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The Source for Mac Performance News and Reviews
Review: PowerBook Firewire G3/500
By Mike
Review date:3/22/2000
Benchmark Performance
Intro | Apps/Game Performance | Benchmarks | Compatibility | DVD/Movies | Specs | Summary
Macbench 5.0/RaveBench/G4Timedemo/ATTO Tools/Memory Benchmark Performance
Benchmark tests included MacBench 5.0 as it has been a popular Mac standard. Pure disk performance is shown via ATTO's benchmark (peak and sustained Read/Write rates in MB/sec). For tests of RAVE 3D graphics performance, I've included RaveBench test results to show how the brand spankin' new Rage128 Mobility compares to my Wallstreet's RageII and a Rage128 AGP (not Pro) 16MB graphics card. Granted RAVE is on the way out; being replaced by OpenGL. (See the Apps/Games page for OpenGL game performance, which actually seems faster than RAVE mode based on what I saw in Unreal Tournament). Another 3D video benchmark I've included is G4Timedemo. Finally I include the most removed from real world performance of all benchmarks, memory bandwidth tests.

MacBench 5.0 Results:

MacBench 5.5 Tests Comparison

Notes: Some explanation of MacBench's scoring and the systems shown in the graph:

  • As shown in my past G4 CPU upgrade reviews, MacBench 5.0 doesn't take advantage of the G4's Altivec extensions (aka Velocity Engine). Therefore a G4 scores MHz/MHz about the same as a G3 CPU. The same is true for real world applications that don't use Altivec as shown on the Applications tests page of this review.

  • The PowerBook 500/250 scores are based on using Powerlogix's Cache Profiler v1.3 to increase backside cache speed to 250MHz, along with setting the cache mode to copy-back (disabling write-through mode). Other than Macbench, the benefits were very minimal. This cache overclocking is not recommended to other owners and may not be reliable in other samples. This also increases heat a few degrees C and could lead to failures that will not be covered by the Apple warranty.

  • The Wallstreet's disk was nearly full (about 800MB free on the 4GB disk) which resulted in lower disk scores, however that drive and interface is not as fast as the more modern Pismo's Toshiba 12GB, ATA/66 versions.

  • The 1000 baseline score used in MacBench is based on an Apple Beige G3/300 system with 1MB of backside cache running at 150MHz. The iMac DV has a 400MHz G3 CPU with 512KB of backside cache running at 160MHz. MacBench scores are higher with 1MB cache systems, even when tests use the same CPU speed.

  • Keep in mind the Macbench 5.0 standard 1000 baseline score is based on a Beige G3/300 with onboard ATI chip at 1152x870 mode, millions colors. The Powerbook's built-in display has a maximum resolution of 1024x768. All tests shown in the graph were run at 1024x768, thousands color mode.

For comparisons to other systems and/or CPU Card upgrades - see my site list of CPU Card Reviews or Systems page.

RaveBench 1.1.1 Results:

I used Village Tronic's RaveBench 1.1.1 as both a benchmark and visual features check of the Rage128 Mobility graphics chip. It runs several tests of texture mapping, transparency, movement, and environment mapping functions. ( For an explanation of RaveBench's tests, see my Illustrated Guide to RaveBench published last year. ) To my knowledge, RaveBench is only available on the CD that comes with Villagetronic's graphics cards (please don't ask for me to send it, I can't distribute copyrighted software without permission. Check with to see if they have any plans to publicly post the benchmark.)

The first graph below compares the PowerBook G3/250 (Wallstreet) RageLT chip to the new PowerBook Firewire:

Ravebench RageLT vs Rage128 Mobility

The next graph compares the Rage128 Mobility to the Rage128 AGP (non-Pro version) from the first generation G4/450 AGP systems:

Pismo vs Rage128 AGP Card

As you can see, the Rage128 Mobility is quite impressive for a notebook graphics chip.

G4Timedemo Results:

G4Timedemo is often used to compare the benefit of a G4 CPU's Altivec registers (aka 'Velocity Engine') to previous CPUs. There are many reports of various systems in my FPS database.

G4 Timedemo results

G4timedemo is available at:

Atto Tools Disk Tests: I like the ATTO Tools built-in benchmark as it shows a graph of disk Read and Write performance across file sizes and displays peak and sustained transfer rates. It also by default does not use the system's disk cache (memory control panel) which should provide a more accurate indication of the actual drive's performance.

The following graph shows the results from the Powerbook's 12GB drive which had about 4GB of installed files and was not optimized (defragmented) before the test. (This sample had a Toshiba drive, some may have IBM drives.)

ATTO Tools Disk Test Results

For comparisons to other drives/systems - see reviews and articles on my SCSI/IDE/Storage topics page which also includes external Firewire/IDE case info and performance.

Memory Bandwidth Tests: The following are results of tests with several memory bandwidth benchmarks.


Stream Test Results


MemoryWatch Test Results


Memory Bench Performance

Gauge Pro:
(Note: Results with VM off and default memory allocated to GaugePro)

GaugePro PB g3/500

(Below results @500/250 CopyBack mode)
GaugePro results at 500/250 copyback mode

(Results from PB G3/250 Wallstreet 1 250/125/83)
GaugePro - Wallstreet G3/250/125/83

The next page covers the compatibility info with hardware/software that I had on hand to test, as well as notes on reader reported issues. Or you may use the links below to jump to a specific page.

Index of Powerbook Firewire G3/500 Review Pages

Intro | Apps/Game Performance | Benchmarks | Compatibility | DVD/Movies | Specs | Summary

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