Power Mac G5 Benchmarks: Dual-core's strong showing

There appears to be no performance penalty for using dual-core processors instead of two single-core processors with the same clock speed, Macworld Lab has concluded after preliminary testing of the dual-core Power Mac G5s released by Apple a week ago.

The latest Power Macs ship with dual-core 2.0GHz and 2.3GHz PowerPC G5 processors, as opposed to the two single-core chips in the preceding models. Apple also added faster DDR2 RAM and PCI Express graphics cards to the new models, replacing DDR memory and AGP graphics cards. That change helped the new Power Macs edge past their respective predecessors with similar clock speeds.

The dual-core 2.3GHz Power Mac fared better than a single-core dual-processor 2.3GHz model in six of our seven tests. In the seventh—MP3 encoding in iTunes 6—the dual-core and single-core 2.3GHz Power Macs turned in matching times.

Our tests didn’t include the Power Mac G5 Quad, which comes with two dual-core 2.5GHz G5 processors. That model isn’t shipping yet.

Dual-Core Power Mac G5 Benchmarks

Speedmark 4 Adobe Photoshop CS2 Cinema 4D XL 9.1 Compressor 2.0 iMovie HD iTunes 6.0.1 Unreal Tournament 2004
OVERALL SCORE SUITE RENDER MPEG2 ENCODE RENDER MP3 ENCODE FRAME RATE
Power Mac G5/2GHz dual-core 208 1:04 1:23 6:20 0:36 0:58 40.6
Power Mac G5/2.3GHz dual-core 226 0:56 1:11 5:35 0:33 0:52 50.1
Power Mac G5/2.3GHz dual-processor 224 0:59 1:13 6:03 0:36 0:52 40.2
Power Mac G5/2.7GHz dual-processor 248 0:52 1:03 5:12 0:25 0:46 47.7
>Better <Better <Better <Better <Better <Better >Better

Best results in bold. Reference systems in italics .

Speedmark 4 scores are relative to those of a 1.25GHz Mac mini, which is assigned a score of 100. Adobe Photoshop, Cinema 4D, iMovie, and iTunes scores are in minutes:seconds. All systems were running Mac OS X 10.4.2 with 512MB of RAM, with processor performance set to Highest in the Energy Saver pane in System Preferences. We converted 45 minutes of AAC audio files to MP3 using iTunes’ High Quality settings. We used Unreal Tournament 2004’s Antalus Botmatch Average Frames Per Second score tested at a resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels at Maximum settings. The Photoshop Suite test is a set of 14 scripted tasks using a 50MB file. Photoshop’s memory was set to 70 percent and History was set to Minimum. To compare Speedmark 4 scores for various Mac systems, visit our Apple Hardware Guide .—Macworld Lab testing by James Galbraith and Jerry Jung

While the two dual-core systems compare favorably to single-core Power Macs with similar clock speeds, neither new model could overcome the gap in speed to give the dual-processor 2.7GHz Power Mac G5 any real competition. The one exception turned out to be in our Unreal Tournament 2004 tests, where the dual-core 2.3GHz machine’s PCI Express graphics card squeezed out a couple more frames per second than the dual-processor 2.7GHz G5 did; the dual-core Power Mac produced ten more frames per second than a dual-processor 2.3GHz Power Mac.

The lack of a noticeable performance penalty for dual-core chips bodes well for the Power Mac G5 Quad, once it becomes available for testing. With its pair of dual-core processors, it figures to be the fastest Mac desktop ever.

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