BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS



How about giving your old Sawtooth a faster graphics card?

Originally posted 8/28/02
Updated 10/10/02 and 02/17/03
regarding the ADC Display/Adapter Compatibility Issue
by rob-ART morgan, Bare Feats mad scientist
with thanks to the University of Hawaii, Dept. of Physics,
for use of their Rev 1 "AGP Graphics" G4/500 Sawtooth Power Mac.

Some of you are getting concerned that your old Rage Pro graphics card with only 16MB of VRAM is going to cough and sputter when you run Jaguar with Quartz Extreme. So I decided to stick some of the newest graphics cards in an old G4/500 "AGP Graphics" Power Mac or "Rev 1 Sawtooth" to see what they would do.

I'm not clear yet on how to measure the effect of Quartz Extreme on these graphics cards. However, I read these words in Apple's Description which states Quartz Extreme "...uses the integrated OpenGL technology to convert each window into a texture, then sends it to the graphics card to render on screen." That's very similar to what Quake3 Arena does so I chose to use it as a test in both "Fastest" and "Max" mode to show the potential for speed gain on the Sawtooth even without a CPU upgrade.



As you can see, detailed textures and quality geometrics leave the original Rage card gasping for air. However, the faster graphics cards hit the wall just over 50 frames per second. This is as fast as you can go without upgrading the CPU. Keep in mind that a DDR 1GHz MP Power Mac attains 115 frames per second when running Quake3 in "Max" mode.



Of course, you could always run Quake3 in low resolution like the graph above, which is what you probably do now to get decent frame rates. But that wouldn't be the typical setup for someone running normal apps under OS X with a 17" or 22" display.



Let me clarify what I'm trying to show here. Quartz Extreme will NOT make Quake3 run faster. It won't make any OpenGL app run faster. It uses OpenGL and the graphics card to make system windowing functions run faster... such as overlapping windows, shadows, transparency, etc.

I'm not sure how to measure that gain, although Apple claims they know how and produced some graphs at the bottom of the Quartz Extreme web page.

The context of Quake3 used here is to show how much is gained using these graphics cards in a situation where OpenGL is used to store and manipulate textures and geometric patterns... in the same way as Quartz Extreme. If a card helps run Quake3 faster, it should be fully utilized by Quartz Extreme to do system window functions faster.



Possibly. Running OS X and the OS X version of Quake3 in a Dual G4/500 with a Radeon card, I got 133fps in "Fastest 640x480" mode and 60fps in "Max 1024x758" mode. A Dual G4/533 with a GeForce3 card got got 149fps in "Fastest 640x480" mode and 118fps in "Max 1024x758" mode. So maybe a Dual G4 upgrade would help you get more from the card.



What I am about to say only applies only to the first generation "AGP Graphics" Power Mac or "Rev 1 Sawtooth." All the models introduced since the first AGP series (including the "Gigabit," "Digital Audio," and "QuickSilver") fully support ADC. (See Apple's Tech Article 58418 on "How To Differentiate Between Models" and Apple's Tech Article #58692 on Display Compatibility.)

The best bet for those of you searching for a repacement for their Rage 128 Pro for your first generation Sawtooth ("AGP Graphics" on Apple Web Site) is the ATI Radeon 8500 Mac Edition. HUH? That's because it is just as fast on the Rev 1 Sawtooth as the other cards, comes with 64MB of DDR RAM, and features a VGA and DVI port -- making it the ONLY graphics card of those tested that will support up to two displays on that model. What? Read on...

I can't recommend the ATI Radeon 9000 Mac Edition for the "AGP Graphics" Sawtooth even though it is a very good card. It offers a DVI and ADC port. That's great for the other G4 Power Macs with ADC support built into the AGP slot, but NOT on the Rev 1 "AGP Graphics" Power Mac. The 9000's ADC connector does fit the connector from an ADC display, but nothing happens... why? because there's no power sent from the "AGP Graphics" Power Mac through the Radeon 9000's ADC connector to the ADC display. Got it? So the ADC connector is useless and dual display support is not an option with this card on an "AGP Graphics" Sawtooth Power Mac (first model to offer AGP). It only supports DVI and VGA. (See Apple's tech articles referenced in first paragraph.)

However, the 9000 with ADC connector runs fine on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc model of Power Mac with AGP slot including the "Gigabit," "Digital Audio," and "QuickSilver" models. (See first paragraph of this section for tech articles.)

You CAN use an ADC display on the earliest AGP Power Mac but only by using the DVI connector through a DVI to ADC converter box. By the way, the DVI to ADC converter is $99 at Apple's Online Store. Or you can just use a DVI or VGA display. Instead of buying the 9000 card and an adapter, just get the Radeon 8500 for your Rev 1 "AGP Graphics" PowerMac.

The $150 GeForce3 and the $400 GeForce4 Titanium have the same problem as the Radeon 9000 when used on the Rev 1 "AGP Graphics" Power Mac. But they work fine on the "Gigabit," "Digital Audio," and "QuickSilver." I hope I've made the ADC vs DVI issue clear as mud.



ATI has their own online store where you can purchase the Radeon 7000, 8500 and 9000.

Check also with Other World Computing and Buy.Com.

For the GeForce3, check with MacResQ and Other World Computing.

For the GeForce4 Titanium kit and DVI to ADC converter, check with the DISPLAYS section of the Apple Online Store. Check also with MacResQ.

(Since this article was written, the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro is starting to be offered as a BTO option on the Apple Online Store. Watch for it to be offered as a retail option or separate kit as some point.)



See the Bare Feats tests with these graphics cards installed in the new DDR Macs.

Read about what Apple has to say about the nVIDIA GeForce4 Titanium on the GRAPHICS page of the Power Mac section. It includes an interesting graph showing the relative speed of the three DDR Power Macs running Quake3 Arena. (It looks like they were running at "High Quality" instead of "Max Quality" like I use. Regardless, the 1.25GHz DDR Power Mac is only 13% faster than the 1GHz DDR Power Mac!)

See nVIDIA's specs on the GeForce4 Titanium. (Apple's card is comparable to the 4600 chip set.)

ATI has a description page for the Radeon 8500 Mac Edition and Radeon 9000 Mac Edition on their site.

Anandtech compares the Radeon 9000 to the 8500, GeForce4 MX, and GeForce4 Titanium AGP cards for Windows PC's. They also compare the Geforce4 Go to the Radeon 9000 Mobility (both are NEW chips for laptops.)

Read about the new Radeon 9700 (Mac Edition coming in a few months), which, according to's tests, is 30 to 50% faster than the GeForce4 Titanium... at least when run on a Windows PC.



The test "mule" was a G4/500 "Sawtooth" Power Mac with 1.5GB of RAM running OS X (10.2) from an IBM 120GXP 120GB drive.

For details on each real world test, read "HOW I TEST."




LINKS to SPEED tests on other sites

HOT DEALS on speed upgrades

rob-ART morgan,
mad scientist and webmaster


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0101_002C has good pricing and availability on the ATI Radeon grahics cards.

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