Are Macs really that optimised?

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#1 DivideByZero  Icon User is offline

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Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 06:12 AM

I was having a discussion with a flat mate the other day about our computers.
And when we eventually got to specs, he said that he had 1GB of ram "which is the PC equivalent of 4GB of RAM (which is what my new laptop has coincidentally)".

Now I've always heard that Macs were more optimised, but is the difference really that much?

As you can tell, I don't have much experience with Macs, I'm a Windows guy.

If what my flat mate says is true, how does Apple do it?
Does this mean that a 1.6ghz dual core CPU that his Mac has is faster than the 2.0-2.8ghz i7 quad core cpu that my laptop has?
Or is this known optimisation only really shows in RAM usage?

Thanks for satisfying my curiosity :)

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#2 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 06:49 AM

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::snort::

1 GB on a Mac is NOT like 4 GB on a PC.

RAM is memory, it's where software and data is stored for quick access by the processor. If a program takes up X amount of memory while running, and the data it uses takes up Y, it takes X+Y memory to house it. No operating system is going to give a 4 fold fix on that.
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#3 AdaHacker  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 06:51 AM

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This is complete nonsense. Your flat-mate has no idea what he's talking about. One gigabyte of RAM is one gigabyte of RAM, whether it's a Mac or a PC.

Furthermore, all arguments about Mac hardware are moot since Apple switched to the Intel platform. Macs are now built from the same components as PCs. There is no longer anything special, or even different, about the hardware. Apple may put higher quality parts in their machines than you'd get in a $500 special from Dell, but they're the same type of components you could put in a PC.
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#4 Dormilich  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 06:57 AM

I may note that a computer’s speed (PC or Mac) depends on the slowest bottleneck, which is usualy among the controllers (Northbridge, Southbridge, Bus, etc.) and (to a certain degree) the quality of the used components. the speed of an i7 CPU also depends on its L-caches which depends on the model/family/stepping of the CPU (i7 ≠ i7).
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#5 Tinix  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 06:57 AM

View PostDivideByZero, on 19 September 2011 - 03:12 PM, said:

I was having a discussion with a flat mate the other day about our computers.
And when we eventually got to specs, he said that he had 1GB of ram "which is the PC equivalent of 4GB of RAM (which is what my new laptop has coincidentally)".

Now I've always heard that Macs were more optimised, but is the difference really that much?

As you can tell, I don't have much experience with Macs, I'm a Windows guy.

If what my flat mate says is true, how does Apple do it?
Does this mean that a 1.6ghz dual core CPU that his Mac has is faster than the 2.0-2.8ghz i7 quad core cpu that my laptop has?
Or is this known optimisation only really shows in RAM usage?

Thanks for satisfying my curiosity :)


Well I personally think it is not possible.
"which is the PC equivalent of 4GB of RAM (which is what my new laptop has coincidentally)" - What? All 2007/8(I think)+ Mac are no more Power PCs but standard x86 machines with Intel processors inside (coincidentally new mas run on i7/i5s) nad how can be 1GB = 4GB? 1GB is one GB. It doeasnt make sense. Of course macs can be using less memory than windows but I dont think this is true either because windows 7 makes a good use of memory management. As for the processor thingy I dont think Mac OS X could make less usage of processor so this should be irrelevant. Correct me if im wrong. Also anthore thing is that Mac OS X cant be so optimalised because you can install it on virtually any intel PC without modifications (booting requires workaruond but nothing is modified too seriously). If your firend has Poer Pc mac then I think it is double irrelevant because it is outdated hardware and (probably) software.
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#6 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 08:53 AM

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He's a Mac owner. While Macs are indeed pretty machines and have a clean, nifty look about them, a fair chunk of their fanbois (and girls) don't know shit about computer components such that they'd blurt out that 1Gb of RAM in a Mac is the equal of 4Gb in a PC.

What it tells you is that some Mac owners pay a ridiculous amount of money to acquire a personal computing device that is, in almost every way that counts, indistinguishable from a Dell, Sony, Acer and so on. They didn't purchase their Mac on the basis of hardware superiority...they purchased it because it has a cute little Apple logo on it and all their friends have one.

He likely rewinds his DVDs before returning them to the store too...
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#7 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 09:20 AM

Hardware is hardware. Software does not make hardware magically multiply.
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#8 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 09:21 AM

Just to balance out Craig's rabbid anti-mac stance...

I've had Mac's and PC both for years. I will say this from experience: My macs have never had anywhere near the wonky issues of the Windows machines. In today's world of Intel based Macintoshes it stands to reason it isn't the hardware. That leaves the software.

Macs work - they continue to work - If a program crashes it doesn't take down my entire machine. I don't see random weird bits where a Wifi dongle just stops seeing networks until you reboot then works fine... or how a windows machine sees the same device plugged into a different USB port as a new device that needs a driver download.

My Mac never went through 64-bit 'growing pains' the way Windows did with XP64, Vista64 (or Vista any-flavor hell). The OS works, works fast and reliably, and it doesn't seem to matter how tied up Photoshop is on something big, I can still switch to another program and it runs fast. You can't say that with Windows.

I have successfully updated the OS on my MacPro tower a few times over the last few years and it continues to operate well. My Windows box has an annual routine that involves backing up, formatting, re-installing the O.S. and all the applications. It is just necessary every year because after 12 months of use the OS is just glutted with orphaned files, orphaned drivers and who knows what else making it slow and unstable.

Don't get me wrong, Macs do have their issues too. And I make a living coding for Windows. But the Mac demonstrates maybe 2% of the problems I experience with Windows.

As for cost to benefit ratio:
I can install Windows as a second OS and boot into Windows. That gives me twice the OS options. If I build one big Mac, then I really have a big Mac and a big windows box. That is a cost/power/space savings no matter how you slice it. Plus, a Macintosh comes with actual useful software. You can buy a Mac and edit video, write documents and so on with no extra purchase. You buy a Windows machine and the first thing you do is spend hundreds more to be able to *do* something with it. By the time you actually compare a *functional* windows box with a mac, you aren't so price lop-sided as the Windows fanboys (and girls) like to scream about.

With that said, I agree Apple is ridiculous about prices when you order custom builds. So don't do it. Buy a basic box then order your bluray drive, 4tb drive and memory from all the standard suspects like Frys.

This post has been edited by tlhIn`toq: 19 September 2011 - 09:21 AM

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#9 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 09:25 AM

I may should have been clearer: I was trying to confine my comments to hardware differences. The OS differences between Mac and Windows have been debated so many times that that dead horse was made into a soggy equine puddle many years ago.

I'm not so much rabidly anti-Mac as I am anti-ignorance.
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#10 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 09:42 AM

If windows consumes a ballpark 1 GB to run, that leaves 3 GB for other applications. That's still more than the entire 1 GB of the other machine. I don't know how much OS X takes to run. It's may well be less than Windows. I wonder if your friend has found an old article comparing smaller amounts of memory and multiplied up.
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#11 Curtis Rutland  Icon User is online

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 01:31 PM

Interesting thing about Windows Vista and Windows 7. They both use what's called "prefetching". It loads commonly used things into RAM automatically, to decrease load times. The amount it prefetches varies based on the amount of available memory at the time. So, a computer with 3 GB RAM may actually show less RAM used than one with 12 GB RAM, even though they have exactly the same programs running. The point is, the Task Manager may show more memory used than is actually used.
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#12 CTphpnwb  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 03:33 PM

I think you're friend may have misunderstood the idea that the Mac OS is better at handling virtual memory and ist generally more efficient. This may be true, but Windows issues with registry corruptions and its inability to defrag files on the fly could be the real culprits, causing both system slow downs and software glitches that the Mac doesn't have.
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#13 Mikhail  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 05:40 PM

I use a Mac, and no its not 1GB = 4GB. It's 1 GB, 1GB will always be 1GB doesn't matter what operating system you use Mac/Windows/Linux.
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#14 Locke  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 10:16 PM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 19 September 2011 - 11:21 AM, said:

As for cost to benefit ratio:
I can install Windows as a second OS and boot into Windows. That gives me twice the OS options. If I build one big Mac, then I really have a big Mac and a big windows box. That is a cost/power/space savings no matter how you slice it. Plus, a Macintosh comes with actual useful software. You can buy a Mac and edit video, write documents and so on with no extra purchase.


I installed Linux alongside Windows. For free. How's that for cost ratio? I get the UNIX environment with none of the Apple price. inb4 "all the programs are shit"

I've never seen something I've needed to do on a Mac I couldn't do on Windows, or Linux for that matter. I absolutely refuse to pay for an aluminum trinket and a brand name.
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#15 stackoverflow  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are Macs really that optimised?

Posted 19 September 2011 - 11:23 PM

This flatmate of yours is ridiculous. It's laughable!

The only valid argument you can make regarding OSes and speed on the same hardware is through the CPU scheduling and IO scheduling algorithms each OS uses.

That's using CPU and Hard Drives-- because they are ultimately what speed depends on. The RAM is only a very minute portion of speed-- in fact, in this day and age, RAM has almost no affect on speed.

20 years ago you may have been able to make a case regarding RAM and speed when swapping was a problem, but this day and age using all of your RAM is rare.

This post has been edited by stackoverflow: 19 September 2011 - 11:23 PM

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