McGrath, 37, will follow Lara into international retirement after Saturday's World Cup final against Sri Lanka. Lara quit after his team lost to England in the final Super Eights match.
"There's been quite a few who on their day that have done well and obviously the two standouts are Brian and Sachin," he told a news conference on Friday.
"I feel from bowling to those two guys that probably Brian was slightly in front of Sachin when they were both at their peak."
McGrath said the two outstanding bowlers of his era had been the fast bowlers Curtly Ambrose from West Indies and Pakistan's Wasim Akram.
"They were two guys I really looked up to and admired when I played," he said. "Ambrose for his height and the way he hit the deck, just the bounce he got.
"Akram with what he could do with the ball both new and old, the way he just powered through the crease and both those guys were amazing bowlers."
Asked for the secrets of the technique which brought him 563 Test wickets, the most by any pace bowler, McGrath preached the virtues of simplicity.
"I have always said that my approach has been quite simple. The less complicated you make things the less things can go wrong," he said.
"So I have always felt if you could bowl 99 balls out of a hundred which is generally hitting the deck... then you will take wickets. It's worked well for me over the last 12 or 14 years."
McGrath, who took a wicket with his final ball in Test cricket to complete a 5-0 Ashes whitewash over England at the Sydney Cricket Ground, said he would probably have retired then had it not been for the World Cup.
"I'm happy to walk away from the game, I think it's in a good state, there's a lot of good young fast bowlers coming through. At the end of the day I am happy with what I have achieved and what the team has achieved," he said.
"I think probably the first thing I will do is get away from it for a while and unwind and see what options come up and see what I want to do."
Captain Ricky Ponting paid tribute to Australia's most dependable bowler for more than a decade.
"There's no doubt we are going to miss him, he's one of the all-time greats of the game and what he has been able to do for Australian cricket over such a long period of time is unbelievable," he said.
"I don't mind saying I shed a tear at the SCG after the last Test this year when he played his last game and Warney (Shane Warne) played his last test. There's going to be lots of good memories "