|Hackintosh Performance Hardware Options|
|Articles - Featured Guides|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Tuesday, 16 April 2013|
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Hackintosh CPU Performance
Benchmarking a Hackintosh is more difficult than benchmarking a Windows PC simply because there are so few benchmarking applications. For CPU and system benchmarking, the current standard is Primate Labs' Geekbench. Geekbench "...provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance." It is multi-threaded and multi-core aware and tests integer performance, floating point performance, memory bandwidth, and "stream" operations; each section consists of 5 to 12 sub-tests whose scores are combined to summarize the performance in each category. Finally, an overall "Geekbench" score is computed from the results. Geekbench offers both 32-bit and 64-bit tests; I ran the 64-bit tests exclusively.
For this benchmark I tested the Core i7-3770K using its integrated GPU as well as a separate video card to see if there was any noticeable performance hit. As you can see from the chart below, there was, with the use of the integrated GPU dropping scores by about 8.5%.
Although I didn't have any "real" desktop Macs to compare these scores against, Geekbench allows you to upload your test results and compare them against the results uploaded by other users. Using this results browser, the 8413 score achieved with the Core i3-3220 CPU compares well with the 8442 score of the mid-2011 21" iMac, with came with a Core i5-2500S CPU running at 2.7GHz. The 13,349 scored by the 3770K with a discrete video card is very close to the score of 13,672 achieved by the 2013 Macbook Pro with Retina Display, which is running a quad-core Core i7-3840QM CPU. The highest score posted by a non-Mac Pro was the 13,998 returned by the latest 27" iMac, which has a Core i7-3770 CPU. So with the right CPU, our Hackintosh is very close to the performance of the fastest non-Pro Mac you can buy.
The next CPU test I ran was CINEBENCH R11.5, which renders a complex ray-traced scene using either a single core or all the available cores on the CPU. Here, the iGPU had virtually no effect on the 3770K results, likely because there was no animation or video going on. The Ivy Bridge cores of the Core i3-3220 are only a little over 6% slower than the individual cores of the 3770K in this test, which explains why the much less expensive CPU can hold its on in single-threaded tasks-- the incremental increase in clock speed and going from 3M to 8M of L2 cache just don't make that much different under most use cases.
When you load all the cores up, though, the 3770K surges ahead. Although both CPUs are Hyper Threaded, the 3770K has twice the cores and more than twice the cache, and the results in more than twice the performance...in this benchmark at least. If you're doing things like running virtual machines or video transcoding, more cores is obviously the way to go.
Next, let's take a look at video performance.