OS X vs Windows - productivity performance

Discussion in 'OS X Yosemite (10.10)' started by aevan, Feb 11, 2015.

  1. aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

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    #1
    I've only been a Mac user for a couple of years and got into OS X with Mountain Lion. In fact, my first OS X machine was a Hackintosh (before I got my first Mac, a 2011 iMac). I remember how OS X seemed faster then Windows in tasks I do most (Photoshop, Sketchbook). I didn't really run any benchmarks or anything, it just subjectively felt faster and the system didn't have these big lags as Windows did. I assumed OS X was a better performer - and I loved everything else about it as well. And, besides, it wasn't really about performance anyway - I liked the system more and as long as it would run at least as fast as Windows, I would rather use OS X. I became a Mac enthusiast and since then bought three Macs.

    However, recently, I installed bootcamp for some PC programs and put Photoshop on it too and while most things were equally fast as in OS X, certain things felt smoother on Windows, especially moving large layers or groups of layers with the move tool, that for some reason stutters on Mac (before I tried it on Windows, I assumed that's just how Photoshop works). And it's not just Photoshop - even the little things seem faster in Windows (I could be wrong, though): while Evernote sure looks prettier on OS X, scrolling through notes with large photos also lags a bit more than the Windows version.

    Also, since Yosemite lags here and there on my retina iMac and MacBook Pro, I assumed that the graphical requirements of retina displays are just too steep for the current hardware, and I really don't mind the occasional stutter. Imagine my surprise when I found out Windows 8 runs like butter. Granted, the resolution was "only" 4K (maximum for Windows/Bootcamp at the moment) and arguably Windows has less animations, effects and transitions, but still - everything, from resizing windows to opening the fancy start menu was much smoother and didn't seem to strain the hardware at all.

    Now, I know a lot of people were very critical of Yosemite performance and I'm sure there's a lot of fine-tuning and fixing for Apple to do. But my question is, basically, not about the latest OS X but OS X in general. Assuming that Apple sorts out the bugs and smooths out the performance so that it's on par with Mavericks or Mountain Lion, is OS X as fast as Windows for tasks like Photoshop, Illustrator or Zbrush - or are we paying some sort of "beauty tax"?

    Please note that all these performance estimates are just that: estimates. Personal and subjective. It is quite possible that things run just as fast, maybe even faster, and I just pay more attention to detail on OS X.

    I would like to hear your thoughts on this, but please, no hyperboles :) I know some people would claim that Yosemite is a million times slower than Mavericks that was a million times slower than ML, that everything is broken and that Apple only cares about iPhones, etc. As I said, let's assume that Apple will iron out all the bugs and issues, and talk about OS X in general. Is it the best choice for Photoshop and similar apps/workflows?
     
  2. KALLT macrumors 601

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    #2
    To be honest, that was never something I observed myself when I switched. To my mind, Windows was always just as fast as on a brand-new Mac. Animations were smooth, applications launched quickly. I think the only surprises were the faster boot times on Leopard and Snow Leopard as opposed to Windows Vista. By contrast, games ran poorly on OS X. Most games with Windows and OS X versions ran noticeably better on Bootcamp.

    At this point, however, I know that my 2008 MacBook isn’t quite capable of running Yosemite anymore, in fact, not even Lion was. I run Snow Leopard on an external drive sometimes and the difference is stunning. It feels much more lightweight, never seems to stutter (I used to flick so often between windows with Exposé, Mission Control, at least now, always stutters). I do wonder whether this has more to do with my hardware or whether OS X has indeed become a lot heavier. It certainly feels like a ‘beauty tax’ at this point.

    Whether OS X remains the best choice for Photoshop and other professional applications is difficult to answer. I’d say it would depend on what you are trying to get out the system. I know that OS X just had a more effective and logical workflow to me with Spaces, Exposé, Dock, Quick Look, easier drag’n’drop, the simpler Finder. I’m running Windows 10 on an old laptop and I can say that Microsoft has caught on (now also with ‘Spaces’ and Exposé), but to me it still doesn’t have the same flow as OS X.
     
  3. roadbloc macrumors G3

    roadbloc

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    #3
    Nowadays, I'd say Windows is the better OS. Hands down. Much faster and stable than OS X ever seems to be.
     
  4. leman macrumors 604

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    Oct 14, 2008
    #4
    Even if there was a time were Photoshop was better-performing on Macs, that time is long gone. Adobe applications are developed primarily for Windows and half-assedly ported to OS X. So if you are professionally using Photoshop, Office etc., I see little to no reason in getting a Mac.

    For my kind of work, OS X is vastly superior to Windows. But then agin, I do not work with big software suites.
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #5
    I have to agree, Win8.1 has been more stable for me then Yosemite. I've been happy with 10.10, I've not had to deal with the major bugs that others have, i.e., wifi bugs but I've enjoyed faster performance and more stability. Windows is not perfect by a long shot, but so far I'm happy to be running on that with one of my machines.

    ----------

    The majority of people I see in my travels using Photoshop or Lightroom are on a Mac. Adobe may be developing for windows, but I think Mac users represent a huge population for Adobe. I can't answer on PS' performance but I don't find Lightroom's performance on my PC any better then on my Mac.

    The chipsets are different, so its not a fair comparison, my SP3 is running Haswell but at a slower clock speed and is dual core. My rMBP is quad core and a faster clock speed, plus I have a dGPU.
     
  6. leman macrumors 604

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    #6
    That is certainly true. I guess there are some historical reasons for that. And Macs do have a stigma of being best for audio/video (which is complete nonsense as far as I am concerned). In my opinion, the true strength of OS X is its flexibility and software synergy, which makes it a perfect choice for personal computing, academia, journalists etc. Professionals that mostly rely on one or two big applications are almost always better off with Windows.
     
  7. aevan thread starter macrumors 68000

    aevan

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    #7
    Thank you for your answers.

    Well, that is kinda disappointing. As I said, I don't expect OS X to be faster, just to perform as good as Windows. There are a lot of things I prefer on Mac, but I see Microsoft scrambling to make Windows cool again, while I can't shake the feeling Apple is more focused on things like continuity instead, say, desktop performance. It's, actually, quite the opposite situation than it was 2 years ago when Microsoft experimented with Windows 8 and Apple was coming out with Mountain Lion. Now it seems Microsoft plans to give users what they want and Apple is probably preparing the next release of OS X to be compatible with Apple Watch or have Apple Pay or something :)

    I am actually worried what will happen when the rumoured retina MacBook Air comes out. Let's assume this Air will be light and sexy and beautiful, and that it will be cheaper than MacBook Pros and iMacs. It will also be underpowered for productivity tasks in order to achieve the supposed fan-less cooling and thin design. And it will be a smash hit. They are going to sell more of these Airs than any other Mac. And slowly they are just going to move OS X away from serious work to office work and browsing (and for these things I do think OS X is superior to Windows in every way). Now, I'm not saying this will happen (although I get the feeling most people here expect something exactly like this to happen) - but it does worry me. So far, Apple has invested a lot of effort into professional and prosumer devices (MacBook Pro Retina, Mac Pro, iMac 5K are all marvels of engineering in their own right) but I do have this bad feeling that things might change. I guess we'll know with the next OS X. If it's a stability/speed release (as iOS9 is rumoured to be) - then it will be a good sign. If they focus on features like "Beats Music Service for Mac" - then not so much :)

    I for one am willing to give Apple the benefit of the doubt.
     
  8. xWhiplash macrumors 65816

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    Oct 21, 2009
    #8
    I have to say that OS X is by far much better for productivity. It does not get in your way like Windows 8.x does.

    I CONSTANTLY keep activating the stupid charms bar on Windows 8.x until I decided to do all my work on OS X. I used to have Start 8 just so it would de-activate the hot corners, but that was too much of a hassle.

    The only thing that Windows is better for is development (Visual Studio is still the best) and gaming.

    I hope Windows 10 will be different. I have hated those stupid hot corners from day 1.
     
  9. leman macrumors 604

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    #9
    It all depends on the actual application. OS X has tons of bells and whistles that allow creation of professional software. Things like OpenCL, IOSurfaces, Accelerate framework, Grand Central Dispatch etc. make is easy to build high-performance, efficient software. The question is simply whether the developers want to take advantage of these tools. And Apple has only limited influence on that. For instance, Adobe will invest more resources to make Photoshop stable and fast on Windows, then on OS X — simply because they have more customers that use Windows. But it does not mean that OS X is unsuitable for professional photo editing and applications like Pixelmator — which are built specifically for the Mac platform — show this quite impressively. If the new MBA makes the OS X userbase go up, then companies might be interested to develop better products for the platform.
     
  10. aevan thread starter macrumors 68000

    aevan

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    #10
    Thanks for your reply. You make a good point there. Well, we'll see how things go.

    As for the number of users - Mac users traditionally spend more money then Windows users. Well, actually, that's not true - they spend equally as some Windows users, but there are a lot of Win users that are just running their PCs as cheap media devices or office devices, etc. I do believe there is more profit in Windows PCs for Adobe, but not as much as one would think just by looking at the user base.
     
  11. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #11
    I've been using OS X, since apple rolled out 10.0's beta. I can safely say that OS X's performance was never a compelling reason to switch. In fact for much of its history, its been slower then windows. Maybe not by a lot but it had tended to feel sluggish

    OS X has some advantages, Windows as other advantages. Conversely both have disadvantages as well.

    I prefer Window's file explorer over OS X's Finder. Its a superior tool to manage one's files and directories, additionally, networking to other computers and servers is much faster and seamless on Windows.

    I like OS X's terminal over Window's cmd shell, In the past OS X's stability was a major advantage. Bugs in Yosemite, coupled with Window's increased stability have kind made this less of an advantage at the moment

    My thought process is that I want a system that allows me to work the way I want to work without getting in the way. For years OS X was that tool, pure and simple.
     
  12. jhfenton macrumors 6502a

    jhfenton

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    #12
    That's not my experience. I've had to refresh or do a clean reinstall of my Windows 8.1 gaming PC twice in the last three months because it spontaneously became unbootable, necessitating a manual reinstall of all non-store apps, and, in the case of Origin games, re-downloading all the games.

    My Mac minis, one of which sits at the same "work"station just keeps cruising along.

    And don't get me started on the crappy backup options available for Windows. I have two redundant backups for my Mac: Time Machine and nightly bootable clones.

    But my PC with a GTX 970 is much better for gaming--on those rare occasions when I have time to play. :)
     
  13. xWhiplash macrumors 65816

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    Oct 21, 2009
    #13
    I have a GTX 680 in my Mac Pro. I do use bootcamp since games still perform a million times better on Windows.

    But I agree with you. Windows is VERY horrible in terms of bloat software, malware like crazy, dozens of toolbars, thousands of useless and unwanted software, ... Windows is just WAY to messy and gets in your way A LOT.

    You have to be VERY careful when installing stuff these days. Things are including toolbars, changing your homepage, and things like that. It is crazy.

    I am not saying this is impossible on a Mac, but it is far FAR less common having an OS X application give you toolbars and extra software. It is VERY easy to get Windows to have 50+ startup items and make your system extremely slow.

    Add the fact that Windows-based PCs require maintenance as soon as you get it from a company (like Dell, HP, ...). Since they fill the system up with so much bloat and useless stuff. Yeah you want to be working on a Photoshop document when Dell Backup and Restore pops up?
     
  14. jhfenton macrumors 6502a

    jhfenton

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    #14
    That's the weird part. No one uses this particular home-built PC but me. It has no bloatware. I use it primarily for games and video encoding. (I also use my quad-core i7 2.6GHz 2012 Mac mini at the same desk for encoding video, but the newer desktop i7 at 3.5HGz+ is 30-40% faster in Handbrake.) I was shocked when it ran into issues and doubly-shocked when it did it a second time. (Since it happened again after "refreshing" Windows 8.1, I just wiped it and installed it from scratch the second time.)

    I use the Mac for Lightroom and development (and as our upstairs Plex video server). I just trust my backup schemes (Time Machine + Carbon Copy Cloner) on the Mac better.

    If Windows would allow a bootable external clone, I would feel a lot better about using it as a productivity OS.
     
  15. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #15
    My surface pro 3 has no bloat, one tool bar and no unwanted software.

    Caution should be exercised for OS X users as well, but your point is well taken. You need to practice safe computing habits by not installing software you're not familiar with. I practice this for both Windows OSX since malware exists for OS X as well.

    I've never had this issue, 50+ startup items. Can you tell me what your 50 startup items are?

    I probably have 2 more start up items on my SP3 then I do on my mac and both have a lot of start up items, such as dropbox, CreateCloud, OneDrive, etc etc. My SP3 has a antivirus and backup software that starts up as well.

    Again, I think you're painting generalities, I'm not experiencing those issues with my Surface Pro 3. Windows certainly does have a lot of patches, i.e., patch tuesday but so far my Windows 8.1 system is performing fast and stable.
     
  16. sjinsjca macrumors 68000

    sjinsjca

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    #16
    Superb answer.

    There's another thing. Adobe codes things with an eye towards minimizing cross-platform compilation, but they are targeting Windows for much of what they do. They don't do much "porting" as described in some other posts here. Their code is usually at least minimally able to be compiled across platforms, but what optimization they perform is Windows-centric since in recent years that's where the corporate money has been. But even then sometimes their code isn't terribly optimal for any platform-- as users of their old GoLive web-development platform can attest.

    As to overall productivity, my own observation has been that even though I have multiple computers for various reasons, to get stuff done I find myself reaching for my Mac. Little things like QuickView and the attention Apple has paid to managing the focus of windows (e.g., you can close a window without bringing it to the foreground) save me a lot of annoyance and quite a bit of time that adds up. And then there's Spaces-- the ability to have multiple virtual desktops and flick between them is just priceless in terms of my productivity. That's coming to Windows 10 finally, but it underscores how, for me, Windows is currently the less-productive platform by a long mile.
     
  17. xWhiplash macrumors 65816

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    #17
    Um. Since when does a Surface Pro 3 = a desktop/laptop PC from Dell, HP, Lenovo? It is directly from Microsoft, of course it wouldn't have bloat like HP, Lenovo, Dell, ... These companies install a lot of useless junk on your system.

    I got a Dell a few years ago that installed ObjectDock! I did not want that on my system, and it made it perform incredibly slow (i7 machine). A format with a Windows disc made it perform so much better.

    They still come with useless junk. I am not talking about tablets and Surface pro here.
     
  18. rgeneral macrumors member

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    #18
    just use what makes you happy. it is very simple. you don't need to over think it.
     
  19. dusk007 macrumors 68040

    dusk007

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    #19
    For Windows 8 Mircosoft did a lot of optimizations to make it run well on tablets and weak cheap computers with little RAM. OSX runs better and better with tons of ram but really needs it. Windows doesn't. The 2x scaling OSX does is convenient for developers but it is neither flexible nor the most performant possible solution. Windows optimized bitmap scaling which only needs to do similar work on parts of the screen just is faster.
    Windows kept clean just is a bit smoother. Although OSX didn't do nothing about memory management (compression), Windows did a lot more since Vista through to 8.1. The biggest difference with RAM is found on the App side. Just compare apps in their Mac and Windows versions and you will see the Mac version need quite significantly more memory than the same compile for Windows.

    I think there is a good chance that there will be another performance oriented OSX version like snow leopard or iOS9. Also with enough RAM OSX runs quite well.
    At the end of the day OSX also has many good usability features that Windows doesn't have. If you add all that to Windows, which can be done, it might perform slightly worse too. But the features are well worth it IMO.
    Finally with Windows 10 virtual desktops will at least make an appearance. That one was really long overdue. Windows IMO just lacks usability features and some apps like BetterTouchTool and Alfred, that gets usability to an entirely new level, I never quite found anything equal for Windows.

    Speed is not the OSX advantage. In my experience it needs good hardware more than Windows does. But there is more to productivity than pure snappiness.
     
  20. leman macrumors 604

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    #20
    I would be so sure about that. If point-to-pixel ratio is hardcoded, drawing algorithms can be optimised much more aggressively then when the ratio is kept flexible as in Windows. As far as flexibility of OS X solution goes: it can emulate a wider range of point-to-physical-pixel scaling ratios and will do it with higher quality than Windows. The only disadvantage I can see is that you can't really do pixel-precise rendering under OS X system, but that is unnecessary with HiDPI displays anyway. The additional rescaling that OS X has to do is often brought in as a disadvantage, but its fairly cheap operation for modern hardware, which — in addition, needs to be performed only on dirty (changed) parts of the desktop. So its negligible in most cases (unless you have the entire screen changing quickly).
     
  21. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #21
    I was merely pointing out that your blanket statements were false. You did not say desktops or specific makes until the very end of your post. You said Windows, not Dell, not HP.
     
  22. slayerizer macrumors 6502a

    slayerizer

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    #22
    I did some testing on my PC not too long ago. It was a dual boot machine (Windows/Mac) and when I tested Lightroom, it was faster on the Mac.

    I tested: zooming in,out and stuff I normally do often.

    No lag.

    On my rMBP, I notice some lag here and there (not related to Lightroom), it think it's the crazy resolution.

    Text is so nice, that I will prefer retina&lag over blurry&fast. But on the same machine, some tools worked best under OS X.

    Not counting the fact that I'm more productive generally on a Mac. I've been on a PC for the last 20 years and I'm also a senior Windows/Unix Sysadmin. Productivity is a big plus for me.
     
  23. xWhiplash macrumors 65816

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    #23
    What blanket statement? That is still an accurate statement.

    Where is all these hundreds of toolbars on OS X? I have never seen one for Safari. A LOT....A LOT of Windows software comes with toolbars and changes your homepage. Java, Flash, Adobe Reader, ...

    Everytime I help somebody with their computer, they usually have at least 4 toolbars. HP, Google, ASK, Yahoo, mywebsearch (or whatever that one is called), securewebsearch, ...

    I have NEVER seen Safari have these kind of issues.

    Windows has thousands or millions of potentially unwanted programs - adware, toolbars, unwanted software, ... Not as much on OS X. I had to look at somebody's computer the other day and somehow they got something called Speed Browser. They also had mindspark and several other things.

    Windows IS too messy. I got infected in the early days of Windows Vista because I accidentally mistyped the address to get FileZilla. The page had malicious ads, and I got about a dozen pieces of malware just by opening the mistyped page. That just is not right. I had to format because of that simple mistype.

    My website got hacked a few years ago and they put a up some malicious content that affected IE. Chrome and Firefox were fine. But if you visited it in IE, you got malware. I have fixed that, but Windows is just a dangerous place and can severely affect your productivity.

    So yes, with Windows you have to be a LOT more careful. Even if you go to a popular and well-known site, a malicious ad can slip through. It is starting to get to the point where you NEED adblock in order to browse safely. Lately one of the site I use (quite popular for news) uses an ad service that has been letting malicious ads slip through more and more lately.

    I have never used adblocking in the past, but it is getting to the point where you need to have it these days.

    So please, what part of my statement is false?

    Bloat software? That is not false. Even if you do not get a system from Dell, that software still exists. Toolbars and stuff are considered bloat as well.

    Dozens of toolbars? That is an accurate statement as well. It comes bundled with popular software too like Java or HP Printer utilities.

    Thousands of useless and unwanted software? How is that false? All of these toolbars that sneak past because you left it checked during an install. Mindspark and others. Weird random browsers that get installed like Speed Browser.

    So yes, Windows is VERY horrible for productivity. So much can go wrong with Windows as there are a lot more malware items available for Windows.
     
  24. dusk007 macrumors 68040

    dusk007

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    #24
    Yes there exist lots of stupid toolbars but if you don't suffer from the decease, "I click everything and install everything that pops up," Windows works really well.
    Admittedly there are quite a few who suffer from that decease, I have known a few. But keeping Windows in good condition and not have it suffer from such pestilence is not difficult, it really actually requires less rather than more effort. You just have to follow a few simple rules.

    BTW fun fact Apple also offers some of that useless software that installs if you don't uncheck it. Like when you used to install quicktime on windows and itunes snuck in or later safari on windows (the most useless browser ever made) tried to sneak in.
    Some people install tons of crap and wonder that it slows the PC down. Now since Windows 8 it is actually quite easy and straight forward to keep the startup clean and tidy. Used to be much more troublesome. Once I fixed a PC of some guy who had like 30+ entries in autostart and complained about bad performance. He had it bad but my parents aren't great with computers and they run and run, because I taught them not to install anything they aren't sure they need.
    One had to install codecs and such earlier but even that isn't really the case anymore so there are much fewer sources to come in contact with all that useless software. And Mac has it too with all those MacKeeper and similar optimization nonsense.
    This is btw wrong. Java comes with no toolbar and just the same updater you see in OSX. Same goes for Flash and Adobe.
    Toolbars are ask and yahoo, programs like ICQ which nobody uses anymore came with them. I don't even know what commonly installed software nowadays comes with toolbars. I never installed them but they are never really a bother if you stick to opera, chrome or FF. Most of them only install on IE which I never used anyway.


    Windows is not messy if you just use a tiny bit of sense and it is actually really easy to keep it clean and lean. Today since Win 8 much more so than in XP times.
     
  25. aevan thread starter macrumors 68000

    aevan

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    #25
    I love that feature! Not only close it, but scroll its contents and (while holding ⌘) even moving it around and resizing it. Combine that with the option to turn off Application Frame in Photoshop (somehow weirdly absent in the Windows version) and my entire desktop really becomes like a true desk to work on.

    And you're correct, that's just one of the many details I love about OS X.
     

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