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Macworld Lab has been waiting patiently for the day our new dual-2.5GHz Power Mac G5s arrive. In the meantime, we've tested the lower-end models -- the dual-1.8GHz and dual-2GHz configurations -- to see how their performance stacks up against their eerily similar predecessor, an older dual-1.8GHz machine.
Aside from the amount of installed memory and the size of the hard drive, the specs for the dual-1.8GHz G5 unveiled in June 2004 and the one introduced in November 2003 are nearly identical. And, as you'd expect, so are the Speedmark numbers. (We ran our Speedmark tests after installing 512MB RAM in each system.)
Last year's dual-1.8GHz model cost $2,499 while this year's is priced at $1,999 (though Apple charges $75 for the extra 256MB of RAM). The newer, less-expensive dual-1.8GHz system performed as well as expected, with a few exceptions. The only head-scratchers in the results table -- instances where the older system out-performed its seemingly identical replacement -- are probably due to the aforementioned differences in hard drives.
The older dual-1.8GHz model came with a roomy 160GB Seagate Barracuda hard drive; the newer model features an 80GB version of the same drive. The drive swap seems to have sacrificed speed as well as storage capacity -- note the older model's faster times in several of our tests. In fact, the older dual-1.8GHz Power Mac even bested the dual-2.0GHz model (feature a Maxtor DiamondMax 160GB drive) in disk-intensive actions, such as file duplicates and video encoding -- although just by a hair.
Look for a full review -- including an in-depth look at that elusive dual-2.5GHz Power Mac -- at Macworld.com in the coming weeks.