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Macs are nothing new, but Mac OS X looks like it will finally allow
their full potential to be realised. We take an in-depth look at the
most powerful Mac to date - the dual-1GHz processor G4 Quicksilver Power
It was only this
year that Apple announced the first Macintosh computer to reach the
gigahertz barrier. For Windows PC users, the barrier had been breached
a good while back but, for Mac users, it was a long-awaited milestone.
The first 1GHz Mac was kitted out with two 1GHz processors, and it is
this machine we are looking at here. To try to put things in context,
we will be comparing the performance of the dual 1GHz PowerMac with
that of an AMD dual XP2000+ processor computer. This isnít quite
comparing Apples with apples, but the comparisons are a good guide,
nonetheless, to what Windows and Macintosh have to offer the more demanding
The 1GHz dual-processor Mac is a sleek Quicksilver model, that looks
distinctly different to the first range of graphite G4 PowerMacs. Even
so, the basic case design is the same, with handles at each corner and
a unique ñ and incredibly useful ñ side panel that swings
down, giving easy access to all the upgradeable bits inside.
The motherboard is dominated by a large heat sink above the two processors.
To further aid cooling of the processors, a fan is fitted to extract
heat through the rear of the case. In use, the Mac was only marginally
noisier than previous G4 Macs, which were nearly silent in operation.
In contrast, the AMD dual machine was very noisy. The larger chip size
of AMD and Intel processors means there is more heat generated, and
cases need to be very well ventilated. The supplied Wallingford Electronics
full tower case housing the two AMD processors has four fans, plus another
on the power supply. Consequently, the fan noise is very noticeable.
Noise levels are not usually compared when talking Mac and Windows,
but silence is golden when trying to concentrate on the job at hand,
and although there are third-party, silent fans available, they are
seldom included on retail systems. If audio work is part and parcel
of the computer job description, ambient noise is a major consideration.
Our tests werenít exhaustive but do provide food for thought
for those considering a dual-processor solution on Mac or Windows. They
donít totally dispel the MHz myth, but do very much show that
processor speed is only one factor in the performance equation. What
isnít in doubt is that dual systems can make a big difference
to the workflow of the video editor. How much will depend on the full
scope of activities undertaken. For basic cutting together of rushes
with the odd, simple title overlay, then a dual-processor option may
be overkill. But if media encoding, compositing and effects are required,
the extra processing power will be a great time-saver.
With the price differential so small between the Mac and Windows dual
systems, weíd be surprised if the Mac user looking for a fast
machine would consider anything other than Appleís beautifully
engineered and tightly integrated dual G4 solution ñ even while
hoping that the next generation machines do have faster processors and
system components. But the unadulterated power of AMD-based machines
will appeal to professional Windows editors and those with no platform
preferences, underlining Appleís need to push beyond the 1GHz
boundary, even while continuing to explain that processor speed isnít
a true indicator of performance.
For the full review,
see the August 2002 issue of Computer Video.
Reviewed in August's issue:
Sonic Foundry Vegas Video 3
Red Submarine laptop
In August's news:
Philips cuts DVD burner price
Canopus analogue digital converter card
Edition DV now compatible with OHCI
Low-cost Leef FireWire drive bays
USB capture 'cable' from Pinnacle
Pinnacle adds DVD authoring
Sony MicroMV camcorder support
TerraTec £50 DVD authoring bundle
WD 200GByte EIDE hard disk
Canopus £230 analogue/DV editing card
Pinnacle sub-£70 TV tuner card trio