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Is The GeForce4 Titanium in A Dual G4/1000 Power Mac The Ultimate 3D Game Machine?

Posted 5/31/02
by
rob ART morgan, Bare Feats Mad Scientist

This week, PowerMax.com put some GeForce4 Titanium "pulls" up for sale for $399. They were sold out in one day. I was blessed to snag one for the Bare Feats lab.

6/20/02 FLASH! Buy a GeForce4 Titanium from PowerMax.com before July 4th, tell them BARE FEATS sent you, and get a FREE copy of my favorite game, 4x4 Evolution!

So the question can now be answered: Is the GeForce4 Titanium the ultimate graphics accelerator card for the Power Mac G4? And in combination with the Dual G4/1000, is the Power Mac the ultimate game system?

 

 

 

 

3D PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS

If you run your 3D games like Quake3 at maximum texture and geometric detail, the GeForce4 is head and shoulders above any of the other contemporary graphics accelerator cards. Is it worth $399? A bean counter would say no. But I'm not a bean counter.

I got mine. Good luck getting yours...

 

ONE LITTLE PROBLEM...

When I first tried to run Quake3 Arena X and Unreal Tournament X under OS X.1.4, the apps crashed or quit saying "no OpenGL hardware present." Turns out that the GeForce extensions installed from the OS X 10.1.3 CD are a later version that those installed by the 10.1.4 update. So I reformatted one of my drives, installed OS X.1.3 and it worked like a charm. Even then, the drivers used are GeForce2 MX and GeForce3. Apple still hasn't released GeForce4 drivers.

 

 

 

2D PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS

If you are NOT a gamer and do NOT do OpenGL 3D "walk throughs," then you should think twice about coughing up $399 for the GeForce4 Titanium. The standard GeForce4 MX is just as fast for scrolling, panning or screen redraw.

 

HOW DOES THE POWER MAC COMPARE TO THE WINDOWS PC'S for 3D GAMING?
Comparing apples to blueberries or plums is a questionable endeavor but I'm foolish enough to try. As you can see, a "2000MHz" G4 beats a 1600Mhz Pentium 4 but not a 1600Mhz Athlon.

 

Legend for graphs above: GeF4 Ti = Geforce4 Titanium 4600, GeF3 = Geforce3, Rad8500 = Radeon 8500.

The Dual 1GHz G4 Power Mac with a GeForce4 Titanium is no slouch but it can't brag about being the ultimate game machine.

If you are a hard-core Quake3 jockey, there's a page on Sharkey Extreme that will give you pause. The 2.5GHz Pentium 4 with GeForce4 Ti 4600 runs at 293 fps in High Quality 1024x768. That's faster than the Dual "2000MHz" G4 Power Mac with a GeForce4 Titanium running at Low Quality 640x480 (250fps)! Apple doesn't seem to be gaining enough ground in the race for creating the ultimate 3D Professional Modeling and, uh, er, Gaming machine. We need Quartz Extreme, dual G5's, DDR memory, and GeForce5 Titanium... and we need it all NOW!

 

DUAL DISPLAYS? EASY!

I'm a dual display nut. One Cinema display is just not enough. I love the fact that I don't have to use a spare PCI graphic card to hook up dual ADC flat panels thanks to the GeForce4 Ti. Why? Because you get 128MB of VRAM and DUAL DIGITAL ports: one ADC and one DVI. That's a first. Yay, Apple!

Using the new Apple DVI to ADC adapter ($150), I can hook up various combinations of ADC displays... like dual 17" Apple LCD Studio displays... or dual 22" Apple Cinema LCD displays... or a 17" Apple CRT display on the ADC port and a 22" Apple Cinema LCD on the DVI port (using the DVI to ADC adapter).

Why is this a big deal? Because when you are doing heavy duty analog sound or video capture or playback, you don't want a PCI video card sucking up bandwidth on the PCI bus. Ask the guys in Hollywood.

 

DOES A GRAPHICS ACCELERATOR CARD UPGRADE MAKE SENSE IN A SLOWER G4 POWER MAC?

Let's get real for a minute. Many 3D apps don't even utilize 3D hardware acceleration. OS X doesn't even use the 3D hardware capabilities for things like transparency and overlay. Expect that to change with "Jaguar" and "Quartz Extreme."

Quake3 definitely uses OpenGL hardware acceleration but if you are getting 50+ frames per second at your favorite settings, you won't see any improvement during actual play. Some users mistakenly think that graphics apps will render faster with a graphics accelerator but that's just not the case. Rendering is a strictly CPU function. Where the graphics accelerator helps is with panning, scrolling, redraw, walk through, etc. Okay. The minute is up. Back to the insanity....

 

RELATED LINKS

AccelerateYourMac has test results for the GeForce4 Titanium on a G4 Power Mac.

There are at least two Windows PC sites I watch for interesting test data on graphics cards.

AnandTech.com has test results for the GeForce4 Ti 4600 versus others).

SharkeyExtreme has a GeForce4 Ti 4600 review.

MacGamer has a review of the Radeon 7000 PCI. They say it's slower than the Radeon Mac Edition PCI (the model that preceded it).

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TEST HARDWARE

Apple Power Mac G4/1000MP running OS 10.1.3. Why 10.1.3? Because the 10.1.4 GeForce OS X Extensions don't "see" the GeForce4 Ti as OpenGL hardware.

Graphics Cards included in test:
ATI Radeon 8500 AGP
Apple GeForce3 AGP (no longer available)
Apple
GeForce4 MX AGP (standard on current Power Macs)
Apple GeForce4 Titanium (BTO option -- equal to the 4600 on the PC)

 

TEST SOFTWARE & PROCEDURES

QUAKE3 ARENA 1.3.0b5

GRAPH #1: "Max" 1024x768
GL driver ON, video mode 1024x768, color depth 32 bit, Full Screen ON, Geometric Detail HIGH, Texture Detail HIGHEST Setting, Texture Quality 32 bit, Texture Filter TRILINEAR, Sound Quality HIGH

GRAPH #2: "Max" 1280x768
GL driver ON, video mode 1280x768, color depth 32 bit, Full Screen ON, Geometric Detail HIGH, Texture Detail HIGHEST Setting, Texture Quality 32 bit, Texture Filter TRILINEAR, Sound Quality HIGH

GRAPH with Pentium 4 and Athlon: "High Quality" 1024x768 32 bit
GL driver ON, video mode 1024x768, color depth 32 bit, Full Screen ON, Geometric Detail MEDIUM, Texture Detail MIDDLE Setting, Texture Quality 32 bit, Texture Filter TRILINEAR, Sound Quality HIGH

These console "tweaks" were the only exceptions to default settings:

s_chunksize 2048
s_mixahead .07 (.03 setting made it run faster but it turned sound off. No fair.)
cg_scoreplums 0
r_smp 1 (turns on MP mode; for single CPU's, should be set to zero)

The DEMO file run is the one that comes with version 1.30b1 that was unZipped, put in a folder called DEMOS,and renamed to FOUR.DM_67

© 1995-2007 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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