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My iMac G5 vs my Macbook pro

4055 Views 13 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  MacDoc
3 months ago I picked up a Macbook Pro 15 to replace my Pismo. Although it's faster than than the Pismo it has a hard time keeping up with my iMac G5. The iMac does circles around the MBP. I thought the new Intel's were suppose to be blazing fast? More of a disappointment instead.
End of short rant.
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Can you be more specific? My MBP's been awesome so far.
User error? Seriously, there is no way this is true unless you're running everything through Rosetta. Or you have only 512mb of RAM. Oh, there's also the question of whether you started fresh, or transferred your HD: some users had problems with that.
Yeah, it must be one of the scenarios milhaus suggested.

I've got an 2.1GHz iMac G5 (1GB RAM) and a 1.83GHz MBP (2GB RAM) and while the iMac is definitely no slouch, the MBP is definitely faster.
I don't find this difficult at all to believe; my experience, like yours, involves running the two architectures side-by-side for easy comparison.

My Intel MacBook is in many ways far more sluggish than my G4 tower, especially with user interface elements and multitasking. The CPU pegs at 100% often and applications seem to get stuck in the Intel architecture pipeline in ways that never were a problem (and still isn't: I can replicate the steps on the QuickSilver that trip up the MacBook and it flies through the task without problems). The MacBook has 2GB, the Quicksilver 1.5 GB of RAM, for those who think that must be the reason.

A perfect example is downloading a FLV movie file. On the Quicksilver, find the file location with Safari's Activity window, double click the file and when it's finished loading, save it as plain text and rename it to .flv (remove .txt from the file name Safari insists on giving it).

On the MacBook, the CPU will peg at 100% on one processor attempting to load the file, and Safari is unusable during this time which with streaming media can be 10 minutes (even though processor 2 is lightly loaded). On the QuickSilver the same files cause no such problem.

Safari is an Intel binary and I have no PPC plugins for Safari on the MacBook (they don't work anyway; you need x86 versions); and this method involves displaying a file as text so obviously there is no plugin handling it in the first place. You can rule out Rosetta as the cause with that one.

User interface sluggishness, failing to remember mouse clicks or menu selections, general USB issues that affect the mouse/trackpad and keyboard response, and other issues are easily demonstrated when both machines are running side-by-side. Most, if not all, of these issues are likely the result of the Intel architecture's long piplining versus the PPC chip's easy out of order instruction handling.

The new way has it's advantages but to old time Mac hands who are used to taking advantage of the PPC's unique abilities (such as typing text into a text box before a window fully loads by simply selecting the text area and typing away: PPC chips always remember each keystroke and will select the text window remembering your mouse click and then add the text, in the correct as-typed order until it has caught up to you; you have to change your habits with the Intel machines and not type anything until it's ready for you to begin. I'm used to having a sentence or three done by then).

Many of my music applications crash more often under Intel (eg ripping a disk; iTunes will hang {application not responding, Force Quit required} if it has problems reading a scratched CD; the PPC version will not read it either but it doesn't hang, crash, or ignore the keyboard like the MacBook will); I now do all music processing on the Quicksilver without issues at all. Perhaps more annoyingly, hangs are far more common and with Intel you get little feedback as to what is going on; a longstanding x86 trait that Apple can't do anything about.

There were always things PPC did better and a few things x86 simply can't do well, and for someone who has moved from Windows you may well find you never try them and therefore don't notice the differences but for old Mac folks many of these are old time-saving work habits we take for granted and now are gone.

I would never have considered it before but after owning an Intel Mac laptop for 8 months I will probably get a 7448 processor upgrade for the Quicksilver rather than replace it with an Intel desktop. Doing so will allow me to get two more years at about $300 a year, or less if it is still going strong. The 7448 processors are 40% faster than the processors Apple could get at the same clock speeds, go up to 2GHz per processor and use less power.
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You're making a strong argument in favour of me starting my Mac life with a G4 or G5 machine! I've got my eye on a used G5 iMac....
You're making a strong argument in favour of me starting my Mac life with a G4 or G5 machine! I've got my eye on a used G5 iMac....
buy the intel and you will not regret it. the intel smokes the g5. i used all different versions of the g5 and when i switched to intel it blew it all away when using intel compiled software. if you have to run a non-CS3 version of photoshop and you do a lot of work in there then you may be better off with a G5. but rosetta is not bad its just a memory hog.

with an intel macbook or imac going for around 1000$ canadian new its pretty hard to justify buying an older machine and upgrading it. now thats not to say that if you already have an older machine its a bad idea to upgrade. but if you buy a used G4 for 500$ and put in a processor upgrade for 300$ and put in some more RAM for 100$ you almost have paid for a brand new warrantied fancy intel mac.

just my opinion :)
It depends on what you do with the machine, as always, and I don't expect a laptop to equal a desktop in speed (even with a 7200 RPM drive and 2GB of RAM, which is what I use).

If you have never used a PPC machine, and if you will need new applications anyway, you are unlikely to miss it's unique abilities because what the x86 won't do well on Macs it wound not do well on Windows either; you probably already have habits that avoid or minimize the issues.

But, a new desktop Mac will cost me $3000 in hardware and hopefully less than $1500 in software upgrades (don't bother arguing over that; I know what I need to buy and how to configure it and that is what it is going to cost, period, end of story). (I surely would be interested in knowing where I can get $500 for my 867 Quicksilver and another $100 for the gig of added RAM for a total 1.5GB though. I would include a few $thousand worth of OS9 software and the usual OSX stuff but still I think $600 would be pretty unlikely; you can buy sub 500 MHz G4 desktops for well under $300 right now.

Compare that to a $600 dual-processor 4778 upgrade, all my software works, all my hardware works, and I can expect better than Core Duo (probably not Core 2 Duo) speed. Tell me where I'm crazy for saving the four grand; I must be overlooking something.

Here are some xBench 1.3 scores of a G4 Quicksilver upgraded with the 7448 Dual 1.8 1.5 GB RAM versus my MacBook 2GHz Core Duo with a 7200 RPM drive and 2 GB RAM. Note that xBench is not the last word in benchmarking, but it gives you some idea of the performance available for a $600 upgrade cost.

QuickSilver 7448 1.8 GHz Dual <-> MacBook Core Duo 2.0 GHz

xBench version: 1.3 <-> 1.3
System Version: 10.4.8 (8L127) <-> 10.4.8 (8L2127)
Model: PowerMac3,4 <-> MacBook1,1
Bus Frequency 134 Mhz <-> 667 MHz

CPU Test: 96.03 <-> 77.52

GCD Loop: 172.81 <-> 260.64
Floating Point Basic: 62.10 <-> 90.23
VecLib FFT 96.86 <-> 45.55
Floating Point Library 58.56 <-> 67.90

Thread Test: 130.22 <-> 196.86
Memory Test 33.81 <-> 116.94
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I guess this boils down to what you use your machine for? I used to have a Rev A iMac G5 1.8 20" and moved to a CoreDuo 2.0. The CoreDuo spanks the G5 heartily every time.

I use Garageband, Final Cut Pro, even Office stuff in Rosetta. Not a problem or hiccup. I also have a Coreduo MacBook and it's been way faster than the G5 ever was, and much, much faster than my previous Powerbook G4.
Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, iMovie HD will all be roughly twice as fast on Intel (in raw processing time), and even the MacBook shared video memory and integrated chipset does all right in comparison to the RADEON 9800 in the G4 (modded G5 unit). There is no reason to wait if you earn your living with video; the results are in and they are clear: Intel Macs do good video.

Where I had problems was using it with an external plasma: for some reason using it caused display contrast to reset to maximum, and correcting it with Universal Access never was able to keep it from re-occouring and I was never able to resolve that. That is just typical of the issues; stuff that always worked well on PPC seems just as flaky on x86 Macs as x86 PCs.

For audio I notice some speed gains, although the G4 records 8 channels simultaneously at 24/96 seamlessly while the MacBook can only do 24/48, so the G4 is doing more work. But again, strange hiccups make you wonder. It only takes one failed process to lose all that speed gain and more, and what's worse, if you're not there to correct it, it might be a day. After years of few or no crashes it's hard to go back to freezes that I can prevent by moving my chair to another keyboard and CPU.

USB (thankfully Firewire seems OK) is totally flaky on my MacBook. External drives may or may not mount, the trackpad and keyboard used to randomly freeze (Apple charged my $65 for a support incident, never offered me a fix, but two months later an OS update seems to have fixed it, and I'm out the money with nary a word from Apple on the cause or the solution).

I don't regret buying the laptop in the end, because it really is just a glorified file cabinet and text processor to me, but I'm not willing to put up with this kind of stuff on a desktop system with real work to do. I would consider one of the G5s with PCI compatibility but I think I might just let the two years or so an upgrade will buy me to let the Intel thing settle down and get solid before I look at a new desktop.

There are a lot of factors that affect speed of a machine and anyone whose used a number of computers knows how two similar machines can feel very different (and benchmark very different). I've always approached it as a system approach and got rid of bottlenecks to get good performance.

For example with the G4 I installed a faster IDE 133 PCI controller card but I soon learned that the "slow" 100 MHz IDE bus gave better overall performance (and resulted in faster system benchmarks) when the OS was run from it. These kinds of things do matter in the end, so I don't expect everyone to have the same experiences and there is a wide variety of hardware out there being used every day that could be improved speed wise with perhaps only a configuration change in software. They still sell apps that put slide shows on the desktop and althogh these are nasty performance eaters, some people love them.

A computer is not a universal tool so much as an empty glass, but in combination with software it might become two different things to two different people and we can't expect cookie cutter results.

To expect universally good or bad performance is simply unreasonable; I know of a few tasks that OS9 applications on an older G4 can do faster than OSX apps can on either Mac I own. I have things I used to be able to do 10 years ago that I can't do now. A new computer is nice but it's not going to be the right solution, or even the best or fastest solution regardless of cost, for every job.
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Thanks for nudging me back to the Intel side of Mac. :) You're right about $1000 brand new being hard to beat... unless I got a steal on an iMac G5... :) (Not terribly likely...)
I know what the OP is saying.

My iMac Intel 2.0 w/1.5gb RAM runs noticibly quicker than my MBP 2.33 w/2gb of RAM.
Prior to that, I had a rev B. G5 iMac 2.1 and it was just a tad slower than my current iMac.

Can't explain it. But one thing's for sure though, the MBP blows any G4 laptop out of the water. I had a PB 1.5 G4 for a short time, and it was dog slow compared to the intel based laptops.:)
When I replaced my Pismo with an iBook G4, I was blown away. This was a jump for me.
Then when the time came to replace my desktop, a 1Ghz eMac, I went straight to a 24 inch iMac. I ran Xbench tests and came up with this Inventive Rants: Xbench 24 inch Intel Core 2 duo iMac to 17 inch G4 eMac.
Now the 3 to 5 times speed increase is very noticeable, but I could see how the gap narrows when you compare a reasonably quick G5 to a new Intel. You wont see a difference that can be measured in multiples.
My only advice, wait longer between upgrading!
I'm just about to go to a Quad G5 with 7800GT from a 2.66 with 1900XT card on my desk. Same RAM on each.

Be interesting to see what the "feel" is like.

They'll be side by each for a few days if anyone has things to ask - test to run etc.
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