BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

Which is faster, a G4/733 or Dual G4/533?

First Full Results Posting: March 5th, 2001
Last Updated: March 14th with updatd iMovie numbers
rob ART morgan, mad Mac scientist
with testing help from
Rick Ortiz and Jeremy Hansen

Here it is... what everyone's waiting for... Actual Test Results


This is something new we tried. Take the 6 movie clips from iMovie's Tutorial and export them as a QuickTime movie (Movie for CD-ROM, Medium Quality, 320 x 240, 15 fps, 44kHz). For you Final Cut Pro's, I got the same time when I exported the same clips to a QuickTime movie using the same settings. (This chart was last updated on 3/14/01 when QuickTime 5 Preview 3 produced faster times on the SOLO 533.)


Another new test. Each machine imported 3 Beach Boys Songs using MP3 and "Best Quality." The songs were "Deuce Coupe," "409," and "Shut Down." Appropriate, n'est-ce pas? They were imported from the internal hard drive. Seems the first time we did this test, the 733 was much slower. Apple (and you readers) pointed out that we were actually measuring CD drive speed and the SuperDrive reads slower than the "no so super" CD-RW.


Look closely at this chart. The SINGLE G4/533 is faster than the G4/733. And the Dual G4/533 blows it away. This must be a case where the 733's pipes are too long and its cache is too small.


This is 20 typical actions like Rotate, Resize, Blur, Sharpen, Convert to CMYK, etc. The G4/733 is only slightly faster than the Single G4/533. And look at it in relation to the Pentiums. Makes you wonder about Steve Job's demo at MacWorld Expo! (Check this link for more on that.)


All systems tested above had a GeForce2 MX graphics card. I added this chart for those who pointed out (and rightly so) that the CPU speed delta shows up best at low resolutions and low quality textures. The bad news is that the Pentiums blow away the Mac in this mode. The good news is that help is on the way. The OS X version of Quake on a Dual G4 goes over 133 fps. The bad news is the 733 probably won't do games much faster under OS X unless they get a boost from AltiVec "awareness."


I'm leaving this graph here to show you what happens when the resolution and texture quality is set at very high quality. The gap closes between the G4/533 and G4/733. It also closes between the Macs and the Pentiums.


Everyone screamed "foul" at me for posting the "1024x768 High Quality" test results. Again, their point was well taken. I'm not testing graphics cards here. I'm testing CPU's. So I turned off options and lowered the quality on just about everything to give you this graph in both RAVE and OpenGL mode. (Now if we could just convince Mark Adams to create an OS X MP aware, AltiVec aware version of Unreal Tournament...;-)



Bottom line: The Dual G4/533 was faster than the G4/733 in 3 out of 7 tests I ran. If you discount the "Maximum" Quake3Arena test, it's a tie. But the next paragraph is most surprising.

Though the G4/733 has a 37.5% faster clock speed, on-chip cache, multiple FPU's, and multiple Velocity Engines, it was only 13.1% faster than the SINGLE G3/533 (average of my 7 tests).

The technical excuses already abound. Some are blaming the new 7450 version of the G4, saying it is 10 to 20% slower than the 7400/7410 version running at the same clock speed. Others are saying it's OS 9.1's fault. That it doesn't handle cache fetches efficiently with the new 7450 based G4/733. Still others are blaming applications that aren't written to take the 7450 into account. And don't forget, when the 256K on-chip cache runs out, the 1MB L3 cache is running at only 183Mhz. Curses!

Here's a very clear explanation from a source intimately acquainted with 7450 architecture: "The 7450, while being a very well-engineered chip, is not as fast as a 7400/7410 at the same clock speed. The additional L2 on-chip cache, Altivec, and FPU units were put there to make up for the deeper pipeline. There are also some programming penalties that have not been present before (cache hits, branches, etc.). Once X hits, and some apps are reworked for it, the 733 will regain much of it's oomf. Until then, it is not a linear scale of performance when compared to the earlier chips, but it's not quite a 20% hit. The MP machines are by far the better buy."

People who ordered the 733 betting it would be the fastest Mac are throwing up in their toilets. The Dual 533 buyers are lighting up cigars and patting themselves on the back. Those with unfulfilled BTO's are emailing me asking if they should be switching the order to a Dual 533. I suppose if they did, they could use the left over money to get a GeForce3 card. One reader was so undecided, he purchased both the 733 and Dual 533. So you see, Bare Feats' reports are good for Apple sales!

It would seem the biggest advantage of the 733 is the internal SuperDrive. That's nothing to sneeze at. I think it's well worth the $700 difference in price (when both models are comparably equipped). The email I get indicates owners L-O-V-E the drive.

Is the 733 deficient or is this a case of "think different?" I hope for the sake of the consumer that Apple and the third party developers will find ways to squeeze out the 7450 chip's potential. They don't call it the "bleeding edge" of technology for nothing.



Rick LePage has posted a comparison of the G4/733 to a Dual G4/500 and Single G4/400 on MacInTouch.

For more on the G4/733 under-performance, read the postings at this XLR8YourMac forum THREAD.

Read Dan Knight's reaction to these tests and his cost analysis on a page he calls, "One Brain Or Two?" (Low End Mac)

Which is faster, the Radeon or the GeForce2?

Read about the UN-optimized Photoshop 6.0 for Pentium fiasco.

Again, big mahalo to the guys who provided testing help, Rick Ortiz and Jeremy Hansen! (Visit their web sites as your "thank you".)



Test machines:
G4/733 Power Mac (256M of RAM, GeForce2 MX, Mac OS 9.1)
Dual G4/533 Power Mac (256M of RAM, GeForce2 MX, Mac OS 9.1)
Single G4/533 Power Mac (256M of RAM, GeForce2 MX, Mac OS 9.1)
Dual G4/500 Power Mac (256M of RAM, ATI RAGE 128 Pro, Mac OS 9.04)
Radeon AGP graphics card provided courtesy of ATI Technologies

Pentium 3 866MHz (512M of RAM, GeForce2 MX, Windows ME)
Sony VAIO Pentium 3 1.0GHz (256M of RAM, GeForce2 MX, Windows ME)
Sony VAIO Pentium 4 1.3GHz (256M of RAM, GeForce2 MX, Windows ME)
Sony VAIO Pentium 4 1.5GHz (256M of RAM, GeForce2 MX, Windows ME)


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