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The SpeedZone: A Month Ago It Was The Top Of The Line Power Mac, Now, Is It Humbled By The Current Low End Dual 867 MHz Power Mac? - A Performance Report
Friday, September 6, 2002
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by David Engstrom

Below we have a performance comparison between the new Power Mac dual G4/867 and the high-end Power Mac of the last generation, the dual processor G4/1000. How well does the new low-end machine stand up against the high-end of the last generation? Not too bad. In some instances beating the pants off the GHz machine.

Things to keep in mind when perusing the results below:

The new machine was running the latest version of OS X, version 10.2 ... Jaguar. The G4/1000 was running 10.1.2.

OS 10.2 is suppose to be somewhat faster in the graphics department and in booting Classic. We found that booting Classic on the new machine was significantly faster but part of this in no doubt due to the better performing drive in the 867 MHz machine.

On screen graphics in Classic environment also proved to be faster in the new machine ... about 17%. However in our test of on-screen graphics in OS X the scores were pretty much the same. But this brings us to the second point to remember about the results below.

Pound for pound ... err, I mean clock speed to clock speed the 1 GHz machine should be 15% faster in basic processing tasks... all things being equal.

Of course they are not equal. The GHz machine has 2 MB of L3 cache per processor, and the 867 MHz machine has only one. The 867 MHz machine uses DDR RAM and the GHz machine does not ... though there is some discussion on whether DDR RAM makes a performance difference or not. The GHz machine also has twice the video memory of the 867, though both use the same graphics card.

Still in most of our purely processor intensive tasks below, the Power Mac dual GHz machine did come in 13% to 23% faster than the 867 Mhz.

However in drive performance, and CD burning the GHz machine was convincingly trounced by the young upstart.

This is our fist look at the Dual 867 MHz machine and we plan numerous further comparisons. We also plan to take an in-depth look at the performance at the Jaguar incarnation of OS X as soon as we can get to it.

Difference and similarities in processor, and memory & graphics systems of each machine

  Power Mac G4/1000 (1/02) Power Mac G4/867

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Processors G4/1000 G4/867
L2 Cache 256k @ 1000 MHz 256k @ 867 MHz
L3 Cache 2MB DDR SRAM per processor 1MB DDR SRAM per processor
Bus Speed 133 MHz 133 MHz
Memory 768 MB PC 133 1 GB PC2100 266MHz DDR SDRAM
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX with 64MB of DDR SDRAM in 4x AGP slot NVIDIA GeForce4 MX with 32MB of DDR SDRAM
Drive 80GB (7200 rpm) Ultra ATA 60GB Ultra ATA/100; 7200 rpm
CD Drive 2x 6x 8x 4x 24x 8x 16x10x 32x
Operating System 10.1.2 10.2
Price $2,999 $1,699

"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 G4/1000, which is set to 100%. For all scores, higher numbers are better.

Desktop Tests


Jaguar is suppose to boot faster into Classic mode, but the faster drive on the new 867 MHz machine is a factor here as well

A significant boost to drive performance on the new machine


Combo drive trumps SuperDrive in basic CD burning (16x vs 6x)

Pretty evenly matched here in this 2D graphics test . 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. Quite possible the better performance of the 867 MHz machine is due to the purported faster graphics of 10.2.

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 power of each machine

Encoding/Decoding Tests

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


A Sorenson encode and fractal render are performed at the same time


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 and 48 fps for the GHz machine.

To see the performance of these machines compared to many others click here

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