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OS X Mavericks vs OS X Yosemite speed testing: Can upgrading to Yosemite slow down your Mac?

Andrew Harrison | Feb. 24, 2015
Can updating OS X slow down your Mac? We ran detailed speed tests on the same Mac running OS X Mavericks and Yosemite to find out

Mavericks vs Yosemite speed testing: Processor and memory

In the Geekbench 3 test the Mavericks system scored 3127 points for single-core mode, and 6650 points in multi-core mode. Yosemite returned results slightly slower for single-core and slightly faster for multi-core operation, of 3099 and 6716 points. That translates as tiny differences of 0.90 percent lower and 0.99 percent higher for single- and multi-core modes respectively. We'll call that one a draw.

Cinebench 11.5 had similar differences, moving from 1.30 to 1.29, or a 0.77 percent drop, on single-core; and from 3.11 to 3.08 points on multi-core, or a 0.96 percent lower result.

Cinebench 15 meanwhile showed a 1.75 percent drop in single core mode (114 down to 112 points); and 2.49 percent drop in multi-core mode (281 down to 274 points).

So these two benchmark applications show Yosemite as consistently slower, but by less than 1 percent difference in v11.5 and circa 2 percent with the more recent v15.

In the OpenGL graphics rendering section of the Cinebench tests, version 11.5 showed a very small change in framerate (26.30 down to 26.07, or 0.87 percent fewer frames per second). On the other hand Cinebench 15's graphics test indicated a move from 21.77 to 24.45 fps, or a 12.3 percent increase for Yosemite.

SunSpider is a benchmark for quantifying a web browser's JavaScript performance, so here we're measuring the difference between different versions of Safari (7.1.3 and 8.0.3) as much as the underlying operating system. However, since it's the overall user experience we're trying to quantify, the test is a useful one. Here we saw a 3.17 percent slower overall response time with Yosemite, a change from 148.1 ms in Mavericks to 152.8 ms.

Peacekeeper is another JavaScript speed test, running a battery of sub-tests of rendering, HTML5 tasks, 2D game graphics, DOM operations and text parsing. The Mavericks system returned an overall score of 5172 points while Yosemite scored 4913 points. This places the Yosemite Mac as 5.0 percent slower than Mavericks.

In a nutshell: With the exception of one anomalous result (Cinebench 15's graphics test), Yosemite consistently produces slower performance from our test Mac. But the difference was small: anywhere from slightly under 1 percent to 5 percent.

Mavericks vs Yosemite speed testing: Real-world games testing

We tried some real-world testing with two Mac games - Batman: Arkham City and Tomb Raider 2013 - and also the synthetic graphics rendering engine from Unigine Heaven. For all three tests we ran graphics at the MacBook's default native HiDPI setting that renders the 2560 x 1600-pixel screen like 1280 x 800. The differences were now more substantial, and typically in Yosemite's favour.


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