Nope, my Mini is definitely alright and I realize it should be much faster than my old P3. Yet it doesn't feel faster, that's the point. I realize that in terms of computing, in terms of ALU or FPU throughput the P3 is far behind the Core Solo, but in terms of „snappiness“ the P3 running XP is a LOT faster than the Mini running OS X (or any other Macintosh I have ever used so far).
Here's a few examples of why my regular workflow feels faster in XP than it does in OS X. Let's take into account the fact that I, unlike many other users, especially those who think every Mac needs at least 2 gigs of RAM, do not keep my applications open after I'm done using them. When I'm done using Word, I tend to quit it. Not only hide it and keep it in the background, gloating over the fact that in a few hours or even days I might need it again and then might be able to save a few seconds of precious time.
Now, a regular work setting for me is as follows:
Given that 95% of my work consists of writing and given that at least half the time I do not write in German but English, I keep at least two applications running. A word processor (Mellel on my Mac, MS Word 2000 or mostly Darkroom on my PC, Darkroom being the Windows equivalent of Writeroom), a web-browser (Camino on my Mac, Firefox on my PC) to look up words in the Leo Dictionary since my translations need to be as accurate as possible and a mail client that checks for new mail once every 60 minutes (Mail.app on my Mac, Thunderbird on my PC). Sometimes, in addition to the Leo dictionary, I also use the Langenscheidt English-German dictionary, hence have another application running. I also tend to avoid using the mouse once my hands are on the keyboard, since that would involve taking the hands off the keyboard, and thereby losing precious time seeking the mouse. To switch between applications I therefore use the keyboard shortcut CMD-Tab (Alt-Tab on Windows), and already with this seemingly simple task I notice a significant lag on Mac OS X. It‘s not like it‘s two or more seconds, but to use Steve‘s words: When hitting Alt-Tab on my PC, BOOM it‘s there. When hitting CMD-Tab on my Mac it takes a certain amount of noticeable time to switch to the next application. This might not disturb regular users who do not switch between applications that often or tend to use the mouse, but if you do it often and are used to the instantaneous reaction of Windows XP, the Mac feels slower.
Another example: Scrolling. Especially in OS X on older Macs, scrolling is a nightmare. I must admit that with the Intel architecture it has improved significantly and is on par with Windows XP. This means however that it is on par with Windows XP running on a Pentium III 650 with an 8MB ATI Rage XL video card - neither of us wants to be forced to scroll through long documents or websites using a comparable G3 or G4 processor with an comparable video card running OS X.
Another example: Browsing network shares. The Finder is the single most useless application to browse any kind of directory, be that local or remote. While it may be quite enough for regular home users who stumble across network shares once in their lifetime only to realize the network must be too slow therefore not worth the effort to browse, I do it on a regular basis. As I have already noted, I‘m the webmaster of our own webserver running a huge German website, and since that server is located in a computer center in Frankfurt and I am not, I need to connect to that server on a regular basis, be that for maintenance, backup or administrative tasks. I have given up on using the Finder for any kind of remote operation (I still need proof that it‘s possible not to lose ones temper when opening a remote directory containing, say 1000 files using the Finder) and have returned to using nc in the X11 Terminal, due to the fact that the OS X Terminal, as flashy and nice to look at it may be, it‘s horrible to work with. Also, I wasn‘t able to find a worthy Mac OS X alternative to WinSCP, which is fast and reliable - something neither the Finder, nor Cyberduck, nor CaptainFTP, nor any other FTP/SFTP/SCP application I was able to find for Mac OS X should ever claim to be. They‘re all nice to look at but are either sluggish or lack certain features I need for my administrative work.
What matters most to me is example #1 - my workflow. Even though my Mini will outperform any Pentium III and most Pentium 4 CPUs when it comes to raw processing power it is not something I do on a regular basis. I use Photoshop maybe once a month, that‘s about the heaviest work in terms of CPU load I do, and I definitely prefer to use my Mac for work that requires raw power and nothing but raw power. But in my everyday workflow OS X on my Mini (or my iBook G4, or my old PowerMac G4, or even my friend‘s iMac Core Duo) feels significantly slower than Windows XP does on that almost ancient Pentium III laptop. OS X feels inherently slower than Windows XP, that‘s what all these arguments on Macintosh forums (search macnn.com for example) about „t3h snappy(tm)“ are all about - experienced performance.
Btw, don‘t even get me started on Java performance on OS X, or rather the complete lack thereof.
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