10.6.3 - Huge graphics performance update to OpenGL for the MBA???

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Scottsdale, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    I have been reading that several people are seeing much cooler temperatures on their Mac notebooks and they think it's due to better graphics drivers with the update to 10.6.3. I however thought about the huge performance hit in OpenGL going from Leopard to Snow Leopard (probably same thing). So I decided to check my OpenGL results after installing 10.6.3. However, I didn't check my xBench results before upgrading to 10.6.3. I went and found an old result which shows 67 points for "OpenGL Graphics Test." My new result for "OpenGL Graphics Test" is 111 points. When I check the xBench archives, people with rev "C" MBA's with 10.6.2 all show OpenGL Graphics Test scores in the 60s.

    If this is correct, we could all have some big improvements that really show huge effects on the MBA. It should help everyone running Snow Leopard. It should lead to graphics performance gains and lower heat due to graphics demands.

    Could someone else running 10.6.2 on a 2.13 GHz CPU MBA run an xBench test before the 10.6.3 upgrade? Then upgrade to 10.6.3 and run another xBench test. Then please report back here with your results for OpenGL Graphics Test... and hope this result is great for all of us. I believe this would be a big improvement for the original MBA too?
  2. macrumors newbie

    Apr 21, 2009
    Yep, looks like you are right.
    About 60 before, about 110 after upgrade (on 1.86 SSD).
    Search "Knipperdolling" on Xbench for both complete benchmarks.
  3. thread starter macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    This is really great news. I knew my numbers were probably correct, but I was just in shock of how big the differences finally are... worth the wait. This has been one of my big problems with Snow Leopard. We shouldn't have to go backwards with OpenGL (now fixed), and the MBA should have a 64-bit kernel whether it's "consumer" or not.

    I wonder why this isn't being talked about all over the MBP forums? It is actually pretty big news. The temperature is a big difference which is what I have read over in the MBP forums, but the OpenGL performance gains must be the reason why. These results improve upon where OpenGL was with Leopard. It was a 20 to 25% drop with Snow Leopard until now.
  4. macrumors member

    Apr 19, 2008
    yep its true... just upgraded

    my xbench results

    Air 10.6.2 116.07 (dhs_Air_10.6.2)
    Air 10.6.3 132.04 (dhs_air10.6.3_2):eek:

    interesting now even with coolbook NOT loaded fans are on less !!:)
  5. macrumors member

    Oct 9, 2009
    this will even help my Rev A 1.8 MHz 64 GB SSD model?
  6. macrumors member

    Apr 19, 2008
    I suspect its due to a better 9400m driver ... Rev A's use intel installing on my MackBook Alu to check if its only the Rev "B"
  7. macrumors member

    Apr 19, 2008
    so just to back up the OP

    on a MacBook Alu (1st Gen) also with the 9400m the results come in similar

    MacBook 10.6.2 51.82 (dhs_MacBook_10.6.2)
    MacBook 10.6.3 65.32 (dhs_MacBook_10.6.3)

    So here98% of the results are "Better" on 10.6.3 ..

    note I rebooted each time before running xbench on both machines just to make sure that they were clean, also the air was "cloned" (Migrated) from the MacBook about 4 months ago and all interim updates were applied to both

    Good find OP !!!
  8. macrumors newbie

    Apr 21, 2009
    Older systems with different graphic chips (ATI 1600) do also benefit from the update in the same manner:
    MacBook Pro 2.2 2.33 GHz openGL went up from 90 to 110, the general score did not change very much.
    I submitted the complete benchmarks before and after update both for the Air and the Pro to Xbench, search "Knipperdolling"
  9. macrumors 6502a


    May 1, 2006
    New Zealand
    My original MacBook Pro Core Duo with the X1600 which was underclocked now scores higher than the X1600 based iMac I have on my desk which is still running Leopard. Very impressed. The iMac gets 200 fps for Spinning Squares and my MacBook Pro gets 230 fps.
  10. macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2008
  11. macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2004
    Canada's South Coast
    Probably the snappiest it's ever been! :apple:
  12. macrumors 65816

    May 7, 2009
    Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, QLD Australia
    thank you waiter. I'll have the croc with chips 'n' salad and make it snappy :cool:
  13. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 2, 2010
    Menlo Park, CA
    Great find Scottsdale.

    Looks like Snow Leopard <Version 10.6.3>, actually has a purpose on the Nvidia Graphic Airs.
  14. macrumors 6502


    Sep 4, 2009
    yay, that's a fantastic news! same thing here: OpenGL test->133 fps :)
  15. macrumors regular


    May 4, 2009
    On a 2.53 5 Gig MacBook Pro 13...

    With 10.6.2 xBench reported open GL at 90.34

    with 10.6.3 xBench reported open GL at 160.29

    open GL is running much more efficiently now, if using open GL there will be a cooler CPU, as there will be less of a CPU hit! :D

    excellent! :apple:
  16. macrumors regular

    Dec 3, 2009
    There are also a few more snippets of information appearing, that indicate 10.6.3 brings a new public framework for GPU video decoding. Here's hoping Adobe can use this to make Flash on OS X less awful.
  17. macrumors member


    Sep 11, 2008
    I just ran Xbench, but I did the update already. I wish I didnt so I could have ran Xbench then

    But I'm getting OpenGL Graphics Test 124.43
  18. thread starter macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    So there's our difference between the 9400 throttled on the MBA and the 9400 running full out on the 13" MBP.
  19. thread starter macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    The original MBAs seem to show zero improvement when upgrading to 10.6.3. It shows just exactly how inferior the original MBA is with OpenGL scores from 17 to 20 on four machines. So the rev 2,1 is 5x to 6x greater than the original MBA when comparing OpenGL.

    I found an original MBA with weird results when I was looking through the results. It appears to be a netbook registering as an MBA (hackintosh).


    I had honestly feared when Snow Leopard was introduced that the OpenGL system was performing worse because Apple intentionally did something. My thought was Apple was showing us less performance from OpenGL so it wouldn't register as badly when Apple had to go back to Intel GMA IGP again. Apple wouldn't give us a 70-90% OpenGL boost on our "old"/Oct 2008 MBAs now, if it wanted to compare the next MBA to it unless it has a dedicated/alternative solution which will yet improve upon OpenGL in the MBA. This is really great news in my estimation.

    With all of these great results 17 months after the Nvidia 9400m was released in the MBA, why would Apple want to go backwards to Intel GMA graphics again? It really shows us that Apple is still committed to giving us a superior graphics performance to what Intel can provide. I truly believe there is no reason to believe Apple would stick us with Intel's GMA IGP again. I definitely believe Apple has to provide us with a dedicated full-time graphics card solution or at least a hybrid solution that can utilize the Intel GMA IGP during times where graphics performance isn't needed.

    In my opinion, I just don't see Intel's graphics as even being acceptable for the MBA. I wonder if Apple would even stick it to MB buyers? It seems just as with the 9400m, Apple will probably use one graphics solution across many Macs. Whether it be an Nvidia 310m or Optimus and 310m, or an ATI card or ATI plus hybrid solution, it's not going to just be Intel. This is good news in my opinion.
  20. macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2009
    This is the most positive thread here I've seen in a while, excellent news for MBA, great find Scots :D
  21. nph
    macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2005
    So what does this mean in "real life" when it comes to improvement due to OpenGL? What will benefit from OpenGL improvements, games, flash...?

  22. macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2008
    Tampa, Florida
    1.86GHz Rev.C here, and the OpenGL test jumped from 66 to 121, so I'm pretty impressed :)
  23. thread starter macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    I will just link you to wiki.


    In layman's terms, it is an API/driver that allows apps to send instructions to create 2/3D objects to the OpenGL compliant graphics card which then uses hardware acceleration to create the image and convert the model into pixels ready to be sent to the display. I would think this means that the CPU isn't required to do the work via software modeling, thus reducing CPU workload and enabling the GPU's natural hardware based capabilities to do the work. It should result in far superior graphics performance especially with 3D objects whether it be a modeling program or a video game. In addition, it should really cool down the CPU during these tasks as the GPU is doing the acceleration.

    If anyone has a better explanation of OpenGL please correct me.

    It seems like a really great thing. I was very concerned when I noticed xBench was reporting OpenGL performance had dropped by 25% when I "upgraded" to Snow Leopard. Now, we're better than we were Leopard and we also have OpenCL to take advantage of the GPU's capabilities. And we have Grand Central Dispatch to take advantage of multiple CPU cores.

    Faster is better!
  24. macrumors 68000


    Apr 12, 2008
    Unfortunately I did not run the Xbench tests on my MBP before installing 10.6.3. i did run just run the Xbench tests just now, though, and it gave me a reading of 157.48 on both the OpenGL graphics and spinning squares tests. Although i have nothing to compare them to, I gather that is much better than my MBP3,1 would have done while running 10.6.2.
  25. macrumors regular

    Dec 3, 2009
    I installed 10.6.3, rebooted, and experienced the fan going flat out at 6200rpm for about 2 hours. Don't think that was due to reindexing or anything.

    I had to reboot/PRAM reset. Since then, maybe I am imagining it but in general use, the fan seems to kick in a lot less often, which is great :D

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