Apps and Software Guide

The Basics of Apple's New OS - OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

Performance Matters

Performance Matters

Apple doesn’t make any official mentions about performance improvements in Mountain Lion, so we decided to do some basic testing of our own by benching two MacBook Pros with Geekbench and also measuring the startup time.

The specifications of the two MacBook Pro notebooks we used:

Late 2011 MacBook Pro

 

  • Intel Core i7-2720QM (2.2GHz)
  • 8GB DDR3-1333 RAM
  • AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 512MB VRAM
  • 750GB HDD (5400RPM)

 

Early 2008 MacBook Pro

 

  • Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 (2.4GHz)
  • 4GB DDR2-667 RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB VRAM
  • 250GB HDD (5400RPM)

Using Geekbench, a popular Mac benchmarking tool that measures processor and memory performance, we measured the both system’s performance before and after installing Mountain Lion to see if there’s any measurable gain in performance. We also measured the time taken for the system to boot up into the OS from a cold boot (power off and on).
 

Geekbench Results

Model / OS Geekbench Score Boot Time
Early 2008 MacBook Pro / Snow Leopard 10.6.8 3724 1 min 3 seconds
Early 2008 MacBook Pro / Mountain Lion 10.8 3719 1 min 24 seconds
 
Late 2011 MacBook Pro / Lion 10.7.4 10367 1 min 22 seconds
Late 2011 MacBook Pro / Mountain Lion 10.8 10403 1 min 43 seconds

Judging from the benchmarks, it seems that installing Mountain Lion does not improve performance as the results are nearly identical. However, Mountain Lion does seem to take considerably longer to start up. Both our test systems took an additional 21 seconds to boot from a cold start.

Actual usage experience is pretty pleasant even on the aged Late 2008 MacBook Pro. That said, we definitely recommend upgrading older systems to at least 4GB of memory to ensure smooth operation, especially if you intend to use it for more memory-intensive tasks such as photo and video editing. In fact, with memory being one of the upgrades that Apple allows users to perform, and the fact memory is pretty affordable these days, we would definitely recommend getting as much memory as possible for the best experience even if you have a newer Mac system.