Leopard Screen Saver too Processor Intensive???


macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 23, 2006
Chicago, IL USA
I noticed this afternoon that while my screen saver was running that my fans in my 15" MacBook Pro were running rather fast for it not doing anything other than being idle.

I opened up the activity monitor and decided to do a couple tests on the new screen savers that Leopard has to offer. The results were rather shocking.

I have a 15" MacBook Pro, 2GHz Core Duo, with 2 GB of high quality RAM. I ran these tests while my computer was idle and the only application open was the activity monitor. The activity monitor is not an intense program and did not affect the results of these tests.

The method for conducting these tests was rather simple. I would let the computer idle for about 10 to 15 seconds to get a baseline processor usage. Then I activated the screen saver using the hot corner and let the screen saver sit for about 10 to 15 seconds while the activity monitor continues to record.

My Computer:

The First Screen Saver I tested was the Flury. The flury screen saver was in 10.4 (Tiger) and is not very intense on the processors.

As you can see from the Activity Monitor there is no real noticeable change from when the system is sitting idle on the desktop, to when the screen saver activates.

The Second one I tested was the iTunes Artwork.

While the images were loading the usage jumped, but once they finally loaded, it went back down to about idle. If I remember correctly, the iTunes artwork was also included in Tiger.

The Third Screen Saver I tested was the Shell Screen Saver. This was the screen saver that I had selected when I noticed that my computer was running rather hard for being idle.

The last one that I tested was the Arabesque. This saver was introduced with the release of Leopard.

The results here were more shocking than the ones below. While I opened the System Preferences pane to change my selection, the processor usage jumped. This was the most shocking one of all four tests that I ran.

While I am not a programmer and I don't usually run really intense programs, I do from time to time run really big jobs like render a movie for example, jobs that take a lot of time and you can usually walk away and let it do its thing. Doesn't it seem a little ridiculous that while idle, the processor usage could jump to over 50% on each processor to just put a screen saver on the screen? I hope apple makes some changes in this.

I felt the need to let everyone know about this, so when you are running big jobs, or compiling a large database or whatever it is that you might do, you wont waste processing time by having the screen saver running.

Feel free to contact me with questions or comments about these tests.



macrumors member
Jul 7, 2004
Nice tests! I noticed that Arabesque was making my 12" PBook work extra hard as well. I would guess it must be a memory leak in the screensaver, as there really is no reason for it to run so hot.
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