Apple gave birth to the bouncing Bondi iMac
in the summer of 1998 ... just about 4 years ago. At the time
it was very fast, with its G3 processor running at 233 MHz,
and had an innovative design that spoke to a new generation
of Mac users. It was also economical to purchase, weighing
in at $1,299. The Bondi bombshell held both the high and low-end
places in Apple's consumer line-up .... there was only one
Fast forward four years from it's inception
and you will now be lucky to get a few hundred dollars for
your aging gumdrop, and the current iMac has undergone a radical
redesign both inside and out.
The high-end G4 iMac of today tops out at 800
MHz and sports a 17 inch flat panel display. It comes loaded
with Apple branded software and has a drive capable of burning
DVDs. It also costs $700 more than the original iMac. (the
low-end model is still available for $1,299).
So how have things progressed on the performance
The '33 times as fast' in the title of this
piece, refers to game performance. Running Quake III in high-quality
mode on the Original iMac was a little like watching paint
peel. I think my beard grew and inch while I was waiting for
the demo to finish. We were basically getting 2.1 frames per
second ... ok stop laughing, this was only for testing purposes.
The new G4 iMac turned in over 64 fps in the same test ...
How about in basic processor performance?
As you might expect from a machine that is
clocked a little over 3 times as fast, the G4 iMac turned
in a little over 3 time the performance of the G3 machine
in some tests. But that is only part of the story. Because
the G4 processor has some special features that allow it to
perform above what you would expect from raw clock speed,
some of the tests below show a 5 or 6 times the performance
of the G3/233. And in one of our G4 tuned test the G4 machine
outperformed the G3 one by over 22 times.
Clearly we have come a long way in the last
4 years ...
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 performance. All of the tests below,
(except the game tests), were timed with a stopwatch. The
times were then converted to percentages, relative to the
iMac G3/233, which is set to 100%. For all scores, higher
numbers are better.
The two test results above show a significant
improvement in hard drive performance
A better graphics card translates into better
performance marks. . Let
1K Windows Bloom is a simple carbon application that opens
and closes 1,000 windows.
Large document is scrolled from one end to the
other using Classic OS 9.2.2 when booted in OS 10. Test shows
the performance of on-screen graphics. The gap in performance
here should have been wider. Perhaps the fact that the original
233 iMac has 512K of L2 cache. and the G4 iMac only 256K,
keeps it from being a runaway for the G4.
Two folders with many items are searched using
OS X new search function. The faster processor is not much
of an advantage here. To carry out this function only a small
portion of the G4's processing power was utilized, whereas
the processor on the G3 iMac was nearly saturated with data.
So the bottle neck is not at the processor level on the G4
Large Document & Database Type Tests
(series of complex actions) was run in Microsoft's Word
program, which is part of Office
A Macro (series of complex actions) was
run in Microsoft's Excel program, which is part of Office
Stresses the processing & memory systems
of the machine. This test takes place in a large AppleWorks
document. This is a raw processing power test.
Number Crunching & Rendering Tests
program has been highly tuned to take advantage of the
G4 and is precisely the type of work that the G4 was made
for. It will also gobble up whatever processing capability
is present. This is a good test for assessing the fundamental
processing potential of each machine. Obviously you would
need to have an application finely tuned to take advantage
of the G4 to see these kind of results ... and not all applications,
or parts of applications can be.
A Ripple Effect is applied to an iMovie
A QuickTime export is imported into iMovie.
Drive performance is an important factor
encode compresses a QuickTime movie for streaming on the Web.
This type of encode takes advantage of the G4 processor, hence
the out of proportion, better performance of the current iMac
Another application tuned for the G4 processor
Preps QuickTime Movie for import into iMovie
This is just straight processing ... no advantage
to having a G4, but higher clock speeds matter.
MP3 Encode, AppleWorks search & replace and
folder copy are all carried out at the same time. The machines
are asked to carry out a variety of different types of functions.
Depending on what you put into the mix, you may see differences
in relative performance
Tested under OS 9.2.2
At 'fastest' setting the processor plays a
bigger role (the G4 iMac achieved 72.3 fps)
Most, if not all, the processing is being done by the graphics
card in this test. . (the G4 achieved 64.8 fps, the G3 iMac
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