Macworld Lab: First G5 Dual-Processor Test Results

Macworld Lab's first test results are in on all of Apple's new Power Mac G5 towers. We've tested all three models, and found them be clearly faster than the previous generation of Power Macs. The two single-processor models are generally as fast or faster than the top-of-the-line dual-processor 1.42GHz Power Mac G4, and the dual-processor 2GHz Power Mac G5 is clearly the reigning Mac speed king by a wide margin.

In Speedmark, our overall test of Mac system performance, the dual 2GHz G5 scored 258, with the 1.8GHz G5 at 225 and the 1.6GHz model at 207. The 1.42GHz dual-processor G4 scored 196. In Cinema 4D XL, an application that takes full advantage of the G4's multiple processors, the G4 fared better than the 1.8GHz G5 model -- but both were clearly blown away by the dual-processor G5.

In an interesting quirk, we found some dramatic speed differences in these systems depending on how we set the new Processor Performance preference, found in the Energy Saver pane of System Preferences. By default, Processor Performance is set to Automatic. Changing the setting to Highest improved our results quite a bit. Our MPEG-2 compression test, which took 9:44 on the 1.8GHz system at the stock setting, took 8:32 at the Highest setting. Overall Speedmark scores on the 1.8GHz system rose from 214 to 225 when we switched from Auto to Best.

Stay tuned for full reviews of these new systems from Macworld in the near future.

New Power Mac G5 Test Scores

Best results in bold. Reference systems in italics.

Speedmark 3.2 scores are relative to those of a 700MHz eMac which is assigned a score of 100. Photoshop, iMovie, and iTunes scores are in minutes:seconds. Quake scores are in frames per second. We tested the G5 systems with Mac OS X 10.2.7 (G5) and Energy Saver's Processor Performance set to Highest. The 2GHz DP model we tested had ATI's 128MB Radeon 9800Pro graphics card installed which is available as a build-to-order option. We tested the baseline systems with Mac OS X 10.2.6. All systems had 512MB of RAM. We set displays to 1,024-by-768-pixel resolution and 24-bit color. We tested MP3 encoding with an audio-CD track that was 9 minutes and 25 seconds long, converting it from the hard drive using iTunes' Better Quality setting. We tested Quake III at a resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels with Graphics set to High Quality. The Photoshop Suite test is a set of ten scripted tasks using a 50MB file. Photoshop's memory was set to 100% and History was set to Minimum. For MPEG encoding tests, we encoded a 6 minute, 46 second DV file using the MPEG-2 60 minute-Fast encode preset in Apple's Compressor application. For more information on Speedmark 3.2, visit www.macworld.com/speedmark— Macworld Lab testing by Jim Galbraith.

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