Compression Performance: 7-Zip, MagicRAR, WinRAR, WinZip

MagicRAR 8.0

Next to 7-Zip, WinRAR, and WinZip, MagicRAR is a little more obscure. Not only is it the least-known compression utility in our round-up, but it’s also the only one that doesn’t have its own compression format, or make use of more than one processor core (Update: MagicRAR's author let us know that the software's 7z format is able to utilize two cores for compression jobs. Our tests were limited to the ZIP format, though switching to 7z wouldn't have made much difference, given the threading optimizations of 7-Zip). A single installer package contains both the 32- and 64-bit versions of the software. MagicRAR costs $25 from the company’s online store.

Since MagicRAR lacks its own compression format, this app doesn’t give preferential treatment to any one format, but rather leaves this choice completely up to the user. There are many formats to choose from and, because MagicRAR supports practically all of the popular compression formats via plug-ins, it’s easy to add support for new compression formats at any time. MagicRAR self-confidently markets itself as the tool to use if you need to use all compression formats. Due to the large number of included plug-ins, it was able to handle every format that we threw at it during our benchmarks.

As far as Windows Explorer integration, MagicRAR offers the context menu command “Find Smallest Archive”, which recommends the best format for the selected files and/or folders. This makes the decision of which compression format to use quite easy. The software also offers recursive decompression, which means that it can extract archives that are spread throughout multiple subfolders. MagicRAR comes with its own file manager and integrates with Microsoft Outlook.

The last way that MagicRAR stands out from the competition is, unfortunately, something that’ll give enthusiasts second thoughts. According to its developer, this application is supposed to yield especially good performance on SSDs. However, our benchmarks don’t bear this out. In fact, we found the opposite to be true. No other tool takes as long to compress files on SSDs, with only ZIP performance rating as acceptable.

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    Top Comments
  • One does not simply buy WinRAR...
    46
  • 7ZIP is even more impressive when you consider that the LZMA format was designed by one single person. And then the program 7ZIP was also coded by that single person only.

    Maybe contribute a few dollars to Igor Pavlov , the creator of 7Zip ?
    43
  • My hat is off to Igor Pavlov (and other contributors?). 7-Zip has been my compression tool of choice ever since I discovered it. With this performance data and it being Free and Open source the Elite award is definitely deserved.
    30
  • Other Comments
  • One does not simply buy WinRAR...
    46
  • 1. There is no difference between LZMA and LZM2 . Both are the same algorithm. The only difference is LZMA is limited to 2 threads. LZMA2 is much more threaded, but uses double the amount of RAM.

    2. PPMd is strictly for compressing text. It compresses text better than any other algo. But it is limited to 1 core only.

    3. WinRar 4.2 is much better threaded than previous versions.

    4.7z threading depends a lot on the type of file compressed. On large files, it can use 100% of any number of cores. For many small files, it generally uses only 1 complete core.
    9
  • 7ZIP is even more impressive when you consider that the LZMA format was designed by one single person. And then the program 7ZIP was also coded by that single person only.

    Maybe contribute a few dollars to Igor Pavlov , the creator of 7Zip ?
    43
  • This is an interesting article, I was rather surprised by the overall poor performance of WinRAR in every aspect when compared to 7zip.
    8
  • For reference, shouldn't the built in ZIP tool in the windows OS?
    27
  • Hey i had written this in the Haswell preview, but i think Chris missed it, so i'm repeating it here, since it is related.

    Could we have an AES-256 encryption comparison between CPUs and/or archive managers?

    Like without encryption vs with encryption, encryption with and without OpenCL, etc.
    4
  • ^ 7 zip can use the Hardware based Intel AES-NI extensions.
    3
  • Nothing new here, 7zip > WinRar > WinZip for quite some time. Why the inclusion of MagicRAR is a mystery, maybe a paid (failed) review? I'd be interested in an examine of the Parity/Recovery option of WinRAR and others. While still far behind PAR2 (or even the shady ICE Ecc), it is an important feature in Archiving that deserves more attention.
    4
  • mayankleoboy11. There is no difference between LZMA and LZM2 . Both are the same algorithm. The only difference is LZMA is limited to 2 threads. LZMA2 is much more threaded, but uses double the amount of RAM. 2. PPMd is strictly for compressing text. It compresses text better than any other algo. But it is limited to 1 core only. 3. WinRar 4.2 is much better threaded than previous versions. 4.7z threading depends a lot on the type of file compressed. On large files, it can use 100% of any number of cores. For many small files, it generally uses only 1 complete core.

    4. You mean the 7Z format rather than 7-Zip.

    I've seen 7-Zip, using the Zip format, hitting 100% CPU usage when archiving around 1500 – 2000 files, the vast majority of which (like >75%, if not >90%) were tiny, about half under 100 B and the other half between 1 kB and 4 kB. But with the same set of files I did a quick test, and using LZMA2 to 7z it was using 1 and a bit cores (going by my total CPU usage).
    4
  • Great article.
    Maybe you can add IZArc (http://www.izarc.org/) to the comparison.
    6
  • "For example, the latest version of WinZip include social media and cloud functionality."
    Seriously, what. It randomly updates the facebook status, like: Imma zippin mah porn foldar! ? Or what?

    The cloud part of WinZip can be useful for companies, but other than this, I don't see a single good reason why someone would not use 7-zip.
    25
  • My hat is off to Igor Pavlov (and other contributors?). 7-Zip has been my compression tool of choice ever since I discovered it. With this performance data and it being Free and Open source the Elite award is definitely deserved.
    30
  • While agree with the results of the article I lost a HUGE amount of respect for the authors and Tom's.

    TAR is NOT and NEVER WAS a compression format. It's a UNIX tool used to create one file out of several for Tape ARchives.

    And if you bring BZIP2 and GZIP compression formats, the primary compression format for UNIX vs ZIP the primary format for windows, maybe you oughta use the tools that have been around for 15+ years for these formats, you know the UNIX ones. Tools that had to be fast because they had no choice, because you can't waste CPU cycles or tape when your tape is only a few megs.
    5
  • Umm, the difference between LZMA and LZMA2 is that LZMA2 decides for individual blocks of data whether to compress them or not, yielding superior performance. That thread-limited thing I know nothing about. Also, I've been using 7Zip for 6 years now, and see no reason why anyone should use anything else. It's just the best thing ever. And available for Mac and Linux as well.
    5
  • What about the unpacking performance of the programs? Doesn't that count for anything. I'm wondering which of the programs unpacks a 5-10GB archived who is divided into smaller parts?
    6
  • This article just made me uninstall WinRar and replace it with 7-Zip.

    Thanks Toms!
    21
  • Gr8 article and would like to see a part 2 maybe we can add Izarc, gnutar or other open source compression utilities.
    3
  • Thanks for this review, but I cannot agree with your results, because mine are staggeringly different!

    Here are some stats from a comparison I did myself, on a scenario of some files, that are being compressed and sent to a backup-server on the Internet every single day. This is, in effect, a real practical example and not some random test data, which may or may not show the same characteristics as many of the available benchmarks.

    The data from my tests may not be as scientifically accurate as yours in this review, mainly because this is not a clean workstation and the files were both read from and written to the same HDD, I fully understand that fact. But the results are still so significantly different, that some minor deviations from the hard-drive performance or background applications like an idle browser or the deactivated Avast! won't make much difference to the results.

    The hardware and operating system used in my test:

    Windows 7 SP1 64-bit
    Intel i5-2500K (turbo deactivated, all 4 cores at 3.7 GHz)
    16GB Kingston DDR3-1333 CL9 RAM

    The programs I used:

    WinRAR 4.20 64-Bit
    7-Zip 9.30 alpha

    The files I compressed:

    962 files, total size 614.87 MB, average size ~ 655 KB
    types are html, js, php and cgi in that order

    The WinRAR settings I currently use:

    rar, best compression, solid archive, lock archive, force text compression, 1024 KB dictionary size

    The 7-Zip settings I tried (all with 4 threads):

    a) 7z, ultra, lzma2, rest default values (32 MB dictionary, 64 word size, 4 GB block size)
    b) 7z, maximum, lzma2, solid block size, rest default values (32 MB dictionary, 64 word size)
    c) 7z, maximum, lzma2, 8 MB dictionary, 32 word size, solid block size

    The results of the compression tests:

    WinRAR - 125.62 MB - 2:12 minutes
    7-Zip a) - 142.21 MB - 5:10 minutes
    7-Zip b) - 144.48 MB - 4:33 minutes
    7-Zip c) - 149.99 MB - 3:00 minutes

    In the end, WinRAR is both one third faster than the fastest 7-Zip settings I used and it creates an over ten percent smaller archive than the smallest alternative file.

    Maybe there is some unknown "golden setting" that I could achieve, by playing around with the dictionary, word and block sizes in 7-Zip. If someone knows of certain settings, that would work better than mine did for text-only files with a target compression rate of 20 percent, I would be grateful to hear about it.

    As it stands though, I am very happy with my WinRAR.
    -3
  • mayankleoboy1^ 7 zip can use the Hardware based Intel AES-NI extensions.

    Which is exactly why i want to see a benchmark. Sandy bridge onwards should show a huge jump from previous generations.
    5
  • I still like rar format more, it is soo consistent on all the platforms I use it on.
    -5