Showdown: Torrent Clients

Being some of the most used apps today, torrent clients allow transferring of Linux distributions, podcasts, and more from one computer to another. With over five popular clients on the Mac platform alone, it’s hard to choose what app to use. Today I’ll be showing you which client prevails.

Note: Torrent clients should only be used to download legal files, such as Linux distributions, video podcasts, or other free and legal content.

1. BitTorrent
BitTorrentBitTorrent, the original torrent client, has been around for years. However, it’s criticized for being underfeatured, and is known for slow speeds in both downloading torrents and starting the app. Since BitTorrent is PowerPC only and not a Universal Binary, slowdowns are expected on Intel Macs. If you’re on a PowerPC, speeds will improve, but features will still remain a rarity. BitTorrent is as basic as a torrent client gets.

Pros: The original.

Cons: Almost featureless, not a Universal Binary, dated UI, slow.

 
2. Transmission

TransmissionTransmission is a simple, lightweight torrent client that has few features, but is known for it’s blazing speed. The app shows download and upload speeds in the dock icon, auto-forwards network ports to ensure fast downloads, auto-deletes .torrent files, and adds new .torrent files to the download list when downloaded to a specified folder. Transmission also has a ‘Schedule Speed’ feature, where the torrent will download/upload faster or slower at certain times to save bandwith. And best of all, it’s free and open source.

Pros: Simple and lightweight, a solid yet basic feature list.

Cons: Only at version 0.7, may be buggy.

 
3. Tomato Torrent
Tomato TorrentTomato Torrent is one of the simplest clients on the Mac. Think of Tomato Torrent as a Universal Binary, updated version of BitTorrent. It’s extremely simple and has few features, and displays each torrent download in a seperate window, which can a bit messy.

Pros: Universal Binary, open source, light RAM usage.

Cons: Each download is displayed in a seperate window, few features.

 
4. Azureus

AzureusAzureus is a Java based cross-platform torrent client, and is known for it’s abundance of features. Although slow due to it’s Java backend, Azureus downloads torrents lightning fast. Azureus is the only Mac torrent client that features Selective Downloading, so the user can choose to download certain files in the torrent and not the whole package. The UI is a radical change from other torrent clients, in that Azureus’ shows legal, ready to download P2P content in the ‘Content’ section. This section of legal downloads is similar to the iTunes Store, and one can search and choose what they want to download. Content includes movie trailers, TV show clips, video podcasts, and more. An alternative interface similar to ones from previous versions of Azureus is available as well. Azureus comes shipped with tons of features, including security options, logging options, and a handful of plugins. Azureus’ features are never limited, as one can download plugins for the app online. Plugins can add features such as improved security options and RSS feeds for torrents.

Pros: Endless options/features, legal content readily available, open source

Cons: Slow, Java, hogs ram, takes up large ammount of screen space.

 
5. Xtorrent
XtorrentThe newest edition to torrent clients on the Mac, Xtorrent is the latest creation from David Watanabe. Known for the eye candy in his apps, David designed Xtorrent around simplicity and elegance, yet loaded it with useful features and time saving options. Xtorrent can search for torrents via any search engine, can subscribe to RSS feeds for torrents, can organize searches and feeds into folders, automatically loads torrents, and can show download speeds in the dock icon. The UI is fantastic, reflecting NewsFire’s and Acquisition’s interface. The only downside to Xtorrent is it’s price, going for $18.99. Check out our brief Xtorrent Review.

Pros: Stunning UI, just the right amount of features, RSS torrent feeds, built in search, folders and organization.

Cons: No customizable toolbar, a rather large price tag for a torrent client.

 
Conclusion: Get Xtorrent. Sorry, but we love the RSS feeds, the built in search, and the folders. These three features really make torrent downloading feel a bit more organized and put together. The search feature saves time, and the RSS feeds help keep you up to date on your favourite torrents.

However, if you don’t have the money, go with Transmission. It’s simple and quick and has a good amount of features to keep you happy.

Honorable Mentions
There are tons of other torrent clients, but not all of them are stable or full featured enough for review. Opera and Acquisition download torrents on the side, but aren’t full featured clients. Another worthy mention is BitRocket, an upcoming torrent client. However, BitRocket is in it’s alpha stage and isn’t ready for primetime use.

Comments

45 Responses to “Showdown: Torrent Clients”

  1. Yohannes Wijaya on March 19th, 2007 7:07 am

    still waiting for the next update to transmission, a lightweight app i am using exclusively for torrent. never liked xtorrent; everytime u search something, a corresponding google result page popped up(there is no option turn that feature[annoyance] off). why would i need that? rss? i use netnewswire. The beauty about transmission is that it does one thing, which is getting torrent downloads and it does it very well while others adding unnecessary bulks/features/* diluting the intended goal: downloading torrent files.

  2. dsjkvf on March 19th, 2007 7:15 am

    well, if we are talking about features, then does XTorrent or any other Mac torrent client support selective downloads? only Azureus does AFAIR… but it is big & ugly :( .

    besides, there are more clients — such as BitRocket (http://www.bitrocket.org/) or Bits On Wheels (http://www.bitsonwheels.com/)

  3. Alec Feld on March 19th, 2007 7:15 am

    Yohannes, you can turn off the Google/Yahoo results in the searching preferences.

  4. Logan Leger on March 19th, 2007 8:14 am

    BitRocket is an amazingly solid product and has worked for me better than Xtorrent ever did.

  5. John Baker on March 19th, 2007 8:33 am

    Great comparison, Alec – this is actually just what I’ve been needing for a while. I’ve been using Transmission and I’ve been very happy with it, but I might give Xtorrent a try after seeing this.

  6. Steffan Williams on March 19th, 2007 9:11 am

    Xtorrent just isn’t worth it.

    I’ve used all of the applications above and the best one has to be Transmission (so happy they finally changed that logo, too). Transmission is simple, has a great feature set and is actually a fairly pretty app.

    Xtorrent tries to hard to do something but from what I’ve experienced it’s useless. Searching feeds from within the client meant that I got repeat listings on everything with most, even though they had high numbers (which I assumed was good), would just not download / download very slowly.

    If you do download illegally (Heroes, Lost etc. here =P), the best client for the Mac is Transmission. Without a doubt. Though I am with Yohannes, an update would be nice (and my roommate uses Vienna to track the RSS feeds of torrents).

  7. brady on March 19th, 2007 9:50 am

    Do ANY of you use private trackers? Azureus is the only option on the Mac right now for anyone who’s a member of any private tracker, and anyone who wants any sort of basic control over the torrenting process (e.g. which files get get downloaded, encryption, directory moving). All other Mac torrent clients are, at this stage, egregiously under-featured.

  8. James on March 19th, 2007 1:05 pm

    Yes, and what about those problems with private trackers banning anyone using Xtorrent? Are those problems solved?

  9. Jon Kantro on March 19th, 2007 1:20 pm

    You do realize Transmission is going to kick the shit out of Xtorrent. They have fixed their tracker issue of announcing every 5 minutes, they are working on individual file support, supports PEX…Once again research.

  10. Alec Feld on March 19th, 2007 1:41 pm

    Jon,

    I realize that it will. But as of now, I think Xtorrent is great for torrent organization.

    Of course for speed, Transmission rocks, but again some people might be drawn to Xtorrent due to the organization.

  11. Michael on March 19th, 2007 2:17 pm

    I’ve tried all of the ones above and even BitRocket and now I use Transmission. It’s a lightweight app, and gave me the fastest downoad speeds. Great post Alec.

  12. Sherb on March 19th, 2007 3:01 pm

    You shouldn’t have to pay for a TORRENT client :-/

  13. Alec Feld on March 19th, 2007 3:26 pm

    Sherb, I agree. But it’s a damn nice client.

  14. Yohannes Wijaya on March 19th, 2007 6:24 pm

    @Alec Feld, i did but it still showed up for weird reason. neverthelesss i have uninstalled it for quite some time now and dont bother using it anymore. As Sherb said, xtorrent shouldn’t cost money.

    @Logan Leger, i do like bitrocket and i still keep it. it’s a shame that development has stalled for quite a while.

  15. alej744 on March 19th, 2007 7:17 pm

    I’m not enough of a torrenter to pay for Xtorrent. I love Transmission.

  16. Dylan on March 20th, 2007 12:56 am

    @Jon Kantro
    Uhm… Xtorrent is Transmission.

    @everyone
    Xtorrent is, nearly, completely useless for anyone other than a complete newbie.

    Here are 5 reasons why:

    1. No transport encryption (this means slow speeds for anyone who’s ISP limits bittorent use)
    2. No torrent creation
    3. No selective downloading (try downloading one episode of a previous season on BitMeTV)
    4. It’s banned on all decent trackers
    5. It’s payware!

    I wouldn’t recommend anyone pay for Xtorrent, you are more than likely to grow out of it very quickly. I do like the RSS integration and overall look and feel though, it’s a shame it’s such a lame client.

    As far as I’m concerned Azureus is the only Mac torrent client. I hate the interface but it is the only client that has encryption (this gives me a 500%-1000% speed boost) and is supported by private trackers. I simply can not use any of the others.

    What we really need is a good utorrent clone. BitRocket was promising but development has pretty much died.

  17. Sebastian on March 20th, 2007 3:53 am

    Wow, I used to be a regular Tomato Torrent user, but BitRocket looks really promising.

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  19. William Laughlin on March 27th, 2007 9:39 am

    I am hoping for a collective group to band together to make
    Azureus less of a system hog, and more OS X like. If I had the programming knowledge I would contribute, but alas that is why I am waiting.

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  21. ChiefBootKnocka on March 31st, 2007 5:56 pm

    Get the latest Transmission build (0.7-svn-r1611 at the time of writing, updated *frequently*) compiled and ready for download from http://chucker.mystfans.com/opensource/transmission/Transmission-latest.dmg

    Link above should always get you the most recent build.

    Only major problem with Transmission (if you ask me) is lack of encryption support.

  22. dsjkvf on April 3rd, 2007 1:13 am

    @ChiefBootKnocka and @everyone

    not the only, but a major problem with Transmission (and with other clients as well) is the lack of selective download. dixi.

  23. Sherb on April 6th, 2007 8:33 pm

    I am now using Transmission, it’s very simple and I get good download speeds.

  24. iamnoskcaj on May 9th, 2007 9:23 am

    you people who say that azureus is the ONLY Mac client that works on private trackers are WRONG!

    BitRocket has worked on many private trackers for quite some time now. I can often bounce between BitRocket and Azureus, and be just as productive in either one. Of course Azureus offers more granular control of the application… specifically in the speed limiting/managing arena, and selective file downloading. While BitRocket has RSS support, it’s a very immature feature, that needs more development. If I use BitRocket fulltime, I must also use a standalone RSS client (and use applescript and folder actions to get my downloads to work properly). With Azureus I can use it by itself and get all my automated downloads working just right. The biggest problem with Azureus (in my opinion) is it’s heavy memory footprint. Historically it’s been a beast.. and it remains so to this day. It’s even getting worse with the 3.0 version that’s been floating around lately…. OMG, talk about BLOAT. Sure, you can switch to classic UI mode, but who the hell needs all that extra crap when it was already a memory hog?

    Overall, I enjoy using Transmission too. It’s lightweight, tiny foot-print is VERY enticing… but as many of you probably know.. it’s had it’s fair share of problems on private trackers… getting banned multiple times over the last year or two. I’ve been following it’s development closely. FYI: Transmission (0.7.x) is now permitted on the wildly popular (and very discriminating) private tracker, Oink.me.uk

    X-Torrent has so much potential… but I am still on the fence about whether I’d pay for a Torrent Client when there’s so many others out there. Funny thing is.. I was in the same position about RSS Clients a couple years ago, and I ended up choosing David Watanabe’s client over all the other free/commercial/opensource clients out there. It JUST WORKS better, and looks great. If he picks up the pace of his development on X-Torrent, he just might make a believer out of me.

    If BitRocket development moved at a faster pace, I’d probably commit to that… because I could see the same great potential in BitRocket, as X-Torrent has… AND it’s opensource. Only time will tell whether the respective developers are really committed to the projects. So far it seems like X-Torrent and BitRocket get updated the least, compared to Azureus and Transmission. To be fair, there was a time when I used Tomato, but those days are long gone… using my Mac fulltime means I need a stable, feature rich, (preferably lightweight) Torrent Client… and Tomato is seriously lacking on said “feature rich” requirement.

    I guess to be crystal clear, I think the following features are absolutely required:
    Transport Encryption
    Selective File Downloading
    Good Speed/Bandwidth Management (with possibly a scheduler too)
    File Management (torrent-file, in-progress, and completed-file organizing/moving, etc…)
    Must be usable on private trackers (transport encryption, etc)
    Intuitive, Modern/Nice-Looking Mac-Stye User Interface
    Download Automation (through RSS) would be REALLY nice, but so far I haven’t seen anyone do it really well.

    I’m eager to see David Watanabe’s (X-Torrent) end-product a little further down the line… as well as BitRocket, if they ever pick up the pace of development.

    In the meantime, it’s Azureus fulltime for me. Ever so often I’ll switch to BitRocket, Transmission, and X-Torrent, individually (just to see how the three apps are maturing periodically).

    Later guys!!!

    Happy Torrent’ing!!!

  25. Headrush69 on June 24th, 2007 10:10 am

    The lastest 0.8x SVN releases of Transmission support selective downloading.

    Even a noobie can check out SVN versions too. Either grabbing a nightly build or the current SVN release. If you have Xcode installed its a simple one click build.

  26. DrZ on July 15th, 2007 9:45 am

    Hi, can someone post a link or tell me about a “how to upload a torrent for MAc”, i have one for uTorrent for PC but cant find a mac app to do it anywhere. ?possible in Azureus?
    thanks torrenters!

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