Just How Fast Is Steam On The Mac?

Steam is now available on the Mac. Great news for people who only own a Mac, but what if you're like me, and own both? Which is faster?

Tom's Hardware is on the scene to find out, using both a Macbook Pro and a "Hackintosh" - a non-Apple computer modified to run the Mac's operating system - to test the speed of Valve's Portal running in both Windows 7 and Mac OSX 10.6.

Sounds fair to me! Rather than pitting a Mac against a gaming PC, where the specs aren't really comparable, the benchmark instead shows the differences made by running the same game on the same hardware, only under different operating systems.

And there are differences.

Basically, thanks to a combination of work-in-progress code for the Mac version of the game and the inability of Mac drivers to keep pace, the Windows tests on both computers came back with significantly better results, especially on the Macbook Pro.

Now, if you've only got a Mac, don't worry. It's not like Portal is unplayable, and as any PC user can attest, any glitches or performance problems with the Mac version of Portal (or with Steam itself) are usually fixed after a volley of updates from Valve.

But if you've got both systems - or are running both operating systems on the one computer - Windows is the way to go.

Steam for Mac Benchmarks: Windows Is Much Faster [Gizmodo]


    This may be the first (and last) time I've ever stuck up for a mac, but the programmer in me wants to say "Let them develop the code", Valve almost always pulls through.

    But a Mac will always be incomparable with a proper gaming rig though.

      Unless of course, you're using a proper gaming rig as a mac, as I am (hackintosh), in which case, Apple/nVidia just need to get their shit together on the graphics drivers.

      The Valve employee who ported the source engine to Mac OS has stated that while the engine is still largely DirectX based, it is compiled with a layer that maps the DirectX calls into OpenGL calls at compile time (not at run-time, as Cider and Crossover Games do) and in his opinion this isn't much of a performance hit. So it seems to me, the main culprit is graphics drivers. Hence its time to pull your finger out, Apple!

      After all remember Steam on PC when it 1st came out? Give it time to get it self settled

    People forget that PCs have even wildly varied capabilities than Macs. E.g. if you have a 2k gaming rig it would perform better than a non-gaming rig in the same bracket (say you splurge on sound card/peripherals instead). Unfortunately Mac has never had any interest in developing better hardwares and therefore PC will still be the beacon for games development.

      It says that they are the same spec rigwise using both a MacBook Pro and the "Hackintosh", the performance difference is due to Apple's graphics drivers and some can be attributed to Valve's new engine update.

    Presumably this has more to do with DirectX v OpenGL than anything else, OpenGL was huge back in the early quake/HL1 days but completely fell apart once Microsoft went into top gear.

    Game engines are more or less built around directX versions these days, not to mention graphics cards. Making games designed for a dx environment work without it wouldn't be easy.

    I realise that the source engine is designed to work with OpenGL as well as DX, but I just can't see it being as optimised as the DX settings due to the wide gap in the number users between the two versions.

      The problem is opengl on OSX not opengl.

        that's exactly my point, why else would I be discussing the differences?

        Very few games these days even support openGL.

    I'm just glad we've got it, I wasn't expecting a miracle, or a new gaming platform, (hell, I've got Bootcamp) I'll try out Portal just for shits and gigs though.

    Obvious result is Obvious?

    So it's quite clear, that picture is wrong. It should be the level 3 sentry with 2 gattling guns and a rocket launcher compared to the portal sentry. THEN it's PC vs Mac.


    Oh wait.

    Friend at work was telling me all steam games are available to now play on a Mac. That seems weird to me... System routines and graphics calls are completly differnt so I told him thats total BS.

    Was he right? Or is it just that 'steam' itself is now on Mac, so if there is for instance, a OSX port of portal then they can download it?

      It's partial BS :)

      There's a list of the launch games at http://www.kotaku.com.au/2010/05/steam-for-mac-is-live-includes-free-copy-of-portal/ . I was particularly happy that my PC copy of Torchlight can be replaced with a native mac one now!

        Ah, cheers :)

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