About those Office 2008 tests

Earlier Monday, we posted results from Macworld Lab’s Office 2008 tests, showing how the updated productivity suite runs on PowerPC and Intel-based Macs compared to Office 2004. There’s been quite a response in our forums, including a bit of head-scratching as to the test systems we used when conducting these timed tests.

As a reminder, we used a 4-core, 2.66GHz Mac Pro and a 4-core, 2.5GHz Power Mac G5 as our Intel and PowerPC systems, respectively. The main question from readers seems to be: Why use those high-end desktops in benchmarking a consumer-oriented software suite? And why not mix in older systems as well to better mirror what potential upgraders may be using?

Those are valid questions; here’s why we used the systems we did.

The 2.66GHz Mac Pro is our standard test system when it’s time to put printers, displays, hard drives, and scanners through their paces. Because we use that system so much, we have two of these Mac Pros, configured identically, just for lab testing.

We picked the Power Mac G5 because it’s the most comparable system to the Mac Pro we’re using, giving us valid PowerPC-vs.-Intel comparisons.

Finally, we thought both systems made sense as test units because they offer a best-case scenario for running Office 2008 and its predecessor. You can’t write off the numbers because of pokey internal drives, slow processors, and the like.

Were these the best systems to use? That is debatable, but at least you know that there was at least a little bit of thought put into the choices. We will continue this testing and include other systems (iMacs, anyone?) and even attempt some Office 2007 for Windows numbers running in emulation to see how the Mac version compares.

In the meantime, keep the comments and suggestions coming.

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