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SHOOTOUT: G5/2.7GHz Power Mac
Versus Other G5 Power Macs

Posted May 9th, 2005, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Updated May10th, 2005, with G5/2.3GHz final results

Though the new April 2005 "speed bump" of G5 Power Macs was received with a collective yawn by the Mac speed freaks, we went ahead with the testing of the newest, fastest Power Mac (G5/2.7HGz) using our suite of CPU crunch tests.

Thanks to the generosity of ProMax, we are able to get these results to you quickly so you can make buying decisions.

Legend of Graphs:
G5/2.7GHz = Apple G5/2.7GHz Power Mac (April 2005)
G5/2.5GHz = Apple G5/2.5GHz Power Mac (June 2004)
G5/2.3GHz = Apple G5/2.3GHz Power Mac (April 2005)
G5/2.0GHz = Apple G5/2.0GHz Power Mac (June 2003)
(For the UT2004 Botmatch, the systems had the Radeon X800 XT)

CONCLUSION
The speed advantage of the new G5/2.7GHz Power Mac over previous models is incremental and corresponds roughly to the relative clock speeds.

Any speed gain is appreciated by power hungry users, but what we really want is a dual core G5 with a newly designed main logic board that includes dual PCI-Express slots (for dual linked dual processor GPUs).

SAME OLD MOTHERBOARD, SAME FRUSTRATIONS
The discouraging thing about the newest G5/2.7GHz is the use of the same 2003 main logic board with its FireWire 800 write speed bottleneck. We hooked up dual G-RAID boxes to the built-in FireWire 800 port on both the new G5/2.7GHz Power Mac and our trusty G4/1.5GHz PowerBook. From the graph below, you can see that the write speed of the PowerBook is superior to the Power Mac. How embarrassing when a G4 PowerBook does FireWire 800 RAID faster than "the world's fastest personal computer."

Folks, that's a four drive RAID 0 set on a single FireWire 800 channel capable of 100MB/s max throughput. In another test, we set up a 4 channel 4 drive FireWire 800 RAID on both the G5 and a G4 Power Mac. The G4 Power Mac achieved 180MB/s sustained write speed. The G5 Power Mac could only muster 90MB/s.

It could be argued that the trend away from FireWire 800 mass storage and toward Serial ATA external mass storage is partly due to Apple's apathy toward this two year old FireWire 800 RAID performance deficiency. In fact, one manufacturer tried in vain to develop a PCI-X multi-channel FireWire 800 host adapter for the G5, but ran into the same write performance "wall" we're highlighting here.

Other things that annoy us about the 2003 circa motherboard include:
1. The power connector positioned to block use of the 133MHz PCI-X slot 4 by "fat" cards like the Blackmagic Design DeckLink HD and Sonnet eSATA 8.
2. The sharing of the PCI-X bus by the 100MHz slots 2 and 3, which causes bus contention (speed loss) with high throughput devices.
3. Lack of an adequate, regulated auxiliary power feed for PCI/PCI-X cards or other internal addons.

BE CAREFUL WHAT GRAPHICS CARD YOU CHOOSE
The graphics card is becoming increasingly important as Apple encourages off-loading of OpenGL tasks to the GPU with Tiger's Core Image. Performance of applications like Motion and Imaginator are strongly dependent on the speed of your graphics card.

We found the GeForceFX 5200, Radeon 9600, Radeon 9600 XT, and Radeon 9650 inhibit performance of those applications as well as 3D games (like Doom 3 and Halo). We recommend spending a little more for a Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition or a lot more for the Radeon X800 XT or GeForce 6800 Ultra.

(Be sure to read our report on the new Radeon 9650 versus other dual-link video cards.)

MORE TO COME...
We'll be posting a page soon showing three of the G5 Power Macs running the same high end graphics card.

WHERE TO BUY G5 POWER MACS
ProMax
provided the G5/2.7GHz Power Mac test unit. If you are looking for a turn-key digital video development system, they are an excellent source. They also sell high-end storage systems rated for HD video capture/playback.

Buying a Power Mac? Please CLICK OUR APPLE STORE, USA, TEXT LINKS or DISPLAY ADS to help us earn our affiliate commission. We want our Canadian readers to know we are now an affliate for Apple Store, Canada. Our European readers should visit Apple Store, UK.

For refurbished, reconditioned, open box (as well as new) G5 Power Macs, check with Small Dog and Power Max. Check also at the Apple HOT DEALS section for factory refurbs and other specials.

Some of you have asked which G5 Power Mac models are most desirable. Whether you buy a new, refurbished or used G5 Power Mac, I recommend getting a model with 8 memory slots, 100/133MHz PCI-X slots, and 600W Power Supply. The table below gives the model number, etc., of these most desirable G5s.

Model Number
clock speed
processors
intro date
M9031LL/A
1.8GHz
single
June 2003
M9032LL/A
2.0GHz
dual
June 2003
M9393LL/A
1.8GHz
dual
November 2003
M9455LL/A
2.0GHz
dual
June 2004
M9457LL/A
2.5GHz
dual
June 2004
M9748LL/A
2.3GHz
dual
April 2005
M9749LL/A
2.7GHz
dual
April 2005

All other models have only 4 memory slots, 33MHz PCI slots, 450W Power Supply, and slower frontside bus speeds. If you can't find the model you want at Apple's Special Deals page, Small Dog's site, or Power Max's site, go to Froogle.com and search on the model number.

WHERE TO BUY THE RADEON X800 XT and other G5 graphics cards
Buy.com has the best price for the Radeon X800 XT at $451 after $15 off Coupon is applied. Buy.com has the Radeon 9800 Mac Special Edition (8X, 256MB) for $207 after $50 rebate and $15 off Coupon is applied. Redeem the Coupon the do a search on "radeon mac."

If you have a G4 Power Mac, your best bet is the Radeon 9800 Pro 2X/4X AGP Mac Edition. Buy.com has it for $173 net after $15 off Coupon and $50 rebate are applied. It also works on G5 Power Macs and runs just as fast as a Radeon 9800 Pro 8X AGP.

Check also with Other World Computing and Small Dog Electronics.Check for all models of ATI Radeon graphics cards.

Apple's Online Store sells kits for the GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL and Radeon 9800 Pro Special Edition. (Click on "Displays" under "Accessories" -- left margin. Then scroll down until you see the graphics cards.) If you live in the UK, visit the UK Apple Online Store.

The GeForce 6800 Ultra is also available from Small Dog Electronics.

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2005 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster and mad scientist