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Apple MacBook Pro 'Fastest Windows XP Notebook'? 360

rgraham writes "The Register has a great opening line in a recent article, "Want the fastest Windows XP Core Duo notebook? Then buy a Mac. According to benchmarks carried out by website GearLog, Apple's MacBook Pro running Windows XP is a better Adobe Photoshop rig than any other Core Duo laptop on the market." GearLog ran the same tests that were run by PC Magazine with the Mac coming out on top."
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Apple MacBook Pro 'Fastest Windows XP Notebook'?

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  • Find out next year (Score:5, Informative)

    by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:20PM (#14981854) Homepage Journal
    Now all I want to know is which is faster: Photoshop on XP or OSX?

    That will have to wait until next year, sine Adobe has stated that the Intel version of Photoshop for MacOS X won't be available until next year.
  • Re:AMD (Score:5, Informative)

    by jonnythan ( 79727 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:26PM (#14981922)
    AMD doesn't make any dual-core notebook chips...
  • by ccollao ( 227727 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:27PM (#14981932) Homepage
    That's not completely accurate. The fisrt company into make USB massive was apple. Regarding PCI, several years ago they introduced it into their PPC market. Gee, even Sun did (altough, PCI was slower than other buses but just plain cheaper).

    The other Technologies before mentined, AGP, PMT, SMP Protected memory never said so. About intel, well different story, but with your comment you are just trolling (me thinks).

  • by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:27PM (#14981935)
    Because Apple still decides to call their machines "Macintosh"? They could call it "Red Delicious", but it just doesn't have the same ring to it.
  • Re:AMD (Score:4, Informative)

    by IronTek ( 153138 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:29PM (#14981943) Homepage
    AMD will release their Turion64 X2 dual core processor pretty soon. But I am impressed with the Intel CoreDuo. It does not seem to be (and is not) the POS that their first "dual core" processor was.
  • by saschasegan ( 963148 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:31PM (#14981963)
    Just wanted to preemptively strike out and mention that the Reg "sexed up our dossier" a little, to use a British reference.

    Over here at PC Mag/Gearlog (it's the same thing - Gearlog is the blog of PC Mag) we like to say that our tests show Apple makes a "fast" Windows machine, not "the fastest." As somebody else pointed out, while the MacBook squeaked out a win on the Photoshop test, it came in behind other Core Duo laptops on the Windows Media Encoder test. But the news in my mind isn't a one-second difference in this or that. It's that Apple's machines run Windows comparably to the best designed-for-Windows machines. That bodes very well for folks who want to have the best of both worlds by running both OSes natively.

    We couldn't run 3DMark, Sysmark, etc. because of the missing video drivers - wouldn't have been fair. The Photoshop and Windows Media tests were the only ones of our standard benchmark suite we thought would generate results that made any proper sense, because they hit processor/disk/RAM rather than video.

    Also, for the AMD fanboys, we haven't tested any AMD dual core notebooks yet, so we didn't have the data to compare those.

    If you haven't already, read our original story: 1/8212.aspx []

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:31PM (#14981965)

    A few years ago, the Mac crowd said there was no need for stuff like PCI, AGP, PMT, SMP, protected memory, Intel, USB, etc. etc....

    Ummm, what? More than a few years ago macs already shipped with USB and PCI by default. Heck macs had USB before anyone else was producing a significant number of peripherals for it. The only item on this list I ever heard people argue against was Intel (as in processors).

    But just how is a Mac running x86 and Windows XP, a Mac?

    Macintosh is a brand name. How is a Dell Inspiron running Linux still a Dell Inspiron? The answer to both questions is that is the name under which it is sold.

  • Re:AMD (Score:5, Informative)

    by hattig ( 47930 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:34PM (#14981996) Journal
    Current Core Duo (Yonah) is 32-bits only.

    AMD will be releasing 25W Dual-Core Turions in May, running with DDR2 memory (which will save a few Watts over DDR memory).

    Yonah is 31W (TDP, actual power consumption is lower. Same goes for AMD of course.). AMD includes half of a northbridge on their processor as well.

    Of course, AMD's 25W Turion X2s only come in 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz variants. The 2.0GHz and 2.2GHz versions are 35W, but still comparable in power consumption to Yonah. The interesting thing is that this is at 90nm. If AMD has any of the hi-speed, low-power-consumption features of IBM's 65mn process, then next year could be very interesting however.

    Doesn't negate the fact that Intel was there first, nor that AMD isn't overtaking them but merely having a competitive offering in the mobile arena.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:34PM (#14982007) Journal
    Some parts of OS X are much slower than others. System calls are quite expensive (roughly 10x the cost on a conventional UNIX system), for example. The slowest part of the system I have found is the VM subsystem, which absolutely crawls. I wrote some fairly I/O intensive code with a number of back ends. The aio back end is about half the speed on OS X as on FreeBSD on similar hardware. The mmap backend is an order of magnitude slower on OS X than the aio back end, while they are both about the same speed on FreeBSD. This means that anything that causes page faults is going to slow the system down to a painful speed, which is why Mac users always recommend that you buy a lot of RAM.
  • Re:AMD (Score:3, Informative)

    by loony ( 37622 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:36PM (#14982017)
    Not really - AMD doesn't have dual core laptops out yet and even if you look at just one core, the Intel Core architecture beats anything AMD has right now hands down...

  • by jinushaun ( 397145 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:38PM (#14982036)
    Here is the official Windows XP on Mac website: []

    The patch is available here: []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:56PM (#14982180)
    No. No peripheral manufacturere bothered with making USB devices. After 2 years on the market, there were only 12 usb devices. Then Apple added USB. 6 months later, there were over 400 usb devices. All marketed towards Apple customers. Read back issues of MacWorld and look at the ads. Dumbass.
  • by grand_it ( 949276 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @03:17PM (#14982346)
    Ummm, what? More than a few years ago macs already shipped with USB and PCI by default. Heck macs had USB before anyone else was producing a significant number of peripherals for it.

    Ooops, they're doin' it again :(

    Apple dumped Pc Card in favour of ExpressCard way too early, imho.

    Sure, for many purposes (Ethernet, modem, Usb, Firewire...) Pc Cards are quite obsolete today, because all this features come free with every notebook (except for the modem in MacBook Pro)

    Here in Old Europe, however, GSM/Umts connect cards are quite popular among execs and road warriors. As of today, there is no such thing as an ExpressCard GSM/Umts modem.

    Heck, the PCMCIAssociation lists a whopping-fifteen-items-list [] of available modules in his website...

  • by man2525 ( 600111 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @03:29PM (#14982446)
    Adobe does not want to make a MacIntel version of Photoshop CS2. They want to release Photoshop CS3 as a Universal Binary. They are trying hard to have a release by the end of this year, but they need to move their development environment from Metrowerks Code Warrior to Apple XCode.
  • by spookymonster ( 238226 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @04:08PM (#14982771)
    Check out the FX7 from Hypersonic ( []), a Clevo whitebox available from several other vendors as well.

    Granted, at 12lbs and ~1 hour battery life, it is neither light nor highly mobile. Still, as a portable desktop replacement, it kicks ass compared to the Intel duos used in the article.
  • by pammon ( 831694 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @04:50PM (#14983154)
    Some parts of OS X are much slower than others. System calls are quite expensive (roughly 10x the cost on a conventional UNIX system), for example

    I'm not disputing this, but I'd like to provide some context so people aren't left with the impression that "Apple's programmers are st00pid n00bs." There's at least three decisions that negatively impact OS X's system call performance, but that provide wins in other areas.

    1) Mach/FreeBSD system call disambiguation. OS X has to support both Mach and FreeBSD system calls through the same trap interface. Determining which you have isn't cheap, but the win is apparent - how many Mach messages per second does your conventional UNIX benchmark at? Features don't come for free. This is fixed overhead which will be especially apparent with "fast" system calls.

    2) 4/4 memory split. A system call requires a context switch to and from the kernel's own address space. I'm not sure about other UNIX flavors, but Linux in particular (usually) maps the kernel's address space into each process with a 3/1 split, which is faster but has an obvious downside - 25% less address space for the process and 75% less for the kernel!

    3) Dynamic library binding. OS X is unusual in that every library is always dynamically bound, which adds overhead for every call, but gives you all the benefits of non-static libraries (code sharing, security, etc.) Benchmarks often don't take this into account.

    The slowest part of the system I have found is the VM subsystem, which absolutely crawls. I wrote some fairly I/O intensive code with a number of back ends.

    There's a few things I've found that impact OS X's I/O negatively:

    1) Spotlight wants to index any file you opened for writing and then closed. That's obviously going to incur a cost.

    2) Unified buffer cache - cacheing reads in the VM system. For a linear read of a huge file, this only hurts; it can be turned off on a per descriptor basis, but code compiled naively for OS X won't have bothered to do that.

    3) Bugs. There seems to be a bug where a program doing linear I/O can monopolize the I/O system, which improves performance for that process but decreases apparent responsiveness.

  • by megabeck42 ( 45659 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @04:57PM (#14983225)
    You wouldn't need to display the clip while encoding it to take advantage of the graphics card. The whole gpgpu system, general purpose graphics processing, uses off screen rendering targets such as the OpenGL pixel buffer object or frame buffer object. It would be straightforward, with an OpenGL 2.0 compliant graphics card, to offload the colorspace transforms, fast/discrete fourier transforms, and a few other compute intensive algorithms.

    But, you are right when you said its not normal. Hopefully, as OpenGL 2.0 becomes more ubiquitous, we'll see more useful offloading.
  • by lullabud ( 679893 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @05:01PM (#14983263) Homepage
    I really don't think that Apple's are overpriced when you consider how reliable they are. I'm still using the original 12" powerbook which I purchased over 3 years ago and it still runs fine. Being an IT guy, I've seen numerous Gateway, Dell and Alienware laptops fall apart in that time. I'd personally take an IBM or a Dell if I couldn't go with Apple, but I go with the higher priced Apple hardware because it's more reliable. I'd rather have a machine that doesn't require replacement parts every 6-12 months of 24/7 usage. Also, target-disk mode (only available on Apple hardware, afaik) is invaluable if you ever need to back up your entire hard disk, repair it, or do any other maintinence on it that requires full read/write permission to the filesystem.
  • by akhomerun ( 893103 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @08:15PM (#14984633)
    control + click

    it's been like that on macs forever.

    anyone with a laptop should probably get a small wireless mouse anyway, they are way better than using a track pad anyway.
  • by statusbar ( 314703 ) <> on Thursday March 23, 2006 @08:16PM (#14984635) Homepage Journal
    I think you are confusing carbon with 'classic'.

  • An explanation (Score:2, Informative)

    by Captain Tripps ( 13561 ) * on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:39PM (#14985030)
    Say you're applying some filters in Photoshop. And say each pixel requires a whole bunch of CPU instructions to calculate. Then you might have what's called a CPU-bound task. But you know your new MacBook has an upgradable processor socket, so you try swapping in a faster one, and indeed your filters finish faster. Good, you say. Let's try an even faster CPU. And you stick in a really high end chip, but now you don't get any more improvement.

    What's going on? Each pixel is still taking the same number of cycles, but those cycles are flying by so fast that the memory bus can't move pixel data in and out fast enough. So the CPU is idling part of the time waiting data to process. The point at which this happens depends on the task. Maybe your Folding@Home client will still be CPU bound with even the fastest process.

    Now say you've created a bunch of images, and your boss wants them as JPEGS, instead of PNGs like he told you last week. So you run a batch conversion. These are big files, and your JPEG encoder is really fast, so now it's the hard disk that's the bottleneck. Your conversion won't run any faster on a multi-Opteron server, unless it's got a faster disk. And of course, everyone's familiar with the network being the bottleneck.

    Does that make more sense? I guess my point is that upgrading a component will only make things faster if it's the bottleneck. And bottleneck component will be different for different tasks.
  • by djkuhl ( 902899 ) <djkuhl_blog@mac . c om> on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:51PM (#14985360) Homepage
    *Bzzzt* Nice try, but wrong.

    In 1996, before Steve Jobs came back to Apple, he owned this little company called NeXT. Through this company he developed a relationship with Intel, who were one of the NeXT operating system's chip makers. The next year after Steve's August '97 return, the first new Mac (better known as the original iMac) shipped only with USB. No ADB, PS/2 or any other junker port from the late 80's. I remember many new PCs that my friends brought to college with them still had required PS/2 ports. Around this time Apple also dropped the floppy disk, but had an external drive available via the USB port. Now fast forward through time and you'll also find out that during the second Steve Jobs reign Apple adopted USB and Bluetooth before any other major manufacturer. You see, ever since 1997 there has been a shift to Intel that nobody was really paying attention to until last year.

    By the way, Firewire wasn't introduced until after USB was standard on all Macs.

  • by toddestan ( 632714 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:19PM (#14985499)
    control + click

    it's been like that on macs forever.

    Yes, that's great. We all know that.

    However, control+click doesn't do squat in Windows XP.
  • by Eljay451 ( 963308 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @09:16AM (#14987167)
    Shift-F10 simulates a right mouse click in Windows.
  • by Halo1 ( 136547 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @10:51AM (#14987645)
    man fcntl -> F_NOCACHE
  • by n8_f ( 85799 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:20PM (#14988363) Homepage
    And yet the Apple was 37% faster on the Photoshop test against 3 of the laptops. That is much better than the 8% advantage it has in processor speed. And with the crappy drivers, it has one hand tied behind its back. I am very skeptical of that result, but it is possible that further tests will bear these results out.

    A more valid comparison would be SPEC tests between the MacBook and other machines. What you'd likely see is, given the same hardware, they perform exactly the same -- which is the point.

    Umm, if they were the exact same hardware, then yes, they would perform the exact same. But the point is they aren't the same hardware. If they were all using the same processor then you would expect them to perform similarly on a processor-limited test like SPEC, but the rest of the hardware could have been customized. So some subsystem could perform better and lead to better real-world performance on tests that use that subsystem. As you'll notice, the Acer scored almost the same as the Mac on the Photoshop test. And yet, they use different processors. Is it possible that that test isn't processor-limited and instead stresses some other part of the system? Maybe it is the Acer's better video card, but if the Mac is using generic graphics drivers and getting similar, valid results, it would point to something else. Perhaps they both have 7200 RPM drives. But if they both have that as an option from the manufacturer and the others don't, that has some value. Yes, you can always add one after you buy, but testing manufacturer's configurations is a valid test. The point is that the Macs could be faster than other laptops in real-world XP performance. This isn't an ideal test, but it is an interesting result.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!