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The Performance Edge: G4 vs G4, 667 MHz vs 667 MHz, New vs Old,.... PowerBook vs PowerBook - A Performance Report

Monday, June 10, 2002

by David Engstrom

This is our first look at the performance of the new PowerBooks from Apple. This time we pit the last vesion's top of the line machine (the 667 MHz) to the low-end machine of the current crop of PowerBooks (coincidently also clocked in at 667 MHz)

Though both machines are clocked at the same speed, other technical differences make the new 667 MHz PowerBook faster over-all.

The main difference between the old and new 667 MHz PowerBooks, is the addition of a L3 (backside cache) to the later. This cache on the newer PowerBook weighs in at 1 MB. Though the speed rating of the cache (167 MHz) won't win any speed trials, its addition significantly boosts performance in such areas as drive performance, desktop redraws, and any other activity where the processor would have to take the slow, circuitous route back to main memory, to find the tidbits of data that can now be found in the faster cache of the upgraded PowerBook. The cache is also DDR memory which in theory should double its rated throughput speed.
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Salient Performance Facts:

In our Folder Copy Test, the new PowerBook was 73% faster

The new PowerBook Booted 37% faster

Window redraws were 30% faster

Search and Replace 26% faster

Video Encoding 15% faster

In our game testing (Quake III) the new machine turned in 59% better performance

That is the second significant performance change in the new Model PowerBook. It has a better graphics card with twice the amount of memory. This makes for significantly better fps (frames per second), and hence better game play.

If you are a professional, thinking that a laptop can take the place of a standard desktop machine, we also post results below for the top of the line Dual Gigahertz Power Mac ... kind of a reality check!


Notes on the performance numbers below:

We are presenting you with the raw data this time around. This is not ideal, but we have limited time at the moment as we are focusing most of our time on site redesigns. We hope to bring you graphs and further performance comparisons of the this machine, as well as others, when time allows. In the meantime, the numbers below are in seconds, and lower numbers means better performance. The exception is the Giants game results , which are in Frames Per Second. Here higher numbers are better.

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


PowerBook G4/667 April, 2002 PowerBook 667 Additional Resources
Processor speed 667 MHz 667 MHz
L2 Cache 256k @ 667 MHz 256k @ 667 MHz
L3 cache size and speed ratio None 1 MB, 4:1 (167 MHz)
System bus speed 133 MHz 133 MHz
Memory ** 512 MB PC 133 (512 MB**) 256 MB PC 133 (768 MB**)
Graphics ATI Mobility Radeon 16 MB of DDR ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 32 MB of DDR
Drive 30 GB Ultra ATA 30 GB Ultra ATA
Optical Drive Combo - Reads DVDs at 8x, writes CD-R discs at 8x, writes CD-RW at 8x, reads CDs at 24x Combo - Reads DVDs at 8x, writes CD-R discs at 8x, writes CD-RW at 8x, reads CDs at 24x
Operating System 10.1.2 10.1.4
Price $2,999 $2,499

(** For testing, machines were configured with this amount of RAM)

Machine QuickTime 5 Encode
QuickTime 5 DV Stream Encode Import DV Stream into iMovie iMovie Water Ripple Effect iTunes MP3 Encode Photoshop Scroll
PowerBook G4/667 (May, 02) 277.93 164.46 30.90 218.72 169.27 20.74
PowerBook G4/667 315.77 190.38 - 256 177.43 26.81
Power Mac Dual G4/ 1GHz 175.05 76.88 28.38 149.38 94.39 17.92
- AppleWorks Search & Replace Sherlock Folder Index AltiVec Fractal Window Redraw Copy 60 MB Folder Copy 100 MB File
PowerBook G4/667 (May, 02) 31.54 67.04 79.81 49.97 19.56 17.03
PowerBook G4/667 39.60 73.88 80.87 65.24 33.21 17.95
Power Mac Dual G4/ 1GHz 19.79 43 26.54 34.14 10.54 8.48
- StuffIt Decode Test Re-Boot Test Boot Test (Classic) Burn CD QuickTime Encode+Fractal (Multitasking) iTunes MP3 Encode+AppleWorks Search&Replace+Finder Copy (Multitasking)
PowerBook G4/667 (May, 02) 14.71 59.73 37.35 129.38 606 197.53
PowerBook G4/667 16.55 60 51.30 130.95 645 -
Power Mac Dual G4/ 1GHz 8.92 34.38 24 119.63 280.81 73.53
- QuickTime DV Stream Encode + iTunes MP3 Encode (Multitasking) Microsoft Office X Excel Macro Microsoft Office X Word Macro Giants Average Frame Rates - Medium Quality Setting (frames per second)
PowerBook G4/667 (May, 02) 328.52 75.52 115.81 21.4 fps  
PowerBook G4/667 - - - -
Power Mac Dual G4/ 1GHz 117.33 52.02 74.75 48 fps

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