Apple PowerMac

Self Help | The Magazine | Downloads | Links | Tips & Advice | Help! I'm new | Contact Us | Subscribe | Home  

Inside the magazine
Self-help message board
Article reprints
How to contact us
Web links directory
Software downloads
Tips and advice
Fire-wire campaign
Subscribe today
Help Me, I'm new!
Fair pricing petition

In Software Downloads:
Adobe Premiere 6 (trial)
Paint Shop Pro 7 (trial)

Tips and Advice:
How to get started with computer video editing

Fire-wire Campaign:
Join our ongoing campaign

Apple dual-1GHz PowerMac

Multiprocessor 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 Macintosh.

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 user.

Hard facts
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.

Steven Hood

For the full review, see the August 2002 issue of Computer Video.

Recent features...
View The Archive

Reviewed in August's issue:

Apple dual-1Ghz PowerMac
Sonic Foundry Vegas Video 3
Red Submarine laptop

In August's news:

Premiere 6.updates
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

Contact Us | Subscribe | Home (c) WVIP. Designed by Mark Newman.