Duelling G4s: Dual Processors Heat Up

The new dual 500MHz Power Mac G4 has finally made its entrance to the Macworld Lab, and we've got the test results to prove it.

This first set of data proves that two processors do excel at tasks in applications designed to take advantage of a second processor -- but in terms of general Mac use as measured by our Speedmark 2 test, the new systems are only somewhat faster than their single-processor equivalents -- not twice as fast. That's because many of Speedmark's tests involve applications -- including the Finder -- that can't take advantage of the second processor.

In our application-specific testing, we found the dual-chip Power Macs dramatically bested their single-processor counterparts in most tests. The most impressive boost was in Cinema 4D XL 6.1, where the rendering of a 640 x 480 model took seven minutes on the dual-processor 500MHz G4, but nearly 14 minutes on a single-processor equivalent.

This proves that the new dual-processor Macs can speed demons -- but only if you're using an application that can take advantage of them. And even then, two processors doesn't equal double the performance.

Stay tuned for our review of these new Power Mac G4 models, coming soon to Macworld.com.

Best results in bold. Reference systems in italics. Speedmark 2.1 scores are relative to an iMac 350MHz which is assigned a score of 100. Photoshop results are in seconds. Cinema 4D XL and SoundJam results are in minutes:seconds.

  Speedmark 2.1 Photoshop 5.5 Cinema 4D XL 6.1 SoundJam 2.1.1
    Gaussian Blur 10 Unsharp Mask 2.3 RGB to CMYK Lighting Effects Model Render 640x480 MP3 Encode
Power Macintosh G4 450 (Dual Processor) 158 4.7 5.1 20.5 5.0 7:54 1:14
Power Macintosh G4 500 (Dual Processor) 165 4.1 4.9 18.5 4.7 7:04 1:06
Power Macintosh G4 450 146 7.1 7.7 21.0 7.8 15:43 2:10
Power Macintosh G4 500 159 6.5 7.4 18.9 6.8 13:46 1:38
  bigger numbers are better smaller numbers are better

We tested each system with Mac OS 9.04, 128MB of RAM (256MB for Photoshop), a default system disk cache, and Virtual Memory disabled for all applications tests. Displays were set to 1024 x 768 @ 24 bit color. Speedmark 2.1 is a suite of common tasks -- for more information, see Macworld's Speedmark page. Photoshop tasks used a 50MB file. Photoshop's memory partition was set to 150MB and History was set to minumum. 80MB of memory was allocated to Cinema 4D XL. We rendered a model at 680 x 480 with oversampling set to 4 x 4. A 9:25-minute track from an audio CD was used for our MP3 encoding test. It was converted using default settings of 128Kbps in SoundJam 2.1.1 --Macworld Lab testing supervised by Gil Loyola

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