Macworld Lab’s 3GHz Mac Pro arrived at our offices, and, as expected, the desktop equipped with the fastest Xeon currently available to Mac users outpaced the 2.66GHz Mac Pro.
If you remember, that standard offering of Apple’s new desktop tallied the best score ever in our Speedmark test. That record didn’t stand for long, as the 3GHz machine posted a score of 313, setting a new standard for our system performance test suite.
When Apple added Intel-built Xeon processors to its line of professional desktops, the company offered only one standard configuration featuring two dual core Xeons running at 2.66GHz, a 250GB hard drive, an NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT graphics card with 256MB of video memory, 1GB of fully buffered DDR2 system memory, and a 16x dual-layer capable Superdrive. Of course, with an impressive list of available options, custom configurations number in the millions. We ordered a few custom models and the first two—standard configurations powered by two 2GHz and 3GHz chips, respectively—arrived just hours after our Mac Pro review was posted.
Because processors represent just one piece of the performance puzzle, we found that the 3GHz machine posted an improvement over the 2.66GHz Mac Pro of about 5 to 6 percent on most tests, even though the 3GHz chips have a 13 percent faster clock speed. With all of our Mac Pro systems sporting the same drives, bus speeds, memory size, and graphics cards, only CPU-intensive tests like our Cinema 4D render times approached that 13 percent improvement. The 3GHz beat the 2.66GHz model in all tests, but usually just by a few seconds. That’s an important consideration for users contemplating paying the extra $800 above the 2.66GHz Mac Pro’s $2,499 asking price.
As we’ve come to expect, applications like Photoshop not running natively on Intel Macs run slower than on systems with G5 processors.
3GHz and 2GHz Mac Pros Tested
|Speedmark 4.5||Adobe Photoshop CS2||Cinema 4D XL 9.5.21||Compressor 2.1||iMovie 6.0.1||iTunes 6.0.4||Unreal Tournament 2004||Finder|
|OVERALL SCORE||SUITE||RENDER||MPEG2 Encode||AGED EFFECT||MP3 ENCODE||FRAME RATE||ZIP ARCHIVE|
|Mac Pro/2.66GHz (Standard)||299||1:25||0:28||1:47||0:38||0:48||91.3||2:01|
|Power Mac G5/2.5GHz Quad-core||262||0:45||0:30||1:52||0:39||0:43||62.2||2:22|
|Power Mac G5/2.7GHz Dual-Processor||267||0:48||0:52||2:17||0:43||0:46||44.3||2:15|
|Power Mac G4/ 1.42GHz Dual -processor||155||1:24||2:23||4:43||1:24||1:35||26.5||3:16|
|20-inch iMac Core Duo/2GHz||210||2:31||1:11||3:21||1:03||1:26||54.1||2:34|
Best results in bold. Reference system in italics .
The 2GHz model performed as well as expected, with results reflecting the fact that its processors have a 25 percent slower clock speed. And again, with so many similarities between systems, the performance difference when running Speedmark was actually closer to 15 percent. With twice the number of processing cores, the 2GHz Mac Pro did beat the 2GHz iMac Core Duo in all tests, but again, only the Cinema 4D test showed the full effect of doubling the processors.
As mentioned earlier, these results are from our first round of testing with these Mac Pros. Check back soon for many more results, including tests involving increased RAM, multiple hard drives, different applications, and graphics cards.