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BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

How Fast Is The New G4 iMac?

Originally posted February 5th, 2002
Updated February 7th, 2002 with Quake3 results from a G4/733 with GeForce4 MX
(courtesy of Daniel Carvajal of U.C. Berkeley)
Updated February 11th with new "low end" G4/800 Power Mac results

main tester:
rob ART morgan, Bare Feats Mad Scientist
Mahalo to Honolulu CompUSA for providing the iMac G4 and G4/800 Power Mac


Let's get right to it. How fast is the new iMac G4/800 compared to similar Macs running OS X and OS X apps? And is a Dual G4/800 that much faster than a single G4/800?










The new iMac is impressive. Is it the best performing Power Mac under $2000? Of the currently shipping models, "Yes."

But if you can get one, I say the "closeout" G4/733 Power Mac is a better buy from a performance and upgrade standpoint. If you equip it just like the iMac G4/800, it would cost you $500 more (see chart below). But the G4/733 lets you add upgrades like up to four fast internal Ultra ATA hard drive(s),* or GeForce4 Titanium graphics kit, or Radeon 8500, and up to 1.5GB of RAM. And if you are willing to start off with a smaller hard drive (40GB) and no SuperDrive, you would spend about the same as the iMac G4/800.

(* Some of you have pointed out that you can add an external FireWire drive to the iMac but it won't be as fast as a second internal Ultra ATA drive and it will add desk clutter, which defeats the purpose of the compact design.)

If the SuperDrive is a biggie to you, then the iMac G4/800 is a super buy. (But being an upgrade freak, I'm not a big fan of "all-in-one" Macs. They make me feel... claustrophobic.)

The NEW G4/800 Power Mac is faster even though it has the same clock speed as the G4/800 iMac. This is mainly do to the faster memory bus (133MHz versus 100MHz). And, of course, the GeForce4 MX graphics adapter doesn't hurt either.

Are two 800Mhz G4's better than one? Definitely. And when you consider that you can add a GeForce4 or Radeon 8500, the hard core performance freaks looking for a bargain should strongly consider the closeout Dual G4/800 ($2199 not including display at Apple Online Store -- see SPECIALS).


iMac G4/800
"closeout" G4/733 Power Mac
G4/800 Power Mac

Optical Drive

(Combo optional)

Memory Bus Speed


Graphics Accelerator

GeForce2 MX "hard wired" to 15" LCD display
GeForce2 MX in AGP 4X slot with ADC and VGA connector
Radeon 7500 in AGP 4X slot with ADC and VGA connector
(GeForce4 MX or GeForce4 Titanium optional)


15" LCD only
optional Apple displays from 15" to 22"
optional Apple displays from 15" to 22"

Max Memory

1 GB
1.5 GB
1.5 GB

PCI slots


Hard Drive

60 GB
40 GB
(user can add up to three more drives from third parties)
40 GB
(optional Ultra ATA 60GB, 80GB, dual 80GB, and SCSI Ultra160 too.)

Price with 15" display, 256MB RAM, 60GB hard drive

$1898 (price includes $50 128M upgrade, $50 for 60GB upgrade minus $100 rebate on display)
$2148 ( including $100 rebate on display)

Price with SuperDrive

$1799 (included)
$2298 (user upgrade from
$2548 (user upgrade from



Thanks again to CompUSA for letting me test their new iMacs and Power Macs. CompUSA offers discounts to members of Mac User Groups. If you are in Honolulu, stop by the CompUSA there. It's the number one retailing store in the world for Apple thanks to "Mac friendly" management and the "missionary work" of guys like Kimo Sutton, yours truly, and many others in the local HMAUS (Hawaii Apple and Macintosh Users Society).

Visit the Apple Online Store to pricing on the new iMacs and Power Mac G4's. HOT new graphic card BTO option for Power Macs: GeForce Titanium.

Want to know just how fast the new GeForce4 Titanium is? has a great chart that shows how the GeForce4 MX, GeForce3, Radeon 8500, and GeForce4 Titanium compare running Quake 3 1.30 at 1024 x 768 High Quality. Bottom line? If you are a hard core 3D gamer, you MUST get the GeForce4 Titanium.

Already bought your G4 Power Mac? Hang tight. Apple will soon offer the GeForce4 Titanium as a kit for anyone with $399 and an AGP slot.

Small Dog Electronics also does "build-to-order" on new Power Macs and doesn't charge you state sales tax.

Add a SuperDrive (CD-RW, DVD-RW) to your existing Power Mac from for $400. (Search on "DVR-A03SPK")

Need a big, fast, second drive? Take a look at the recent Ultra ATA drive test for a comparison of the newest, fastest drives. You'll pay a premium for bigger or added drives from Apple. I'd rather buy from places like GoogleGear or OWC and install it myself.



The iMac G4/800, Power Mac G4/733, Power Mac G4/800, and Power Mac G4/800MP had 256M of RAM and ran Mac OS 10.1.2.

The graphics cards are abbreviated in the graphs to save space:

GeF2 MX = GeForce2 MX
GeF3 = GeForce3
GeF4 MX = GeForce4 MX
Rad7500 = Radeon 7500

All test applications were the OS X release or beta versions of OSX release.

The new Final Cut Pro 3.0 test consists of two clips from iMovie Tutorial (Clip01 and Clip02) with a 6 word crawling title (Arial Black 65pt), two Cross Dissolve transitions (2sec & 1 sec), and a 2 pixel Gaussian Blur filter on the two video clips.

For details on the other tests, visit my HOW I TEST page.

© 2002 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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