(Update: For comparison tests of the new Radeon 8500 AGP to the GeForce3, GeForce2MX, Radeon 7500 and GeForce4MX in a Dual 1Ghz G4 - see this Radeon 8500 AGP preview.)
For the first posting of this article I'm only comparing the two available AGP graphics cards offered in the 2002 Quicksilver Macs - the ATI Radeon 7500 and the Nvidia GeForce4MX.
Due to the naming of the GeForce4MX (which is actually slower in 3D/games than the GeForce3), there has been some confusion over the new cards. (The Quake3 framerates posted at Apple's site didn't use the same system/CPU speed for the 7500 and GeForce4MX, which also made some think there was a wider difference in performance in these cards than there really is.) Therefore I'm going to try to demonstrate how these two cards compare to each other in the same system, same OS, same applications and games.
Both ATI and Nvidia have faster graphics chips than those used on these two cards. However since the GeForce4MX and the Radeon 7500 are the only current AGP options at the Apple Store for the G4 towers, hopefully this article will help illustrate the real differences (performance/pros/cons) between the two and make your decision easier. [Update: On Tuesday, Feb 5th there's a Press Release about the GeForce4 Ti (Titanium) being offered at BTO. The card features support for dual LCDs and has 128MB of DDR video ram. It will be offered separately for $399 later this spring according to the press release.]
Note to Cube Owners: I was surprised at the number of emails thinking the same thing I was about these cards (and the 8500 retail model) - will it fit in the Cube? With Dual monitor support, and great DVD playback plus higher clock speeds than the original Cube Radeon card, the 7500 would make a great graphics card for the Cube.
The answer for the GeForce4MX is clear from the photo below (it's too tall), but the Radeon 7500 is short enough in card height to fit. But there's one catch - the VGA connector on the 7500 is spaced about 3/16" farther away from the ADC connector than the original Cube cards. Therefore the stock bracket will not fit, and I'd not want to run the card without the bracket, which takes stress of the monitor connection off the card/AGP slot connector. I ended up cutting the bracket and modifying it to fit the Cube, more info on driver support and performance in a later article.
(I've asked about the wattage specs for the 7500 chip since there's no fan on the heatsink and the inside of the Cube is "soaked" in heat unless owners have installed a fan inside, as I did during the dual G4/500 CPU mod. With my stock G4/450 Cube the core (when removed) was surprisingly hot after hours of use, much more so than you'd think from just feeling the vent temperatures.)
This article includes results of the following tests, all run with a Sony FW900 (widescreen) CRT.
- MacBench 5 Graphics/Publishing Graphics test results (at 1600x1200/millions colors)
- Scrolling Tests in Photoshop 5.5 (OS 9.2.2) at 1600% Zoom
- Scrolling Tests in Appleworks 6.2 (OS X) with 100 page newsletter (images+text)
- Create/close 1000 windows in OS X
- Cinebench 2000
- RaveBench (Speed and Image Quality RAVE tests)
- Walker 1.2 (QD3D Spin Test)
- Quake3 1.31beta4 (OS X) at 640x480 to 1600x1200 32bit/HQ modes
- Unreal Tournament (v436, OS 9) UTbench and Wicked400 demos
(Rave and OpenGL mode at 640x480 and 1024x768)
- DVD playback Image Quality and CPU Load
The Apps/Games tests page also includes a complete list of resolutions available for both cards in OS X when using the Sony FW900. I'll be posting the listing from OS 9 later. (Available modes will vary depending on your monitor.) I did not have time (yet) to test driving a 2nd display. (Both cards support running a VGA and an ADC monitor simultaneously, or a VGA and DVI display if an ADC/DVI adapter is used.)
Although I've not seen any major differences in game image quality yet, I plan to run a wider variety of games and check more closely for this. (I'm writing this at 3:30 AM and there's only so much I can include in this first posting.)
Update: Although I did not see the problem with a GF4MX and Sony FW900 CRT, there are posts in Apple's forums from GeForce4MX owners noting display problems (flashes/corrupted screens) - most seem to be using ADC Apple LCD displays. I've also seen a report of problems with the GeForce4MX and Photoshop 5.5. Note: A reader that noted Photoshop 5.5 problems with the GeForce4MX laster said he had not applied the summer 2000 PS 5.5 Altivec core/lighting effects/multiprocessor core update available at this Adobe page. He said after updating those files his problems were solved. (For many reader reports on the GeForce4MX/flashing video/corrupted video issue, see the owner reports on this page.)
The photos below show the front side of both cards. Both cards have no fan on the heatsink and although there's no official info on the core/memory clock rates of both cards, they both had the same Samsung 5ns DDR video ram chips. (The GeForce4MX has 64MB, the Radeon 7500 32MB.) From what I have seen so far, I'd guess the GeForce4MX has a higher core (GPU) clock speed, but similar memory speed as the Radeon 7500. For the ROM (firmware version) of the two cards and driver info, see the system details below.
The connector on the top is the VGA port for standard monitors. Below it is the ADC (Apple Display Connector) for use with the summer 2000 and later line of Apple displays. (The only other monitor to date to use ADC is Formac's 17.4" LCD model.) Both cards can drive two monitors - one VGA + one ADC (or DVI w/adapter sold separately).
This review is divided into the following pages:
- Apps & Game Performance: This page lists test results comparing the two cards in Photoshop 5.5 image scrolling, Appleworks 6.2 scrolling (100 page newsletter), Quake3 (OS X), and Unreal Tournament (OS 9). Also includes comments on DVD playback image quality and CPU usage and a list of resolutions/refresh rates available when using a Sony FW900 (widescreen)
- Benchmarks: Results of tests with G4Timedemo, Cinebench 2000, RaveBench, Walker 1.2. Also includes summary comments on the two cards.
As usual in my reviews, these page links are at the top and bottom of each review page.
Test System Hardware Summary:
Details of the test system used for this review are listed below.
- Apple 1GHz Dual Processor Quicksilver 2002
- 512MB RAM (One CL3 DIMM)
- Stock 80GB IDE Hard Disk (Seagate on this sample)
- OEM IDE SuperDrive (Pioneer DVR-104, firmware ver. A212)
- OS 9.22 (w/Multiple users and Speech extensions disabled)
- OS X 10.1.2 (build 5P63)
- OpenGL 1.2.4 (ATI OpenGL Renderer v1.3)
- The ATI and Nvidia extensions used were the ones shipped with the system. (Nvidia drivers v2.5, ATI's extensions had various version numbers, as they do not number all extensions with the same ver.# as does Nvidia.)
- ATI Radeon 7500 ROM: 113-91701-222
- Nvidia GeForce4MX ROM: 1088
Related Links: For reviews of other graphics cards and related articles, see my list of graphics card articles.