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Review: Powerlogix's 1GHz G4 Upgrade for the Cube
Tests vs Original G4/450 and Dual G4/500
By Mike
Published: 8/19/2002
Real World Performance Tests
Intro | Benchmarks  | Apps Tests | Game Tests | Installation | Specs/Design
Applications Performance Tests


Note: This review used the 1MB L3 cache version. New models have 2MB of L3 cache in the 1GHz and 800MHz models. Also, as of 2003, PL says that the currently shipping upgrades should have firmware enabled L3 cache without needing the enabler software required for this early sample.


This page lists test results in common Mac applications like iMovie2, iTunes3, Photoshop 7.0, Appleworks, and time to boot tests. It also includes a multitasking test using iTunes3 playback/visuals while downloading a large file via a high-speed internet connection. (The system is doing Audio, Video, Disk and Network I/O simultaneously.)

Note: During several days of tests and use, the only issues I experienced with the Powerlogix upgrade (early 1MB L3 sample w/o firmware enabled L3 cache) was the following:

  • Waking the system from sleep would not wake the Cinema DVI display (OS 9 and OS X)
    (No video, display still in sleep mode.) The display would wake from its sleep however, as I have the Cinema display set to turn off after 5 minutes of inactivity, and pressing a key or moving the mouse woke the display properly.
  • Launching Classic in OS X generated a crash of OS 9 at startup that was fixed by a beta2 version of the OS 9 enabler. (I'm just mentioning this in case any current owners are running the beta 1 enabler - ask Powerlogix for the update.)

I've reported these items to Powerlogix. They may be addressed in the future with a software or firmware update. (The L3 enabler versions I used were betas, but were stable in use except for the above issues.)

Note: As of 2003, PL says that the shipping upgrades should have firmware enabled L3 cache without needing the enabler software required for this early sample. This might have affected the wake from sleep issue in my opinion, although PL has disagreed with me on that opinion.

iMovie 2 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 Medium" settings. (By using the tutorial with no variables like transitions, it's something everyone can easily test with their own systems.) The latest versions of iMovie 2 for OS 9 and OS X 10.1.x were used. Quicktime 6.0 (Pro) was installed.

iMovie2 QT Export Test Results

As I expected, the 1GHz CPU upgrade dramatically reduced the time required, even compared to the dual G4/500. (As shown in the past here, iMovie 2 doesn't take advantage of dual CPUs, even in OS X).

iTunes MP3 Conversion
Time to convert an Audio CD outer track (5 min, 21 second) song to MP3 (192Kbs rate quality setting) using the original DVD ROM drive. (Outermost song track used to try to minimize the effect of the drive's speed, although it's actually not a bottleneck for this test.)

iTunes MP3 convert

MultiTasking: iTunes3 Playback + Visuals + High-Speed Downloading in I.E.:
To test how each CPU performed while multitasking, I decided to try something I'd personally done many times - playing a song in iTunes with the visuals on while downloading a large file. The internet connection is a cable modem (via Airport). iTunes3 Visuals was set to "large" size, show FPS and Use OpenGL enabled. Screen mode was the native 1600x1024/millions colors of the 22" Cinema display. Internet Explorer 5.2.1 was used. Downloads were from an Apple server of a large file (30MB). Rates were 230-240KB/sec (reported) during the tests of the 1GHz and Dual 500s, 135KB/sec during the single G4/450 CPU tests. I.E. was the foreground application. The graph below shows the average FPS rates shown in iTunes3 visuals during the duration of the download (while audio was playing of course).
This may not be the perfect multitasking test, but it's a) something that I commonly do in OS X and b) the system is doing Audio, Video, Disk and Network I/O simultaneously.

Multitasking iTunes Visuals

Although the 1GHz upgrade delivered twice the framerate of the original G4/450 Cube CPU, the Dual 500 was the clear winner in this test. (I was actually surprised by the large delta.)


PhotoShop 7.0 (OS X) Tests
For this review, 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.)

In addition to a graph showing total times for the filter series, as in my other reviews, I've also listed each filter, its description and the time each cpu took to complete it. (Each filter is run 3 times, the avg. is displayed in the table below. PhotoShop's timing function is used, not a stopwatch.)

PS 7 comparison

Filter-by-Filter Performance Comparisons:
The table below shows the times in seconds (avg. of 3 runs) to perform each of the 21 filter operations on the 50MB image. (Bold numbers indicate best performance for that particular filter.)

PS 7 Filter comparison

You can download the latest PSBench action script at the PSBench home page.

Time to Load Photoshop 7 (OS X) and 50MB Image File:
Just as a FYI, I timed how long it took to load the application and then a 50MB image file in OS X. (The drive was not optimized.)

PS load times

Appleworks 6.2.4 Tests
I measured the time it took to scroll from the top to the bottom of a 100 page Appleworks Newsletter document. (Multiple columns with images and text on each page.) The graph below shows how long each CPU took to complete the test. (Lower numbers are faster.)

Appleworks Scroll Tests

I included this see if scrolling performance improved (I generally use it for graphics card tests), but you normally don't buy a CPU upgrade to speed up a word processor (which most often is waiting on you during typical use).

As a FYI, I measured the time to search and replace a word in the 100 page document (1261 replacements). Considering the very short times to complete and the margin for human error in starting/stopping a stopwatch, I almost hesitated posting these results however since this test was not of enough duration to really matter. (Even though it was one of the most frequently used words in the document.)

    Search/Replace Word (1261 occur.)
  • Stock G4/450: 1.2 sec
  • Dual G4/500: 1 sec
  • PL 1GHz: 0.7 sec.

I also measured the time to load the appx 8MB file.

    Load Document:
  • Stock G4/450: 3.3 sec
  • Dual G4/500: 2.5 sec
  • PL 1GHz: 2.2 sec.

All times were rounded to the nearest 1/10th second.


Time to Boot OS 9.2.2/OS X 10.1.5
Although how long it takes to boot isn't a real factor for me personally, since I've had requests for this info in the past I'm including it here. (The exact same disk/extensions/OS version, etc. was used in this test *except* for the required Powerlogix L3 cache enabler for OS 9/OS X.) The Powerlogix 1GHz upgrade requires an L3 cache enabler, which adds a tiny bit to the startup time, although it only affected OS X boot times in my tests.

Time to Boot

Note: The OS 9 boot time to dismiss the cold boot cache error dialog was not included. (Stopwatch stopped at the appearance of the dialog and continued after pressing "OK".) As mentioned in Powerlogix's documentation and website, in OS 9 there's a cache memory error reported at cold boot (since the Mac's rom expects an external L2 cache cpu module, not the 7455's onchip 256K L2 cache/external L3 cache). The error dialog box does not occur during restarts in OS 9, or during boots into OS X. Powerlogix says they are working on a card firmware update to eliminate this cold boot error message.

The next page covers performance tests with several popular 3d Mac games. (Some of the game tests also include times to load saved game files as well as framerate tests.)

Index of PL 1GHz Upgrade Review Pages

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

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