How to Do a Mac Performance Test?

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A good Mac performance test is one that will tell you not just how fast your Mac is, but actually also tell you how much faster your Mac can be. Below, we will quickly show you the various performance tests that you can subject your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or your iMac to.

The CleanMyMac Mac performance test

Clean My Mac is actually one of the most popular Mac cleaner programs out there. If you want to learn more about MacPaw’s CleanMyMac, read our CleanMyMac review here. Aside from doing a great job of cleaning up and speeding up your Mac, all with a scan and click process, CleanMyMac’s free trial is also a great way to carry out a performance test on your Mac.

CleanMyMac offers a free trial where you can run a system scan, without paying for anything. When you run such a scan, the results will give you various performance like metrics like how many cache files, log files, language files, binaries and various other types of system junk can be deleted off your Mac, with various other potential optimization methods, deletions and optimizations that will lead to a definite spike in performance levels.

If after running the scan you find that a lot of optimization need to be performed, it would basically mean that your mac’s performance can be boosted, sometimes quite significantly. Depending on how many errors were found by the scan, you can improve your Mac’s various critical performance metrics like boot up times, multi-tasking abilities, faster HDD read/write speeds and also faster browsing speeds by downloading the full CleanMyMac program, to fix all the errors.

Give your Mac the ultimate performance test –Download CleanMyMac 3 here.

Using your Mac’s Activity Monitor to test performance

Every Mac has an inbuilt performance monitoring program called Activity Monitor. When you think that your Mac’s performance is being questionable, laggy or less than what you think it is usually capable of, quickly open up Activity Monitor by going to Finder => Applications => Utilities => Activity Monitor.

Once inside, you will be able to see a buzz of metrics that are updated, all in real time. You should particularly monitor CPU, System Memory and Disk Activity stats to see how your Mac is doing. Ideally, no matter how much you push your Mac, there should be plenty of idle or free CPU and memory capacity available.

As an example, if you have 5 browser windows open and are running a couple of software programs as well, your Mac should be using less than 60% of its memory. If you see memory and CPU getting maxed out, it essentially means that your Mac’s performance capabilities are struggling to match the requirements that you expect from your Mac’s processing capabilities.

In some cases, this could just mean that you need to physically upgrade your Mac. If you are taking the hardware route to upgrade your Mac’s performance, we would highly recommend a Mac memory upgrade or a Mac SSD upgrade, though neither is a cheap option.

If you can’t afford a hardware upgrade, you might just have to throttle back on the activities that you put your Mac through. As an example, if your 2008 MacBook Pro is just not able to quickly process what you are doing with a video editing program, like Apple’s popular Final Cut Pro, it just means that your MacBook Pro is just not good enough for the job, unless your hard disk is unreasonably full, something that you can confirm with the CleanMyMac performance scan that we suggested earlier.

You can also see the “Disk Usage” tab in your activity monitor to see if a full HDD is the culprit behind all your Mac performance problems. Ideally, you want to have at least 40% of your hard disk space as free space, should your Mac’s processor want to borrow memory when it runs out of RAM. If your hard disk space utilization is OK but performance is still laggy, you have no choice but to upgrade or be patient with your Mac’s current processing capabilities.

Using Online Tests and Apps to Measure your Mac’s Performance Levels

Aside from CleanMyMac, there are also small individual performance test programs that measure your Mac’s specific components, like the hard disk, the graphics card, CPU and memory.

They are briefly discussed below.

Xbench test

The Xbench test is a test that will test your Mac’s CPU, memory, graphics card and disk access speeds, in a all-in-one test. What is really good about this test is that it will let you compare the results of your Mac’s performance with similar Mac models that others have tested at the Xbench site.

After all, what good will it do you if you compared your 2010 MacBook Pro with the performance results of a brand new 2014 MacBook Pro. You want to compare your 2010 model with the early, summer and late model MacBook Pros that came out in 2010, to really be able to tell if it is just your MacBook Pro that is the problem or if you can only expect so much from the MacBook Pro bought during that or any other year.

Xbench has been downloaded more than 288,000 times and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher to be able to test your Mac. The product is free to use although the site’s owner accepts donation if you are willing to help out a developer who has put out a great performance testing product.

BlackMagic Disk Speed Test

If you are doing anything that is disk read/write intensive on your Mac, like audio or video processing, this is a performance test that you must run. When you run this test, the program will test your Mac’s HDD or SSD by writing large chunks of data, then showing you the Read and Write scores that were outputted.

This can be a performance test that you can run on a monthly basis, as the results can show you if your Mac’s HDD or SSD is slowing down over time, because of all the data that it accumulates. Sometimes, wear an tear, on HDDs, can also affect read write speeds that will in turn directly affect your Mac’s performance.  This test can be a great tool to keep you informed about when you might have to change your Mac’s storage disk, to extract better performance from your Mac.

Geeks3D Graphics Card Test

If you want to test just your Mac’s graphic card, with a comprehensive performance test, use the Geeks3D test, a cross platform test that subjects your GPU to a stress test, using the OpenGL benchmarking platform.

Currently, the Geeks3D graphics card test can test the following; FurMark, TessMark, GiMark, PixMark Piano, PixMark Volplosion, Plot 3D and triangle.

With any of the above mentioned performance tests, you can tell if your Mac is good enough for the purposes that you need it for. If it isn’t, you might want to troubleshoot your Mac for potential problems or simply go in for a hardware upgrade or alternatively just buy a newer, faster and more powerful Mac.

About the Author
Michelle, author at Mach Machines. A tech lover and an insatiable latte drinker. Michelle blogs about improving the personal computing experience.

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