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OS X Lion vs. OS X Snow Leopard Performance Showdown: Which is the Faster OS X?

As most Mac fans know, Apple has already released its next major operating system which is the Mac OS X Lion. According to the Cupertino giant, Lion is their best OS yet and is also one of the most advanced operating system available in the market. If you are a Mac owner who hasn't upgraded yet to Lion, then you must be wondering if upgrading would affect your machine's performance. On the other hand, if you are someone who has upgraded to Lion then you must be wondering how it compares with its predecessor OS X Snow Leopard in terms of performance.

OS X Lion
Luckily, CNET has conducted a performance test in order to see if there are any glaring differences between the two operating systems, or if there are any difference at all.

The tests were done in a top of the line 27-inch iMac with a 3.1 Ghz Intel Core i7 under the hood. Performance between Lion and Snow Leopard was assessed by performing resource intensive tasks within popular applications and measuring just how much time did each operating system took to process the task. Here are the tasks performed with the corresponding test results:

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)

(the shorter the bar, the better the performance)
Lion VS Snow Leopard CS3

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)

(the shorter the bar, the better the performance)
Lion VS Snow Leopard CS5

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)

(the shorter the bar, the better the performance)
Lion VS Snow Leopard iTunes

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)

(the shorter the bar, the better the performance)
Lion VS Snow Leopard Multitasking

Cinebench

(the longer the bar, the better the performance)
Lion VS Snow Leopard Cinebench

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Timedemo (in seconds)

(the shorter the bar, the better the performance)
Lion VS Snow Leopard COD4
As you can with the test results, the difference between Lion and Snow Leopard is at best, minor. Snow Leopard have edged out Lion in terms of third-party applications such as Adobe Photoshop and the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Timedemo. On the other hand, it seems that Lion has the upper hand when it comes to first party applications such as iTunes. Most likely, it is because iTunes was able to benefit from Lion's 64-bit support.

If one conclusion has to made out of this, Lion is superior in performance when it comes to first-party applications while it lags behind Snow Leopard in terms of third-party applications. This dip in performance of Lion with 3rd party programs is more likely an optimization issue. Mac OS X Lion just came out a week ago, so most developers weren't able to optimize their application so that it could take advantage of the OS' more advanced architecture.

As stated before, differences in performance are not something that most users can't overlook. Although you have to keep in mind that tests are conducted on a top of the line brand new machine, so it is highly likely that the difference will be more pronounced with an older hardware.

The Mac OS X Lion is now available and is exclusively distributed through the Mac App Store. Which means if you are looking buy a physical disc, then you are out of luck. The OS X Lion features more than 250+ new features and heavily borrows from the iOS in terms of features and user interface. The Mac OS X Lion can be yours for $29.99. [via CNET]

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