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The SpeedZone: How Fast Are The New Power Mac Towers At Playing Games? This Fast .... A Performance Report

Thursday, October 10, 2002

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Performance article index

by David Engstrom

Below we take a look at performance of three different games when running on each of the new Dual Processor Towers.

The three games holding these computer's feet to the fire are, drum roll please, Quake III, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, and 4x4 EVO2.

Most of the games were run at 3 different settings. The exception was Giants who's fame rates didn't seem to vary much from setting to setting, and which really only looked great at the default setting. So that is where we left it.

Quake was run under OS 9.2.2. The other two games are modern ones that will run within OS X and that take advantage of both the operating system & dual processors, as well as the graphics card.

One test we ran, who's results are not listed below, was to run 4x4 EV02 and a QuickTime movie render at the same time. The QuickTime render ran in the background. Both programs ran great, and at the same time without problems. The frame rates of EVO were the same whether the QuickTime render was going on or not ... Wicked!

EVO, when running solo, only used around 50% of the processing capacity of the the 1.25 GHz Tower, leaving plenty of processing power for other tasks.

On the gaming front, not surprisingly, the top of the line Dual G4/1.25 GHz Tower is king. It turned in, on average, 40 - 50% better frame rates over the 867 MHz machine. However when EVO was set to high-quality, the 1.25 GHz leaped ahead of the 867 by 71%.

Giants and EVO are demanding games and it is only with the arrival these Towers that we are beginning to see acceptable game play when the game is set to its high-quality setting. If you are a hardcore gamer, and you have the cash burning a hole in your pocket, you are going to want to go with the high-end Tower ... you'll need its muscle. Don't even think about getting an iMac! For those of you on a limited budget ... there is always a graphics card upgrade

Difference and similarities of each machine
  Power Mac Dual G4/1000 PowerBook G4/867 15 inch (#M8858LL/A)

PowerBook G4/867 12 inch

Processors 2 x G4/1000 G4/867 G4/867
L2 Cache 256k @ 1000 MHz 256k @ 867 MHz 256k @ 867 MHz
L3 Cache 1MB DDR SRAM per processor 1MB DDR SRAM none
Bus Speed 167 MHz 133 MHz 133 MHz
Memory 1 GB PC2100 266MHz DDR SDRAM (2 GB max) 1 GB PC2100 266MHz DDR SDRAM (1 GB max) 640 MB
PC2100 DDR SDRAM
(640 MB max)
Graphics Card ATI Radeon 9000 Pro with 64MB of DDR SDRAM ATI Mobility Radeon 9000
32 MB DDR
4x AGP
NVIDIA GeForce4 420 Go
32MB DDR SDRAM
4x AGP
Drive 80GB Ultra ATA/100; 7200 rpm 40GB Ultra ATA/66
(4200 rpm)
40GB Ultra ATA/100
4200rpm
CD Drive SuperDrive 2x 6x8x 4x 24x "Combination drive"
CD read - 24x
DVD read - 8x
CD R & RW write - 8x
Combination drive
CD read - 24x
DVD read - 8x
CD R - 24x
CD-RW write - 10x
Operating System 10.2 10.2.1 10.2.3
Price $2,499 $2,299 $1,799

"Real World" Tests

For the graphs below frame rates were converted to percentages, relative to the Power Mac Dual G4/867, which is set to 100%. For all scores, higher numbers are better.


Desktop Test

Re-Boot Test

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 88% 69%

Copy 60 MB Folder

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 59% 67%

The copy folder test not only stresses drive performance but also takes advantage of faster processing capability & caching schemes.

Copy 128 MB File

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 56% 53%

In the single file test the the processor & caching capability of the machine is less of a factor. As you can see, one area where portables have a lot of ground to make up, when compared to desktop computers, is in the area of drive performance

Import QuickTime DV Into iMovie

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 97% 101%

In this test only 55% of the processing power of the Dual GHz Tower was being used, while 100% of the PowerBook G4/1GHz processor was saturated with data. This is good news if you want to do other chores with your Tower while you import that  50 GB movie. It is bad new if you don't. There is some bottleneck in the process that keeps the dual processor machine from performing up to its potential .. wasting valuable processing capacity. Perhaps the drive is not feeding data quickly enough to the processor or there is some limiting factor in the software itself.

Burn CD

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 97% 98%

Only those machines with CD burning capability could be tested. CD burning only uses a fraction of the processor to get the work done. In the case of the PowerBook G4/1GHz, only 5% of the processor was being utilized. The iBook G3/800 has a 16X burn speed (the PowerBooks are 8X), but it took three times the processing effort on the iBooks part to get the disc burned

Let 1000 Windows Bloom

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 89% 71%

Large document is scrolled from one end to the other using Classic OS 9 when booted in OS 10. This test gauges on-screen graphics performance

Large Document & Database Type Tests

Microsoft Office X Word Macro

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 81% 67%

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

Microsoft Office X Excel Macro

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 84% 66%

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

AppleWorks Search And Replace Test

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 80% 62%

This test takes place in a large AppleWorks document. Machines with larger chip caches do better in this test

Finder File Search

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 78% 75%

Jaguar's new File Search function relies on both processor and drive performance




Number Crunching & Rendering Tests

Photoshop 7 - BareFeat's Test

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 69% 61%

BareFeats Photoshop Test Suite - mimics a production type workflow in Photoshop. GHz PowerBook can't  keep up with dual processors

Photoshop 7 - AltiVec Tests

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 57% 51%

BareFeats Photoshop Test Suite - mimics a production type workflow in Photoshop. GHz PowerBook can't  keep up with dual processors

Photoshop 7 - Normal Tests

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 82% 75%

BareFeats Photoshop Test Suite - mimics a production type workflow in Photoshop. GHz PowerBook can't  keep up with dual processors

iMovie 2 - Water Ripple Effect

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 79% 69%

A Ripple Effect is applied to an iMovie. This function appears to respond well to the G4 processor. It also utilizes dual processors, but again 40% of the processing power of the dual machine was left on the table. You need to plan your work so that you can soak up that extra power

AltiVec Fractal (Carbon)

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 43% 43%

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. Really highlights the processing advantage of a dual processor machine, and the G4 processor. Specialty applications that can be written to take advantage of these attributes will really shine.


Encoding/Decoding Tests

QuickTime Sorenson Encode

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 83% 77%

A Sorenson encode compresses a QuickTime movie for streaming on the Web. The version of Sorenson which is incorporated into QuickTime does not take advantage of dual processors, though it is our understanding the the professional version does

QuickTime Convert To DV Stream

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 72% 64%

Converting QuickTime movies to DV allows you to import them into iMovie. Dual processors shine here. The PowerBooks also turn in a respectable numbers

iTunes 3 - MP3 Encode From CD

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 55% 53%

During the encode 65% of the processing capacity of the dual processor machine was used. In the G4/1GHz PowerBook 100% was used. Both machines read CDs at up to 24X

StuffIt 6.5 Expand

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 82% 72%

During the encode 65% of the processing capacity of the dual processor machine was used. In the G4/1GHz PowerBook 100% was used. Both machines read CDs at up to 24X


Multitasking

iTunes MP3 Encode + AppleWorks Search & Replace + Finder Copy (Multitasking)

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 63% 48%

MP3 Encode, AppleWorks search & replace and folder copy are all carried out at the same time. In a production type environment the Dual Processor Towers make a lot of sense ... if you do some planning.

QuickTime Encode + Fractal (Multitasking)

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 68% 64%

QuickTime Sorenson encode and Fractal render are both carried out at the same time.

QuickTime DV + iMovie Ripple (Multitasking)

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 52% 47%

QuickTime Sorenson encode and Fractal render are both carried out at the same time.

MP3 Encode + Photoshop Normal + Word Micro (Multitasking)

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 47% 37%

QuickTime Sorenson encode and Fractal render are both carried out at the same time.


Gaming

Giants Highest Frame Rates

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 52% 37%
Actual Frame Rates 105 55 39

Giants Average Frame Rates

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 48% 41%
Actual Frame Rates 45 21.6 18.3

Giants Lowest Frame Rates

Machine Power Mac Dual 1 GHz PowerBook G4/867 15 Inch PowerBook G4/867 12 Inch
Scores as percentage of Power Mac Dual G4/1 GHz 100% 52% 44%
Actual Frame Rates 21 11 9.3

The PowerBook G4/867 turned in 21.6 fps, the G4/800 24.2 fps and the Dual Processor Tower 45 fps (Giants


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