"Snow Leopard" and "Lion" comparison on 12-Core Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Lion (10.7)' started by 3282868, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. 3282868, Apr 3, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2012

    3282868 macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    I've been using Lion since the first DP1 as an ADC member. At first I was impressed, but now that 10.7.4 beta is out, I'm unimpressed by the overall OS. I did a little experiment to compare "Snow Leopard" and "Lion".

    12-Core Westmere 2.66GHz Mac Pro
    16GB RAM
    1 OWC 6G SSD (partitioned in half, "Snow Leopard" and "Lion")
    4 2TB HDD's
    1 LG Blu-Ray burner
    ATI Radeon HD 5770
    2 24" ACD LED LCD's

    I installed "Snow Leopard" and "Lion" on their respective partitions (10.6.8 and 10.7.3), with the exact software, applications, etc. for both systems. Everything is equal aside from the operating systems themselves (both clean installs from a USB drive with all updates). All settings are set that can be across the OS aside from new features in "Lion", most of which I disengaged.

    - "Snow Leopard" blew "Lion" away. Boots up in 4-5 seconds from the Apple logo's first appearance in "Snow Leopard", 30 or more seconds in "Lion" (checked both the main and home /Library/ startup/launch agents/launch daemon's folders and they were the same as are both login accounts startup items in "System Preferences", also checked that windows did not open in Lion by manually closing everything down before reboot).

    - Using "Blackmagic Disk Speed Test", my "Snow Leopard" volume averages ~250 on write and ~275 on read (OWC 6G 250GB SSD, and my Pro isn't even a 6G system). I barely broke the 200 mark in "Lion".

    - WiFi:
    In "Lion", since DP1, my WiFi speeds would drop over time. First they'd reach ~20 Mbps download and ~3 Mbps upload, 15-30 minutes later would drop to a crawling 2-3 Mbps. "Windows 7" and "Snow Leopard" have no issues with my WiFi. (checked my current gen AEBS firmware and modem, all set)

    - iStat Menu's - Running Mail, Calendar, iTunes, Safari, and EyeTV:
    - a steady 25% RAM usage in "Snow Leopard"
    - 40%-45% range in RAM usage in "Lion"

    - "Snow Leopard" does not have a ~10 second gap when logging in and loading login items from cold boot as does "Lion" (always has, no matter how many clean installs).

    - Geekbench 64-bit Results:
    - "Snow Leopard" 22549
    - "Lion" 18340
    "Snow Leopard" performed better in "Memory" and "Stream"

    - Application Loading:
    "Snow Leopard" loaded MS Office 2011 Word/Excel/Powerpoint, iWork '09 Pages/Numbers/Keynote in no time, barely a second, while "Lion" hesitates with some apps loading 15-20 seconds slower. "AutoCAD" 2011 loaded in no time on 10.6.8, took twice as long in 10.7.3

    One aspect Lion handles better seems to be in multi-core/threading. I noticed some apps tax the first core heavier in 10.6.8.

    I performed these tests numerous times in various situations, hands down "Snow Leopard" beat out "Lion". Even my ex-colleagues who still work at Apple have commented on "Lion" being a memory hog and numerous complaints about its overall performance (many Mac enthusiasts have complained specifically about "Mission Control" and lack of "OpenGL" development in the current OS X). I, as well as numerous others, have filed many bug reports with Apple engineers, to no avail. It seems the focus of consumer level iOS feature integration has taken focus away from overall stability and performance in "Lion". As well, some consumers who are new to Mac's from the iDevice market do not believe the iOS integration simplifies the system as it isn't a true iOS experience and to some "feels out of place". Apple would be wise in listening to their customer base. "Lion" sold well as it was inexpensive and the only "OS" shipping on new systems, and with higher Mac sales of course the figures would report greater "Lion" usage.

    Next, "Mountain Lion" DP 2 with 10.6.8 and 10.7.3. :)
  2. swingerofbirch macrumors 68040

    Oct 24, 2003
    The Amalgamated States of Central North America
    Thank you for doing such thorough research into these issues. I wonder how much Apple is aware of this and how much they care. I feel like copying your post and sending it to Tim Cook, but it's probably more appropriate if you do it yourself. I've had similar issues with OS X applications taking up more CPU across the board with Lion. I can see where they are going (I think) with the OS but they really need a clean-up version of OS X along the way, a la Snow Leopard. Windows actually became more nimble with version 7. I hope Apple will return to basics with performance in OS X, as well.
  3. daneoni macrumors G4


    Mar 24, 2006
    Strange. Can't say i've come across any of these. My MBP boots in about 6 secs max, Apps launch in a sec max. No Wi-Fi drops outs either. Downloaded a 2GB video podcast just a while ago and it didn't even blink throughout.


    I do agree though that Lion isn't quite as fast as SL...yet
  4. 3282868, Apr 3, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2012

    3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Thanks mate. I tried to keep it as brief as possible for the "TL,DR"'ers out there :).

    I've filed many bug reports, most of which have been acknowledged as known bugs. I have only received a handful of emails from Apple engineers to report further on filed bugs. Many of us have discussions in the forums regarding "Mission Control", memory usage, instability resulting in kernel panics for some, etc. If "Mountain Lion" improved functionality as "Snow Leopard" did for "Leopard", I may upgrade. As it stands, 10.8 DP2 is pushing more focus on iOS feature integration and animations.

    (An aside) iCloud in "Snow Leopard":

    I've been able to configure iCal/Address Book/Mail/Bookmarks to fully sync with my iCloud account. "Address Book" took a while. Once it was syncing it duplicated my contacts, after much research discovered it was related to contact pictures. I deleted all the contact pics through www.icloud.com, exported my contacts online in iCloud in vcf format and imported them into "Address Book", no issues at all. Apple will [most likely] not release an iCloud update for "Snow Leopard". There are numerous threads on MacRumors on iCloud syncing in 10.6.8. Find the server associated with your account and your account numeric ID, ex pXX-server.icloud.com, the XX being 02, 03, 04, etc. Can be found while logged into your iCloud account in Safari, and opening Safari's "Activity" window while using Contacts and Calendar's. Follow the guides for iCal and Address Book, Mail doesn't require any tweaking, just add accounts as usual.

    Count yourself lucky mate :)

    Out of curiosity, what hardware are you running? It seems "Lion" operates better on portables such as the MacBook line and smaller, less intense systems as the Mac Mini. Some loaded core i5 iMac's have had similar issues. My current gen MacBook Air runs "Lion" well while my current gen 15" MacBook Pro has experienced similar results.
  5. daneoni macrumors G4


    Mar 24, 2006
    MacBook Pro 8,2 (2.2GHz QC i7/8GB RAM/256GB Crucial M4/AMD 6750 1GB VRAM)
  6. 3282868, Apr 3, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2012

    3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    We have almost the exact same 15" MacBook Pro, I have a 128GB OZC Vertex 2 I used to use in my Mac Pro. 10.7.3 runs without any hiccups, but is not nearly as fast as 10.6.8 (although still an atrocious resource hog on both my "Mac Pro" and "MacBook Pro")
  7. daneoni macrumors G4


    Mar 24, 2006
    Yeah agreed its not as efficient as SL yet. But no major red flags that i've come across thus far...yet. It works fine.
  8. viktorlsn macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2011
    i was about to buy an itunes card to download lion...
    i was hesitating wondering if it is worth it, with all those features. thanks a lot mate ! and you should send those results to apple, they hav to do something about it... at least an answer.. cheers
  9. The Economist Suspended

    The Economist

    Apr 4, 2011
    A couple of days ago I restarted my Mac. It took the usual amount of time, which means it took a while because I'm running Lion.

    When I was finally able to use my Mac, the computer was blazing fast. It was unbelievable, Excel launched in micro–seconds, it felt like my Mac was running Snow Leopard. Everything was going fine until I had to restart my computer later that day.

    It was back to normal. I'm not sure what happened, I felt in heaven for a while but now I'm back to the normal heavy and slow Lion.
  10. rosschang macrumors member

    Aug 23, 2010
    Was just about to pick up another 2TB hdd for my Mac Pro to install Lion for the fun of it...

    looks like it's not worthy a try now...:eek:

    this Lion is really a ball of hurt eh? My tenant who's in IT support been sticking to Snow Leopard, and downgrading all Lion to SL whenever the hardware allow. He tells me there's a lot of issue with Lion on joining corporate AD Domain.:confused:
  11. blackburn macrumors 6502a


    Feb 16, 2010
    Where Judas lost it's boots.
    That's why those who need to get real work done stayed at 10.6.8. It works fine, the only thing that I miss from Lion is the address book sync trough iCloud. Let's hope mountain lion is better at least performance wise.
  12. FSMBP macrumors 68020


    Jan 22, 2009
    Excellent post, sir! We appreciate the info. Keep us posted on Mountain Lion - from what devs are saying, it is faster than Lion (but I doubt it's faster than Snow Leopard).
  13. 3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Thanks guys for the input, I was initially hesitant in posting as I did not want to instigate another "Lion is a bag of hurt" thread but rather a more informative thread for those who would appreciate the info. It took me about a week to install both systems and all applications, one at a time, from scratch, and run tests. There are things from Lion I do miss, such as auto-spell and correct, and I don't believe it's a terrible OS X release. Assuming "Mountain Lion" continues in the same vein as "Snow Leopard" was to "Leopard", perhaps then it will be worthy of usage. Even still, there are aspects of "Snow Leopard" that should be implemented in any future OS X release.

    "Address Book" in "Snow Leopard" is fully functioning; with the hard work of many and a bit of work on my end I am able to get my contacts fully syncing. I believe my 2nd post details a bit on the matter (apologies if I have the incorrect post). Once you have your iCloud account number and server (ex. 13458523976 and pXX-server.icloud.com where XX=02, 03, 04, etc.), it is simply a matter of entering them into "Address Book" as a CardDAV account, then editing the Configuration.plist file in ~/Library/Application Support/Address Book/Sources/{some random numbers and letters}/ with the correct information. Two aspects that were hindering it from syncing properly were finally resolved:

    - Contacts with images created constant contact duplicates in "Snow Leopard's" "Address Book". Only on the Mac though, they did not create duplicates on your iCloud server and thus to other devices.

    Solution: Delete all images in your contacts. First backup your contacts to a .vcf file through www.icloud.com (select all your contact online, in the bottom left corner select the gear icon, then export to a vcf file). One at a time, delete any pictures that you have for any contacts. Once all pictures are removed, export your contacts again in to a .vcf file. Import them after you have configured your "Address Book" for iCloud with your proper information (also make certain there are no contacts in your "Address Book"). Once imported, syncing should be set.

    - "Snow Leopard" does not recognize the "@" in the "email@me.com" line in the configuration.plist file. The trick is to edit that line and replace "@" with "%40" which is then read correctly.

    Here is a link to the instructions I used:
    Finally! Sync your Address CardDav in OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard

    Post #1 for initial instructions, post #7 for corrections regarding the "@" issue, and finally post #52 regarding contact images and duplicates. Read the thread thoroughly, backup your data first and make sure you have about an hour of time in case of mistakes.

    Hope this helps!
  14. linuxcooldude macrumors 68020

    Mar 1, 2010
    I think a lot of this is just psychological. Person sees posts that they are having problems with Lion saying is much slower in this or that or 50 milliseconds slower while accessing their hard drive.

    Computers are getting much faster and more powerful. Is using less RAM necessarily going to better your performance or make you more productive? Or should the operating system take full advantage of this faster and more powerful hardware?
  15. 3282868, Apr 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2012

    3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Mmmmm. It's much more than psychosomatic. It's pretty much known that 10.7 doesn't handle memory as well as 10.6.x variants. Many aspects of 10.6 are overall much faster and better streamlined. This is, in part, due to the GUI "eye candy" that is implemented in "Lion" such as "Mission Control' animations that each up unnecessary resources while not making use of better OpenGL implementation. "Lion" uses more RAM while [somehow] being slower than "Snow Leopard". "Snow Leopard" is a streamlined variant of "Leopard", as is known, it seems Apple did an about face with their system by integrating iOS consumer aspects requiring a rewrite of frameworks and API's, and rushed it so much so that the polish with previous OS X systems is severely lacking. As a decade long ADC member, until "Lion" membership was well into the hundreds of dollars mark, and beta's were released much more frequently and required a complete reinstall from a burned DVD ISO (many changes were implemented between developer beta's). Apple lowered the membership to "Lion", in part to attract more consumers and to bring it down to the $99 iOS level and thus yearly update cycle. Many of us were alarmed that "Lion" was "GM" after only four "Developer Previews" (aka beta's), and with so many reported known developer bugs unresolved (and some still, such as graphical glitches with certain ATI Radeon cards). In the end, it was rushed.

    I recall when Apple shifted OS X engineers into the iOS department in 2007 before the iPhone release, pushing back "Leopard" to an October release as Apple does not like to hire more engineers but rather shift multi-skilled engineers to needed departments. "Leopard" wasn't as polished as previous releases yet still was a relatively stable release, and thus began the trend towards iOS focus.

    Forums; consumer/developer/professional, do not believe the iOS features in OS X feel appropriate. Generally, many feel that until full iOS implementation is utilized it is unpolished and generally awkward usage for a desktop system (even w/ the "Magic Trackpad"). Apple should keep those systems apart; an either all or nothing approach would be better suited than a slow and awkward incorporation.

    Back on topic, "Lion" is resource hungry and generally does not make decent usage of its hardware as previous systems. Regardless of whether one likes/dislikes the iOS "features", hopefully "Mountain Lion" will be a much needed polish to OS X :)
  16. justperry macrumors G3


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    Could you try to switch of Virtual Memory, restart and look how fast it gets after disabling it?

    I had something similar a long time ago, think around 2004-2005 on 10.2-10.3, did something with Library and after a restart it was amazingly fast but lasted only short, gone after a restart.
    Could have been a VM issue.

    I am on a Powerbook G4 1.67 and if I switch of VM (sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dynamic_pager.plist)
    it gets much faster, a downside effect is though that if it runs out of memory it first gets slow and eventually crashes the system.
    Sadly I have the known second memory slot defect and can only use 1GB of memory.
  17. 3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    I'll give it a go. With 16 GB RAM and VM typically using RAM on the boot drive (this instance my SSD), I'd be surprised if it would have a positive effect on overall speed.

    The other question, since 10.5, the general consensus seems to be that turning off VM should have little effect on the overall performance of OS X. Regardless, I'll give it a go. :)
  18. KingJosh macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2012
  19. 3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    I hope so. As it stands, DP2 hasn't been much in terms of efficiency/speed although it is very early in its development. Hopefully the long list of iOS features won't distract engineers from working on streamlining the overall OS.
  20. KingJosh macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2012
    yep, I agree. In my opinion there should be an almost equal ratio between performance and feature upgrades.
  21. Wild-Bill macrumors 68030


    Jan 10, 2007
    Thanks for all the hard work OP.

    Yet another reason (more like justification) why Lion will NEVER, EVER see the light of day on my Mac Pro. Forums like Gearslutz and other places are riddled with rants about how Lion screws up Logic Studio and various 3rd-party plugins. And the OP's research has proved, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Lion SUCKS.

    I really want to be able to switch to iCloud, but I guess Apple doesn't care about those of us who justifiably feel like Lion is a piece of crap that has no business on a Mac Pro. I'll have to implement the various "hacks" out there to get my mail, contacts, and calendars synced up.
  22. 3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Thanks for the nice comments and appreciation from everyone, glad I was able to be helpful. It's a shame, the direction Apple has taken. ML doesn't seem to be much better, hopefully as it develops engineers will retool the backend as they did for Leopard->Snow Leopard.

    You can get iCloud Calendars, Contacts, Mail and Bookmarks to fully sync. I think I may have discussed it on this thread (sorry if not, too many threads lol). The trick with contacts is to remove any photo's associated with them as it creates duplicates in OS X (thankfully not on iCloud's server, just in Address Book on your Mac). Calendars sync bet Snow Leopard, Lion and iOS as do Bookmarks, and of course mail accounts work the same. :)
  23. rosschang macrumors member

    Aug 23, 2010
    on the flipside, I would really like to dual boot SL and Lion...

    guess I should go ahead and grap a 2TB after all... (and load SL, leaving old HDD for Lion later)...:D
  24. throAU, Apr 11, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012

    throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Hmm, not to dispute the results you're seeing on your particular box, but...

    Lion boots from power off to desktop in about 15 seconds on the MBA in my sig.
    Which is by no means a power house compared to your Pro.

    I agree SL is faster than lion, however it is a trade-off. Lion had additional features and they will require CPU/etc to work (e.g. versions, proper address space layout randomisation, application sandboxing, etc.) On my machines, i'm willing to pay the resource requirements for the features.

    I see Lion as "OS X Vista". Like Windows Vista, it is copping flak for pushing things forward and incurring additional hardware requirements to do so.

    Mountain Lion, I am sure will be the equivalent of Microsoft's Win7 - the tech they pushed out with vista, optimised for performance.

    Also - i see a lot of bitching about lion's memory consumption. Take it with a pinch of salt. "Inactive" memory is almost as good as "free" memory (in fact, it is essentially free memory that holds recently accessed data in cache). If memory is required, the inactive pool is automatically freed.

    Not to say it doesn't use more RAM in general - but comparing "free" numbers between the OS is hardly an apples to apples comparison.

    on virtual memory - if your machine needs/wants to page, let it page. disabling virtual memory will merely cripple your system's ability to page-out inactive programs/data to disk, to make space for more disk cache on actual active data.

    whilst you *may* possibly get an improvement in specific situations by disabling virtual memory, trying to second-guess the operating system's VM subsystem (which actually knows what is going on in memory at runtime a fair bit better than the user probably does) is not always a win.
  25. 3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Agreed on most points. I've been running the current 10.7.4 beta and it seems relatively more stable (aside from graphics issues, such as my main display not showing proper colors and skipping while using "Time Machine" in Finder while my second Apple LED LCD is fine). I've been using the beta ReSpace app and am extremely impressed, the next release will almost have Spaces exactly as it was in S.L. which is a huge relief, and the developer is working on adding Leopard's version of Exposé. I don't use Launchpad or Mission Control, but the overall speed and memory usage of Lion is dismal when compared to 10.6.8. I've found ML to me better at managing those aspects, but the DP2 is extremely buggy. In fact, it's one of the buggiest beta releases I've used from Apple since 10.2. I'm also concerned with the one year cycle of OS X releases, coupled with Apple moving engineers between iOS and OS X departments instead of hiring more to meet demand, my fear is that OS X may experience more quality control issues.

    Also, I tried the VM recommendation posted here, and it was terrible. With 16GB's of RAM I shouldn't have to resort to such measures, I'm just surprised that running simple Apple app's takes up ~47-54% of my RAM while SL running the same (as possible) setup is ~25-30% usage. I know, Lion has other features that may require such a difference, but I notice that iTunes takes up a great deal of RAM (~540 MB's in Lion) while running EyeTV takes ~249 MB's and that's a much more intense application.

Share This Page