Why and How to Perform: Mac Desktop or MacBook Benchmark

Sometimes, it is necessary to make performance measurements in order to understand how effective upgrades have been. From assessing the performance of a new RAM to testing the speed of a freshly installed solid-state drive (SSD), it is critical to know where your MacBook or Mac desktop stands in respect to other notebooks with similar specifications.

“But how can it be done?”, you ask. The answer is benchmarking tools. Although benchmarking used to be confined to assessing the efficiency and performance of processors, nowadays, its application involves almost all pieces of computer hardware. Follow along and find out why you might be interested in benchmarking your SSD, HDD, or CPU and how to conduct it without spending a cent.

SSD Benchmark Tool for Mac


There is no denying that SSDs can substantially improve the performance of even older MacBooks. Given their ability to read and write at lightning speed, the investment in such drives is well worth one’s money. However, there is a large number of SSDs in a variety of price ranges, which complicates the purchasing decisions for even the most sophisticated Mac users. Features like full disk encryption, wear leveling, and bundled software make the choice of a new SSD even more difficult. Luckily, the software market and Mac App Store offer effective test utilities and benchmarking tools for measuring the performance of a drive, which makes it possible to understand whether a user has arrived at an optimal combination of capacity, speed, and price.

What has to be done to measure the performance of an SSD is to visit Mac App Store and download either a free or paid benchmarking app. Install the utility and select the needed drive if your MacBook or Mac has more than one. The majority of benchmarking apps has simple interfaces with no frills, which will facilitate the processes of conducting performance measurements. The two key data points produced by such apps are read and write speeds that are measured in units of bits per second. For example, if the write speed of an SSD is 42MBps, it means that the drive is capable of recording 42MB of data per second.It has to be kept in mind, however, that whenever you conduct a benchmarking test, it is necessary to terminate all other apps.

And What About HDD Benchmark?

When it comes to benchmarking an HDD on Mac, there is, essentially, no difference between using a measuring tool for an SSD or external drive. Benchmarking software conducts sequential read and write tests, which are essential for evaluating disk access patterns when dealing with large chunks of data for HDDs and SSDs alike. It is worth mentioning that good benchmarking tools are capable of running 4K random read and write test. This test is used to evaluate 4K access pattern, which reflects how effective an HDD is at saving 4K blocks of data at random locations. The same applies to retrieving data from random locations on the HDD.

Are Hard Drive Benchmark Tools Really Necessary?

Some Mac and MacBook owners wonder whether they need to benchmark performance of their HDDs if they don’t have the urge to compete. The thing is that in order to be sure that your computer functions properly, it is absolutely necessary to regularly evaluate the performance of its key components. This is especially true for SSDs the performance of which deteriorates with time.

Bloatware can also be a cause of both HDD and SSD performance degradation; therefore, it is important to conduct regular benchmarking to ensure that a device functions properly. Another reason to benchmark the device is to discover the fundamental differences between read and write speeds presented in the vendor spec sheets and real numbers. The speeds in spec sheets reflect the peak performance of the drive, which can mislead the user into buying it.

mac disk test

To better understand what should be expected from data storing devices, consider these sequential speeds:

  • HDD: 50-200 MB/s;
  • SDD: 400-800 MB/s.

Random access speeds are substantially lower than sequential ones because they measure the ability of a drive to read and write complex files stored at scattered locations. The following are typical random access speeds of a data storing device:

  • HDD: 5-20 MB/s;
  • SSD: 20-100 MB/s.

How to Choose Good Hard Drive Benchmark Tool?

So what software is worth taking for a spin to test a storage device on Mac? It is important to pay attention to the fact that whereas some utilities can only run random and sequential tests, others are capable of conducting real-world tests. For example, they urge a computer to write a large file, thereby measuring how the performance correlates with the real-world use. Another feature to look for when choosing an HDD benchmarking utility for Apple notebooks and computers is the use of uncompressed data for testing disk speeds, which produces more accurate results.

benchmark tools

CPU Benchmark Tool

Now that you’ve measured the performance of your HDD or SSD, it’s time to discover whether the capabilities of the CPU are suitable for your needs. CPU benchmarking software can help you to assess how powerful your Mac really is and to compare it to other machines. You can choose from a large pool of freely-available benchmarking utilities equipped with modern performance assessment features. Such apps are capable of evaluating multiple benchmarks by running integer math, compression, prime number, encryption, floating point math, extended instructions, physics, string sorting, and single threaded test among others. Given that benchmarks are measured in different units, which are usually unfamiliar to novice Mac users, it can be difficult to interpret the output of benchmarking tools.

If you are one of those users who know nothing about compression rates, memory buffering, or physics interactions, remember this rule of thumb: a higher score is better. The rule will help you navigate through cryptic results of CPU benchmarking.