Introducing Speedmark 6.5

James Galbraith
12 October, 2010
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Here in the Macworld Lab, we try to keep Speedmark, our Macintosh benchmark test suite, on pace with the current version of Mac OS X (for example, we updated to Speedmark 6 when Mac OS X 10.6 was released). Since the introduction of Speedmark 6, we’ve seen new releases of Photoshop, HandBrake, Aperture, and Parallels. Another application in Speedmark 6, CineBench R10, can’t handle all 24 virtual processing cores found on some 2010 Mac Pros.

Though there has been no announced release date for OS X 10.7, it has become necessary to update our Speedmark tests. To that end, we’ve been hard at work updating the applications and the tests to come up with Speedmark 6.5.

Aside from the updates to the applications, we’ve made some additions and some subtractions from the test suite. We’ve added a multitasking test, running our updated Photoshop CS5 action script while iTunes 10 converts AAC files to MP3 and the Finder compresses a 2GB folder. Due to strange issues with certain optical drives, and the absence of DVD drives on some Macs, we no longer rip a DVD from the Mac’s optical drive – we now use HandBrake to encode a video file already ripped to the hard drive. We’ve also chosen to leave out our Compressor test; Speedmark 6 was heavy on encoding tests and our iMovie and HandBrake tests seem more in-line with the tasks readers are likely to perform most often.

We use a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini as the baseline system, with a base score of 100. We compared the performance of all other Macs to the performance of the 2010 Mac mini running 17 different tests.

Speedmark 6.5 scores

Here are the benchmark results for the current Mac lineup. We’ve also included benchmarks for several older Macs – we don’t have every older Mac, but we tested what we have in the Lab. The current Mac lineup is shown below.

Speedmark 6.5 results: Current Mac lineup

Computer Speedmark
6.5 Score
MacBook 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo 2GB (Mid 2010) 99
13in MacBook Pro 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo 4GB (Mid 2010) 106
13in MacBook Pro 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo 4GB (Mid 2010) 137
15in MacBook Pro 2.4GHz Core i5 4GB (Mid 2010) 132
15in MacBook Pro 2.66GHz Core i7 4GB (Mid 2010) 151
17in MacBook Pro 2.53GHz Core i5 4GB (Mid 2010) 137
MacBook Air 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo 2GB (Mid 2009) 54
MacBook Air 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo 2GB (Mid 2009) 63
Mac mini 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo 2GB (Mid 2010) 100
21.5in iMac 3.06GHz Core i3 4GB (Mid 2010) 174
21.5in iMac 3.2GHz Core i3 4GB (Mid 2010) 179
27in iMac 3.2GHz Core i3 4GB (Mid 2010) 177
27in iMac 2.8GHz Core i5 Quad-Core 4GB (Mid 2010) 196
27in iMac 2.93GHz Core i7 Quad-Core 4GB (Mid 2010, BTO) 225
27in iMac 3.6GHz Core i5 Dual-Core 4GB, SSD (Mid 2010, BTO) 218
27in iMac 3.6GHz Core i5 Dual-Core 4GB (Mid 2010, BTO) 199
Mac Pro 2.8GHz Quad-Core Xeon Nehalem 3GB (Mid 2010) 207
Mac Pro 2.4GHz Quad-Core x2 (8 cores total) Xeon Westmere 6GB (Mid 2010) 216
Mac Pro 3.33GHz 6-Core Xeon Westmere 3GB (Mid 2010, BTO) 263
Mac Pro 2.66GHz 6-Core x2 (12 cores total) Xeon Westmere 12GB (Mid 2010) 262
Mac Pro 2.66GHz 6-Core x2 (12 cores total) Xeon Westmere 6GB (Mid 2010) 261

Higher scores are better. Best result in bold.

How we tested. Speedmark 6.5 scores are relative to those of a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini (Mid 2010) with 2GB of RAM, which is assigned a score of 100. All iMacs were tested with OS X 10.6.4 and standard shipping RAM configuration. We duplicated a 1GB file, created a Zip archive in the Finder from the two 1GB files and then unzipped it. We converted 135 minutes of AAC audio files to MP3 using iTunes’ High Quality setting. In iMovie ’09, we imported a camera archive and exported it to iTunes using the Mobile Devices setting. We ran a Timedemo at 1024-by-768 with 4X anti-aliasing on in Call of Duty 4. We imported 200 JPEGs into iPhoto ’09. The Photoshop Suite test is a set of 23 scripted tasks using a 50MB file. Photoshop’s memory was set to 70 percent and History was set to Minimum. For our multitasking test, we timed the Photoshop test again, but with the iTunes MP3 encoding and file compression tests running in the background. We used Handbrake to encode four chapters from a DVD previously ripped to the hard drive to H.264. We recorded how long it took to render a scene with multiprocessors in Cinebench and ran that application’s OpenGL, frames per second test. We ran the Evaluate Notebook test in MathematicaMark 7. We ran the WorldBench 6 multitasking test on a Parallels 6 VM running Windows 7 Professional. We timed the import and processing time for 200 photos in Aperture. – AMW Lab testing by James Galbraith, McKinley Noble, Gil Loyola, and William Wang

We will be updating this page whenever we have new test scores.

Speedmark 6.5’s task list

Mac OS X: Finder

  • Duplicate 1GB file
  • Compress 2GB folder
  • Uncompress 2GB file archive

Pages ‘09

  • Convert and open 500 page Microsoft Word document.

iTunes 10

  • Convert 42 AAC files to MP3 from hard drive.

iMovie ’09

  • Import two minute clip from camera archive.
  • Share two minute movie to iTunes for mobile devices.

iPhoto ’09

  • Import 200 photos from hard drive.

Parallels 6

Call of Duty 4

  • Timedemo run at 1024-by-768 with 4X anti-aliasing.

Cinebench R15

  • CPU test
  • OpenGL

Adobe Photoshop CS5

  • Action script run on a 50MB file.


  • Time Photoshop CS5 action script run on a 50MB file while Finder compresses a 2GB folder and iTunes encodes 42 AAC files to MP3 in the background.

HandBrake 0.9.4

  • Encode four chapters from ripped file on hard drive to H.264.

MathematicaMark 7

  • Evaluate Notebook test.

Aperture 3

  • Import and process 200 photos.

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