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Mac vs. PC IV

Mac gets beaten again, but it's a closer race this time By Charlie White

Mac vs. PC IV by Charlie WhiteSince we last tested an Apple Power Mac G5 nearly a year ago (May, 2004), Apple upgraded the processors inside to 2.5GHz, and added an innovative liquid cooling system to make sure the super-hot chips stay cool. Other than that, the computer is identical to the one we tested last year. Its still an excellent machine in every way. However, those who think its faster than any PC might want to take a look at our benchmark tests. For Adobe After Effects users, its now an even closer call when trying to choose between Mac versus PC.

When I first laid eyes on the Power Mac G5, I was pleased with its sophisticated design and user-friendly features. I was also impressed with its significantly faster speed compared with its Mac G4 predecessor. My positive feelings about the G5 still hold true today, and I have little to add to my glowing review, written just after the G5s debut. If youd like to read that review, take a look at it here.

Fast-forward to September of last year (2004), when I reviewed a new Dell product, the Precision Workstation 470 with two Intel Xeon 3.6GHz chips inside. It blew through our After Effects tests faster than any computer Id seen. The only drawback I found with the computer was its price, a whopping $5493 when it was first released. But that was six months ago since then its price has plummeted more than $1000. Coincidentally, its price as configured ($4426) is almost exactly the same as that of the Apple Power Mac G5 ($4449) we just received here at the Midwest Test Facility. Since the two machines are only $26 apart, I decided this would be a perfect time to satisfy dozens of e-mail requests, asking us to compare the fastest Mac with the fastest PC. So here goes.

To test the two computers against each other, we chose a battery of Adobe After Effects compositions that exercise a variety of areas inside the computer. If youre not familiar with After Effects, its a software package that allows artists to combine multiple video elements and create all types of special effects. Content creators working on many major motion pictures and television programs use After Effects on a daily basis. The most important factor about these After Effects benchmarks is that they test the speed of the processors and the subsystems within the computer. The After Effects benchmarks are most significant for those who use After Effects every day. For them, time is money. After Effects is an extraordinary program, but its main weakness is that its too slow. So, if you have a fast computer, After Effects feels like a whole different animal.

Beyond the benchmarks, Ive also included cross-platform benchmarks called CineBench, which measure the computers ability to handle 3D effects and animations. The computers performance in these benchmarks is also a reliable indicator of how it will behave in the real world. Finally, Ive included two other cross-platform benchmarks by After Effects guru Brian Maffitt, called TotalBenchmarks. This is a series of exercises which Maffitt believes fairly tests the full capabilities of both Macs and PCs when using After Effects.  

These benchmarks are most useful for After Effects users, but they can also indicate to others what kind of power theyre dealing with when using these two different platforms. What were measuring here is raw speed; these data wont tell you much about the usability of the operating system, or the variety of applications available for that particular platform. Those are separate issues, and are best decided by individual users in accordance with their needs and work style. However, if youre always in a hurry when trying to get your work done, youll want to take a close look at these benchmarks because a faster computer can save you time and money. 

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Related Keywords:Apple Power Mac G5 2.5GHz, liquid cooling system, PC, benchmark tests, Adobe After Effects, Mac versus PC, Mac vs. PC, Dell Precision Workstation 470

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