How-To Geek

How to Benchmark Your OS X Mac or Hackintosh PC

When you get a new computer (Mac, in this case), you might want to check how well it can perform. By running a benchmark, you’re actually finding out your machine’s scores regarding various performance-related tasks, and then you can compare your results with others.

There are several benchmarking tools available, but the two most commonly used are Geekbench and Cinebench. While Geekbench provides you with an idea of how well your machine’s processing is, Cinebench takes it one step further and also benchmarks the graphics processing capabilities. Although these work on Windows too (and Windows users, keep reading, the process is still the same!), we thought it would be a good idea to benchmark your Mac OS X machine. And yes, by “Mac OS X machine”, we mean real Macs and Hackintoshes as well. In case you missed our Hackintoshing guides, here are the two most essential links you might consider visiting:

Basics of building a Hackintosh

Installing Mac OS X Lion on your Hackintosh

In short, these benchmark tests are not specifically for Macs, they can also be run on Hackintoshes. And that’s even better, because this is how you will be able to see how well your hackintosh stands up against the big guns (real Macs), so Hackintosh users must try this. This is how you can check if the ~$1200 hackintosh you recently built is as powerful as (if not more powerful than) a $2500 Mac Pro!

The first benchmarking utility is called Geekbench. It mainly focuses on benchmarking your computer’s performance (processor and memory). Go to the Geekbench download page and download it. There’s just one problem, you’ll have to purchase it for 64-bit benchmarks (but anyway, the 32-bit version works just fine). When downloaded, you need to make sure no extra apps are running (have a look at the menu bar and quit any background apps). Now you’re ready to run the benchmark test. The Geekbench main window will display some system specs, which will also be included in the final results. Once you’re ready, press the ‘Run Benchmarks” button. Be patient, since this might take a while. Once the benchmarking process completes, you’ll see a rundown of all the details, and your Geekbench score as well.

Now it’s time to compare this score with others (having similar results), so you can get an idea of your computer’s ranking. Click the ‘Upload’ button on the Geekbench window, and your default browser will open and take you to a webpage.

As an example, let’s have a look at these Geekbench scores.

Yes, these are the scores of a hackintosh, but it doesn’t really matter.

In the next step, we will try to compare our scores head-to-head with another machine. For that, we have to set our results as a baseline, so click ‘Set as Baseline Result’.

Then click ‘Similar Systems Chart’ to display a graph with various computers of similar specs. You can also choose to compare with the top scores as well.

Now you’ll be presented with a ‘performance chart’. This is a graph which shows the results of all the computers (shown as dots, or ‘points’) that resemble the specs of your computer. The x-axis on this graph shows the processor speed, and the y-axis denotes the Geekbench score. Your score on this graph is denoted by a red point, and the blue points are others’ results. So, the farther away the point is, the higher would be the processor speed, and same is the case for the Geekbench score. You might see some points having high Geekbench score but low processor speed, and vice versa. This is because processor speed is not the only determining factor for Geekbench scores, the number of cores and threads also matters, alongside the amount of RAM installed and several other factors.

If you want to compare your results with any particular computer (point), just click it, and it will display a direct comparison (since you’ve already selected your computer as the baseline). In this case, let’s compare it with a relatively more powerful machine.

A multiplication factor of greater than 1.00 indicates that the machine being compared is more powerful compared to yours (by the corresponding number). In this case, the Mac being compared has a Geekbench score 2.17 times higher than the baseline. Likewise, the baseline is powerful than the machine being compared if the multiplication factor is less than 1.00 (0.1x, for instance)

Now let’s move to another benchmarking utility that concentrates on video performance as well as CPU performance. It’s called Cinebench, and you can download it from here.

Open Cinebench, and you’ll see two options, CPU and OpenGL. Let’s start with OpenGL, which is the graphics rendering test (for the GPU). Click the “Run” button to start the OpenGL test, and wait patiently till the rendering is complete. You will see a 3D scene playing (being rendered), which is actually the benchmark test. The process might take some time, depending upon your video card (or integrated graphics, Intel HD 3000, for instance). Once the OpenGL test is complete, you’ll be presented with an FPS (frames per second) score. Now you can run the CPU benchmark as well. This test will render a 3D image using full power of your CPU, and as you might guess, this one will take some time, and the temperatures might go up as well (if you’re running a monitoring application such as iStat Menus, you will be able to see the temperatures go up, and all cores working at 100%).

Once the tests have finished, you’ll see your scores, compared with a couple of other results on the left side (in the ‘Ranking’ column). Your result is highlighted in orange, while others are in blue. These results are scores of similar computers with hardware almost similar (lower or higher) than yours. You can toggle between CPU and OpenGL scores by clicking ‘OpenGL’ in the ranking column (or vice versa). This way, you’ll get an idea of your Mac’s (or hackintosh’s) standing among similar machines, and that’s what a benchmark test is all about.

Overall, the interface of both these benchmarking apps is pretty easy to use, and since you know what it means, now you can easily go ahead and give it a try. And also, there’s not much difference between the Mac version and Windows version, so Windows users can also use these benchmarking tools pretty easily. We did not discuss each and every aspect of the process, but we hope it gives you an idea of how it works.

Download Geekbench

Download Cinebench

These are just two of the most used benchmarking tools for Macs, obviously there are a couple more you can try (Xbench/Novabench, for instance). So what are your computer’s benchmarks? Let us know in the comments!

Here’s a YouTube video showing most of what’s mentioned in this article:


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  • Published 12/12/11

Comments (2)

  1. Enes

    Ehm, Geekbench and Cinebench is also available for Windows!

  2. Usman

    Well, it was mentioned, right? :)
    “and Windows users, keep reading, the process is still the same!”

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