imac gateway It seems as though Apple has been getting a lot of good publicity lately, and it’s definitely got to be helping their sales. The latest example is a benchmark and usability test done by the reputable Popular Mechanics lab. They tested two laptops and two desktops where half were Mac’s running Leopard and the other half were PC’s running Vista. Here are some of the specs they mention on the machines:

The Gateway One PC had a processor that runs 400 MHz slower than its iMac competitor (not a heck of a difference in this age of dual-core chips), but it also had two extra gigabytes of DDR2 memory. In the laptop category, our Asus M51 had a 2.2 GHz processor, compared to 2.4 GHz for our MacBook. But the Asus had a larger screen, a more sophisticated graphics card and an extra gig of RAM.

When it came to usability they received user feedback from both operating systems regarding design, ergonomics, and more. In the end both operating systems came out nearly equal in terms of usability, with only a slide edge being given to Mac OS X. When it came to performance, however, Mac’s seemed to dominate the board:

Gateway One
Asus M51SR
Startup Time 28.7s 1m 13s 41.6s 1m 51s
Shutdown Time 4.0s 44.3s 3.9s 25.4s
Install MS Office 4m 17s 6m 25s 2m 57s 4m 46s
Install Adobe CS3 31m 44s 25m 45s 34m 54s 21m
Launch Browser 3.3s 6.3s
Launch Word 4.2s 5.2s 5.3s 6.2s
Launch Photoshop 4.0s 5.5s 4.1s 5.2s
Launch Photoshop* 21.36s 40.0s 16.2s 25.5s
CD Rip 3m 35s 3m 35s 5m 49s 3m 9s

* This was a stress test where three video sources (a YouTube clip, a DVD and an .avi file), DivX encoding, instant messaging, Word, Adobe Acrobat and a spyware scan were simultaneously running when trying to launch Photoshop.

I would say that the comparisons are pretty fair since they are judging a consumer’s out-of-box experience, but I don’t know that this could be viewed as an accurate Vista vs. Mac comparison. It’s very likely that both the Gateway and the Asus came loaded with all kinds of bloatware that slowed down the PC horribly… particularly the startup and shutdown times. Looking at the Gateway One homepage I can see that it comes preinstalled with the entire McAfee Internet Suite, which isn’t exactly known as the speediest program.

Popular Mechanics took the correct route in their review though. They never really considered it a Mac vs. Vista matchup, but instead a Mac vs. PC. I do recommend checking out their entire review, which includes a lot more detailed benchmarks than those listed above.

Thanks for the tip Omar!