Apple Mac Plus running System 6 beats AMD Dual Core 2.4GHz PC running Windows XP

“Bloat. If you think that Americans are getting fatter, take one good look at the operating system (OS) your computer is running right now. It gets larger and more weighed down with every update,” Hal Licino writes for HubPages. “We are in the third decade of global personal computing, and have we really progressed that far?”

“Let’s go back to the dawn of personal computing and grab an old sentimental favorite, the Apple Macintosh Plus… The generally recommended configuration for a Mac Plus is System 6.0.8. This is an OS that needs a legitimate minimum of 1 megabyte of RAM to be able to multitask, connect to a network, print, display WYSIWYG in millions of colours (on modular Macs), as well as run a reasonable GUI. Those are functions that usually require at least 500 times more memory under Windows XP and 1,000 times more memory under Windows Vista,” Licino reports.

“When we look at OS hard disk requirements, we find similar discrepancies. System 6.0.8 requires 1MB, Windows XP requires 1.5GB and Windows Vista 15GB. Yes, Vista needs 15,000 times the hard disk space as System 6.0.8,” Licino reports. “System 6.0.8 is not only a lot more compact since it has far fewer (mostly useless) features and therefore less code to process, but also because it was written in assembly code instead of the higher level language C. The lower the level of the code language, the less processing cycles are required to get something done.”

“The Mac Plus has a Motorola 68000 CPU running at 8MHz. The AMD has an Athlon 64 X2 4800+ with two cores, each running at 2.4GHz. In absolute computing power exclusively measured in processor speed, AMD’s combined 4.8GHz is 600 times faster than the Motorola. However, the AMD is a far more advanced processor, thus performs in conventional benchmarks much faster than the old 68000 per Mhz. So it’s very safe to say that the AMD is at least 1,000 times faster than the Mac Plus,” Licino reports.

“We decided to splurge and fit the maximum possible 4MB RAM into the old Plus. After all it was going up against AMD with its 2x512MB RAM for a total of 1,024MB or 1GB. That’s about 250 times more memory than the Mac,” Licino reports.

“For the functions that people use most often, the 1986 vintage Mac Plus beats the 2007 AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+: 9 tests to 8! Out of the 17 tests, the antique Mac won 53% of the time! Including a jaw-dropping 52 second whipping of the AMD from the time the Power button is pushed to the time the Desktop is up and useable,” Licino reports. “We also didn’t want to overly embarrass the AMD by comparing the time it takes to install the OS vs. the old Mac. The Mac’s average of about a minute is dwarfed by the approximately one hour install time of Windows XP Pro.”

Full article, with test results, here.

MacDailyNews Take: Have a Mac that can boot into Mac OS 9 (not running as Classic via Mac OS X)? It’s very, very snappy, but we’d never trade Mac OS X for it. Licino’s claim that “for the majority of simple office uses, the massive advances in technology in the past two decades have brought zero advance in productivity,” is ridiculous to anyone who’s used both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger (even just Exposé by itself is a big productivity boost). As for Windows, productivity has never been one its strong suits or main selling points.


  1. OS9 was VERY snappy. I miss that. I would like to see OS X try to regain that feel and keep all of its other benefits.

    If I recall correctly, Ave Tevanian (sp?) was the genius from NeXT that could “think” in assembly language. Wish he were still writing the code for OS X.

    Software does indeed need to catch back up to hardware!

  2. OS 9 was great but it cannot fully function in today’s world. We have a few legacy macs on our network and they choke on the number of files on the server. What OS X can display in miliseconds, OS 9 takes several seconds to display. (Remember the old “Too many items in folder” error?) If I had to use one of those machines for much of my work, I would go insane.

    Apple, Microsoft, and others are abandoning support for older technologies, so if you have to have a mix of old and new you will suffer some compatability problems. Our OS X machines cannot see the ancient macs on the network.

  3. After walking home from school barefoot in the snow uphill because cars weren’t invented yet but we were happy, I’d fire up OS 6 from a floppy that also contained Norton, and fix my System 7 machine, because 7’s bloat wouldn’t allow both on one disk.

    QuarkXpress 2.0 fit on two floppies and could publish the New York Times faster than the New York Times could.

    Then came Scully and Word 6, and the world’s been in a handbasket to hell ever since.

  4. The article was not about “this old Mac is faster than this new PC“, it’s about “this Old computer is faster than this New computer”. As a number of people have noted, the test would have been better if it had been PC vs PC or Mac vs Mac – or even a test with all four. No question, the older systems are in some ways better than newer ones – even if the newer ones offer better features and flexibility – mostly OS-based. It isn’t the hardware, or even (really) the software, but the OS. And OSX has been getting better – both more/better features AND better speed – since 10.0!

    DLMeyer – the Voice of G.L.Horton’s Stage Page Pod Cast

  5. I don’t think the point of the article was to say that we should all buy old Mac Pluses on eBay. It was to show that computer OSes have bloated badly and that some thought to optimizing the OS would be nice.

    Part of the problem, IMHO is an overabundance of resources. When the original Mac came out, they had 128K of RAM (and 64K ROM) to do _everything_ in, so of course the programmers were extremely careful about resource usage. As memory, processing speed, and disk space has increased, there is less and less impetus to program carefully and optimize fully, resulting in “good enough” performance on faster machines.

    Of course recoding the much larger OSes into assembler now would be a pretty scary undertaking, so it’s unlikely we can go back, but it would be fun to see just how fast OS X would run if it were hand coded back into assembler now!

  6. This was the biggest waste of time to read. How much disk space is an OS-X install? Guess that means anything other than ancient hardware and software sucks. Yup! You heard it here first. Current generation macs are a waste.

    And lets not get started with games… While I agree cannon battle was fun back in the day, I doubt World of Cannon Battle would get the user base World of Warcraft has.

  7. Well What we have here is… Failure to replicate..

    Ok not really . I just wanted to warp that papaphrase.

    What we have here is really just an academic exercise. I wonder how System 6 would compare to Tiger? (AKA System 10)

    Heck I wonder how Win 95 compares to Vistawful in the same test?

    Now that would seem to be a more realistic comaprison

    Just my 2¢
    John Boyarsky
    Fairbanks, Alaska

  8. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again – my 7 year old Cube with a 450 MHz G4 processor whips the crap out of my HP PC at work with Winblows XP SP2 and a 2.6 GHz P4 chip.

    Of course, I have Tiger on my Cube.

  9. Wasted Time,
    If you strip out all language support except English in OS X, but keep in support for all possible printers, scanners, etc., AND install a couple of developer tools with the OS, it is only a 4 GB install for OS X. This is the way I always do it (with a clean install, of course – my only real system maintenance I do on OS X).

  10. Licino undoubtedly overstates his case, but he has a point. For, say, word processing, the productivity gains of Mac OS X over System 6.0.8 are minimal.

    The Mac Plus was a cool machine. I still have mine in a cupboard upstairs. It’ll stay there; I’m not about to swap it for the Intel iMac in front of me. The clattering keyboard alone would drive me nuts.

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