Starting with OpenArena, when looking over the initial results we were a bit stunned. Last week's Windows 7 vs. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS benchmarks showed the two operating systems performing closely in most situations (with the large exception being when Intel graphics are deployed, in which case Windows is the hands-down winner thanks to better Intel graphics drivers), but immediately on the Mac Mini with NVIDIA graphics there was a huge disparity.
In fact, at every resolution, OpenArena on Windows easily beat-out Mac OS X on Apple's own hardware! When running at 800 x 600 where OpenArena would be very dependent simply upon the processor's speed, Windows 7 was a striking 43% faster than Mac OS X 10.6.3. Meanwhile, Windows 7 was faster than Ubuntu 10.04 by just 4%. Even when OpenArena was pushed up to 1920 x 1080 with the NVIDIA graphics, Windows 7 was faster still over Mac OS X 10.6.3 by 23%. Oddly, at resolutions of 1280 x 1024 and greater, Mac OS X 10.6.3 ended up being faster than Ubuntu 10.04 LTS with the NVIDIA graphics. At 1920 x 1080, Windows 7 was 54% faster than Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and Mac OS X 10.6.3 was 25% faster than Ubuntu Linux.
Mac OS X coming out faster than Ubuntu 10.04 is not too surprising as when we tested Mac OS X 10.6.2 vs. Ubuntu 10.04 earlier this year the positioning was the same. However, once Mac OS X 10.6.3 ended up shipping with its "graphics improvements", we did notice some regressions for the Snow Leopard update.
On the older Mac Mini with Intel GMA 950 graphics, Mac OS X 10.6.3 was the clear winner over Ubuntu 10.04. There was no comparison and another OS once again slaughtered the Intel Linux graphics driver stack. We would really have enjoyed seeing how the Intel graphics compare between Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.6.3, but alas, Windows 7 x64 had not worked on the older Apple Mac Mini. The Intel graphics were 44% faster under Mac OS X at 800 x 600 with OpenArena and 49% faster at 1920 x 1080. See last week's Windows vs. Linux article for more information and thoughts on the Intel Linux graphics driver.