Macworld Lab uses a Speedmark 8 score that’s an indicator of how well a Mac performs overall. We take the performance results from the 15 individual tests that make up Speedmark and boil them down to a single number. The baseline system is a 2011 Mac mini with a 2.3GHz Core i5 dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics. That system has a score of 100.
With a score of 275, our top-performing system (so far) is the stock configuration of the 15-inch 2.6GHz Core i7 Retina MacBook Pro (mid 2012), with 8GB of RAM, 500GB of flash storage, and a dual graphics system (integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 and 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 650M). The slowest Mac we tested—with a score of just 48—is the 13-inch 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Air (2008) with 2GB of RAM, 120GB of flash storage, and integrated Intel GMA X3100 graphics.
Below is a table listing the Speedmark 8 scores of Apple’s current Mac lineup. We also have a list of scores of all the Macs that were available in the Macworld Lab.
Speedmark 8 Scores: Current Macs
|Model||Speedmark 8 score|
|15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.7GHz Core i7 (Early 2013)
|15-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.4GHz Core i7 (Early 2013)
|13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i5 (Early 2013)
|13-inch Retina MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5 (Late 2012)
|15-inch MacBook Pro/2.7GHz 8GB RAM 1TB HD BTO (Mid 2012)
|15-inch MacBook Pro/2.6GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012)
|15-inch MacBook Pro/2.3GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012)
|13-inch MacBook Pro/2.9GHz Core i7 (Mid 2012)
|13-inch MacBook Pro/2.5GHz Core i5 (Mid 2012)
|13-inch MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 256GB flash storage (Mid 2012)
|13-inch MacBook Air/1.8GHz Core i5 128GB flash storage (Mid 2012)
|11-inch MacBook Air/2.0GHz Core i7 128GB flash storage (Mid 2012)
|11-inch MacBook Air/1.7GHz Core i5 64GB flash storage (Mid 2012)
|Mac Pro/2.4GHz Xeon 12-core (Mid 2012)
|Mac Pro/3.2GHz Xeon quad-core (Mid 2012)
|27-inch iMac/3.3GHz Core i7, 1TB Fusion Drive, 8GB RAM BTO (Late 2012)
|21.5-inch iMac/3.1GHz Core i7, 1TB Fusion Drive, 16GB RAM BTO (Late 2012)
|Mac mini/2.6GHz quad-core Core i7, 8GB RAM, 1TB Fusion Drive BTO (Late 2012)
|Mac mini/2.3GHz Core i7 (Late 2012)
|Mac mini/2.5GHz Core i5 (Late 2012)
All results are scores. Higher scores are better. Best results in bold.
Individual application tests explained
Speedmark 8 is comprised of 15 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 8.
Mac OS X Finder tests
Three tests: Duplicate 2GB Folder, Compress 6GB Folder, and Uncompress 6GB File Archive The duplicate and uncompress tasks demonstrate the speed of the system’s internal storage. Flash storage drives do much better in this test.
The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros were the fastest, duplicating the 6GB folder in just 37 seconds and uncompressing in 41 seconds. A 2008 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro was the slowest at both, taking more than 7 minutes for each.
Compressing a 6GB folder is more of a CPU test than a storage test. Times ranged from 280 seconds for our BTO 2011 iMac to 480 seconds for a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo 11-inch Macbook Air from 2010. In fact, the bottom six systems in this test were all 2010 and older MacBook Airs.
iMovie ‘11 tests
Import Two-Minute Clip from Camera Archive, and Share (export) Movie to iTunes for Mobile Devices. The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros were the fastest at the importing, followed by the 12-core Mac Pros. The iMacs turned in the fastest export times.
HandBrake 0.9.5 64-bit test
Encode Four Chapters from Ripped File on Hard Drive to H.264 HandBrake is one of the few applications that takes full use of however many processor cores are available.
Cinebench R11.5 tests
Maxon’s Cinebench’s OpenGL test measures the performance of the graphics card in the system and gives a result in frames per second, so the higher the score, the better.
Maxon’s Cinebench CPU isolates the CPU. Like HandBrake and MathematicaMark, the Cinebench CPU test can take full advantage of all of the processor threads found in today’s Mac. The Mac Pros with twelve cores (seen as having 24 virtual cores by the application thanks to Intel’s Hyper Threading technology) finished the test in just over half a minute. The 2009 13-inch MacBook Air with 2.13GHz processor took 10.5 minutes to complete the test.
VMWare Fusion 4.1.3 and PCMark 7 Productivity suite
Running PCMark’s Productivity test on Windows 7 Home Premium hits the processor, RAM and drive. The 15-inch 2.6GHz Retina Display MacBook Pro was the highest scoring model we tested.
Adobe Photoshop CS6 test
The Photoshop Action Script test uses a 100MB file, and involves running various filters and tasks, as well as importing RAW files. Processors, RAM and drive speed all come into play on this test. Again, the 2012 Retina Display MacBook Pros finished ahead of the pack, with a 2008 MacBook Air finishing last.
Aperture 3.3.2 test
Import and Process 207 Photos. This test hits both the hard drive and the processor. Ther 2.6GHz Retina MacBook Pro finished the test in 51 seconds. The 2010 Mac mini 2.4GHz took 3 minutes and 46 seconds to import an process the photos.
iPhoto ‘11 test
We import 500 JPEGs from the hard drive into iPhoto. This is another test that takes advantage of drive speed as well as processor speed. 2009 MacBook Air 2.13 was the slowest, taking nearly 6 minutes. Can you guess which was fastest? Bingo! The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro finished the test in just 46 seconds.
MathematicaMark 8 test
As with HandBrake and Cinebench’s CPU Test, MathematicaMark’s Evaluate Notebook Test takes advantage of all available processor cores. Thusly, the 12-core Mac Pros score the highest in this test, followed by the 8-core Mac Pros.
Portal 2 test
The Timedemo (1280-by-800) test shows how well a graphics cards can handle modern 3D games. CPU can play a small role in performance, but our Portal 2 test is really about GPU speed. In this test, scores are framerates, and higher scores are better.
No system was better than our 2011 BTO 27-inch 3.1GHz Core i5 quad-core i5 iMac that displayed 139.9 frames per second. The slowest Mac was a 2009 13-inch 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Air that was only able to display 12 frames per second.