All Macs In-Depth Tests
From The Power Mac G4/800 To The Power Mac Dual G4/1.25 GHz- A Performance Review


By David Engstrom

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Additional Resources

Past Performance Results In This Category
Power Mac Buyer's Guide
Power Mac InfoZone
Power Mac Specifications & Features
iMac/eMac Performance
PowerBook /iBook Performance
Performance of All Macintoshes

Below you will find performance results for the currently shipping Power Mac Towers, and a some from previous generations. This will hopefully give you an impression of relative performances. We will be adding new machines on an on-going basis ... so check back once in a while.

The current crop of Power Macs were tested when running OS 10.2 .. the operating system they shipped with. Likewise the earlier machines were tested running the version of OS X they shipped with. However the scores for the earlier machines are relative, rather than absolute. The relative scores should be fairly accurate. Just keep in mind that the marks for the older machines may be 'in the ballpark', rather than spot on.

Of all the machines listed below, only the 800 MHz one shipped without a L3 cache. This has given it slightly lower scores in some of the tests.

For a full listing of the differing specifications of each machines check the Power Mac Specs Pages

As you'll see in the performance results below, the 1.25 GHz machine, for the most part, is the only tower that really pulls away from  the pack. However you pay a hefty price premium for this performance. The top of the line machine is $1,600 more than the dual 867 MHz machine. You might have trouble convincing the Boss that you need an upgrade if you have a fairly recent Professional Power Mac.

If you are in a production type environment and have a strategy for utilizing all the power that this crop of Dual Processor Towers put at your disposal, the machines will pay for themselves. You should take note though that in most of the test below huge amounts of processing potential was left unused by the applications we ran. For example our QuickTime DV encode only used 60% of the processing capability of the 1.25 GHz Mac. 40% of its processing power sat there twiddling its thumbs waiting to dance. To utilized these machines to the max you need to keep them fed with data. Our testing indicates this means running multiple jobs at once. This is now something that is quite easy and efficient to do with OS X. But it requires some planning on your part.

Individual Tests

The tests below are from our suite of real world application tests. These tests feature a diverse selection of applications commonly used by the Mac community. The test suite was designed to render an accurate and well rounded picture of a machine's performance. All of the tests below (with the exception of the game test) were timed with a stopwatch. The times were then converted to percentages relative to the Dual Processor G4/1 GHz released in January of 2002. This machine is set to 100%. For all scores higher numbers are better

Desktop Tests


Booting Classic under OS 10.2 (Jaguar) is much faster than under previous versions of OS X. Booting Classic on the 1.25 GHz machine took only 18 seconds


The copy folder test not only stresses drive performance, but also takes advantage of faster processing capability & caching schemes. The new models really outshine the previous crop. This can make a lot of difference to how responsive your system feels

In the single file test the the processor & caching capability of the machine is less of a factor

Drive performance appears to be the prime mover here

Only those machines with CD burning capability could be tested. No surprise here. Machines with the SuperDrive burn CDs slower. The 4 machines on the top have a burn speed that max out at 8X. The 800 MHz max out at 24X. And the 867 MHz at burns at up to 16X.

The test above creates and destroys 1,000 windows. See the Let1kWindowsBloom site for more info. For some reason there is not very much variation in the scores for this test. However we found about a 13% performance improvement moving from OS 10.1 to 10.2

Large document is scrolled from one end to the other using Classic OS 9 when booted in OS 10. This test gauges on-screen graphics performance. We think that the performance of the 800 MHz machine is hurt to a certain degree in this test and the one above, because of it's lack of a L3 cache

Large Document & Database Type Tests

A Macro (series of complex actions) was run in Microsoft's Word program. Word is part of Office X

A Macro (series of complex actions) was run in Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet program. Excel is part of Office X

This test takes place in a large AppleWorks document. Here you see the 800 MHz machine also turning in a lower score. Again we believe due to the lack of a L3 backside cache

Jaguar's new File Search function relies on both processor and drive performance

Number Crunching & Rendering Tests

A Ripple Effect is applied to an iMovie .. a processor intensive task

The Fractal program has been highly tuned to take advantage of the G4 and is precisely the type of work that the G4 was made for. It will also gobble up whatever processing capability is present. This is a good test for assessing the fundamental processing potential of each machine. Really highlights the processing advantage of a dual processor machines.

Encoding/Decoding Tests

A Sorenson encode compresses a QuickTime movie for streaming on the Web .. another processor intensive task, but one that does not take advantage of dual processors. However on the high-end machine only 50% of the processing capacity was being utilized by the encode leaving you 50% for other tasks

Converting QuickTime movies to DV allows you to import them into iMovie. Dual processors shine here. The top machine is utilizing 60% of its processing capacity

CD-ROM drive speed and CPU processing power are the factors influencing the scores above. Our assumption is that the CD drive speed is the bottleneck in the top of the line Power Macs above. The top four machines have the SuperDrive which max out at a read speed of 24X. On the top machine 65% of the processing potential of the machine was being utilized.

As you can see by the consistency of the numbers, this is straight processing work. Dual processors are not a factor as Stuffit only makes use of one


QuickTime DV Encode and MP3 Encode performed at the same time. Dual Processor machines rule the day

MP3 Encode, AppleWorks search & replace and folder copy are all carried out at the same time. If you need to have your computer carry out multiple activities at the same time, a dual processor machine will definitely get you there faster.

QuickTime Sorenson encode and Fractal render are both carried out at the same time. The Dual processor 1.25 GHz Power Mac is almost twice as fast as the single processor 933 MHz. 100% of the processing capability of each machine was utilized.


Giants is tuned to take advantage of the processor. Indeed, when run on a dual processor machine, you will see Giants fly ahead of the same game running on a single processor machine. It  also helps to have a better graphics card. The 1.25 GHz machine turned in 55 frames per second the 800 MHz machine 18.3

Past Performance Results In This Category