First Look: Compressor Speed Test – Catalina vs. Mojave

BIG NOTE: This article has been updated and replaced by – Video Compression Speed Test. This new article has updated numbers for Apple Compressor and now includes Adobe Media Encoder.

One of the new features in macOS Catalina is a revised graphics engine called Metal 2. Both Final Cut Pro X and Compressor were recently upgraded to support it.

So, this week, I decided to revisit my Compressor speed test from October, 2019, to see what changed. This is just a first look, as I haven’t had time to check the speed of Adobe Media Encoder with Catalina.

NOTE: Here’s my original article.

First, though, I want to report that a bug in Compressor that prevented it from compressing ProRes 4444 files into 10-bit HEVC has been fixed in Catalina. While Compressor still takes about twice as long as Adobe Media Encoder to compress the same file into 10-bit HEVC, at least, now, Compressor is able to complete the job.


I ran these theses on the same computer (an i5) using the same data files and same compression settings using Apple Compressor.

The Mojave tests used Compressor 4.4.5. The Catalina tests used Compressor 4.4.6.


The short answer is that the latest version of Apple Compressor running on Catalina is slightly slower across all tests than Compressor running on Mojave.

H.264 compressed file sizes are the same, while HEVC compressed file sizes are slightly smaller in Catalina.

This chart illustrates the results. Catalina is represented by green bars, shorter bars are faster.

Here are the numeric results for speed. Also, based on the results published in my earlier article, Adobe Media Encoder remains significantly faster than Compressor, especially given these new numbers.

NOTE: These speeds only represent files that were able to be compressed. As the Mojave version of Compressor failed to compress ProRes 4444 files into HEVC 10-bit, I excluded those results from this table. That bug was fixed in Catalina with the 4.4.6 update to Compressor.

Here are the numeric results for file size. No change in compressed file sizes for H.264, slightly smaller files with the latest version of Compressor running on Catalina.


This is just a first look, I want to re-run my tests to make sure I’m getting consistent results. As well, future tests will show what performance impact Catalina has, if any, on Adobe Media Encoder compression speeds.

So far, though, there’s no big performance improvement in Compressor’s compression speed when updating to Catalina and running Metal 2.

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9 Responses to First Look: Compressor Speed Test – Catalina vs. Mojave

  1. I hope you contact your people at Apple and tell them that Compressor is slower.

  2. Emerson says:

    Is it “safe” to update to Catalina and Adobe 2020?

    • Larry says:


      I would say: Yes. I’m writing about this for Monday’s newsletter.


    • Gary says:

      I updated to Catalina From Mojave and have nothing but problems from performance to download issues to a failed reinstall. II am running an early 2018 iMac with 8 gb ram, 1 tb hd. I have stepped back to Mojave and plan on staying there for a while longer. If I really had a choice I would have stayed with High Sierra.

      • Larry says:


        I’m sorry for all your problems – it is very frustrating.

        I agree, High Sierra was a very nice version of the macOS. Keep in mind, though, that your RAM is a bit on the low-end. It might be wise to stay with Mojave. Also, talk with your local Apple Store, they may be able to downgrade you to High Sierra in the store; it is no longer available online.


  3. JohnIL says:

    I have a 2019 MacBook Air and Catalina was a mess for me. Lot’s of sleep issues where the Mac would not wake up on battery after a extended sleep such as overnight. Even a clean install of Catalina never really helped. I’m back to Mojave and will stay there for some time. Obviously I can’t upgrade anything either with a MBA. I noticed that Catalina takes up more storage space as it splits out read only OS and user data into two separate partitions for security I guess. I would say Apple has a mess on its hands with Catalina so far.

    • Larry says:


      I’m sorry for your problems. I have not seen the same issues, nor am I getting lots of emails from other readers. What this might mean is that there is something wrong with the hardware of your system that a simple OS reinstall is not fixing. I would contact Apple Support, or visit a store. Your problems are not typical.


  4. Radim says:

    The difference may be just in the different versions of Compressor, so this test may be irrelevant …

  5. Jonathan says:

    Compressor for some reason has quit being able to split h264 encodes. This used to make compressor lightning quick, especially when using more than one system to encode. They had the best networking rendering setup. Now… it will not even utilize 20% of the cores on my 2010 Mac Pro tower or use it’s graphics card (amd 580x). Same story on a brand new MacBook Pro with upgraded GPU. Wishing I could go back a few os versions and run the old compressor.

    On the latest version of Mojave on the Mac Pro and latest cat on the laptop.

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