APRIL 21, 2003
Apple 17-Inch PowerBook G4
1 GHz notebook computer
by David Nagel
Page 4 of 5

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.

After Effects 5.5 Tests
(All results listed in seconds.)

PowerBook 1 GHz 17-Inch
PowerBook1 GHz Titanium
Dual 1.25 GHz
Dual 1 GHz
Dual 867 MHz

Dual 1GHz (PC133)

Single 933 MHz
Test1
196
245
147
182
212
197
247
Test2
244
271
192
230
269
249
306
Test3
191
222
100
120
144
123
187
Test4
1,963
2,006
1,511
1,885
2,173
1,901
2,380
Totals
2,594
2,744
1,950
2,417
2,798
2,470
3,120


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.

Photoshop 7 Tests
(All results listed in seconds.)

PowerBook 1 GHz
PowerBook1 GHz
Dual 1.25 GHz
Dual 1 GHz
Dual 867 MHz
Single 933 MHz
Test1
9
9
6.5
8
10
9
Test2
3
5.5
4
5
7
7
Test3
87
85
61
75
95
88
Test4
8
6
6
7
9.5
10
Totals
107
105.5
77.5
95
121.5
114


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.

Combustion 2 Tests
(All results listed in seconds.)

PowerBook 1 GHz 17-Inch
PowerBook1 GHz Titanium
Dual 1.25 GHz
Dual 1 GHz
Dual 867 MHz

Dual 1GHz (PC133)

Single 933 MHz
Test1
166
317
151
181
202
205
346
Test2
385
456
292
360
415
374
495
Test3
1,704
1,709
800
977
1,155
1,038
1,701
Test4
470
412
179
218
253
240
439
Test5
1,243
1,247
619
755
881
782
1,299
Totals
3,968
4,141
2,041
2,491
2,906
2,639
4,280


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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