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Old Aug 15th, 2004, 02:04 AM   #1
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There's always talk on the boards about systems and what to get for various needs. As a proponent of upgrading, I was happy to read in an Other World Computing newsletter of their revamped benchmark site. I checked it out and ran some comparisons from this database. Some of the findings were interesting.

I wanted to get a sampling of many Powermac systems out there that many of us have had for a while, along with the newest consumer i/eMacs and portables Other World tested -- and of course any G5 systems they tested. Unfortunately, the only dual g5 system the tested is the dual 2. As single G5 systems are probably going to start trickling into the Buy & Sells of the world in the coming months (actually saw one at ehmac a couple days ago), I thought I would include them.

As for upgrades, I included two single G4 upgrades and one dual (the dual 1.2Ghz Gigadesigns, running at 1.3; exactly what I have. There are now single 1.5Ghz and dual 1.4Ghz upgrades, but these were not included in the tests (too new, perhaps?).

So, here are the systems and CPU-intensive tests I chose to collate. I didn't bother with CD ripping or bootup, because CD drive speeds will vary and bootups should only be done when you update yer system! I didn't bother with gaming scores, because if you wanna play games, go do the homework, yerself Plus, there's the graphics card to consider in these tests, and I don't know whether Other World ran the stock GPUs or upgraded ones. Web and office type functions will really not benefit tremendously from fast processors. Such things will ALL be more than fast enough on anything 800MHz or more, of course, and other World didn't bother to test these things. Although, a scrolling test independent from xBench might have been nice. And speaking of xBench, I did not include Other World's xBench results, because not only is xBench NOT dual processor aware, but also because xBench cannot seem to accurately test the ATI Rage 128 Pro card in early Powermacs. This card's graphics scores in xBench are ridiculously high.

Speaking of graphics cards, there's no mention as to ANY other upgrades applied to the systems. Are there??

On with the results!
(organized by platform, then speed -- cut together in Appleworks from a couple of screenshots taken at Other World)



At the last minute, I thought to add the single 1.467Ghz upgrade; the fastest tested on a 100MHz system. the scores (in the same order as above) were: 349, 17, 224, 1092 and 823.

Right off the bat, I have to admit that the performance of my system isn't is stunning on paper as I believed. Don't get me wrong; the system feels damned fast, and it handles anything I throw at it. I would recommend my type of system to just about anybody who needs an awesome bang for the buck, saving yourself about a thousand bucks than buying the cheapest new G5 (although, if you can afford a new dually, well... DUH!!).

The dual G4 systems did give the single G5 a run for their money in some tests: the After Effects and multitasking jobs. For example with my system, I have no hesitation in rendering a film in iMovie while doing something else.

The time to open and close 1,000 windows seems to flatten out somewhat as the processors get faster.. but my upgrade was an odd exceptions to this running behind the pack. This is a UI test, and maybe there's a big, cushy wall in the Finder's speed? BTW, my window test results are bang on with Other World's results (Sawtooth with the Gigadesigns dual 1.3GHz, 25 seconds). I personally have not performed any other of these benchmarks.

Now, in comparing an old Powermac with a single 1.25GHz upgrade to a recent eMac, the eMac's more modern architecture accounts for some marginally better results (the 1GHz iMac seems to get smoked, though). No L3 cache and weak DDR RAM usage seems to neuter the eMac a bit. Bottom line is that it is a bit faster, however... but not against a dual upgrade (or the fastest singles).

The dual upgrade kicks an old Powermac up quite nicely, beating any i/eMac, and almost all tests against Powerbooks. Basically it looks like you get at least the performance of a MDD (DDR RAM) dual 1GHz G4 Powermac with a dual 1.3GHz upgrade. If you already own an old Powermac -- even a G4/350 (Sawtooth AGP) Powermac, that'll probably run ya just under a grand, shipped and brokeraged, including GST & PST. Add another $600.00 or maybe less for a 350MHz G4 if you want to buy such a Mac to upgrade.

Unlike an eMac, you can configure a Powermac exactly the way you want it to be. Need more internal drives? no probs. Aren't a gamer? Then don't drop the big bucks for a fast card. CDRW? or DVDRW? Your choice. Etc. etc.

You really have to think it through to match your needs and budget and also to scope out the used market, but upgrades -- to me -- offer a flexible and impressive option to get a faster Mac on the cheap [img]smile.gif[/img]

Any thoughts on this?


PS: Man, check out the G5 optimization Apple has done in Final Cut Pro!

[ August 15, 2004, 08:41 AM: Message edited by: Macaholic ]
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Old Aug 15th, 2004, 10:06 AM   #2
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The Big L2 caches on the upgrades do indeed help the "feel" of speed - I notice it all the time going from the G5 upstairs to G4 duals or hopped up singles in the office.

Real crunch tho it does not help that much and in other areas the bus limitation shows up.
So while dual G4s will outperform single G5s in crunch the overall bandwidth puts the two on an equal footing.

To some degree it depends on the use of the machine which is what we quiz clients on.

Still the current bang for the average user with fast processors with big caches under $400 is astonishing.

It's also applying funds to the weakest part. An old slow drive will diminish the thrill - 8 meg cache drives are cheap speed bumps for any system and RAIDs are a must for any G5.

Video cards can also be surprising in their impact.

If you are upgrading slowly we advise this pattern.

RAM first - Panther loves RAM

Then drive if you have an old one - use the lame duck for backup.

Then video card as its cheap ( now finally ) especially if you have a big screen. If you are on a 17" and not gaming you may want to try processor first.

Processor is the most expensive and will enhance all the other functions. Balanced speed is the key and cache is king. That's where the upgrades kill the stock Apple offerings.

All in all it's a good time for Mac hot rodders. I know we're having fun.......again.

Zoom, zoom indeed.



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