View Full Version : General question about speed on Mac's

Sep 19, 2005, 04:13 PM
I've sort of migrated to Mac's over the past few years. I say "sort of" because I still use PC's exclusively at my office, and I have one at home that my youngest son uses for games, plus a laptop I use for work stuff I can't do on a Mac.

We now have four Mac's used by various members of our household: a TiBook 1ghz, a PB 12" 1.5ghz, a Mac Mini 1.42ghz, and an iMac G5 17" (and I just ordered a PM Dual 2ghz). The Tibook and iMac have 1gb of memory installed, the other two have 512mb. I love OS X (I'm running Tiger on everything) for it's stability and interface, and I love the elegant designs Apple applies to its products, BUT I have a persistent impression that my Mac's just don't match the PC's I use (and have used) when it comes to speed. The programs I work with can be grouped into two classes:

-- Routine stuff like Excel, Word and Entourage

-- More demanding stuff like Logic Pro, Final Cut Express, and Photoshop Elements.

I can't really compare my experience with the latter group between PC's and Mac's 'cuz except for Photoshop the programs run only on Mac's.

For the routine stuff though, all of my Mac's seem less responsive than the PC's I use (mainly an IBM Thinkpad w/ a 1.4ghz Centrino processor and a Dell Dimension with a 1.9ghz Pentium chip). Everything seems to have a slight delay to it on the Mac. For example, something as mundane as deleting an e-mail on the Mac seems to lag a second or so while on PC's it's instantaneous. Same with inserting or deleting a row in Excel, and so on.

I'm wondering if others who've used both platforms have experienced this. One thought I had is that it might be because Apple tends to shortchange their machines when it comes to graphics memory. All but my iMac came with only 32mb; the iMac came with 64mb (I see where they've increased the standard issue to 128mb). Even my Thinkpad has 64mb, and I don't consider that a lot. The Dell has 256mb. I ordered the PowerMac with 256mb in hopes of getting a more responsive machine. I'm interested in what others have observed.


Sep 19, 2005, 04:53 PM
I ordered the PowerMac with 256mb in hopes of getting a more responsive machine. I'm interested in what others have observed.

VRAM is vastly overrated. Unfortunately it's used as a selling point, thus confusing people who don't know what it's actually for, and it most certainly will not give you a more responsive machine.

Pretty much everything is instantaneous on my dual 2.5 Power Mac. If I put the processor setting on "reduced", it's more or less a 2GHz Power Mac, and for normal stuff there's no noticeable difference. I notice that your "routine" stuff seems to consist entirely of Microsoft software. I don't use it, so I could be wrong, but it's possible the Mac versions are...shall we say...not optimal. I mean, lagging a second or so to delete an email is just wrong. I'd suggest using alternatives where possible.


Sep 19, 2005, 05:02 PM
Yeah, Macs are more resource intensive than Windows XP and with few exceptions, generally slower hardware, too.

You have 4 Macs so you probably know well, but Mac OS X typically demands twice as much RAM as Windows XP for doing similar tasks. If you have more than a couple of swap files on /var/vm, you need more RAM.

And graphics card is far more relevant with Mac OS X, with 64 MB being barely enough to accelerate more than a handful of windows at decently high resolution. As a general rule of thumb, 1440x900 and 1680x1050 should have 64 MB graphics memory (higher the better). 1920x1200 should have 128 MB or more. Mac mini's 32 MB graphics memory is enough to accelerate 1280x1024 at best.

Making the matter worse is Microsoft Office for Mac, which is generally poor performing under Mac platform (mostly due to poor coding).

On the positive side, Mac OS X is far more stable and secure operating system, and you don't have to run firewall, anti-virus, and spyware software packages to keep your system comparatively secure (despite what Symantec says).