For those who need the fastest Mac around, high-end Power Mac G4s have always provided maximum performance — for a high price. Sitting atop the new dual-processor Power Mac lineup, the new dual-1.25GHz model — which contains the fastest G4 processors ever available in a Mac — is no exception (see “Apple’s New Dual-G4 Macs,” November 2002, for reviews of the dual-867MHz and dual-1GHz models).
By the Numbers
In addition to two of the fastest processors in the line — with a full 25 percent more megahertz than the previous high-end model — this new Power Mac has many improvements. Each processor has 2MB of dedicated L3 cache, which is vital for storing bits of code used repeatedly by the processors. The 1.25GHz G4’s 167MHz system bus is also the fastest in any Mac, shared only with the middle-of-the-line dual-1GHz Power Mac. Combine this with the 512MB of Double Data Rate (DDR) RAM that comes standard with the machine, and you have a very fast system.
With the same amount of RAM, the dual-1.25GHz G4 beat the previous top-of-the-line, dual-1GHz, model by 21 points in our Speedmark testing. We saw the biggest leaps, however, in the processor-intensive application tests, where the dual-1.25GHz Power Mac was faster than the old high-end Mac by between 22 and 27 percent.
The Perks and the Ports
Apple includes a 120GB ATA/100 hard drive in this high-end Power Mac G4. The machine also has a 4Yen AGP graphics slot with an ATI Radeon 9000 Pro video card, which supports two digital flat-panel displays (one ADC and one DVI). With powerful new video capabilities, this new G4 managed almost 131 frames per second in our Quake test — 33 frames more per second than the old dual-1GHz model, and 12 more than the new dual-1GHz model, which has the same video card.
The high-end G4 also includes the DVD- and CD-burning SuperDrive. And the G4’s new case leaves an empty space for an additional optical drive. However, some drives may need to be altered so that the tray will fit through the opening in the front of the Mac.
This Power Mac ran smoothly in our tests, but its fan is considerably louder than the previous model’s — potentially problematic if you’re sensitive to noise or if you use the Mac to record music.
The new G4 also has all the amenities: two 400-Mbps FireWire ports; two 12-Mbps USB 1.1 ports; a Gigabit Ethernet port; a 56K V.92 modem; four 64-bit, 33MHz PCI slots; a well-placed headphone jack; higher-quality, 24-bit analog audio line-in; analog audio line-out; and a port for the optional $59 Apple Pro Speakers.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
With the dual-1.25GHz Power Mac G4’s impressive overall performance, you really do get what you pay for. If you simply must have the world’s fastest Mac, do lots of video and graphics work, and can pony up the dough, this is the ultimate Mac.