Introducing Speedmark 6

Back in August, Apple entered the era of Snow Leopard. Today, Macworld's Speedmark test suite enters the Snow Leopard's den.

Speedmark is Macworld Lab's standard test tool for benchmarking new and upgraded systems running Mac OS X. It uses real-world applications and everyday tasks. It is a general-purpose suite that includes tasks everyone from a high-end user to a new user performs every day.

Macworld Lab follows a detailed script to perform the 17 tasks. Each task is performed three times. We compare the results to a 2.13GHz MacBook with 2GB RAM (Mid 2009), which is assigned a score of 100. We then take the geometric mean of the normalized scores.

Apple's latest Mac OS X operating system, 10.6, focuses more on refinements rather than features. But the new OS does boast some new technologies meant to help your Intel Mac take better advantage of its central and graphics processing units. Unfortunately, in order to make these refinements and improvements, Apple made the decision to pull the plug on Power-PC equipped Macs, offering no support for any pre-Intel hardware.

The Macworld Lab has been hard at work tweaking Speedmark, our overall system performance testing tool, to better accommodate Snow Leopard and to test the Macs on which it runs. Of course, that means that the new version, Speedmark 6, runs on Snow Leopard and supports only Intel-powered Macs.

We have Speedmark 6 scores for 19 Intel Macs, including the new MacBook, iMacs, and Mac minis released last month. Please note that because Speedmark 6 uses different tests and a different OS, Speedmark 6 scores can't be compared to the scores of Speedmark 5, the previous version of our test tool.

For your convenience, we offer the complete scoresheet as both a Microsoft Excel file and a PDF for download. These scoresheets have the Speedmark 6 scores, as well as the performance scores for each application.

Speedmark 6 scores

Like Speedmark 5, Speedmark 6 consists of 17 tests. Many of the tests are new and few of the new tests reflect reader suggestions. Here's a look at the new task list.

Mac OS X Finder

  • Duplicate 1GB file
  • Compress 2GB folder
  • Uncompress 2GB file archive

Pages '09

  • Open 500 page Word document

iTunes 9

  • Convert 28 AAC files to MP3 from hard drive

iMovie '09

  • Import two-minute clip from camera archive
  • Share two-minute movie to iTunes for mobile devices

iPhoto '09

  • Import 150 photos from hard drive

Parallels 5

  • WorldBench 6 Multiple Page Loading Test on Windows 7

Call of Duty 4

  • Timedemo run at 1024-by-768 with 4X anti-aliasing

Cinebench R10

  • CPU test
  • OpenGL

Compressor 3.5.1

  • Convert DV file to MPEG-2 for DVD

Adobe Photoshop CS4

  • Actions script run on a 50MB file

Handbrake 0.9.3

  • Encode one chapter from DVD to H.264

MathematicaMark 7

  • Evaluate Notebook test

Aperture 2.1.4

  • Import 150 photos and build thumbnails and previews

[James Galbraith is Macworld's lab director.]

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