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Wednesday, March 22, 2006, 10:00 am PT (01:00 pm ET)

Windows XP on Intel Mac benchmarked

Benchmark tests of Windows XP Pro running on all three of the first Intel-based Macs reveal that the MacBook Pro runs Adobe Photoshop faster than other laptops originally designed for Microsoft Windows.

With the help of the recent Windows XP for Mac software hack, a team from Gearlog was able to install Windows XP on a 20-inch iMac, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini Intel Core Duo. It then ran benchmark tests to gauge the speed of the Microsoft operating system on Apple's hardware.

To spice it up a bit, they allowed all three machines to remotely access a fourth Mac system through a VNC client — effectively displaying the Mac OS X interface through a window on Windows XP systems.

"The MacBook Pro is the fastest Core Duo laptop we've tested running the Photoshop scripts. It's faster than other laptops originally designed for Windows," the team said. "This bodes very well for the performance of an Intel-accelerated OS X Photoshop, when that finally appears."

Based on existing benchmarks, the MacBook Pro beat four other non-Apple Core Duo laptops on the Photoshop test, but came in behind them on the Windows Media test. Meanwhile, the two Mac desktops "outran even blazing-fast single core systems, which typically do the Windows Media Encoder test in 10-13 minutes."

According to the report, installation of Windows XP onto the Apple systems wasn't difficult, thanks largely to detailed guides available at the OnMac. However, each of the three systems required a different version of the xom.efi file — the bootloader which lets the system choose between Windows XP and Mac OS X.

Due to a lack of video drivers for the iMac or MacBook Pro, the team did not benchmark video game performance, but they did get Ethernet, wireless networking, and the headphone jack (but not the internal speakers, iSight or the remote) working using drivers suggested by OnMac.

"Apple makes fast Windows PC," the report concluded.