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Accelerate Your Mac! - the source for performance news and reviews
The Source for Mac Performance News and Reviews
Review: Giga Designs G4/800 and 1GHz CPU Upgrades
By Mike
Published: 1/24/2003
3D Game Performance Tests
Intro | Benchmarks  | Apps Tests  |  Game Tests | Installation | Specs/Design
Game Performance Tests

This page lists test results in popular 3D games like Quake3, Unreal Tournament X PR3 and Return to Castle Wolfenstein.

The graphs include tests of a Mirror Drive Door (MDD) Dual 1GHz G4 system, my Digital Audio G4/533 Dual, the DA system w/Powerlogix dual 1GHz upgrade, and the DA system with the Giga Designs G4/800 (7451 with no L3 cache), the 1GHz Giga Designs model (7455 CPU w/2MB L3 cache), the Giga 1GHz model set to 800MHz (to compare 800MHz w/L3, although it's not a perfect comparison since the 800MHz G4 w/o L3 cache is a 7451 CPU.)

Quake3 Tests:
Tests were done with the latest Quake3 version (1.32) as of this review date. I used the default "High Quality" Quake3 setting w/all game options on. (Only the resolution was changed.) The Quake3 config file had only one tweak - s_chunksize was set to 4096 vs the default (for v1.32) 2048. For the dual CPU tests, r_smp was set to "1" (to use both CPUs). The single CPU results were with r_smp=0. As with every game test I've ever run on a Mac here, audio (sound) was enabled, although music volume is set to 0. (Some readers have asked about this since the GF4 Ti video card review, so I just wanted to make it clear that sound is always enabled.)

I know some are tired of seeing Quake3 scores, but it's still a popular Mac game and does show a good delta with faster CPUs (until the graphics card becomes a bottleneck, as you can see in the line graph below at the higher resolutions.) I used a line graph this time since a bar graph is too busy with this many entries and a line graph shows how consistently at higher resultions FPS rates drop as the card runs out of breath basically regardless of CPU used.

Quake3 OS X

Note: The MDD (Mirror Drive Door) Dual 1GHz system used an OEM Radeon 9000 Pro card. Unless otherwise noted, other results were using an ATI 8500 AGP card.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein Tests:
I used the RTCW Multiplayer demo first used in my PL 1GHz Cube review back in August, sent by a reader (thanks Tzunami) back then. (You can download the demo using the button in the sidebar at
(Note with v1.41, you have to change the "59" in the demo filename to "60".)

I ran tests with the "High Quality" in-game settings, audio enabled, but music volume set to 0 (and using the internal speaker).

RTCW MP Demo Tests 800x600

I then ran the same HQ settings test at 1280x1024 resolution.

RTCW MP Demo Tests 1280x1024

The 9000 Pro card performs a little better than the 8500 in RTCW at the resolutions tested. (I doubt most Mac owners play RTCW at more than 1280x1024 so I didn't test higher resolutions.)

Unreal Tournament Tests:
I used the latest UT X PR3 version as of this review date. Medium Quality settings, 1024x768 mode, music volume set to 0, decals and dynamic lighting enabled, "Min Desired FPS" set to 0.
I used UTBench rather than Wicked400, since UTBench has more varied gameplay, but still has lots of action. Framerates seen in actual play will usually be significantly higher than what is shown with the UTbench benchmark however (in my experience). However since it's impossible to play to matches the exact same way, I used UTbench for a relative comparison. (UT scores on macs have always been low, regardless of system or graphics card in my experience, but the game is a lot more playable than the UTBench scores would have you think.)

UT Bench X

Other Sources of Game Performance Comparisons:

  • The Video card reviews page lists articles and reviews with comparisons of many previous Mac 3D video cards.

  • The Systems page includes reviews of various G4/G3 systems and PowerBooks. Usually those reviews include game performance tests also.

  • The searchable Mac Game Framerates database has thousands of entries of Mac 3D game framerate reports using games like Unreal, UT, Quake1, Quake2, Quake3, etc., as well as other benchmarks. Systems range from 603e models to Apple's latest AGP/G4s. You can limit searches by game title, video card, CPU speed, Mac model (or any combination). This database can be a great tool to see what effect CPU speed and video card have on game performance.

The next page comments on installation of the CPU upgrade. Or you may use the links below to jump to a specific page.

Index of Giga Designs CPU Upgrade Review Pages

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

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