MARCH 30, 2010

Hands-On Review: Mac OS X 10.6.3--OpenGL graphics speed increase? Yes!

My biggest disappointment in Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) was the reduced speed in 3D graphics tests of the hot EVGA GeForce 285 GTX graphics card for the Mac Pro when compared with those for Leopard, the previous Mac OS X version (see my review). This was apparently due to performance issues in the OpenGL drivers. So, I tested 10.6.1 following its release but there was no change. Apple released Mac OS X 10.6.2 in early November 2009 with a newer set of graphics drivers (1.6.6 vs 1.6.2) but only the 3D game Halo showed an increase in performance among my tests for OpenGL performance.

Yesterday, Apple released Mac OS X 10.6.3, again with new graphics drivers (1.6.10 vs 1.6.6). Could three be the charm such that the performance of the GeForce 285 GTX has at least increased to the level achieved under Leopard 10.5.7?

Here are the results of the three OpenGL graphics re-tests (see how) under 10.6.3:

Mac OS X 10.6.3 OpenGL Graphics Speed Tests (Higher is faster)
10.6.3 10.6.2 10.6 10.5.7
Cinebench 10 OpenGL Hardware Lighting
6256 5978 6018 5961
Xbench 1.3 OpenGL Graphics
180 97 93 177
Halo 2.0.3 (frames/sec)
171 165 122 124
OpenGL Ext. Viewer 3.22
143 - - -
Red is fastest.

The OpenGL scores increased some four and five percent respectively for the game Halo and the benchmark Cinebench and a whopping 86 percent for the benchmark Xbench. These are the highest (fastest) scores I have obtained for these OpenGL graphics tests on the EVGA GeForce 285 GTX. Apparently, Apple engineers found and fixed a significant bottleneck or bottlenecks in OpenGL performance that affected my benchmarks and, perhaps, other 3D games and applications as well. I look forward to reading Rob-ART Morgan's usually more extensive tests on his BareFeats. [Bill Fox]

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