Test Shows Snow Leopard is Faster Than Win 7

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.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • Yoder54
    Let the flame wars begin.
  • kyeana
    yea... but i could spend an extra 100$ for a better processor with Windows 7, outperform Snow Leopard, and still save tons on money!
  • kyeana
    Now if only Apple would allow official installs of OS X to PCs – then we'd be able to test from the other side.

    If this ever happened (which we all know it wont) i would gladly give OSX a shot. The only reason that i will never buy or use a Mac is because you are paying hundreds more for the exact same hardware. It's the Apple tax hard at work.
  • Gin Fushicho
    10.6 is still practically the same OS X , Windows 7 was an upgrade. =p so people cant handle the few extra seconds? Buy fucking SSD.
  • godwhomismike
    So iTunes, which is written by Apple, runs faster on a Mac? Who would've guessed that? /sarcasm
  • oh come on, its obvious that boot camp drivers will slow down windows, this is a ridiculous comparison
  • Dyseman
    There's GOT to be a way to Filter out Mac stuff on this sight.

    MacOS won't play mah games. MacOS won't let me run my own Motherboard and equipment. Screw MacOS already. Jeeebus.

    Can it play Crysis...or about 10,000 other games / software w/o having some slowed down windows emulator.

    Look, Macs or ok if you are in the Printing / Music / Graphics industry or didn't know any better because Apple donated Thousands of computers to schools to brainwash kids into wanting them... but dumbfounded when the kids played PC's at home and chose PC's overall.
  • beayn
    But.. isn't this only benchmarking the conversion programs within each OS? This really has nothing to do with the speed of the OS, just the media programs used on them. Bootup and Shutdown time are the only things you might want to look at here.

    The title of this should read Apple iMovie is faster than Windows Movie Maker or whatever the apps are they used. Not the OS.
  • pbrigido
    Just give me Win7 already. I could care less about Snow Leopard...
  • Kithzaru
    I would love to see Toms do a similar test, though after Win 7 has been out for a bit, giving drivers time to catch up.