While it is a pity we were only able to perform this operating system comparison on two Mac Mini setups -- and with the older Core 2 Duo Mac Mini bearing Intel graphics it would not support Windows 7 x64 -- the results were certainly interesting. With every OpenGL gaming test and at every tested resolution, Microsoft Windows 7 x64 was significantly faster than Mac OS X 10.6.3 on Apple's very own hardware. In many cases, Windows 7 produced noticeably higher frame-rates than even Ubuntu 10.04 LTS "Lucid Lynx", which was somewhat surprising considering the competitive performance last week in our Windows vs. Ubuntu Linux performance comparison.
With the Mac Mini bearing Intel graphics, Mac OS X 10.6.3 was generally much faster than Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. However, this is not surprising considering the huge margins witnessed last week when comparing the Intel Clarkdale graphics performance between Linux and Windows. The Intel Linux graphics driver is simply not in a state to perform well with 3D acceleration atop its Mesa driver. Had Windows 7 worked on the older Mac Mini, the Microsoft OS would likely have produced even higher frame-rates than Mac OS X 10.6.3, but we're unable to verify this due to the aforementioned problems.
So while Microsoft Windows 7 Professional took the lead in all of these gaming tests on Apple hardware, aside from when using Intel integrated graphics, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS "Lucid Lynx" was a faster gaming platform than Mac OS X "Snow Leopard", which is good news for once the Steam Linux client arrives.
In our upcoming multi-platform performance comparisons we will be using the Mac Mini setups again as we see how the performance of these three operating systems pan out in areas besides graphics. Should we get our hands on more Apple systems, we will be running some extra tests too. For some of the other non-gaming tests that are more OS neutral, we may include results from FreeBSD and OpenSolaris too -- where the Phoronix Test Suite is also fully supported.