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Technology (Apple) Businesses Apple Technology

G5 Benchmark Roundup 251

"The G5 is the fastest PC in the world." "Yes, it is." "No, it's not!" Whatever. Read on for more on the subject, if you really want to.
Matt Johnson writes "Well it looks like we finally have our first comparison of G5 vs. AMD Opteron, completed by none other than Charlie White, the individual which gained much oh his fame by publishing misleading benchmarks to make Apple's Final Cut Pro Software look like a bad performer. Mr. White's latest comparison shows the Opteron operating roughly 50% faster but what he doesn't say is which compiler was used to generate those SPEC scores. When Apple declared its benchmarks I feared that whoever made the first comparison would likely make this mistake. It seems only appropriate that Charlie White would be first."

An anonymous reader writes "In an ironic twist to the recent benchmark wars, Intel referred the Mac site MacFixIt to an analyst at Gartner Group who actually backed the PowerPC G5 platform with this assertion: 'These models certainly equal Intel's advanced 875 platform and should allow Apple to go until 2005 without a major platform refresh.'"

Another anonymous user writes, "While browsing the Xbench benchmark comparison site, I discovered some G5 benchmarks! The 'G5 Lab Machine at WWDC' got an overall score of 164.78, but much higher scores in certain areas. All of the tests are calibrated to give 100 on an 800MHz DP Quicksilver G4."

vitaboy writes "Sound Technology, one of the "leading UK distributors specialising in musical instruments, music software and pro-audio equipment," seems to have some data regarding the real-world performance of the G5 compared to the high-end PC. They state, 'The dual 2GHz Power Mac G5 with Logic Platinum 6.1 can play 115 tracks, compared with a maximum of 35 tracks on the Dell Dimension 8300 and 81 tracks on the Dell Precision 650 each with Cubase SX 1.051 ... More impressively, the 1.6GHz single-processor Power Mac G5 played 50 percent more tracks than the 3GHz Pentium 4-based system.'"

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G5 Benchmark Roundup

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  • by Bob Bitchen ( 147646 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @10:51AM (#6319293) Homepage
    Why aren't there any SPEC [] numbers from Apple submitted to SPEC? Usually this means that a company knows they will show poor results. And I suppose in Apple's case they aren't reliant upon fast CPUs since they have those sexy designs and OS X now. But to win converts from the x86 camp they really should have some results submitted soon.
  • Useless article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cioxx ( 456323 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @11:01AM (#6319333) Homepage
    First benchmarks? This is a joke. He didn't even get to test any of the G5's, nor bench'd them.
    DMN has obtained SPEC benchmark data from AMD

    Right! He obtained them.

    It's a biased opinion piece. Now I'm aware that Apple kick-started the G5 with lots of smoke, which is the nature of the business in the computer hardware world, but to discount these numbers just because of some hype during WWDC presentation is silly.

    How about we wait for the REAL benchmars from Anandtech and put away some speculation from webmasters who can't even hire anyone older than 14y/olds to design their websites?
  • by boomerny ( 670029 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @11:08AM (#6319362)
    I'll wait til the systems are actually shipping and I've seen some independent real-world benchmarks before making any judgements. should have some good information once they ship, and maybe
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2003 @11:11AM (#6319370)
    Probably because we're still talking about prerelease hardware. The Veritest results are reliable, but they're not necessarily going to be perfectly representative of what you'll see in production hardware running the final build of 10.2.7.

    Apple will submit figures to SPEC when they've got final hardware and software.
  • by flaroche76 ( 642126 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @11:14AM (#6319387)
    People obviously shouldn't form an opinion on a new platform in the first week following its much hyped anouncement. I think the only thing this first week proves is that at least Apple was able to put itself back on the map and be worthy of performance comparison with high-end systems. Or else, why would these PC-centric doofus post early benchmarks and make asses out of themselves if not to try to defuse an apparent threat? What I want are options. I think Apple just gave me another one. But I won't base my judgement on the number of times Steve Jobs says the word 'awesome' in a keynote address or on shady benchmarks done on an apparently non-existing model (single 2ghz cpu)... I think people should let their emotions settle down and wait to get their hands on a real machine and try it out themselves...
  • by xyrw ( 609810 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @11:34AM (#6319481) Homepage
    I'm surprised that slashdot is still stuck on benchmarks as an indication of processor speed. Hasn't it already been pointed out over and again that it is incredibly difficult to compare across platforms?

    I think it is best leave the pointless statistics to hardware fanatics, and use whatever platform makes one most productive. As such, if any benchmark is even minimally admissible, it is `real world' benchmarks. Yet they do not complete the picture, since productivity is a function of other things, such as user experience, planning required (for the type of job), ease of use-- the list goes on, but you get the idea.

    After a point, increasing the number of FPS you get in Quake 3 is not going to make it any more fun for you; likewise, beyond a certain threshold, it becomes pointless trying to get those pro tools to run faster.
  • by saden1 ( 581102 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:02PM (#6319602)
    Never trust a company that is trying to sell you something. The test should have been done by him rather than being provided by the companies themselves. This guy has zero credibility and I for one don't put much stock on what he says.

    Oh, and that last line about AMD having more credibility is just one of the most stupidest things I have ever heard. I don't buy Macs because of the $$$ and I pack a AMD chip but to say something like AMD has more credibility is very silly.

    It is good to see that the old adage of "like assholes, everyone has an opinion" hold true.
  • Re:maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FueledByRamen ( 581784 ) * <> on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:47PM (#6319819)
    Losing 32-bit compatibility shouldn't be a problem at all. That's the great thing about the Mach-O Executable format (used by OS X) - you can stick binaries for as many different architectures as you want in there. Hell, if windows supported the format, you could stick an X86 and a PPC binary in there and run exactly the same file on both platforms. Ditto for Solaris, Linux, IBM's zOS - you get the point.

    My guess is that Apple will make the 64-bit versions of the Mach-O binary loader look in a different place (I don't know how the Mach-O format is organized - the next slot? a different directory tree?) for a 64-bit native version, and fall back to the 32-bit version if one can't be found. The existing loaders will just keep looking in the same place they always have, and see the 32-bit version.
  • by Arkham ( 10779 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @02:11PM (#6320206)
    At this point, does it really matter if Intel, AMD, or Apple is the slightly faster computer?

    They're all extremely fast and all run one or more UNIX-like Operating Systems (Linux or BSD or OSX). For the Slashdot crowd, Windows is an afterthought, but I'll mention it as well.

    What a person decides to buy is not going to be based on speed anymore. All of the fastest current machines will blaze playing Quake 3 or UT2003.

    People who buy Macs may enjoy the speed, but that's not why they buy them. They buy them because they're cool, the have a really nice, easy-to-use, elegant OS that allows them to be productive. Also, they can use the commercial applications (Photoshop, Office, Filemaker, etc) they need on a stable, reliable UNIX platform.

    Linux/BSD users have a very different set of criteria. They're looking for cheap, super-secure, stable, configurable or some other particular criteria, but are not particularly concerned with the UI experience or with running commercial desktop applications.

    Windows users are a different group too. They want to run their commercial and vertical applications. They are not looking at Linux or Mac because their apps are not there.

    That's why there's not a lot of crossover right now between Mac and Intel/AMD. The audience is just different. Thanks to things like Lindows, there may be some Windows->Linux crossover, but this too is pretty small.
  • by Hackie_Chan ( 678203 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @02:30PM (#6320318)
    At this point, does it really matter if Intel, AMD, or Apple is the slightly faster computer?

    The simple answer is: YES! Speed does matter! You're argument remind me of what all of us Mac users used to say in these latest couple of years right before the G5 announcement. It felt like as if you had a real small penis and tried to defend with the good ol' saying that "It's not the size that matter. It's how you use it!". We were all going "Speed doesn't matter. My penis can surf the net, listen to music and read my email. Size is irrelevant."

    This is true to a certain extent, but how is it for them who absolutely need to use a penis that is as big as possible to get their work done as fast as possible? They had to switch penis or buy really tiny ones - ones who couldn't live up to competition. We all knew deep down inside that sizes did eventually matter. And dismissing the problem didn't exactly make it less inevitably to be teased by our PC-penis colleagues.

    So yes. It matters. If humanity would go "Speed doesn't matter." what would people of the likes of John Carmack do for a living? Work for the Nasa? Bah! Useless! Thanks to the technology speed improvements over the years we've been able to watch crystal sparkling quality movies on our computer screens, play pirated betas of Doom 3 and download porn faster.
  • by MalleusEBHC ( 597600 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @04:22PM (#6320862)
    I can build a comparable PC based system for far less money than what these things will be going for.

    Comparable is in the eye of the beholder. I, like many other Mac users I know, wouldn't trade an OS X box for a Windows or Linux machine no matter how much faster it is. To me, paying the extra money for an Apple machine is worth it as it allows me to use the OS where I can be most productive. It doesn't matter how fast your processor is if you don't like working on your machine.
  • by CompVisGuy ( 587118 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @05:23PM (#6321158)
    I think that the $$$ argument is flawed -- it's a myth.

    If you compare the price of a G5 (or pretty much any Apple system), with an equivalently-specced PC from a reputable supplier (such as Dell) -- if you can in fact find an equivalent (and frequently you can't, Apple now out-perform PCs, and often you get standard features on an Apple that you can't get on a PC) -- then you will find the Dell system to be more expensive than the Apple.

    Granted, you will probably be able to build your own system, or buy from a local PC shop, a PC with a decent spec that is cheaper than an Apple system. However, I have had a couple of very bad experiences with small/mid-size PC builders, and a horrible experience building my own system (I'm a qualified electronics engineer, but I was let down by some dodgy components and very poor aftersales service). Others may have better experiences, but I think it's a matter of luck over judgement. So, ever since, I've vowed to only buy from the big boys.

    Next we come to software. On an Apple system, OS X is included in the price of the system -- you often have to pay extra on the PC system for Windows (OK, Linux etc. are often cost-free if you want to go that route). Sometimes Apple software is more expensive or unavailable on the Mac -- but in my line of work (statistical modelling), all the software I need is available. For Word document monkeys, you also have MS Office on the Mac (I'm told it's better than the PC version). Games are slower to appear on the Mac -- that's a potential drawback.

    I spend almost every working day in front of a computer. If you had to drive around for a living, you'd want a decent vehicle: any extra cost of an Apple system over a PC system, amortised over the time spent using the system, is almost zero. Oftentimes, the Apple system is cheaper anyway.

    But here's the real reason to buy a Mac: The integration between the hardware (some of the best-engineered in the industry) and the OS (OS X is probably the best OS around at the moment). "It just works" is something I hear from people who make the 'switch' from PC to Mac, and it's true.

    That's my opinion. Maybe I'm an asshole, though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2003 @05:41PM (#6321284)
    The idea that Macs are more expensive is false at the high end of the product line and true at the low end.

    But here's the thing. Apple doesn't make a low-end computer. They just don't. So comparing a $1200 iMac to a $600 Dell is apples-to-oranges.
  • Benchmarking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Llywelyn ( 531070 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:22PM (#6321545) Homepage
    "The best benchmark is the app you want to use"

    Wisest advice I've ever heard--it was in my machine org and assembly textbook.

    *Any* cross-platform benchmark should be taken with a shaker full of salt--they simply do not represent real world performance.

    SPEC, for all of its nice points, also falls into this same category. In the end, when all is said and done, people prefer to confuse the model with reality--they think that real world performance follows SPEC scores.
  • by 7-Vodka ( 195504 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @08:16PM (#6322141) Journal
    Apple hired an independant benchmarking firm

    No, they didn't. Independent would mean that they weren't getting paid by anyone who has anything to gain by the results one way or another. As it turns out, apple hired them and they're not independent at all. M$ hires 'independent' think tanks to issue reports and lobby the government all the time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2003 @09:41PM (#6322575)
    Apple hired an independant benchmarking firm

    No, they didn't. Independent would mean that they weren't getting paid by anyone who has anything to gain by the results one way or another. As it turns out, apple hired them and they're not independent at all. M$ hires 'independent' think tanks to issue reports and lobby the government all the time.

    MS creates "independent" thinktanks whose only income comes from MS and pays them to find the results they want. Veritest is a company that specializes in benchmarks and has done testing for dozens of major companies (see here []).
    The mythical oraganizations MS quotes usually only have one customer, MS. While it is true that Apple paid Veritest for their services, it's pretty hard to find someone who benchmarks for free and is willing to sign an NDA to keep quiet until the announcement. Veritest, at least, has a reputation to uphold as a fair, independant, tester.
  • by nuckin futs ( 574289 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @10:18PM (#6322732)
    Intel (and others) could dispute every benchmark out there, but no matter how fast a P4 or Xeon is, it has one major problem which prevents me from buying one...
    It still can't run OS X.
    And no...rumors about an Intel based Mac running OS X deep inside Apple HQ doesn't count.
  • by Llywelyn ( 531070 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @11:00PM (#6322879) Homepage
    "This is true to a certain extent, but how is it for them who absolutely need to use a penis that is as big as possible to get their work done as fast as possible?"

    Then either:

    1) A 10% difference is not going to matter.

    2) They are going to use clusters, which mitigates the speed hit of the single system dramatically.

    3) They will likely be looking at those things which are specific to what they are doing.

    That being said, for the vast majority of people buying systems, a slight speed difference is not going to matter.

    I do mathematical modeling, the ability to run those models faster is great, however, I cannot afford the best-of-the-best and the speed is not my primary concern--just /a/ concern. I imagine that most people in the market for scientific apps (mathematica users, matlab users, &c) fall under that same category.

    " Thanks to the technology speed improvements over the years we've been able to watch crystal sparkling quality movies on our computer screens, play pirated betas of Doom 3 and download porn faster."

    Absolutely true and completely irrelevant.

    The original poster said:

    "does it really matter if Intel, AMD, or Apple is the slightly faster computer?"

    This, as well as what I said above, do not say "speed doesn't matter": we are saying "speed is not the most important thing that there is and a slight difference between the systems is not worth worrying about"
  • What a joke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coolmacdude ( 640605 ) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @11:36PM (#6323027) Homepage Journal
    I stopped reading the article when I got to the subtitle where it refers to Apple as a "Cupertino Fruit Company." Look, Mr. White, if you aren't even going to show any respect at all and even mock one of the companies in your so called comparison, how do you expect anyone to take you're evaluation seriously?
  • by ahknight ( 128958 ) * on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:01AM (#6323122)
    Because, perhaps, they couldn't trust SPEC to withhold the information long enough to keep the G5 s surprise? Perchance? Anyhow, I'd expect to see something around the time the G5 actually ships.

    Silly pundits ... brains are for kids!
  • by nettdata ( 88196 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @01:16AM (#6323406) Homepage
    A lot of people seem to be making a big deal out of benchmarks, but at the end of the day, I'm still going to buy the thing because it's the fastest Mac on the planet, and I don't care HOW it compares to other chips/boxes.

    The only comparison I'm interested in is how it does against the G4... and it ROCKS.

    Now I'm just waiting for a dual proc G5 XServe to be released...


  • by MrTangent ( 652704 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @02:49AM (#6323655)
    " IMO, for desktop systems, if you can't build it yourself why bother? I can build a comparable PC based system for far less money than what these things will be going for."
    You could probably build your own car but it won't compete style-wise or reliable-wise (or probably even performance-wise) with one built by Porsche.

    If everything was always about cost then we'd all be driving Yugos.
  • by caleugene ( 531964 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @06:43AM (#6324108)
    Spin doctoring Apple's spin doctoring...classy.

    Charlie White is quick to rattle off about Apple's marketing practices, but he seems to forget how, oh, the rest of the industry does this too. It's standard practice.

    AMD would have you believe their chips are 3200+ fast...whatever that means. As if Quantispeed isn't the current biggest marketing annoyance on the planet...I mean how can AMD sit around trying to convince people of the MHz Myth when they can't even convince themselves...forcing themselves to use Pseudo-Hertz...

    And lovable Intel...with their NetBurst makes the internet zippier! Or HyperPipeline Technology. It must be good...

    If Charlie White really wants to convince people the G5 sucks, he should be a little more candid about his bias.
  • by saden1 ( 581102 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:35AM (#6324961)
    <<And when the industry/economy pick back up, expect the computer prices to go back to previous, $1000+ levels. And when this happens, Apple will be much more price competitive.>>

    Sorry but that argument doesn't hold true. If PC prices increase so will Apple's prices. Apple likes the exclusivity of their products and will continue to market to its wealthy/fanboy demographics.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @02:15PM (#6325747) Journal
    Perhaps not much, but I bill out for a couple of hundred bucks/hr, so the time I'd spend assembling a box myself makes the 'build your own' approach rather silly.

  • by li99sh79 ( 678891 ) <sam AT cosmic-hippo DOT org> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @04:42PM (#6326461) Homepage Journal


    All quality products at super low cost.

    uh-huh, so where's your 17" lcd, DVD-R drive, operating system, and .life suite of apps in that little cost analysis there? Like somebody else said, Apple doesn't make low-end computers, and they ain't forcing you to buy what they make either.

  • by PetWolverine ( 638111 ) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @06:34PM (#6327017) Journal
    You're right, actually. Macs aren't PC at all. It's much more PC to get a Windows PC...oh, wait...

    You know, when you don't define what an acronym stands for, you can say a lot about what it does or does not apply to, and none of it means anything. Around here, PC usually stands for Personal Computer, a category which clearly includes Macs.
  • by AvantLegion ( 595806 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:25AM (#6328500) Journal
    Isn't it "ironic" that the vast majority of users that argue over benchmarks are NOT people that run tasks where the +/- 5% differences would make a difference?

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @04:29AM (#6329162) Journal
    The "but it's cheaper than a Dell PC" mantra is a nice one. Too bad it ain't true.

    The flawed part is that you assume I'd actually need all those features. E.g.,:

    - Do I need a DVD writer? Dunno about you, but I don't. (And if I did, I could get a better performing and cheaper model for the PC.)

    - Do I need dual _Xeons_? That's already funny. For the casual PC user a normal P4 is more than enough.

    So let's do an actual comparison between a high end Dell PC and a Mac, shall we?

    Dell: 3 GHz P4, 512 MB DDR400, Radeon 9800 Pro, SoundBlaster Audigy 2, 200 GB hard drive (7200 RPM), 16x DVD drive, 48x/24x/48x CD/RW drive, 17" flat panel display, no speakers, Windows XP Professional

    It costs... $2,738

    Mac: 1800 MHz G5, 512 MB DDR 400, Radeon 9800 Pro, 160 GB hard drive (7200 RPM), Apple 17" flat panel, no modem, CD-RW/DVD combo

    It costs... $3,219

    So please, gimme a break. The Apple configuration there is both under-performing and over-priced, compared to Dell's offering. In fact, about 500$ overpriced.

    Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against buying expensive designer stuff. I'm not against conspicuous consumption, either. But please do check the actual prices before claiming stuff like "but a Mac is actually cheaper than a Dell". That's simply not true, in any shape or form.
  • by CompVisGuy ( 587118 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @06:56AM (#6329447)
    I just ran a similar comparison on the UK Dell and Apple stores: Putting together a single processor G5 Apple sytem comes in about £200 more expensive than the Dell system. This is largely due to the cost of Apple's displays (whilst I think they are far superior to the LCD displays I've seen for PCs, they are damned expensive).

    However, I don't agree with your assertion that the PC you specced is "high-end", or that compared to the PC, the G5 system is 'under-performing'.

    This is a matter of opinion, but a high-end system in my mind would have more processing power than just a single P4 (we're talking a dual-Xeon system really, in PC-speak), would have more than 512MB RAM and would have a DVD burner.

    As for performance, check out these graphics from Apple []: DNA sequence matching performance [] and Hidden Markov Model performance []. The work that I do is *very* similar to these scientific applications -- and the difference in performance is extreme. This is probably due to the 64-bit architecture and high CPU-RAM bandwidth (about 4 times that of a PC).

    So, for these systems, which you consider "high spec", the Apple is about £200 more expensive than the PC, but is likely to perform about 5 times better on the type of scientific computation that I do. The £200 doesn't seem so expensive now.

    I just specced out two high-spec (my definition) systems, one Apple (dual G5), one PC (dual 3GHz Xeon). The Apple system costs £3,000 and the Dell system costs £3,234 (both include the manufacturers' best warranties). Again, looking at Apple's benchmarks, the G5 system out-performs the dual Xeons by far.

    But let's be realistic. A computer is just a tool. Some people will need a PC because of corporate policy, because they need to run Windows-specific software, or one of a hundred other reasons. One just needs to work out what one needs, and then buy the system. Me: I'd go for the Mac at the moment for three main reasons: performance, price and the integration between hardware and software.

  • by wukie ( 684014 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:30PM (#6336238)
    Seems to me everyone is full of sh!t.

    I'm waiting till people can actually test the G5 and see if they feel that their "hard earned cash" was well spent or not.

    I'm not interested whether the Dual Opteron is faster in benchmarks. I want to know whether the new G5 can do the job better or not. This obviously includes such things as MacOSX, available applications, stability (reboot and redoing work), maintanence (virus checking and security updates), etc.

    If Opteron based systems ran MacOSX or an equivalently supported OS, then benchmarks would be one of many deciding factors.

    The rest is just tripe.

"In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved." -- Butler