The Performance Edge: G4 Got Game? - How The G4 Processor Can Speed Up Gaming

Altor, a Mac game developer, currently working on Nightfall - an exploratory game with an Egyptian theme, has developed a testing utility called G4 TimeDemo. It will give you some indication of the G4's strength over the G3, running games that are written to take advantage of the G4's velocity engine. We have, on loan, a XLR8 MACh G4/500/200 upgrade card which has temporary residence in our trusty Beige G3/266/133. The XLR8 card can be clocked up and down. This presented us with a great opportunity to check out the G4 card, clocked to the same speed as our G3 Power Mac, and see just how much faster it was. The only technical difference between the cards, that might skew the results a little, is that the G3 card only has 512K of backside cache, and the XLR8 G4 card a full megabyte. However if this difference has any effect at all (as you can see from the results below cache speed had virtually no effect on frame rates), it would skew the results in favor of the G4 card, at most 5 -7%. XLR8 has promised to send us one of their G3/500MHz cards, so we will retest at that point to see if this discrepancy really makes a difference.

That being said we tested at the following setting:

Millions of colors at 'Amazing' setting Thousands of colors at 'Low' setting
Stock G3/266/133/512K Stock G3/266/133/512K
XLR8 G4/266/133/1MB XLR8 G4/266/133/1MB
XLR8 G4/266/266/1MB XLR8 G4/266/266/1MB
XLR8 G4/533/267/1MB XLR8 G4/533/267/1MB

533MHz was the fastest we could clock up the XLR8 card. The monitor was attached to an ATI Rage Orion graphics card with 16 MB of video memory, and the machine was running OS 9.0.4.

The results are truly amazing. Clocked at the same speed the G4 card kicked out about 50% more frames than the stock G3 (keep in mind the cache size factor). As mentioned earlier the speed of the cache made almost no difference, and in some cases (confusingly so), the game performed worse (by about a frame), when set at the lower setting. Perhaps Altor has an explanation for this. When the G4 was clocked up to 533MHz it really spit out those frames.

Additional Resources:


G4 TimeDemo Results - Frames Per Second

PowerBook G3/466 upgrade card - scroll test


PowerBook G3/466 upgrade card - scroll test

G4 TimeDemo Results - Percentage Improvement
PowerBook G3/466 upgrade card - scroll test


PowerBook G3/466 upgrade card - scroll test



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