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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

HANDBRAKE SHOOTOUT:
Fastest iMacs, Mac Pros, and MBP

Posted Friday, October 22nd, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Added MacBook Air 2.13GHz on November 5th.

Our earlier test pages did not include results for HandBrake, a popular utility for converting DVDs to various movie file formats to run on Apple TV, iPod, iPhone, and/or iPad. We chose a preset optimized for iPhone 4 and iPad. Our input movie was stored on the boot drive. It was an H.264, 960x540, 2 min 20 sec sample.

RED bar means fastest time. All graphs display time in seconds.

Legend of the above graphs:
MP 2010 12c 2.93 = 12-core Westmere 2.93GHz Mac Pro (2010) with 32G of RAM

MP 2010 12c 2.66 = 12-core Westmere 2.66GHz Mac Pro (2010) with 16G of RAM
MP 2010 6c 3.33 = 6-core Westmere 3.33GHz Mac Pro (2010) with 24G of RAM
MP 2009 8c 2.93 = 8-core Nehalem 2.93GHz Mac Pro (2009) with 16G of RAM
MP 2008 8c 3.2 = 8-core Harpertown 3.2GHz Mac Pro (2008) with 16G of RAM
MP 2010 8c 2.4 = 8-core Westmere 2.4GHz Mac Pro (2010) with 24G of RAM
MP 2010 4c 3.2 = 4-core Nehalem 3.2GHz Mac Pro (2010)
MP 2008 8c 2.8 = 8-core Harpertown 3.2GHz Mac Pro (2008) with 12G of RAM
iMac 2010 i7 2.93 = Core i7 2.93GHz iMac (2010) with 16G of RAM
MP 2009 8c 2.66 = 8-core Nehalem 2.66GHz Mac Pro (2009) with 24G of RAM
MP 2007 8c 3.0 = 8-core Clovertown 3.0GHz Mac Pro (2007) with 8GB of RAM
iMac 2010 i5 3.6 = Core i5 3.6GHz iMac (2010) with 8G of RAM
MP 2006 4c 2.66 = 4-core Woodcrest 2.66GHz Mac Pro (2006) with 10G of RAM
MBP 2010 i7 2.66 = Core i7 2.66GHz MacBook Pro (2010) with 8G of RAM
MBP 2008 C2D 2.4 = Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz MacBook Pro (late 2008) with 4GB of RAM
MBA 2010 C2D 2.13 = Core 2 Duo 2.13GHz MacBook Air (2010) with 4GB of RAM

INSIGHTS
Notice the 12-core Mac Pro is NOT twice as fast as the 6-core Mac Pro. That's because HandBrake does not use all available cores. Using Activity Monitor, I observed a maximum cpu load of 1000% (or 10 cores). Most of the time during the conversion, it was at 500% cpu load (or 5 cores). Since the 6-core Mac Pro is capable of 12 virtual cores, it's easy to understand why it's only slightly slower than the 12-core (24 virtual) Mac Pro.

Also note that the iMac Core i7 (4-core) is significantly faster than the iMac Core i5 (2-core) even though the Core i7 is running at a lower core frequency (2.93GHz vs 3.6GHz). In that case, the extra cores make a difference.

As for memory, 400MB was the maximum real memory used by HandBrake during this exercise. With only HandBrake and Activity Monitor running, the total real memory in use was 2GB.

Needless to say, converting a two hour DVD will take longer than our two minute sample stored on the internal hard drive. Also, reading the input movie from a DVD is going to be slower than reading it from an internal hard drive.

"Remote Mad Science"
Want to run our HandBrake test on your Mac and share your results? Get procedure, preset, and test source movie by contacting
, mad scientist.
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copyright 2010 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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