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Review: Giga Designs 1.4GHz CPU Upgrade
By Mike
Published: 6/13/2003
Real World Performance Tests
Intro | Benchmarks  | Apps Tests | Game Tests | Installation | Specs/Design
Applications Performance Tests

This page lists test results in common Mac applications like iMovie3, iTunes4, Photoshop 7.0, and time to convert a very large QT movie (1.92GB) to MPEG4. It also includes a multitasking test - Cinebench 2003 rendering score with iTunes3 playback from a FW drive Audio CD w/visuals running in the background (The system is doing Audio, Video and Firewire simultaneously while rendering the image.)

Although I always wish I could include more tests, these results will give you a good idea of how performance compares with these upgrade in many common tasks. I wish the Mac had the wide range of benchmarks available for the PC and that I had $1000 packages like FinalCut Pro to use for tests. (I can't justify that sort of outlay these days just for benchmarking.) However I try to use the common/popular applications that I have in tests that you can repeat.

As I mentioned on the Intro page, the Giga Design 1.4GHz upgrade has a 6:1 CPU to L3 cache bus ratio, which helps avoid the wake from sleep issue seen with previous CPU upgrades when overclocked beyond their rated speeds. The 6:1 L3 cache ratio is the reason why the OWC 1.33GHz upgrade (w/5:1 L3 ratio) set to 1.4GHz scores a tiny (% wise) bit faster in some tests than the Giga Designs 1.4GHz upgrade. However this sample would wake from sleep fine at both 1.4GHz and 1.467GHz in my Digital Audio System, where overclocked 1.25GHz and 1.33GHz models (to 1.33 and 1.4GHz respectively) would not.

Quicktime to MPEG4 Conversion
I used a very large 1.92GB (GigaByte) Quicktime movie and timed how long it took to export (convert) to MPEG4 using the default settings in Quicktime 6 (Pro). (Shorter bars are faster of course.)

QT to MPEG4 Export Test Results

Notice this QT6 Pro (v6.2) export shows no real benefit from dual CPUs. High end apps like Final Cut Pro do however, although I can't afford them for benchmarking. (Speaking of Final Cut Pro - see the comments from Giga Designs regarding certain jumper settings/speeds and FCP Real-Time Effects enabling that's noted on the Specs page of this review.)

iMovie 3 Tests
I used the same test I have since iMovie was released - stacking the 6 tutorial file clips end-to-end (no transitions) and timed how long it took to export the movie using the standard "CDROM" settings. (By using the tutorial with no variables like transitions, it's something everyone can easily test with their own systems.) I used the latest version of iMovie 3 with OS X 10.2.6. (Shorter bars/lower times are faster.)

iMovie3 QT Export Test Results

The 1.33GHz and faster upgrades are faster at this test than a MDD Dual 1GHz. (As you can see from the results, iMovie3 doesn't really take advantage of dual CPUs.)

iTunes 4 MP3 Conversion
Time to convert an Audio CD outer track (4 min, 20 second) song to MP3 (192Kbs rate quality setting) in iTunes 4.01 using a Lite-on 40x12x48x Firewire drive (oxford911 bridge case). The outermost song track used to try to minimize the effect of the drive's speed. (Shorter bars/lower times are faster.)

iTunes MP3 convert

To test how each CPU performed while multitasking, I ran CineBench 2003's rendering test while playing a song in iTunes 4 from a Firewire CD drive with the visuals running. The graph below shows the CineBench 2003 render score while multitasking. (CB2003 is Dual CPU aware, which is why the DP533 scored better than a single G4/533 would have).

Multitasking Test

PhotoShop 7.0 (OS X) Tests
I used the 50MB image file (advanced) version of the PSBench 21 filter action script. (PSBench was created as a cross-platform test years ago for Photoshop performance that anyone can download to use themselves. Not an unknown/unspecified mix of filters as often seen in some reviews/marketing, which could be chosen to include filters that performed better on a specific processor or platform. PSBench is something you can actually download and try yourself.) Each filter is run 3 times, the avg. is displayed in the table below. PhotoShop's timing function is used, not a stopwatch. For all PSbench tests, I used a History setting of 1 (minimum) and unchecked create first snapshot. PShop allocated appx 450MB of ram.
Note: the small difference in the OWC G4/1.33GHz vs the Giga Designs 1.25GHz (set to 1.33GHz) is well within the margin of run/run variation. The main advantage I saw with the OWC 1.33GHz is no wake from sleep problem at 1.33GHz.

PS 7 comparison

Due to time pressures, I did not include a table of times for each filter as I usually do - but you can see those times in the previous review of the Giga Designs 1.25GHz review (running at 1.33GHz) linked on the G4 reviews page.

The next page covers performance tests with several popular 3d Mac games.

Index of Giga Designs 1.4GHz Review Pages

Intro | Benchmarks  | Apps Tests | Game Tests | Installation | Specs/Design

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