All Macs In-Depth Tests

The Performance Edge: Dual Processors, Gaming And OS X - In Terms Of Performance The Gigahertz Machine Is A Giant Killer!

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Quality games for Mac OS X are beginning to show up in force. One of the recent ones is called Giants by game developer Planet Moon Studio and released for the Mac by game publisher MacPlay. It is an innovative game, not only in looks, theme, gameplay and temperament, but also technologically. Underneath the hood it takes, shall we say, giant steps forward.

Giants is an OS X native application, and for those of you keeping score, this native don't do OS 9. That's right it is OS X only software. Not only that, but it is written to take full advantage of Apple's top of the line hardware, namely the dual processor G4 Gigahertz Power Mac. If you have a dual processor machine the game will utilize both processors and turn in about a 50% performance improvement over a single processor machine of the same speed. This is courtesy of the folks at The Omni Group who added the multi-CPU support to Giants... the Intel version doesn't have it. According to Wil Shipley President, The Omni Group, to his knowledge this is the first time a game port has also added multi-processing ability to the game being ported.

The game is very resource intensive, and even on the Dual processor machine frame rates for the most part are not through the roof. But it ran well on the two new Tower Macs listed below. Both the Dual Gigahertz machine and 933 MHz one have the exact same graphics card with the same amount of video memory.

Without further ado we give you the Giants slayer.....

Difference and similarities in processor and memory systems of each machine

  Power Mac G4/933 Power Mac Dual G4/1GHz

Additional Resources

Check prices at:


Processors G4/933 2 x G4/1000
L2 Cache 256k @ 933 MHz 256k @ 1 GHz
L3 Cache 2 MB @ 233 MHz DDR 2 MB @ 250 MHz DDR
Memory 768 MB PC 133 1 GB PC 133
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX with 64MB of DDR SDRAM NVIDIA GeForce4 MX with 64MB of DDR SDRAM
Drive 60 GB @ 7200 rpm 80 GB @ 7200 rpm
Operating System 10.1.2 10.1.2
Price $2,299 $2,999

Giving Giants Its Due

We ran three sets of tests on these two machines. The three games settings were High Quality (all the goodies turned on ... which is the default setting of the game), Medium Quality (we dialed down about half of the settings), and Low Quality (almost everything we either turned off or put on the lowest setting possible). There was actually not a dramatic amount of difference in frame rates between these three settings. Once the game was running we obtained frame rates in three ways. The Average Frame Rate was determined by starting the default game and having the character "Baz" stand there just looking out over the ocean for a minute or so. This is a semi complex scene but probably a tad low to call it the Average frame rate ... but it was the best way we could think of to get comparative numbers.

Then we took the fellow out for a jog around the scene, using the same route each time, and recorded both the highest and lowest frame rates. The highest frame rate number is pretty much for fun. You are not going to get this number very often, unless your idea of great game play is running around in a circle looking at the same patch of grass! You will run into the lowest frame rate more often, as scenes and action becomes more complex.

Though the relative scores paint a good comparative picture, the frame rate numbers you will get will vary, but should fall between the numbers listed below.

Giants At High Quality Setting


Actual fps - 933: 26 fps .... Dual GHz: 46 fps

Actual fps - 933: 62 fps .... Dual GHz: 110 fps

Actual fps - 933: 13.5 fps .... Dual GHz: 22 fps

Giants At Medium Quality Setting

Actual fps - 933: 28 fps .... Dual GHz: 48 fps

Actual fps - 933: 74 fps .... Dual GHz: 112 fps

Actual fps - 933: 16 fps .... Dual GHz: 25.5 fps

Giants At Low Quality Setting

Actual fps - 933: 29.5 fps .... Dual GHz: 50 fps

Actual fps - 933: 78 fps .... Dual GHz: 140 fps

Actual fps - 933: 18.4 fps .... Dual GHz: 31 fps