APRIL 21, 2003
Apple 17-Inch PowerBook G4
In case you haven't noticed, these specs are pretty similar to Apple's desktop line, aside from the limitation on maximum RAM. This is not a stripped-down version of a Macintosh, crippled by the limitations of heat, power consumption and and form factor. This is truly a notebook-sized workstation with no compromises. Although it only has one processor, it will match the performance of some of Apple's desktop workstations in a variety of software tests.
Let's talk about graphics performance first. A good test of this is Maxon's newly released Cinebench 2003. While it doesn't seem to be useful for comparing performance between Macintosh and WIndows platforms, it can provide adequate comparisons between various system configurations within a single platform. In this case, I tested the 17-inch PowerBook against a dual 1 GHz G4 desktop (PC133 memory). Obviously, the PowerBook can't compete on the dual-processor level, since it has but one. But for graphics, it was neck and neck with the desktop, which is equipped with an Nvidia GeForce4 MX.[an error occurred while processing this directive]In all cases, higher results are better. For Cinema 4D shading, both had a score of 117CB-GFX. In the OpenGL SW-L test, the PowerBook scored 319CB-GFX, while the desktop scored 327. And, in the OpenGL HW-L test, the PowerBook scored 164CB-GFX, while the desktop scored 170. So, in graphics performance for software and OpenGL, the two machines are certainly comparable.
Now, what about processor performance? Let's take a look at some comparisons.
Our first set of tests involves render times in Adobe After Effects 5.5. Each of the four tests uses different footage and effects. The render times are measured in seconds. As you'd expect, with its faster overall architecture, the PowerBook 17-inch proved to be slightly more powerful than the older 1 GHz Titanium model.
The second test involves Adobe Photoshop 7.0. These tests all include different filters, image operations and transformations run as Photoshop actions. Results are measured in seconds. (Note that the PC133 dual 1 GHz G4 is excluded from these Photoshop tests.) The 17-inch PowerBook was slightly slower than the older 1 GHz Titanium PowerBook overall, though the differences were slight.
Finally, we look at Discreet Combustion. Here you'll see a much wider spread between single- and dual-processor systems, since Combustion uses multiple processors quite efficiently. Like the other tests, the Combustion tests measure render times in seconds. As with After Effects, the Combustion Tests show the newer PowerBook edging ahead in render speeds, with dramatic increases when rendering shorter projects.
So, as you can see, while processor performance for render-intensive tasks isn't quite the equal of the desktop G4s, it's up there. And with common applications that don't take particular advantage of dual processors, the PowerBook gives you just about all the juice that you'd be able to get out of a dual-processor desktop machine. If you need a mobile workstation, the 17-inch PowerBook is the way to go.
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