Snow Leopard Is Considered Fast?

I was reading the New York Time’s technology section this morning on my iPod Touch (ironically) and ran across something I found quite humorous in an article about Apple’s latest version of their operating system, Snow Leopard:

In any case, Snow Leopard truly is an optimized version of Leopard. It starts up faster (72 seconds on a MacBook Air, versus 100 seconds in Leopard).

72 seconds? Really? I don’t know if it’s just me or what, but I find that very slow. I realize that is on a laptop so the CPU probably isn’t great, but comon.

For comparison, I just did a cold boot of my computer and timed it with my iPod’s stopwatch app. It’s specs are nothing amazing (it’s over 18 months old) and I’m running Windows 7 RC1 (build 7100).

  • 0 sec — power button is pressed
  • 10 sec — BIOS screen pops up
  • 25 sec — Windows logo appears (i.e. Windows starts loading)
  • 50 sec — login screen appears (25 seconds after Windows started loading)

After I typed in my password, it only took about 5 seconds (10 max) for my desktop, start bar, start menu, etc. to show up. That’s nearly 15 seconds faster than Leopard, 40 seconds faster if you ignore the 25 seconds that it took my computer to run through it’s pre-OS checks.

I admit it took another 30 seconds or so before everything else was loaded, but in Windows 7’s defense I have about two dozen programs set to auto-start (IRC, BitTorrent, twhirl, etc. etc.). When the install was fresh, it loaded the desktop in an instant.

Or is my reverse Apple fanboism clouding my judgment?

20 thoughts on “Snow Leopard Is Considered Fast?

  1. Might be because he was running on a Macbook Air.

    On a normal MBP, even current Leopard doesn’t take long to start up. See http://www.macworld.com/article/142425/2009/08/snow_leopard_performance.html. Normally, startup is just under 30 seconds from pressing the power button to usable desktop. It doesn’t seem much changed in Snow Leopard from his benchmarks although I will note that in my experience, adding extra login items etc doesn’t seem to impact the startup times as much under SL as it did under Leopard.

    Shutdown however, is much faster, around 3-4 seconds under Snow Leopard.

  2. well your comparing Apples to Oranges ๐Ÿ˜‰
    The most powerful Macbook Air is only 2.13Ghz C2D with 2GB of ram and is a ultra slim laptop which is made more for space and not power vs your desktop which is pretty powerful for a laptop.
    I will give you that Win7 is FAST, especially on boot times, but I have found macs to still blow Windows out of the water.

    I think its your reverse Apple fanboism ๐Ÿ˜›

  3. The MacBook Air is quite a slow machine, that’s where they get you. It’s almost like citing the Windows 7 startup time for a netbook.

    I did a cold boot on my MacBook Pro upon reading this post. Its specs are slightly lower than those of your desktop (Core 2 Duo 2.53 GHz, 4 GB RAM, and a very cluttered 320GB HD), and I got the login screen in 62 seconds from a cold boot, and this is using Leopard. I’ll run another test tomorrow after I’ve bought and installed Snow Leopard, but I also suspect your WD Raptor has quite a lot to do with your boot speed ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Zuhaib on August 27th, 2009 at 5:35 PM wrote:

    well your comparing Apples to Oranges ๐Ÿ˜‰
    The most powerful Macbook Air is only 2.13Ghz C2D with 2GB of ram

    I’m using a 2.66GHz C2D (E6750) with 4GB of RAM. Not incredibly faster. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Zuhaib on August 27th, 2009 at 5:35 PM wrote:

    I will give you that Win7 is FAST, especially on boot times

    That it is. I switched to it as my primary OS many months ago and haven’t looked back. Then again, I only reboot my PC about once every two weeks, so boot times don’t matter to me.

    Zuhaib on August 27th, 2009 at 5:35 PM wrote:

    I think its your reverse Apple fanboism ๐Ÿ˜›

    Probably. lol

  5. Sketch on August 27th, 2009 at 7:10 PM wrote:

    I got the login screen in 62 seconds from a cold boot, and this is using Leopard. I’ll run another test tomorrow after I’ve bought and installed Snow Leopard

    I look forward to it! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sketch on August 27th, 2009 at 7:10 PM wrote:

    I also suspect your WD Raptor has quite a lot to do with your boot speed ๐Ÿ˜‰

    You’d actually be quite surprised. Based on my tests using HDTach, my larger drives are significantly faster, especially when it comes to sequential reading. I guess it’s due to data density (the larger drives use perpendicular storage).

    The only reason I keep using my Raptor is because it’s too small to use for storage if I were to partition one of my larger drives instead.

  6. You should also keep in mind that OS X will boot slower over time (installing more software, etc – just like Windows), and the test was likely done with the Macbook upgraded from Leopard. A boot from a clean install of OS X is quite fast (20-30 seconds or less).

    With Leopard (on my 13″ Unibody Macbook – 2.0GHz, 4GB RAM), I’m able to get to my desktop (incl. typing in my password) in ~60 seconds. The Air’s slowness likely comes from it’s 4200RPM HDD, rather than its CPU.

  7. Well, on a 2nd gen Macbook (2Ghz Core2Duo, 2GB Ram, 200GB drive), a year old install of Leopard just booted to a full desktop in under 45 seconds. I know for a fact that, with a fresh install, it would be even faster.

    However, I would like to point out that I think all of this rubbish about boot times is a bit silly. As long as it’s under 2 minutes from start to desktop, it’s all a moot point. Besides, is 15 seconds really going to make a whole hell of a lot of difference?

    Edit: Your plugin that shows what browser people are using is a bit wrong. It shows me as using Opera 8 (?!?) instead of Opera 10. o.O

  8. Matt Freedman on August 27th, 2009 at 8:12 PM wrote:

    The Air’s slowness likely comes from it’s 4200RPM HDD, rather than its CPU.

    4200? WTF? I didn’t even know they made them that slow! I mean laptop drives used to be 5400, but I figured there were all 7200 now.

    Clegko on August 28th, 2009 at 8:21 AM wrote:

    Edit: Your plugin that shows what browser people are using is a bit wrong. It shows me as using Opera 8 (?!?) instead of Opera 10. o.O

    It’s older than the hills (2006 or something). It thinks I’m on NT rather than Windows 7.

    When I have some free time, I think I’ll fork my own version, update it the best I can, and release it.

  9. Okay, login screen in 51 seconds in Snow Leopard! That’s an 11-second improvement over Leopard without changing anything else–I did an upgrade as opposed to a clean install. Also, total time (including entering my password) to load the dock and menu bar was 66 seconds this time as opposed to about 88 seconds yesterday!

    More importantly, though, my HD’s free space went from 13.16 GB to 23.21 GB, just by installing Snow Leopard. If that’s not incredible, I don’t know what is. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. installing ANY OS fresh vs. the same OS after it’s been in daily use for several months is faster. FTW? “Oooo – i did a clean install of Win2K and my machine starts up so fast now!” pointless, irrelevant test.

  11. just b on August 28th, 2009 at 8:56 PM wrote:

    installing ANY OS fresh vs. the same OS after it’s been in daily use for several months is faster. FTW? “Oooo – i did a clean install of Win2K and my machine starts up so fast now!” pointless, irrelevant test.

    I didn’t do a clean install, I did an upgrade. Same Library contents, same clutter. Is it that farfetched that my boot time improved by less than Apple’s quoted improvement?

    I fear that your reverse fanboyism is clouding your judgment.

  12. I’m pretty sure the author of this doesn’t have Office installed on his machine. If he did, Windows would be a lot slower.

    The thing with Windows is it deceives you into thinking it boots up faster than it really does. While it only took the author 50 seconds to get to the login screen, and just 10 seconds to load the start menu, Windows is still not finished loading. Loading an application at that point would be slower than if he had waited an additional 45 seconds.

    Mac loads all the big stuff before you even see the login screen.

  13. Like Steve Vachon said, it’s all much of a muchness with Windows and OSX, they’re better/faster at different things at different times. I’ve recently stopped working on a dual G5 2GHz with 2GB RAM running 10.3 (yes, that’s a three) and that seriously sucked in any kind of speed compared to even a single core Athlon 3000+ I have running in my HTPC at home running Windows 7. Now, having a little play on a current gen iMac running 10.5 (not the fastest machine in the world either) it blew both of those machines out of the water in terms of responsiveness and general processing power.

    As a side note, I’m about 20GB better off on my system drive using Win7 as opposed to Vista – it was around 10GB better off comparing fresh installs, but Win7 doesn’t clutter your drive anywhere NEAR as much as Vista did (talking 64bit here, so all the WinSXS stuff really grew massive on an active machine in Vista).

  14. My First-Gen Macbook with a clean install of Snow Leopard boots in about 15 seconds to the desktop. I have a brand new Seagate 7200.4 500GB disk. I think the OS boots faster than Leo ever did. Could have a lot to do with the new disk as well. 7200rpm is much better than the 5400rpm it replaced!

  15. Just timed my macbook air on the original Leopard:

    30s from button pressed to fully functional OS.
    7s for a shutdown (with 3 apps open)

    But – it has a solid state disk.

    So apparently what makes the biggest difference for boottimes is not CPU, RAM or even OS. It’s disk speed (random reads)

    If Snow Leopard indeed takes of 30% and I’ll be somewhere around 20s I’ll let you know.

    On a related note – In real life I almost never use shutdown; I just put it to sleep (< 1s) and it will wake up (< 3s) when I want to use it. This also saves the time from starting all your apps.

  16. The most powerful Macbook Air is only 2.13Ghz C2D with 2GB of ram and is a ultra slim laptop which is made more for space and not power vs your desktop which is pretty powerful for a laptop.
    I will give you that Win7 is FAST, especially on boot times, but I have found macs to still blow Windows out of the water.

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