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The SpeedZone: Comparing The Performance Of The New Dual Processor Power Mac Towers To 28 Current & Former Macintosh Desktops And Portables
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Monday, October 14, 2002

The new Towers are of note because they sport dual processors. If they were single processor machines, their appeal would be .... well half of what they are.

Even the new top-end 1.25 GHz is only a modest speed bump over the previous generation's Dual 1 GHz Tower in raw clock-speed.

No it is really the fact that Apple has put dual processors in each of the Towers that make them shine ... especially the mid and low-end models. If you are running OS 9 you really won't see that much benefit from dual processor, unless you are running specific applications that take advantage of a dual processor system .... some filters in Photoshop for example.

However under OS X it is a whole different ball game. Since OS X allows for advanced multitasking, application processes can be split across multiple processors. Applications still have to be written to do this, but it is easier for application developers to bring their products up to speed. More and more OS X applications and games are showing up exclaiming they are ready for a menage a trois (one software app and two chips).

Even in the case where an application itself does not lend itself to be split across dual processors, the OS will send the application off to one processor leaving you with one processor free for other work.

That brings us to a final point on these new Towers. They are really powerful machines. From a purely utilitarian standpoint, all that power is not exactly necessary for everyone. In most of our testing about 50% of the processing power of each Tower was left on the floor waiting for a dance partner ... even during our most demanding tests. The Towers are really designed for production type work, and work they will. This doesn't mean that if you are not in production type situation you shouldn't get one. Applications may move forward to take advantage of all that processing power. But if you are sitting on the fence, and you have more modest computing needs, you may want to consider one of Apple's consumer models.

All the machines tested below were running some variant of OS 9. We have results for some of the machines when running OS X on a different page, and will be adding more on an on-going basis. All the scores below, with the exception of the Quake scores and the CineBench, are in seconds. Therefore smaller numbers means better performance. CineBench scores are in points, and higher numbers are better. Quake III scores are in frames per second, and likewise higher frame rates translates into better performance.

  Currently Shipping   Newly Benchmarked

Machine Folder Copy File Copy AppleWorks Scroll Search & Replace Code Analysis Quake III Fastest
Power Mac Dual G4/1.25 GHz 5.83 7.48 32.70 6.30 15.73 147.4 fps
Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 7.06 7.45 33.83 7.02 19.38 118.2 fps
Power Mac Dual G4/867 6.86 7.77 34.39 7.91 22.39 102.8 fps
Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 10.20 8.41 30.61 6.47 20.31 130 fps
Power Mac G4/933 10.33 8.03 33.88 6.91 21.50 124.4 fps
Power Mac G4/800 12.4 9.3 42.29 14.55 26.63 82.6 fps
Power Mac Dual G4/800 10.71 9.39 31.11 7.67 24.47 100.8 fps
Power Mac G4/867 14.92 9.11 28.29 7.43 22.28 112 fps
Power Mac G4/733 12.7 11.28 37.7 18.21 28.41 71.5 fps
Power Mac G4/533 16.17 9.28 37.01 9.41 30.76 75.9 fps
Power Mac G4/466 18.42 12.45 44.31 10.93 35.21 60.3 fps
iMac G4/800 19.52 11.16 39.70 15.76 25.60 74.5fps
iMac G4/700 19.42 13.3 42 16.2 28.95 66.8fps
iMac G3/700 15.14 12.22 53.96 22.06 29.03 52.2 fps
iMac G3/600 20.12 11.16 60.18 22.16 32.89 47.3 fps
iMac G3/500 21.31 13.35 64.16 22.77 35.7 42.8 fps
iMac G3/400 17.02 14.14 74.54 21.98 45.33 35.6 fps
iMac G3/233 42.34 34.31 107.24 25.89 72 16.7 fps
eMac G4/700 (Combo) 19.27 11.41 33.13 15.29 29.16 72.1 fps
PowerBook G4/800 12.85 16.80 35.77 8.50 24.72 97.6 fps
PowerBook G4/667 14.11 16.42 39.48 10.29 28.31 84.5 fps
PowerBook G4/667 17.60 17.34 48.39 16.48 30.67 62.6 fps
PowerBook G4/550 18.77 17.62 58.03 20.17 36.03 51.8 fps
PowerBook G4/500 14.86 19.16 59.77 10.93 33.69 57.1 fps
PowerBook G4/400 16.24 18.78 62.26 13.45 41.38 47.9 fps
PowerBook G3/266 22.51 24.20 97.34 23.25 63.01 15.1 fps
iBook G3/700 (14" Combo) 14.74 16.48 49.95 16.46 25.39 61.5 fps
iBook G3/600/600/256K 15.23 19.36 63.33 23.66 31.82 48.7 fps
iBook G3/500 20.28 22.41 106.24 32 40.18 34.8 fps
Beige G3/266 34.66 28.13 94.64 22.70 63.54 45.5 fps
Blue & White G3/350 20.73 24.59 68.45 17.69 49.95 37.6 fps
  Quake III High Quality CineBench 2000 Raytracing CineBench 2000 Shading iTunes MP3 Encode QuickTime Sorenson Encode StuffIt Expansion
Power Mac Dual G4/1.25 GHz 128.9 fps 26.88 points 12.25 points 21.97 152.70 7.88
Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 104.3 fps 21.82 points 9.83 points 27.84 191.06 9.46
Power Mac Dual G4/867 94.3 fps 18.77 points 8.25 points 22.61 222.56 10.88
Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 115.3 fps 21.77 points 10.04 points 27.14 192.18 9.23
Power Mac G4/933 111.1 fps 11.69 points 9.56 points 28.05 195.33 9.95
Power Mac G4/800 73.4 fps 9.72 points 7.32 points 33.09 254.03 12.56
Power Mac Dual G4/800 56.4 fps 17.02 points 7.78 points 40.65 239.66 11.66
Power Mac G4/867 54.3 fps 10.76 points 8.7 points 39.08 211.02 11.22
Power Mac G4/733 53 fps 8.71 points 7.45 points 37.88 282 13.99
Power Mac G4/533 53.9 fps 5.99 points 7.42 points 41.62 277.81 12.8
Power Mac G4/466 34.5 fps 6.31 points 5.36 points 45.8 315.36 15.72
iMac G4/800 63.5 9.56 points 7.28 points 35.9 273.08 12.98
iMac G4/700 59.1 8.44 points 6.52 points 39.27 309.22 15.51
iMac G3/700 23.2 fps 9.13 points 6.28 points 58.84 602.64 14.84
iMac G3/600 23.1 fps - - 64.75 681.79 14.16
iMac G3/500 23.1 fps - - 71.45 807.4 16.04
iMac G3/400 21.4 fps 4.74 points 3.88 points 88.81 996.63 20.10
iMac G3/233 2.3 fps - - 142.24 1557.76 35.83
eMac G4/700 (Combo) 62.5 8.31 points 6.55 points 37.39 288.69 15.02
PowerBook G4/800 86 fps 9.60 8.01 points 47.45 227.96 12.55
PowerBook G4/667 74.9 fps 8.31 6.82 points 47.80 269.16 14.69
PowerBook G4/667 47.1 fps 7.99 points 6.15 points 48.41 306.63 14.91
PowerBook G4/550 39.8 fps 6.55 points 5.03 points 51.19 371.62 17.73
PowerBook G4/500 17.2 fps 6.63 points 5.78 points 45.16 365.78 16.84
PowerBook G4/400 17.4 fps 5.24 points 4.89 points 58 476.51 19.24
PowerBook G3/266 2.8 fps 3.49 points 2.27 points 121.34 1382.6 29.41
iBook G3/700 (14" Combo) 46.4 fps 9.32 points 6.57 points 51.73 559.89 15.76
iBook G3/600/600/256K 17.4 fps 7.87 points 5.36 points 65.74 672.71 15.41
iBook G3/500 17.3 fps 6.14 points 4.27 points 79.72 851.66 20.66
Beige G3/266 2.2 fps 3.41 points 2.5 points 122.55 1,406.30 31.37
Blue & White G3/350 19.4 fps 4.58 points 3.88 points 92.63 1,046.23 21.89
  Photoshop Launch Photoshop AltiVec Functions Photoshop Non-AltiVec Functions Reboot Burn CD BareFeats' Photoshop Test Suite
Power Mac Dual G4/1.25 GHz 5.09 15.52 81.12 25.43 120.03 35.56
Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 5.54 17.50 102.02 26.73 121.09 42.51
Power Mac Dual G4/867 6.24 21.49 116.59 28.09 - 49.77
Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 6.43 18.98 101.6 29 122.2 45.34
Power Mac G4/933 6.29 27.49 108.78 29.28 119.98 63.06
Power Mac G4/800 7.55 34.88 134.98 31.84 82.27 75.93
Power Mac Dual G4/800 6.75 24.31 131.31 41.14 127.95 -
Power Mac G4/867 6.87 29.89 116.82 34 128.13 -
Power Mac G4/733 9.19 38.84 161.66 39.37 90.02 -
Power Mac G4/533 8.05 38.77 166.33 - - -
Power Mac G4/466 11.2 43.72 184.27 - - -
iMac G4/800 9.34 39.17 140.68 37.44 122.44 77.21
iMac G4/700 10.64 41.74 157.25 42.62 108.59 88.47
iMac G3/700 15.73 61.81 155.41 58.32 160.09 -
iMac G3/600 13.59 79.77 179.6 35.7 158.31 -
iMac G3/500 14.91 79.77 205.24 38.96 159.34 -
iMac G3/400 15.93 94.56 250.18 40.2 - -
iMac G3/233 19.29 146.17 403.27 - - -
eMac G4/700 (Combo) 10.15 41.03 157.57 41.53 103.13 87.06
PowerBook G4/800 11.67 33.16 127.57 38.25 135.67 75.19
PowerBook G4/667 10.31 38.95 157.32 45.01 136.77 89.62
PowerBook G4/667 11.45 42.98 171.82 39.43 199.34 -
PowerBook G4/550 12.52 51.24 205.45 48.04 - -
PowerBook G4/500 14.33 46.84 192.77 48.69 - -
PowerBook G4/400 14.03 54.52 225.31 51.29 - -
PowerBook G3/266 27.41 139.88 365.37 62.88 - -
iBook G3/700 (14" Combo) 11.08 61.27 148.49 44.10 124.29 93.68
iBook G3/600/600/256K 15.9 70.78 180 50.15 225.6 -
iBook G3/500 19.18 98.52 241.52 58 225 -
Beige G3/266 18.95 129.91 350.77 - - -
Blue & White G3/350 12.81 99.41 258.76 45.99 - -

An Explanation Of The Tests

  • Folder Copy - A folder of approximately 1,000 files of various sizes and weighing in at 60 MB, is duplicated on the desktop
  • File Copy - A single file, 128 MB in size, is duplicated on the desktop
  • AppleWorks Scroll - A 1.5 MB file is scrolled from the top to the bottom
  • Search & Replace - A search and replace on a single word is performed on a 1.5 MB document
  • Code Analysis - Analog is used to analyze a 18 MB Web log file
  • Quake III Fastest - Quake is set to the fastest setting, demo1 is run, and the average frame rates recorded
  • Quake III High Quality - Quake is set to the highest quality setting, demo1 is run, and the average frame rates recorded
  • CineBench 2000 Ray Tracing - The Ray Tracing test of CineBench takes good advantage of dual processors, but does not take advantage of the special performance enhancements of the G4 processor (AltiVec).
  • CineBench 2000 Shading - This test records the graphics performance of the machine in both 4D and GL. The two scores are then averaged
  • iTunes MP3 Encode - A single song is encoded as a MP3 file, from a CD using iTunes
  • QuickTime Sorenson Encode - A Sorenson compression is run on a 5 MB file. Sorenson takes good advantage of the G4 processor's AltiVec instructions, but this version does not take advantage of dual processors
  • StuffIt Expansion - A 4.5 MB compressed file is decompressed
  • Photoshop Launch - Photoshop 6 is launched using a 20 MB graphics file
  • Photoshop AltiVec Functions - A series of Photoshop Actions including filters and other functions that take advantage of the special performance enhancements of the G4 processor, are performed on a 20 MB file
  • Photoshop Non-AltiVec Functions - A series of Photoshop Actions including filters and other functions that do not take advantage of the special performance enhancements of the G4 processor, are performed on a 20 MB file
  • BareFeat's Photoshop Test Suite - BareFeats suite of 20 Photoshop Actions that mimic the typical workflow of a graphics artist
  • Reboot - Time between the appearance of the 'Happy Mac' to the loading of the desktop
  • Burn CD - A single song is burned from the hard drive to a blank CD using the Mac OS's built in burning capability