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A Quick Test Of OpenGL In Mac OS X 10.6.5

Michael Larabel

Published on 12 November 2010
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 1 - 13 Comments

In August we reviewed Apple's Enhanced OpenGL Stack that was introduced as an update to Mac OS X 10.6.4. This Snow Leopard Graphics Update 1.0 came out following Valve bringing Steam and its games to Mac OS X and collaboration via Apple, NVIDIA, and ATI/AMD to better the Mac OS X graphics stack with supporting new OpenGL extensions and making other optimizations, such as adding OpenGL occlusion queries support. While we tested this major Apple graphics update under a NVIDIA MCP79-based Mac Mini, which is a GPU that did not receive as many performance optimizations as those higher-end NVIDIA ASICs in newer Macs, the performance improvements were noticeable in some cases. In select games, however, Ubuntu Linux with NVIDIA's proprietary driver was still faster than Mac OS X 10.6.4 + SLGU. With Apple having released Mac OS X 10.6.5 this week that "addresses stability and performance of graphics applications and games," among other changes, we have carried out some new Mac OS X benchmarks seeing how the performance has changed, if at all.

In our original review of Apple's enhanced OpenGL drivers we ran a slew of OpenGL games under Mac OS X 10.6.0, 10.6.2, 10.6.3, 10.6.4, and 10.6.4 with SLGU (the Snow Leopard Graphics Update 1.0). This was to see how the OpenGL graphics in Mac OS X Snow Leopard have matured since its release last year and to see how the OpenGL performance is relative to Ubuntu 10.04.1 LTS with NVIDIA's official Linux driver. With this article focusing upon the Mac OS X 10.6.5 enhancements we re-tested Mac OS X 10.6.0, Mac OS X 10.6.4 + SLGU, and then the just-released Mac OS X 10.6.5. This was done on another fresh install of Snow Leopard.

Due to our lack of high-end Apple hardware within our testing labs, this comparison was unfortunately still limited to using a 2009 Apple Mac Mini (Apple Mac-F22C86C8) with an Intel Core 2 Duo P7350, NVIDIA MCP79 / GeForce 9400M graphics processor, 1GB of system memory, and a 120GB FUJITSU MHZ2120B SATA HDD. In this configuration at least, the Mac OS X 10.6.5 OpenGL improvements were not too noticeable over Mac OS X 10.6.4. In fact, it was somewhat spotty with the OpenGL support in Nexuiz having regressed to the point that it became unstable with the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M and the system would eventually lock-up. For what it's worth, here are the results from Urban Terror, OpenArena, and Warsow.

With Mac OS X 10.6.5 on this Apple Mac Mini with NVIDIA graphics there was not much change when running the ioquake3-powered release of Urban Terror. The only exception was when running at 800 x 600 where the OpenGL acceleration appeared to not be working correctly.

No change with OpenArena when using this newest Apple OS X update.

Nor is there any change with the Qfusion-powered Warsow.

There really is not much to see with Apple's Mac OS X 10.6.5 update for all users evidently, when it comes to "addresses stability and performance of graphics applications and games." With the NVIDIA MCP79 chipset we did not notice any change in performance and with the Nexuiz game it was unstable with this release where it had ran fine for us on all previous versions of Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6. With perhaps different hardware, the situation may be different, but hopefully Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" will bring more interesting performance optimizations.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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