what's his name, still saying that AMD processors are faster.

      Get evidence first. Otherwise you lose credibility. And I think you are losing it fast. Without native code you don't get SSE which is a huge factor
  • Fantastic Even Under Emulation...

    OK, so the MacBook Pro doesn't run Photoshop as fast as a 1.5GHz
    PowerBook. In this regard I don't care for reasons that people have
    already cited, but mostly because my current computer is a 1GHz
    PowerBook Ti and the MacBook Pro even running Photoshop under
    emulation blows that away. Either way it's going to be a winner for
    me and one that will only get faster.

    Awesome news.
  • CoreDuo Windows performance

    I'd be interested to see the performance of those tests on a
    CoreDuo windows laptop...
  • I've been playing a bit with CS9...

    ...frankly, I don't know what the performance-deal with this program is all about. Even Adobe says it'll run fine with 512mb of Ram, only need to add another 512 IF you have probs...I guess I'm just perhaps ignorant, but for some reason, I suspect the CS9 CPU-hog theory is bunk...try doing something much, much, more doing benchmarks with BATTLEFIELD 2, for instance....
    Feldwebel Wolfenstool
  • MacBook Pro or Power

    I am presently using a Microsoft Machine (win 98). I use Office 2000, Photoshop, Paint Classic and Adobe. It is time for me to upgrade so I took a look at the core-duo. I want to continue using the software I have now so it looks like I may get another (faster and really CHEAP) Microsoft Machine and wait for updated software for the MBP.
    The other possibility is that I may spend more and get an upgraded I-Book or Power Book (I really want a laptop).
    I think that Apple might have made a mistake in releasing the MBP before dedicated software is avaliable.
    • software on newer machines

      If you are thinking of upgrading to a newer PC then will you also
      upgrade your software or just use older, slower versions you
      already have?

      I ask this because I have seen people upgrade to a newer PC and
      then find the old software doesn't work as it used to. They then
      upgrade the software to work right. The price then becomes
      about the same as getting a Mac with the software to do what
      they need and want to do.

      If you do decide to get a Mac, do a little research into what each
      task your present software does. Then check to see what is
      available on the Mac to do the same thing. Somethimes you can
      get away with 2 or 3 cheaper programs on the Mac as opposed
      to 1 pricier app on the PC.

      You mentioned Office, Photoshop, Paint and Adobe. The Mac has
      built in OS level PDF abilities. Unless you are doing something
      special with encrypted PDFs you probably won't need anything
      else for that task. Appleworks comes with the iBook but would
      be an extra $79 for the MBP. You can do most Word and Excel
      tasks with Appleworks. I don't use a database much but have
      had good results with the db in AW. If you are using a db that
      needs more muscle, then Filemaker is probably the way to go. It
      is also cross-platform if you need to share results. Photoshop is
      always upgrading to add more stuff to the lite version from the
      pro version. By the time you switch, the version of Elements
      available might have all the tools you need. I don't use a paint
      program, you could check the Apple site for Made4Mac and see
      what is available in that arena.
  • Try test with Windows XP on Mac.

    Why don't you try running CS2 Windows version on a Mac running XP? I would be curious to see the difference between OS X/Rosetta/CS2 and XP/CS2 on the Mac.