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Gain 10% Graphics Performance With One Click! The Hidden Cost Of Font Smoothing....

We were running benchmarks on Apple's new G4's recently when we noticed an oddity. One of the machines had abnormally low MacBench graphics scores. We double checked to make sure the machine was set up properly and ran the tests again. Same low score.... We eventually isolated Apple's "font smoothing" as the culprit. Font smoothing is an option accessed through the "Appearance" control panel, which anti-aliases on-screen fonts to give them a softer look. Of course, this adds to the workload of the graphics system. We decided to find out exactly what kind of hit the various font smoothing settings cause. Font smoothing affects all on screen fonts at or above the point size you specify in the Appearance control panel. If you set a low point value more text will be affected and, conversely, higher point values will affect less text.

All of our tests were conducted on a G3/266 PowerBook with a screen resolution of 1024 x 768, millions of colors. For MacBench, we tested at 12, 14, 18 and 24 points. For our AppleWorks and Photoshop tests we covered only the low and high end of this spectrum. All scores are relative to the "font smoothing off" setting which was assigned a value of 100.MacBench 5.0 Graphics Score
Higher numbers and longer bars are better.

Time to Scroll a 574 page AppleWorks document from top to bottom.
Lower numbers and shorter bars are better.

Time to scroll a 10MB Photoshop file from top to bottom. Image was magnified 500%
Lower numbers and shorter bars are better.

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