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13-Inch MacBook Benchmarks 3

3D application performance By Dave Nagel
Nobody expects the 13-inch MacBook to be a 3D powerhouse. Nevertheless, there are those who need to take their 3D work on the road and might not be able to afford a MacBook Pro. And so it would be helpful for those folks to know what they might expect. Well, what they might expect might, in fact, be less than what the MacBook can deliver, at least with native software.

For this suite of benchmarks, we look at three 3D programs running on the 13-inch MacBook--Cinema 4D, LightWave and Maya. This machine is powered, of course, by a dual-core Intel Core Duo processor running at 2.0 GHz, which, as you'd expect, can deliver impressive results on software written natively for Intel hardware. But it also lacks the dedicated graphics of the MacBook Pro line, and so it falls short in OpenGL hardware performance.

Before we get started, if you'd like to view our previous 13-inch MacBook benchmarks, you'll find them at the links below.

? 13-Inch MacBook Benchmarks 1: Final Cut Studio
? 13-Inch MacBook Benchmarks 2: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects

For these tests, all of the applications were running under Mac OS X. (We'll look at Windows performance in a future article.) Of these three applications, only Maxon's Cinema 4D is written natively for Intel hardware. NewTek LightWave and Autodesk Maya are written for PowerPC, and so they run in emulation (via Apple's Rosetta) on the MacBook hardware. This means serious crippling in terms of performance.

Let's take a look at the numbers.

Maxon Cinema 4D
For our Cinema 4D tests, we're running Maxon's own benchmarking utility, which tests various hardware components in terms of functions performed in Cinema 4D: CPU rendering power, OpenGL hardware acceleration, OpenGL software performance and Cinema 4D shading. You can download Cinebench from to compare these results with your own hardware.

Our tests here show the MacBook running Mac OS X and comparing the results with the MacBook Pro running both Mac and Windows operating systems, two Apple G5s and various other pieces of hardware.

The MacBook's CPU score managed to beat out the MacBook Pro running Windows, but fell short of the MacBook Pro running Mac OS X. It clearly beat out the dual 2.0 GHz G5 but fell short of all the other systems tested. Obviously these results show off the raw CPU power of the MacBook, which uses the same chip as the MacBook Pro.

In terms of OpenGL hardware acceleration, as expected, the MacBook came in last place against all other systems, although it wasn't all that far off the dual G5, which was loaded with an ATI Radeon 9600 (256 MB) for these tests.

There are some surprises in the area of OpenGL software. Here the 13-inch MacBook came close to matching the MacBook Pro (running Windows) and even beat out both G5 systems, one of which was a fully loaded G5 Quad.

Somehow it also beat out all of the systems except the G5 Quad in the category of Cinema 4D shading. The Quad barely edged out the MacBook.

NewTek LightWave
LightWave is obviously going to be a different story. As an application that has not yet been ported to Intel-based Mac hardware, it has to run under Rosetta, and the lag caused by emulation is considerable. It came in last place in all of the tests against Mac hardware.

Here are the numbers. Explanations of the tests follow. Note that the results for the MacBook Pro are given twice: once in emulation in Mac OS X and once in Windows.

All of these tests are based on rendering times on scenes that are included with LightWave.

Test 1 rendered out the scene called Radiosity_BOX.lws (/Content/Scenes/Benchmark/). It contains 7,294 polygons and renders at 600 x 600 with anti-aliasing set to "Low" and radiosity turned on.

The second scene is SunsetSample.lws (/Content/Scenes/). This is the simplest of the scenes tested and includes one polygon with four points. It's rendered with no anti-aliasing and no radiosity.

The third test involved the scene called Teapot.lws (/Content/Scenes/Benchmark/). It contains 25,938 polygons and renders with anti-aliasing set to "medium." Radiosity is off for this test.

The fourth test uses The_Matrix5.lws (/Content/Scenes/Abstract/). This is the most processor-intensive of all the tests. It involves 24,288 polygons and renders with anti-aliasing set to "enhanced low" and radiosity off. The render resolution is 800 x 400. The MacBook took a horrifying 5 hours, 12 minutes and change to render this scene. It took the MacBook Pro a little more than 4 hours, 45 minutes to render a single frame of this scene under Rosetta, while it took the Windows version a scant two hours. The G5 Quad did it in a ridiculous 43 minutes.

The final test involved depth of field. It uses the Virus_DOF.lws scene (/content/Scenes/Surface/). Again, no contest between the MacBook and the other systems tested.

Autodesk Maya
Our Maya tests are also pitiful for the poor MacBook. Maya, like LightWave, has not yet been ported to Intel hardware for Mac OS X. It lost out in every single test to every other piece of hardware. However, if you look at the results of the slightly more powerful MacBook Pro, you can see the potential for Maya on the 13-inch MacBook once it is finally ported.

Here are the numbers. Explanations follow.

Test 1 involved rendering a smoke-filled scene at 320 x 240 with highest-quality anti-aliasing.

Test 2 rendered a fog scene at 200 x 200 with anti-aliasing set to high quality.

Test 3 used a scene with a soft-body object and particles. It was rendered at 640 x 480 with anti-aliasing set to high quality.

Test 4 involved rendering a cutaway scene of a building that included a number of several objects. It was rendered at 768 x 415 with anti-aliasing set to "highest quality."

And the final test involved rendering a complex object at 720 x 486 with anti-aliasing again set to "highest quality."

In all cases, the MacBook was trounced by the other systems, although you can see that it's only slightly slower than the MacBook Pro at rendering Maya scenes under Mac OS X.

Our third suite of benchmarks on the 13-inch MacBook show mixed results. On the one hand, we have Cinema 4D, which is the only major 3D app currently running natively on Intel hardware for the Mac. In this case, the MacBook turned in shockingly respectable figures for rendering and software OpenGL and shading. But, as expected, the OpenGL hardware results fell well short of the other systems, since the MacBook is equipped just with an Intel graphics processor.

For the non-native apps, the results were completely expected. The MacBook couldn't match any other system in rendering tests because it was having to render Maya and LightWave scenes in software that wasn't written for the hardware. We'd expect much stronger results in software written natively for the MacBook.

Up next in our benchmark tests, we'll take a look at Windows software running on the MacBook. In the meantime, if you have any further questions, be sure to drop me a line or visit me in one of the forums listed below.

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Related Keywords:apple macbook, benchmarks, 13 inch macbook, 3d, cinema 4d, cinebench, lightwave, alias, rosetta


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