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More Comments, Performance Tests on OS X ThemesReturn to News Page

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More Comments, Performance Tests on OS X Themes
Published: 2/19/2002
Last Updated: 2/20/2002
The latest reader comments, tests and opinions on OS X themes.

(latest reports first - but I have a ton of unread mail. Although it seems to have a lot of variation in the results and is a very simple test, the Let1kWindowsbloom benchmark used in some of the comments is available here.)

" Hi Mike,
I've been following the thread on your site about OS X GUI modifications and the effect they have on performance. Being an owner of a PB G3 1999 (a.k.a. Lombard) and with the 64-bit graphics chip not being accelerated under OS X, I'm always looking for ways to beef up performance any which way I can. Here's what I've found playing with Duality, the "1K Windows Bloom" program and Unsanity's "Shadow Killer":

  • OS X with Aqua theme 100s
  • OS X with Silver Fox theme (from Duality) 100s
  • OS X with Silver Fox + Shadow Killer 75s
  • OS 8.6 on the same PB 7s

This is all on a PB G3 400 with 512 MB RAM. All these tests were done just after a theme switch and then rebooting the system. Looks like Shadow Killer is the winner here (it's going to my "Startup Items" list in OS X) but I'm really appalled at the difference between OS X and 8.6. Can hardware acceleration in the graphics chip make that big of a diff?
Keep up the great work on your site.
vinai "

It's not just the drivers/graphics chip clock rate - Quartz is just a lot more CPU intensive than OS 9's interface.

" Mike,
I was reading the theme speed tests and I downloaded the app and gave it a run for myself. I found a discrepancy which other folks might like to fix and re-test.

If you run the app in OS X, the dock bounces the whole time. This significantly increases the scores (hence the 110-120 second scores). Turn off dock animations, and HIDE the dock (the arrow still bounces) or better yet, stop the process altogether (there are applescripts at Apple's site to do this) then run the test.

On my own B&W G3 at work, 400MHz with a gig of RAM I got these scores:

All tests done at 1280x1024 resolution, millions of colors on stock Rage128 card. Lots of apps were running, including OmniWeb, Illustrator 10, classic with Photoshop and Strata3D. Hid all of them, and brought the Finder to foreground.

Aqua, 68 seconds average over 5 runs.
Silverfox, 71 seconds average over 5 runs.
Classic/OS 9: 55 seconds average over 5 runs.

Interesting to see that Quartz isn't the slug that some want to make it out to be. It's doing maybe 10x the work of Quickdraw, yet it's not even twice as slow at doing the same task. Maybe Quickdraw is the real slug of the two. :)
Thanks for the great site
Bryan "

" Hi Mike,
I saw your reader report on let 1kWindows Bloom and thought i would try benchmarking some other themes. I also tried them using Unsanity's software Shadow Killer. [I've posted notes/links on their utils last year in the news. See http://www.unsanity.com/-Mike]
Here are the results:

Test with let 1kWindows Bloom with different Themes & Shadow Killer from Unreality software.

Machine: B&W G3 400 rev.2 with upgraded OWC G4 500 o/c to 550-576 MB RAM Radeon PCI in 66Mhz slot-LCD studio display(graphite)-Radeon PCI 33Mhz driving second Studio Display(graphite)

Total time to create and dispose 1000 windows:
(all tests Millions Of Colors unless noted
screen resolution @ 1024x768

Aqua w/out shadows - 61 seconds (61265060 microseconds)
Aqua with shadows - 72 seconds
Musix theme w/ shadows - 83 seconds (83731935 microseconds)
Musix theme w/out shadows - 66 seconds (66255548 microseconds)
OpAqua(opaque)w/shadows - 71 seconds (71083235 microseconds)
OpAqua w/out shadows - 63 seconds (63419175 microseconds)
Sosumi w/shadows - 72 seconds (72053651 microseconds)
Sosumi w/out shadows - 59 seconds (59534801 microseconds)
Sosumi w/out shadows(thousands) - 47 seconds (47759856 microseconds)

Thought you might find this interesting.
Derek G. "

" Mike,
I recently installed Aqua Gray with Duality and found that the speed gain (no transparencies) is not so perceivable. It was bigger with Shadow Killer. I then may understand that are the shadows that slow down a lot the menus, not the transparencies. I then believe it could be really interesting to repeat test done on a Dual Ghz also including Shadow Killer. If I just could get 'let1kwindowsbloom' I could do it by myself.
Simon "

I sent Simon an email noting the benchmark is available at http://www.vgg.com/rob/WindowsBloom.html.

" Hello,
Just wanted to say that I checked out a few themes and sosumi seemed pretty ugly and not much faster than aqua. But the "silverfox" theme that was came preinstalled with Duality looks much better and is noticeably quicker than both aqua and Sosumi IMHO.

SilverFox has a very clean, smooth look that's very easy on they eyes and that also loses the transparency of the aqua GUI. Personally I like the look of Aqua 'cep that is a little too white. Yet most custom themes seem cheesy and unprofessional when compared to Apple's standard theme. So I usually can't use a custom theme very long without switching back to the Original. SilverFox, however, does a good job of softening aqua while not looking garish or cartoony. I'm still using it after a few days..Usually it only takes a couple a minutes for me to know I want to switch backe. And it does seem quicker.
Check it out...
Jim L. "

Duality was linked in Friday's news page - see http://conundrumsoft.com/.

" Okay, this is strange..
First of all, I have a beige G3 315 mhz clock chipped from 266 mhz with 224 mb RAM.
let1kwindowsbloom gives me the following:

In the foreground
Default is 127 sec
Gray Aqua, almost no difference: 124 sec (-3)

With Classic turned on: 130 sec (+6)
With Shadow Killer on: 94 sec (-30)!

When I start the app and let it run in the background, not hidden by anything though:

default in the background: 84 sec
With Shadow Killer on: 74 sec (-10)

Not only is it a lot lot faster in the background(40 sec!), but the difference with and without shadows is less. Strange huh? Does anyone know why?
Once I had the let1kwindowsbloom app hidden behind Omniweb in the background it gave me 55 sec. Not that strange when it's hidden though.

I didn't do any renice change or anything like that. Once tried renicer, but it only made things worse. No matter what prefs I gave it..

Okay that OS X has preemptive multitasking but I think it's a bit overkill that it should run apps faster in the background.. :P
Maybe I should ask apple too, Something has to be wrong..? "

" Hi Mike;
Wonderful site.
On the topic of gaining speed by replacing the Aqua theme in OS X, I have found a very simple theme called "Unlined Charcoal" that really just disables the white lining in windows and is terrific! All you have to do is download the file, double-click and re-log! I gained speed with it and thought you might passed the info to others.
The link is http://www.rose-hulman.edu/~freyja/osx/themes.html
Martin B. "

" Mike,
Let1KWindowsBloom on G4/500 Sawtooth, 10.1.2 w/512 Mbyte RAM:

- standard Aqua interface: 64 secs
- GrayAqua (no transparencies): 62 secs
- standard Aqua + ShadowKiller 1.0: 47 secs
- GrayAqua (again with no transparencies) + ShadowKiller 1.0: 46 secs

As I perceived without benchmarks ShadowKiller is the winner in the interface speed improvements but unfortunately, in my opinion, is unusable because everything gets confused without any kind of borders.
Simon "

(Comments from yesterday's news follow)

I asked one of the readers that commented on the Sosumi OS X theme in Friday's news to run the 'let1kwindowsbloom' benchmark test on his system with Aqua vs Sosumi. (It opens/closes 1000 windows and reports the time it took. I used it in a recent GeForce4MX vs Radeon 7500 comparison in a dual 1GHz G4.)
Here's his times for the 1000 window open/close test running Aqua vs Sosumi on a B&W G3/350 with 640MB RAM using the the original ATI Rage 128 graphics card and Mac OS X 10.1.2 (Build #5P48).

    " i ran the tests you wanted me to run. with the Sosumi theme the test came out to 115 seconds and with the apple's aqua theme it came out to 129 seconds. i guess aqua is only a little bit slower.
    Jim "

Actually that's not an insignificant difference in my opinion and a bigger delta than I expected. The tip from an Apple TIL last year for slower macs (using thousands colors vs millions) makes the most noticeable improvement in my experience.

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