Macworld's new Speedmark 7 benchmark suite

Now that the Mac OS has entered the Lion era, its time to bring Macworld’s overall system performance test suite, Speedmark, up to date. With this latest version, Speedmark 7, we’ve updated all of the applications to their current versions, increased files sizes that some tests use, and changed our 3D game test to a more recent title.

One thing that doesn’t change is 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini from 2010 that serves as Speedmark’s baseline system to which each Mac’s performance is compared. By keeping the same “100” system as the previous version of Speedmark, it should be easier to compare older systems tested with Speedmark 6.5 to the systems tested with the new Speedmark 7.

Speedmark 7 scores

Which system was the best overall performer? Look no further than our Speedmark 7 score, which combines the performance scores from all of the tests and boils them down to one number.

Our baseline system, which is given a score of 100 and is what we compare the individual test performance of each system to, is a 2010 Mac mini with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, a 320GB 5400-rpm hard drive, and integrated Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics. A second system, a 2010 MacBook with very similar specifications, also earned a Speedmark 7 score of 100.

The fastest system overall of the current Mac lineup is a build-to-order (BTO) 2011 21.5-inch iMac with a quad-core 2.8GHz Core i5 processor; it has a Speedmark 7 score of 244. The fastest standard configuration Mac we’ve tested so far, earning a Speedmark 7 score of 241, is a 2011 27-inch iMac with a quad-core 3.1GHz Core i5 processor. The fastest overall of all the systems we’ve tested with Speedmark 7 is a BTO 2.93GHz Core i7 iMac from 2010 with an internal SSD; this system earned a Speedmark 7 score of 264. The system with the slowest Speedmark 7 score of all the Macs we have tested is a 2008 MacBook Air with a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

Below is a chart of Speedmark 7 scores of all the Macs in Apple's current lineup. You can also see the Speedmark 7 scores of all the Macs we have tested, including models from 2010, 2009, and 2008.

Speedmark 7: Current Mac lineup

Mac modelSpeedmark 7 Score
Mac Pro Xeon 2.4GHz 12-core 12GB RAM (Mid 2012) 259
Mac Pro Xeon 3.2GHz quad-core 6GB RAM (Mid 2012) 254
27-inch iMac Core i5 3.1GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 241
27-inch iMac Core i5 2.7GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 225
21.5-inch iMac Core i7 2.8GHz quad-core BTO (Mid 2011) 244
21.5-inch iMac Core i5 2.7GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 229
21.5-inch iMac Core i5 2.5GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 211
Mac mini Core i7 2.7GHz dual-core SSD BTO (Mid 2011) 218
Mac mini Core i5 2.5GHz dual-core (Mid 2011) 161
Mac mini Core i5 2.3GHz dual-core (Mid 2011) 132
15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display Core i7 2.6GHz quad-core (Mid 2012) 330
15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display Core i7 2.3GHz quad-core (Mid 2012) 319
15-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.6GHz quad-core (Mid 2012) 239
15-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.3GHz quad-core (Mid 2012) 221
13-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.9GHz dual-core (Mid 2012) 189
13-inch MacBook Pro Core i5 2.5GHz dual-core (Mid 2012) 161
13-inch MacBook Air Core i7 2.0GHz dual core, 8GB RAM, 512GB flash storage BTO (Mid 2012) 229
13-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.8GHz dual-core 256GB flash storage (Mid 2012) 206
13-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.8GHz dual-core 128GB flash storage (Mid 2012) 201
11-inch MacBook Air Core i7 2.0GHz dual-core, 8GB RAM, 256GB flash storage BTO (Mid 2012) 225
11-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.7GHz dual-core 128GB flash storage (Mid 2012) 195
11-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.7GHz dual-core 64GB flash storage (Mid 2012) 186

Results are scores. Higher scores are faster. Best result in bold.

Individual application test results

Speedmark 7 is comprised of 16 different application-based tests that can run on all shipping Macs. The tests are designed to measure the different subsystems: CPU, GPU, storage, and memory. Here’s a breakdown of the individual tests that make up Speedmark 7.

(The charts below include all the Macs in Apple's current lineup. You can also see the Speedmark 7 scores of all the Macs we have tested, including models from 2010, 2009, and 2008.)

Mac OS X Finder tests: Three tests: Duplicate 2GB Folder, Compress 4GB Folder, and Uncompress 4GB File Archive

The duplicate and uncompress tasks demonstrate the speed of the system’s internal storage. Flash drives do much better in this test. The flash storage in the 2011 MacBook Airs are the fastest that we’ve tested so far, taking between 22 and 25 seconds to duplicate the 2GB folder and between 43 and 50 seconds to uncompress a 4GB zip file. These scores are around three times faster than scores of our baseline Mac mini, which took 79 seconds to duplicate the folder and 165 seconds to uncompress the 4GB zip file.

Compressing a 4GB folder is more of a CPU test than a storage test, with the 2011 iMacs and their Sandy Bridge processors posting the fastest times with speeds between 190 and 200 seconds. Mac Pros with their Xeon processors didn’t fare as well. The 2010 8-core 2.4GHz Mac Pro took 277 seconds to complete the task. Older MacBook Airs were the slowest at this task, with the 2010 11-inch 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Air taking nearly 10 minutes to compress the 4GB folder.

Speedmark 7: Finder tests

Mac ModelDuplicate 2GB FolderZip 4GB FolderUnzip 4GB File
Mac Pro Xeon 2.4GHz 8-core 6GB RAM (Mid 2010) 44.3 277.0 89.0
Mac Pro Xeon 2.8GHz quad-core 3GB RAM (Mid 2010) 40.4 244.2 91.4
27-inch iMac Core i5 3.1GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 43.9 205.2 88.8
27-inch iMac Core i5 2.7GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 45.5 198.7 89.7
21.5-inch iMac Core i7 2.8GHz quad-core BTO (Mid 2011) 46.4 195.8 84.3
21.5-inch iMac Core i5 2.7GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 46.2 190.1 85.1
21.5-inch iMac Core i5 2.5GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 41.5 213.8 84.0
Mac mini Core i7 2.7GHz dual-core SSD BTO (Mid 2011) 29.0 203.4 49.2
Mac mini Core i5 2.5GHz dual-core (Mid 2011) 65.6 240.9 148.8
Mac mini Core i5 2.3GHz dual-core (Mid 2011) 64.7 248.7 144.0
17-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.4GHz quad-core (Late 2011) 55.8 223.4 123.5
15-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.4GHz quad-core (Late 2011) 52.7 217.4 131.6
15-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.2GHz quad-core (Late 2011) 74.4 245.5 168.9
13-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.8GHz dual-core (Late 2011) 54.1 208.0 114.8
13-inch MacBook Pro Core i5 2.4GHz dual-core (Late 2011) 68.6 249.1 146.4
13-inch MacBook Air Core i7 1.8GHz dual-core 256GB flash storage BTO (Mid 2011) 22.3 235.5 40.5
13-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.7GHz dual-core 128GB flash storage (Mid 2011) 27.4 253.8 50.4
13-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.7GHz dual-core 256GB flash storage (Mid 2011) 25.9 253.6 47.9
11-inch MacBook Air Core i7 1.8GHz dual-core 128GB flash storage BTO (Mid 2011) 25.0 233.9 43.9
11-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.6GHz dual-core 128GB flash storage (Mid 2011) 23.5 297.6 43.3
11-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.6GHz dual-core 64GB flash storage (Mid 2011) 27.4 300.9 46.7

Results are in seconds. Lower is better. Best result in bold.

Mac OS X Finder tests: Three tests: Duplicate 2GB Folder, Compress 4GB Folder, and Uncompress 4GB File Archive

The duplicate and uncompress tasks demonstrate the speed of the system’s internal storage. Flash drives do much better in this test. The flash storage in the 2011 MacBook Airs are the fastest that we’ve tested so far, taking between 22 and 25 seconds to duplicate the 2GB folder and between 43 and 50 seconds to uncompress a 4GB zip file. These scores are around three times faster than scores of our baseline Mac mini, which took 79 seconds to duplicate the folder and 165 seconds to uncompress the 4GB zip file.

Compressing a 4GB folder is more of a CPU test than a storage test, with the 2011 iMacs and their Sandy Bridge processors posting the fastest times with speeds between 190 and 200 seconds. Mac Pros with their Xeon processors didn’t fare as well. The 2010 8-core 2.4GHz Mac Pro took 277 seconds to complete the task. Older MacBook Airs were the slowest at this task, with the 2010 11-inch 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Air taking nearly 10 minutes to compress the 4GB folder.

Speedmark 7: Finder tests

Mac ModelDuplicate 2GB FolderZip 4GB FolderUnzip 4GB File
Mac Pro Xeon 2.4GHz 8-core 6GB RAM (Mid 2010) 44.3 277.0 89.0
Mac Pro Xeon 2.8GHz quad-core 3GB RAM (Mid 2010) 40.4 244.2 91.4
27-inch iMac Core i5 3.1GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 43.9 205.2 88.8
27-inch iMac Core i5 2.7GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 45.5 198.7 89.7
21.5-inch iMac Core i7 2.8GHz quad-core BTO (Mid 2011) 46.4 195.8 84.3
21.5-inch iMac Core i5 2.7GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 46.2 190.1 85.1
21.5-inch iMac Core i5 2.5GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 41.5 213.8 84.0
Mac mini Core i7 2.7GHz dual-core SSD BTO (Mid 2011) 29.0 203.4 49.2
Mac mini Core i5 2.5GHz dual-core (Mid 2011) 65.6 240.9 148.8
Mac mini Core i5 2.3GHz dual-core (Mid 2011) 64.7 248.7 144.0
17-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.4GHz quad-core (Late 2011) 55.8 223.4 123.5
15-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.4GHz quad-core (Late 2011) 52.7 217.4 131.6
15-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.2GHz quad-core (Late 2011) 74.4 245.5 168.9
13-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.8GHz dual-core (Late 2011) 54.1 208.0 114.8
13-inch MacBook Pro Core i5 2.4GHz dual-core (Late 2011) 68.6 249.1 146.4
13-inch MacBook Air Core i7 1.8GHz dual-core 256GB flash storage BTO (Mid 2011) 22.3 235.5 40.5
13-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.7GHz dual-core 128GB flash storage (Mid 2011) 27.4 253.8 50.4
13-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.7GHz dual-core 256GB flash storage (Mid 2011) 25.9 253.6 47.9
11-inch MacBook Air Core i7 1.8GHz dual-core 128GB flash storage BTO (Mid 2011) 25.0 233.9 43.9
11-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.6GHz dual-core 128GB flash storage (Mid 2011) 23.5 297.6 43.3
11-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.6GHz dual-core 64GB flash storage (Mid 2011) 27.4 300.9 46.7

Results are in seconds. Lower is better. Best result in bold.

Pages ‘09 test: Convert and Open a 500-page Microsoft Word Document

The Pages test favors Core i5 and i7 processors, though faster internal drives help. iMacs lead the pack; if you include older Macs, Core 2 Duo systems (especially older MacBook Airs) pull up the rear. The 2011 21.5-inch 2.7GHz Core i5 quad-core iMac finished in 71.4 seconds, while the 2010 11-inch 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Air took 196 seconds. A 2010 BTO 2.93GHz Core i7 iMac with a SSD finished the test 16 percent faster than the same system with a standard hard drive installed.

Speedmark 7: Pages '09 test

Mac ModelPages '09 import 500-page Word doc
Mac Pro Xeon 2.4GHz 8-core 6GB RAM (Mid 2010) 97.1
Mac Pro Xeon 2.8GHz quad-core 3GB RAM (Mid 2010) 99.5
27-inch iMac Core i5 3.1GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 85.5
27-inch iMac Core i5 2.7GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 81.3
21.5-inch iMac Core i7 2.8GHz quad-core BTO (Mid 2011) 78.1
21.5-inch iMac Core i5 2.7GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 71.4
21.5-inch iMac Core i5 2.5GHz quad-core (Mid 2011) 90.8
Mac mini Core i7 2.7GHz dual-core SSD BTO (Mid 2011) 72.5
Mac mini Core i5 dual-core 2.5GHz (Mid 2011) 84.7
Mac mini Core i5 2.3GHz dual-core (Mid 2011) 102.7
17-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.4GHz quad-core (Late 2011) 79.0
15-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.4GHz quad-core (Late 2011) 76.0
15-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.2GHz quad-core (Late 2011) 8.6
13-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 2.8GHz dual-core (Late 2011) 84.3
13-inch MacBook Pro Core i5 2.4GHz dual-core (Late 2011) 83.7
13-inch MacBook Air Core i7 1.8GHz dual-core 256GB flash storage BTO (Mid 2011) 88.2
13-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.7GHz dual-core 256GB flash storage (Mid 2011) 92.8
13-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.7GHz dual-core 128GB flash storage (Mid 2011) 95.3
11-inch MacBook Air Core i7 1.8GHz dual-core 128GB flash storage BTO (Mid 2011) 89.1
11-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.6GHz dual-core 128GB flash storage (Mid 2011) 109.8
11-inch MacBook Air Core i5 1.6GHz dual-core 64GB flash storage (Mid 2011) 111.2

Results are in seconds. Lower is better. Best result in bold.

iMovie ‘11 tests: Import Two-Minute Clip from Camera Archive, and Share Movie to iTunes for Mobile Devices

The Share to iTunes test is the first to show a benefit of more than four cores. The 2.4GHz Xeon 8-core Mac Pro finished the test just one second slower than the fastest overall Mac, a 2010 BTO 2.93GHz i7 iMac with SSD drive. In the iMovie Share to iTunes Mobile test, the 2009 2.26GHz Xeon 8-core Mac Pro came in third place of all the Macs we tested. As with Pages, the 2.93GHz iMac with the SSD was faster than the same system without it; 19 percent faster in the import and 16 percent faster when sharing the file to iTunes.

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