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The SpeedZone: It's 40% Faster, Costs $1,600 More And Purrs Like A Kitten- A Detailed Look At The Performance Of The Dual G4/1.25 GHz Power Mac

Monday, October 7, 2002

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by David Engstrom

The new Dual GHz Tower clocks in about 15% faster than the 867 MHz one, and the Dual 1.25 GHz machine clocks in about 44% faster.

It would follow then that in basic processing prowess the respective machines should be about 15% and 44% faster, on these kind of tasks.

And that is exactly what we found. In most of the tests we ran that emphasized the processing system of each machine (as opposed to drive or graphics systems), the GHz machine showed a performance improvement in the high teens over the 867, and the 1.25 GHz machine showed a performance improvement between the 40 to 50 percent..

These ratios extended to game performance as well.

However in basic hard drive performance all three machines were pretty evenly matched. The exception being when large quantities of smaller files were being copied ( as opposed to single large files). In this case there is more processing overhead, and faster clocked machines do better.

Most of the test results below don't show any particular advantage to the 1.25 GHz's additional 1 MB of L3 cache. Only in our search test did it seem to be a factor. While some amount of L3 cache seems to be an advantage, it appears that there is diminishing returns with higher amounts ... at least for the type of work that our test suite is emulating.

Difference and similarities of each machine
  Power Mac Dual G4/867 Power Mac Dual G4/1000

Power Mac Dual G4/1.25 GHz

Processors G4/867 G4/1000 G4/1.25 GHz
L2 Cache 256k @ 867 MHz 256k @ 1000 MHz 256k @ 1.25 GHz
L3 Cache 1MB DDR SRAM per processor 1MB DDR SRAM per processor 2MB DDR SRAM per processor
Bus Speed 133 MHz 167 MHz 167 MHz
Memory 1 GB PC2100 266MHz DDR SDRAM 1 GB PC2100 266MHz DDR SDRAM 1 GB PC2100 266MHz DDR SDRAM
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX with 32MB of DDR SDRAM ATI Radeon 9000 Pro with 64MB of DDR SDRAM ATI Radeon 9000 Pro with 64MB of DDR SDRAM
Drive 60GB Ultra ATA/100; 7200 rpm 80GB Ultra ATA/100; 7200 rpm 120 GB Ultra ATA/100; 7200 rpm
CD Drive 8x 16x10x 32x SuperDrive SuperDrive
Operating System 10.2 10.2 10.2
Price $1,699 $2,499 $3,299

"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 performance. All of the tests below, except for the game tests, were timed with a stopwatch. The times were then converted to percentages, relative to the Power Mac Dual G4/867, which is set to 100%. For all scores, higher numbers are better.


Desktop Tests

 

 

The Faster processor is probably the prime factor in the 1.25 GHz machine's better showing

In basic drive performance all three machines are pretty evenly matched

A QuickTime export is imported into iMovie. Drive performance is an important factor

Combo drive trumps SuperDrive in basic CD burning (16x vs 8x)

With it's faster processors the top of the line machine pulls ahead of the others in this on-screen graphics tes. Let 1K Windows Bloom is a simple carbon application that opens and closes 1,000 windows.

Two folders with many items are searched using OS X new search function. The faster processors are no advantage here. To carry out this function only 10% of the processing power of each machine was utilized. So the bottleneck is not at the processor level.. We can only conclude that the extra L3 cache is what pushes the 1.25 GHz Tower ahead.


Large Document & Database Type Tests

A Macro (series of complex actions) was run in Microsoft's Word program, which is part of Office X

A Macro (series of complex actions) was run in Microsoft's Excel program, which is part of Office X

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

The Fractal 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.

A Ripple Effect is applied to an iMovie


Encoding/Decoding Tests

A Sorenson encode compresses a QuickTime movie for streaming on the Web

Preps QuickTime Movie for import into iMovie

The results above would indicate that the bottleneck here is at the CD drive level. The SuperDrive of the top machine is not supplying data fast enough to the processors. The 867 reads CDs at 32X and the other two machine's drives read CDs at 24X. All the machines were only using 65-75% of their processing capability.



Multitasking

A Sorenson encode and fractal render are performed at the same time. The QuickTime encode only soaks up 50% of the processing power of each machine, leaving plenty of capability left over for work to be done on the Fractal.

MP3 Encode, AppleWorks search & replace and folder copy are all carried out at the same time


Gaming

Aside from the graphics card, Giants is also tuned to take advantage of the processor as well. Indeed, when run on a dual processor machine, you will see Giants fly ahead of the same game running on a single processor machine. Frame rates here are 38 fps for the 867 MHz machine, 45 fps for the GHz machine and 55 fps for the top of the line Tower.

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