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The Performance Edge: Gumdrop vs iLamp, CRT vs Flat Panel, G4 vs G4 .... eMac vs iMac - A Performance Report

Thursday, May 30, 2002

by David Engstrom

We are going to give you a preliminary look at the performance of the G4/700 eMac. Below we compare it to the flat panel G4/700 iMac. The main difference between these two machines is their design, and the fact that the eMac has a 17 inch CRT screen, and the iMac a 15 inch flat panel one. From a performance standpoint they are nearly identical. They have the same processor with the same amount of L2 Cache, and both lack a L3 'backside' Cache. The System Bus on each machine is the same; they have the same size and type of hard drive; the CD type drive in each is identical; and they both have the same graphics card. So when you pit them against each other in speed trials who wins?

Well you won't be surprised to find out that it is pretty much a wash .... as expected. If you average all the scores below, the eMac comes out 2.5% faster over-all .... but this is within the margin of error. So you won't lose any performance points for opting for the cheaper eMac, and might gain a little ... ever so slightly.

Impressions of the eMac.

The machine is stylish in its own way, but not nearly so as the Flat Panel iMac. The front is a little plain and boxy for my taste. Apple had a lot of real estate to play with there, and they opted for simple, austere and practical. Nothing wrong with that, but I think that it is the type of design that grows on you over time, rather than jumps into your arms and saying "take me home, baby." The screen is large, and the eMac has a strong sturdy feel to it.

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This machine is well designed for the academic setting, and should be perfectly adequate, in the performance department, for all except those with exceptionally heavy processing demands. Apple has extended its 'White' motif to the eMac. The machine's casing is snow white. So is the keyboard and mouse ... just like the Flat Panel iMac. I know this is probably not true of Steve Job's own kids, but the one thing that most children have in abundance is ..... grubby fingers. Especially after a romp in the playground. Once they arrive at schools those shiny white eMacs aren't going to stay that way for long. I saw a Flat Panel iMac keyboard at a local computer store that looked as though a car mechanic had been using it in his shop ... just an indication of how heavy pawing can turn fresh snow to roadside slush. But hey I guess that's what custodial staff is for ...

Final notes

The eMac has a big fan to blow away the heat from the logic board and, more importantly, from the big 17 inch monitor. As a consequence it is somewhat noisy in operation. The eMacs are about as loud as the Tower machines. So if computer fan noise is an issue for you, check out the Flat Panel machines which are much quieter, or the Classic iMacs, which have no fan, and are almost silent when they are turned on.

The internal speakers on the eMac sound great. I popped in the game Giants, and the sound track really came alive. The sound system revealed audio details that I had not been able to pick up when running the game on other machines ... what a pleasant surprise.

Finally, if you don't have body building equipment, you can definitely use the eMac as a substitute. The machine weighs in at around 50 pounds ... the Flat Panel iMac you can carry in one hand. Unlike the previous Classic iMacs the eMac does not have handy a carrying handle.

This is another great machine from Apple, though perhaps a little more understated than most, in both design and promise.

Notes on the performance numbers below:

We are presenting you with the raw data this time around. This is not ideal, but we have limited time at the moment as we are focusing most of our time on site redesigns. We hope to bring you graphs and further performance comparisons of the this machine, as well as others, when time allows. In the meantime, the numbers below are in seconds, and lower numbers means better performance. The exception is the Giants game results , which are in Frames Per Second. Here higher numbers are better.

Difference and similarities in processor, and memory & graphics systems of each machine

**Testing machines had the following memory configurations: eMac 384 MB ... iMac 768 MB
  iMac G4/700 eMac G4/700

Additional Resources

The eMac InfoZone

eMacs Specifications

The iMac InfoZone

iMac Buyer's Guide

Macintosh Computer Reviews

Performance of Current Macs




Processors G4/700 G4/700
L2 Cache 256k @ 700 MHz 256k @ 700 MHz
L3 Cache None None
System Bus 100 MHz 100 MHz
Memory ** 256 MB PC 133 128 MB PC 133
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce2 MX with 32 MB of DDR RAM in a 2x AGP slot NVIDIA GeForce2 MX with 32 MB of DDR RAM in a 2x AGP slot
Drive 40GB Ultra ATA 40GB Ultra ATA
Optical Drive Combo - Reads DVDs at 8x, writes CD-R discs at 12x, writes CD-RW at 8x, reads CDs at 32x Combo - Reads DVDs at 8x, writes CD-R discs at 12x, writes CD-RW at 8x, reads CDs at 32x
Operating System 10.1.2 10.1.4
Price $1,599 $1,249

Machine QuickTime 5 Encode
QuickTime 5 DV Stream Encode Import DV Stream into iMovie iMovie Water Ripple Effect iTunes MP3 Encode Photoshop Scroll
eMac G4/700 294.59 181.87 26.16 237.12 162.97 26.28
iMac G4/700 297.84 182.31 41.94 244.83 165.56 26.32
- AppleWorks Search & Replace Sherlock Folder Index AltiVec Fractal Window Redraw Copy 60 MB Folder Copy 100 MB File
eMac G4/700 34.84 64.20 76.60 51.99 22.06 11.0
iMac G4/700 35.27 74.07 76.63 54.51 18.90 13.20
- StuffIt Decode Test Re-Boot Test Boot Test (Classic) Burn CD QuickTime Encode+Fractal (Multitasking) iTunes MP3 Encode+AppleWorks Search&Replace+Finder Copy (Multitasking)
eMac G4/700 14.29 56.26 43.73 92.63 619.06 244.73
iMac G4/700 14.63 53.44 40.62 95.31 620.35 255.75
- QuickTime DV Stream Encode + iTunes MP3 Encode (Multitasking) Microsoft Office X Excel Macro Microsoft Office X Word Macro Giants Average Frame Rates - Medium Quality Setting (frames per second)
eMac G4/700 398.14 84.13 124.52 15 fps
iMac G4/700 407.77 85.74 131.51 14 fps

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