By this time next week, both the PC and Mac camps will have new operating systems set for the foreseeable future. Apple's Snow Leopard has been here since late August, but it won't really meet its match until October 22 when Windows 7 releases.
While most users won't be confused as to which operating system he or she wishes to run on a Mac or PC, it's interesting to see how each operating system performs on identical hardware.
CNet's Dong Ngo took a late-2008 model 15-inch MacBook Pro and used it to compare Snow Leopard 10.6.1 and Windows 7 64-bit RTM (with native drivers from Boot Camp 3.0). The machine was equipped with a 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, and a 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT video card – things that you could also find in a PC notebook.
Ngo found that Snow Leopard outperformed Windows 7 in nearly all areas except for graphics (likely due to better drivers from Nvidia). Some results are:
- Snow Leopard booted and shut down around six seconds faster than Windows 7.
- Snow Leopard took 149.9 seconds to convert 17 songs from the MP3 format to the AAC format. Windows needed 12 seconds more for the same job.
- Snow Leopard took 444.3 seconds vs. Windows 7's 723 seconds to convert a movie file from the MP4 format into the iPod format while having iTunes converting songs in the background the job (versions of QuickTime were different, however).
- In a battery test, Windows 7 lasted 78 minutes, while Snow Leopard managed to stay on for 111 minutes.
- Windows 7's Cinebench R10 score was 5,777 vs. 5,437 for the OS X.
- Windows 7 in Call of Duty 4 scored 26.3 frames per second while Snow Leopard got only 21.2 fps.
Although this may be as fair a test we have yet with identical hardware, drivers clearly play a noticeable role here. Snow Leopard also has to contend with fewer system configurations than Windows 7 does, so Apple has the advantage in optimizations. Apple is also behind the Boot Camp 3.0 drivers, which can also be a source for conspiracy theories.
In the end, most MacBook Pro owners will have bought their machines to run OS X, not Windows 7, but it's still an interesting test nonetheless. Now if only Apple would allow official installs of OS X to PCs – then we'd be able to test from the other side.