With the latest Power Mac G4's, Apple has abandoned (for the
most part) its dual processor strategy. During his keynote
speech at Macworld SF, Steve Jobs essentially confirmed that
this was due to Motorola's inability to produce faster G4
processors in sufficient quantity. The announced lineup of
G4 Power Macs range from 466MHz to a potent 733 MHz. We spent
several weeks with the two low end machines, the G4/466 and
G4/533, putting them through their paces. How do they stack
up against previous G4 machines? Read on to find out...
New and Improved: While the form factor hasn't changed, there
are a number of significant improvements under the hood worth
noting. The highlights are outlined below:
- The G4/667 and G4/733 use a new G4 processor out of Motorola,
One of the key differences of this new processor, dubbed
the "G4 Plus" by some, is the presence on an "on-chip"
256K cache running at full processor speed.The 466
and 533 MHz machines we tested use the older G4 processor
with the standard 2:1 backside cache. Interestingly, the
backside cache on the 677 and 733 runs at a 3:1 ratio, 222
and 244 MHz respectively. There are numerous other differences
between the G4 and G4 Plus that should give the new chip
a real edge.MacAddict has an excellent writeup on the new
chips. See pages 1
- System bus speed has been bumped from 100 MHz to 133 MHz
(PC133 RAM now required) for improved memory throughput.
- Previous G4's had a 2X AGP slot. The new G4's all sport
a 4X AGP Graphics slot with one of the following cards:
RAGE 128 (G4/466) with 16MB SDRAM or an nVIDIA
GeForce2 MX graphics card with 32MB of SDRAM (G4/533,
G4/667 & G4/733). ATI's Radeon
card with 32MB of Double Data Rate (DDR) RAM is also available
as a BTO option from the Apple Store.
- All of the new Power Macs have CD-RW drives allowing users
to burn their own music or data CD's. The G4/733, which
we will review at a later date, breaks new ground with a
drive Apple has dubbed the "Super Drive." The
super drive is a combination CD-RW and DVD-R drive.
- 4 full-length 64-bit, 33MHz PCI slots. Previous Power
Macs had one 2X AGP slot and 3 PCI.
- A new digital audio sound system featuring a built in
amplifier capable of supporting multiple audio output formats.
- Visit our Power
Mac Specs & Features Page for a full comparison
with previous Power Macs.
Setting up each machine took no time at all after the excess
of protective plastics were removed. Side by side, the G4/466
and G4/533 look virtually identical, but our benchmark
tests showed a significant performance difference between
the two. In terms of raw processing tasks, the G4/466 and
G4/533 fall about where you would expect from machines 67
MHz apart. When it came to our graphics tests, however, the
nVIDIA GeForce2 MX made its presence known in a big way. In
The Quake III test the nVIDIA card trounced the RAGE 128,
delivering an impressive 68.7 FPS in high quality mode. The
RAGE 128 sputtered along at 34.5FPS. That said, in terms of
day to day casual use, both machines felt very responsive.
The G4/533's extra muscle primarily made itself felt when
doing serious work in Photoshop or data analysis in Analog.
Whistle & Bell Lab: We quickly installed AirPort cards
in both machines and set up a wireless network, with one machine
acting as the base station. We then used the AirPort connection
to transfer files and to surf the web, all without a hitch.
Although we didn't conduct any formal benchmarks in this department,
surfing the web via AirPort seemed just as responsive as via
our normal Ethernet/DSL connection. If you plan on transferring
a lot of data around, a physical Ethernet connection will
make more sense, given the available gigabit Ethernet port.
We took iMovie2 for a spin, hooking our analog video camera
to the G4's FireWire port, thanks to a DV-Bridge we had for
from Dazzle. After working around a few quirks with the DV-Bridge,
we had put together a holiday home video, complete with cheesy
transitions and scrolling credits. The finished product was
anything but professional looking, but it was also our first
stab at editing. iMovie2 made the actual importing and editing
process painless, and we expect the results would improve
with practice. We used up a serious chunk of drive space importing
clips, making us appreciate the larger 40 gig drive in the
Lastly, we used iTunes to rip a small collection of our favorite
CD's and further fill the Power Macs' drives. iTunes, like
iMovie, was simple to use and coordinates nicely with Disc
Burner to create custom audio CD's.
True to the Macworld SF demo, Disc Burner mounts blank CD's
on the desktop and treats it like any other volume. When you
eject the CD, Disc Burner asks if you would like to burn the
data on to the CD. That's all there is to it!
Conclusions: Either machine would make a fine addition for
the home or business user. If you want an all around solid
performer and are working within a limited budget, the G4/466
will fit the bill. If you plan on giving the processor a workout
on a regular basis, a faster machine will quickly pay for
itself in saved time. If you are a serious gamer, your choice
is likewise clear...
"Real World" Tests
The tests below are from our suite of real world application
tests. These tests feature a diverse selection of applications
commonly used by the Mac community. The test suite was designed
to render an accurate and well rounded picture of a machine's
here for detailed information on each test and our machine's
configuration. All of the tests below (with the exception
of the Quake III & Cinebench 2000 tests) were timed with
a stopwatch. The times are then converted to percentages relative
to our base Blue & White G3/350 machine which is set to
100%. For all scores, higher numbers are better. Absolute
scores for most tests can be found below this section.
Interestingly, this is the one test where the 466 bested the
AppleWorks 6 Tests
Quake III Tests
Actual frame rates for all machines below
Photoshop 6 & Other Data Crunching Tests