Another look at WorldBench

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A few weeks back, my colleague James Galbraith posted the results of some Macworld Lab tests showing how an Intel-based Mac running Windows XP compared to other PCs. The short answer: pretty favorably. A MacBook Pro with a 2.16GHz Core Duo processor turned in the fastest scores on three tests and tied for the best result in the fourth. Only a 2.16GHz HP Compaq nx9420 fared better on PC World ’s WorldBench 5 benchmarking tool. (Our Lab followed up that round of tests with an update showing how a 1.66GHz Mac mini Core Duo fared.)

Readers were generally appreciative of the Intel-based Macs’ performance—if slightly confused. You see, while Macworld readers are more or less familiar with Speedmark—and if you’re not, here’s your chance to read up on what goes into our standard test tool for benchmarking new and upgraded hardwarePC World ’s WorldBench is a bit more mysterious a beast to us Mac folk. To be fair, it’s not as if Mac users had much incentive to stay up to date on the latest Wintel benchmarking tools—at least not until Boot Camp made it possible to run Windows XP on a Mac.

So we asked our friends at PC World for a crash course on WorldBench 5 —how it works, what it shows, and, most important for our purposes, what these specific results show about Intel-based Macs. You can get the in-depth explanation on this page, but here’s the relevant portion:

Like previous versions of our benchmark, WorldBench 5 combines the results of scripted application tests and then compares them to the scores of a reference system—now a high-end system with a 2.2-GHz Athlon 64 FX-51 CPU with 1MB of Level 2 cache and 1GB of RAM, as well as an NVidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra graphics card with 256MB of RAM.

To make the comparisons easy to interpret, we set the baseline system’s final score at 100. A system that receives a score of 50 is half as fast as the baseline; a system that earns a mark of 200 is twice as fast; and so on.

With that explanation in mind, let’s examine the Macworld Lab results once more.

Updated Windows XP Testing

Test System Processor WorldBench 5 Score Mulititasking Test Windows Media Encoder 9 Roxio VideoWave Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1 Microsoft Office 2002 SP-2
Apple Mac mini 1.66GHz Core Duo T2300 82 514 343 304 364 603
Apple iMac 2.0GHz Core Duo T2500 96 423 294 267 320 541
Apple MacBook Pro 2.16GHz Core Duo T2600 98 419 280 259 305 535
Dell Inspiron E1705 (portable) 2.0GHz Core Duo T2500 97 498 305 271 325 549
HP Compaq nx9420 (portable) 2.16GHz Core Duo T2600 101 444 279 259 311 575
HP Pavilion a1250n Media Center Desktop PC 2.0GHz Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 94 521 321 290 367 563

Best results in bold. All individual test results in seconds.

All systems had 1GB RAM. Macs used Apple’s Boot Camp beta to install Windows. All machines were tested with Windows XP Pro with Service Pack 2 except the HP Pavilion which had Windows Media Center Edition installed. For more information on WorldBench 5, go here .—Macworld Lab testing by James Galbraith and Jerry Jung

The MacBook Pro tallied a WorldBench 5 score of 98—just a little bit slower than the test’s reference system. But consider the specs of that reference system, particularly the 2.2GHz Athlon 64 FX-51 processor. PC World picked that model as the baseline “because its configuration specifically places it near the upper end of the current performance scale.” The bottom line: Apple’s laptop turned in a pretty impressive performance.

It’s even more impressive when you compare the MacBook Pro’s WorldBench score to other top-rated laptops. Here’s a summary of PC World’s Top Five Power Laptops, comparing their processors, clock speeds, and WorldBench results.

Power Laptop WorldBench 5 Scores

Model Processor WorldBench 5 Score
HP Pavilion dv8000z 2.2GHz Turion 64 ML-40 95
Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV600 1.83GHz Core Duo T2400 92
HP Compaq nx9420 2.16GHz Core Duo T2600 101
Acer Aspire AS9504WSMi 2GHz Pentium M 760 99
Acer TravelMate 8200 2GHz Core Duo T2500 100
MacBook Pro 2.16GHz Intel Core Duo 98

The MacBook Pro’s WorldBench score of 98 places it squarely among these top-rated portables—higher than the scores for the HP Pavilion dv800z and Toshiba Qosimo G35-AV600, a little less than the scores for the other models.

Hopefully, that adds some context to our Windows XP-on-Mac numbers. We’re continuously looking for ways to provide you with numbers that you can use and understand, so suggestions, comments, or questions for our Lab or our colleagues at PC World are welcome.

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