Benchmarks: Quad G5 on top

With four PowerPC G5 processors to handle the tasks you throw at it, it’s no wonder the Power Mac G5 Quad posted the fastest Speedmark score ever. But the margin in that benchmark test may not be as large as some expected.

Still, Macworld Lab testing of the final—and most anticipated—of Apple’s new dual-core Macs revealed powerful performance from the 2.5GHz Quad machine, particularly in tasks that take advantage of all four processors.

The Power Mac G5 Quad is a dual-processor, dual-core machine, sporting two 2.5GHz G5 processing units on both of its chips. It boasts a frontside bus speed of 1.25GHz per processor and 2MB of on-chip L2 cache per processor. It’s the last of the recent Power Mac revisions to ship—you can look at the benchmarks and reviews for the dual-core 2GHz and 2.3GHz Power Macs here.

Our testing found that the Quad performs best when using applications that take full advantage of its processing power. Note the results from our Maxon Cinema 4D XL and Apple Compressor 2.0 tests below to see how solidly the Power Mac G5 Quad out-muscles its dual-core counterparts. Running those applications, this computer screams—and we’re not just referring to the loud fans that kick in fairly often.

Quad-Core Power Mac Tested

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 G5/2.5GHz quad-core 257 0:47 0:37 3:23 0:33 0:43 53.7
Power Mac G5/2GHz dual-core 215 1:04 1:23 6:20 0:36 0:58 40.6
Power Mac G5/2.3GHz dual-core 236 0:56 1:11 5:35 0:33 0:52 50.1
>Better <Better <Better <Better <Better <Better >Better

Best results in bold. Reference system 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 XL, iMovie, and iTunes scores are in minutes:seconds. All systems were running Mac OS X 10.4.3 with 512MB of RAM, with processor performance set to Highest in the Energy Saver preference pane. We converted 45 minutes of AAC audio files to MP3 using iTunes’ High Quality setting. We used Unreal Tournament 2004’s Antalus Botmatch average-frames-per-second score; we tested at a resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels at the Maximum setting. 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

In a more general-use benchmark such as Speedmark 4, which we use to test overall system performance on every Mac model from minis on up, the doubling of processor cores doesn’t yield performance gains in all of its included tasks. Take the iMovie render test, where the Power Mac G5 Quad turned in the same performance as a dual-core 2.3GHz machine. That’s because an iMovie render is a good example of a task that doesn’t care how many cores you have churning away.

Astute readers may notice that the Speedmark scores for our dual core reference systems in the above table have gotten higher since we published their reviews. We always use the latest version of Mac OS X when running Speedmark— OS X 10.4.3 shipped after we completed our benchmarks for those models. Usually, incremental OS updates don’t affect scores much; however, this latest update proved to be an exception. Though startup, e-mail and Web browser tests all got a bit of boost out of the update, the 500MB folder duplication task saw the biggest benefit, getting 25 percent faster after updating to OS X 10.4.3.

We’ll post our review of the Power Mac G5 Quad just as soon as it’s completed. You can compare these benchmark results to other shipping Macs by visiting our Apple Hardware Guide.

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