macOS Sonoma vs Ventura: A Side-to-Side Detailed Comparison

MacOS Ventura and macOS Sonoma are two of the latest iterations of the macOS operating system (OS). Ventura is version 13 of the OS, while Sonoma is version 14. As such, their core functionality is pretty much the same.

In addition to offering improvements and bug fixes, Apple introduced quite a number of new features with these two versions. With the macOS Ventura, for instance, the focus was on collaboration. Ventura offers new ways for Mac users to collaborate and share in apps and integrate with their other devices.

MacOS Sonoma, on the other hand, focuses on customization—offering multiple ways to personalize your Mac. Sonoma also comes with improvements to boost gaming performance, a feature first introduced on the Ventura.

In this Sonoma Vs Ventura 2024 review, we’ll compare the two feature by feature and help you decide on the right one.

Launched in 2022, macOS 13 Ventura majored in collaboration. Its successor, the macOS 14 Sonoma, seems to major in gaming and customization, but with amazing video call (Presenter Overlay & more…) and Safari upgrades (Web app Mac, Safari Profile).

Differences Between macOS Sonoma and Ventura

Unveiled back in 2022, Ventura was a significant update for the manufacturer—adding updated capabilities, overhauling multiple apps, and ushering in a new multitasking experience. Thus far, Ventura has been a great operating system. So how exactly does it stack up against the recently previewed macOS Sonoma?

With macOS Sonoma, Apple has introduced an all-new set of features and capabilities, most of which are meant to enhance user productivity and creativity. As opposed to Ventura, Sonoma does not overhaul the user interface on Mac computers entirely.

Instead, the manufacturer simply added a few features that enhance the overall user experience without making significant changes to macOS as you know it. So, how exactly is macOS Sonoma different from Ventura, and should you update it?

1.   Desktop Widgets

Apple reintroduced Widgets to Mac computers in 2020, with the unveiling of the macOS 11 Big Sur. Widgets on macOS Ventura are tucked away behind the sliding Notification Center. Having noticed how iPhone users use widgets to create unique home screens, Apple now wants to bring this level of customization to macOS.

Starting with macOS Sonoma, you can now place app Widgets on your desktop. Sonoma widgets are designed to fade into the background, and even match the background color, whenever you launch another app. What’s more, it allows you to access some app features without opening the app.

For instance, you can control music, check off reminders, and control Smart Home without launching the appropriate app. By leveraging the Continuity feature, Sonoma allows you to access the Widgets on your iPhone without having to install them on your Mac.

2.   Screensavers

By default, Mac computers come preloaded with an assortment of screen savers. However  these are nothing compared to what macOS Sonoma is offering (Slow-Motion New Screen Saver). On macOS Ventura, you can have the computer display preselected pictures alternatively when you are away.

Starting with Sonoma, the manufacturer is laying more emphasis on screensavers. Here, the screensavers look much like the ones you see on Apple TVs. macOS Sonoma screensavers are essentially aerial shots of cities and amazing landscapes.

Whenever the computer is idle, such footage will play at a slow motion on your Mac display. When you unlock the Mac, the screensaver video stops and form a pleasant background image for your desktop. This could possibly mean that Apple intents to have OLED displays for Macs in the future.

There are numerous options to choose from, including cityscapes, landscapes, and underwater footages. Only that Sonoma screensavers are nothing like the galleries of images you are used to seeing on iterations like macOS Ventura.

3.   Improved Video Conferencing Tools

MacOS Ventura comes with some amazing video call enhancements. One such improvement is Center Stage—a feature that leverages advanced cropping technology to ensure that you are always at the middle of the screen during video calls. Ventura also features Continuity Camera, allowing to use the camera on your iPhone instead of the built-in camera on Mac.

MacOS Sonoma offers even more ways to spice up your conference call experience. One of the video conferencing highlights on Sonoma is the Presenter Overlay functionality. Enabling Presenter Overlays ensures that the presenter remains in the foreground throughout the call.

Sonoma offers two Overlay options:

  • Small Overlay – places your head in bubble that you can drag around the screen during a video call.
  • Large  Overlay – this options makes you appear much like a news presenter on a television, and projects the shared screen behind you.

With Sonoma, other callers get an opportunity to react to your presentation with animations, including confetti, party balloons, and fireworks. You can even trigger some of these reactions using gestures.  Thanks to the SharePlay feature, you can now share files in different formats during a video call.

It even allows you to share apps during a call. Unlike Ventura, macOS 14 allows you to use your iPhone or Studio Display as a webcam for your video calls. Both Sonoma and Ventura support integration with the leading conferencing apps, with Sonoma supporting more apps.

4.   Safari Browser Improvements

The Safari browser benefited from major improvements in macOS Ventura. For example, the update introduced Shared Tab Groups that allows you to share your favorite websites with other users. In this regard, the Safari browser on Ventura allows users to build a collaborative list of bookmarks.

To facilitate collaboration even further, Ventura allows you to start FaceTime calls and Message conversations right from the Safari Browser. MacOS Sonoma takes things a notch higher with a ton of improvements and all-new features for the Safari browser.

According to the manufacturer, the Safari browser on Sonoma is the world’s most advanced browser today. This may be attributed to the new capabilities it has to offer, including:

  • Enhanced Security and Privacy

Over the years, apple has been keen on offering best-in-class security and privacy across all their product lines. To give you peace of mind whenever you are browsing, Apple has added multiple improvements and new security measures to Safari.

The Safari browser on macOS Sonoma boasts additional layers of security, especially in the Private browsing mode. The browser has been designed to automatically block sites from tracking and profiling you. If left to idle for a few minutes, Safari automatically locks private browsing tabs.

You can use Face ID or Touch ID to unlock the tabs when you resume. Another great addition is the ability to share passwords within a group. Sonoma now lets you create a group whose participants can create and apply passwords together.

The sharing of passwords is handled through iCloud Keychain, which guarantees end-to-end encryption.

  • Speed

By twerking multiple performance aspects of the browser, Apple effectively created one of the fastest browsers out there. The improved speed may also be attributed to major improvements to its WebKit rendering engine by the manufacturer.

  • Safari Profiles

In addition to the improvements discussed above, the Safari browser on Sonoma also all-new features. Safari profiles is one such feature. It lets you create multiple profiles on the browser. For instance, you could create a profile for work and another for entertainment.

The browser effectively keeps the cookies, history, tab, and related information for each profile separate (That makes it easy to Reset Safari On Mac for Specific Profiles). Think of this as having multiple browsing environments to suit your different needs, but on the same browser.

The manufacturer has made it easy for you to change from one profile to another in an instant.

  • Web Apps

Though new to macOS, the Web Apps feature has been available on iPads and iPhones for years now. The concept is pretty much the same, you can turn the websites you frequent on Safari into app that conveniently sit on the Dock.

To do this, simply open a website on Safari then select Add to Dock from the File Menu. This creates a virtual app for that particular website and places it on the dock, right besides the other apps. Web Apps on macOS Sonoma work independent of the browser and work with Stage Manager and Mission Control.

You can also open your Web Apps via Spotlight Search or Launchpad, just as you would with conventional apps on Mac. When you launch a Web App, its window will have a simplified toolbar with navigation buttons.

Note: Web developers get to choose whether their websites will show such a toolbar when launched as Web Apps on Mac.

This gives you an app-like browsing experience—you do not to launch the browser to access your favorite websites.

5.   Game Mode

Game Mode on Mac
Game Mode on Mac

MacOS 13 Ventura packs some serious gaming power, thanks to its Metal 3 technology. This technology, coupled to Apple’s silicon chip, allows mac computers to deliver quality visuals, even with the more complex games.

Developers have already taken advantage of Metal 3 to come up with amazing game titles for Mac. Those include Stray, World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Resident Evil Village, and No Man’s Sky. Additionally, Ventura offers other beneficial gaming capabilities, such as:

  • SharePlay – allows Mac users to join and play games together and take advantage of the Game Center to play multiplayer games.
  • Improved Game Center – Apple redesigned the Game Center dashboard, allowing gaming enthusiasts to do even more on their Macs. With the new dashboard, you can checkout what other players are playing, know when they beat your score, and view their achievements.

Most of the gaming enhancements on Ventura were aimed at improve visuals and reduce loading times. While all these were welcome news for gaming enthusiasts on the Mac platform, they have been dwarfed by what Sonoma’s Game Mode offers.

Sonoma Gaming Experience is Superior

With the macOS Sonoma, the manufacturer appears to have gone to great lengths to cut latency and boost performance exponentially. Starting with Sonoma, macOS now features a dedicated Game Mode. This mode automatically kicks in when you launch any game on your Mac.

In its functioning, the Game mode automatically prioritizes the game you are playing on the GPU and the CPU. By restricting background processes to lower usage, this feature can reduce latency and enhance performance significantly. The result has been consistent frame rates and smoother gameplay.

The Game Mode on macOS Sonoma boasts several other improvements, including:

  • Doubles Bluetooth sample rate for when you are using PlayStation or Xbox controllers to play games on Mac 
  • Comes pre-loaded with a selection of popular Mac games like Stray and No Man’s Sky.
  • Reduces latency considerably when gaming on Mac with AirPods for audio.

To encourage developers to create more games exclusive to the Mac platform, Sonoma features a Game Porting Toolkit. Additionally, apple promises them a simpler conversion process for graphics hardware calls and shaders.

While all these do not make Macs as seamless as Windows PCs, with regards to gaming, I believe it is a step in the right direction.

macOS Sonoma Vs Ventura: Performance

Just as is the case with other operating systems, the performance of any macOS version is dependent on several factors. Provided you are running Ventura on a relatively newer Mac model with at least 16 GB of RAM and a speedy SSD, performance should not be an issue.

MacOS Ventura has been reported to have a CPU usage of close to 100%. As such, it is bound to feel a bit sluggish on older Macs with 8GB of RAM or less. This is particular the case when you are running multiple apps at the same time.

Ventura’s performance also depends on the apps you are running. For instance apps that require more resources to run like the Chrome browser may slow your Mac. Running such apps on macOS Ventura will also have a bearing on its battery usage.

As for GPU utilization, Ventura delivers a rather decent performance. This may be attributed to the added support for Metal graphics APIs on this OS. This allows it to exploit up to eight times more GPU power than its predecessor.

In comparison, Sonoma performs even better—at least for the most part. The new Game Mode, for example, has been specifically designed to optimize performance on all Silicon-powered Mac computers. Again, it leverages the advanced media engine to deliver an high-performance mode within the Screen Sharing app.

Is macOS Sonoma better than macOS Ventura?

Technically speaking, macOS Sonoma is better than Ventura—if you have the right hardware of course. To begin with, Sonoma is not a complete overhaul of the macOS UI, as was the case with Big Sur. Actually, almost everything appears the same, save for the animated screensavers.

Having been developed to succeed Ventura, its obvious that Sonoma offers fixes to the various macOS Ventura glitches. This is to say that Sonoma offers the very best of the great Ventura features plus several new and revolutionary capabilities.

Arguing from this point of view, macOS Sonoma is the better OS of the two—allowing you to get the most out of your Silicon-powered Mac. That said, only a beta version of Sonoma is available now. Many Mac users running the beta version of Sonoma have already reported multiple glitches.

Other than that, I believe Sonoma will be the best macOS version yet once such glitches have been fixed in the final edition of the software. If you are looking for a more stable macOS right now, then Ventura is the way to go.

Should I keep Ventura or Upgrade to Sonoma?

Both macOS Sonoma and Ventura are great upgrades to the compatible Mac computers. The choice of either mainly depends on compatibility, intended application, and preferences. Sonoma promises to transform your video conferencing, browsing, privacy and security, and gaming experience on Mac computers.

MacOS Sonoma is an amazing choice if you are after the newest features as well as security and performance enhancements. Offering numerous customization options, a powerful Game Mode, optimized utilization of resources, and a horde of new features makes Sonoma a clear winner here. However, I wouldn’t be too quick to ditch macOS Ventura for Sonoma yet, if I were you. At least for the final release of the software early next year.

Is it Worth Updating Your Mac to Sonoma?

Right now, no. MacOS Sonoma is still under development and testing. The macOS Sonoma beta version available today is prone to multiple glitches and even failures in some cases. As a matter of fact, multiple users have reported an array of bugs they have experienced while using Sonoma.

As a result, it is not advisable to install macOS Sonoma on your primary Mac computer yet. Personally, I think you should go for the more stable macOS Ventura for the time being. For now, Ventura will definitely feel faster, especially if you are running optimized apps and have a large RAM on your Mac.

If you have already upgraded, you can easily downgrade from Sonoma to Ventura without loosing your data.

Final Verdict

MacOS Sonoma is not a major redesign of macOS as was the case with Big Sur—at least from the visual stand point. Rather, it builds on the latest incremental upgrades offered by macOS Ventura. Sonoma is packed with numerous new and improved features that altogether bring the macOS experience closer to that of iOS and iPadOS.

It brings to life the much needed changes to how macOS handles gaming, the design of widgets, video conferencing, and browsing on Safari. In comparison, macOS Ventura ushered in such features as Continuity Camera, Stage Manager, Visual Look Up, Passkeys, and Live Text.

This makes Sonoma the best macOS version of the two, with regards to customization, speed, and performance. However, you’d better wait for the final release of the software as Sonoma is still in its second beta version.

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Karly Wood

Karly Wood, a Wellington-based journalist, excels in covering Apple and tech trends. With a diverse background in public safety, government, and education reporting, her insights bridge multiple disciplines, offering readers a well-rounded perspective on today's technological advancements. Contact Her Team:- [OR]

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