|PowerBook G4/800 First Impressions/Performance Tests|
(Updated 5/24 for more performance comparisons)
(updated 5/22/2002 for notes on power saving modes,
complete list of LCD/Ext. screen resolutions)
(updated 6/1/2002 for Logic Audio tests)
(updated 7/15/2002 for notes on Combo drive failure, paint chipping/flaking)
For readers that wonder about the heat, airport range, etc. of the new PowerBook G4/800 - here are some actual end-user comments from using one. I've also added comments on features, resolutions (LCD and External VGA/DVI), performance tests/comparisons and more.
I can't see any difference in the new G4/800 vs the fall 2001 models as far as Airport antenna design or range. (But there may be something internal that was changed.) As I noted last fall - the 2nd series of PB G4's does have better range than the first - they increased the thickness of the 2 lenses on the sides of the PowerBook. This helped increase range in my experience from actual use. Downstairs I consistently saw at least one dot more strength in use compared to the first PB G4 model. When using the PB G4 with my Siemens Speedstream base (w/dual external antennas on the base) - I see even better range than with the original base, which has a PCcard w/stub antenna inside. Signal strength with my Siemens Speedstream base seemed about the same on the fall 2001 and 2002 models, often showing all dots filled on the signal strength bar even with the PB G4 one floor down from the base station.
The side lenses look identical on the 2002 PB and the fall 2001 models, so unless that new plate on the bottom of the PB G4 2002 is another antenna, I don't see any changes from fall 2001.
Both had better range than the first PB G4 models. The metal case of the PB G4 means the range may never be as good as previous plastic cased powerbooks, however I really have no complaints about range with the later PowerBooks in my home, especially with the base I'm using.
(Airport range varies depending on the base location, your home or office construction, etc. so my results may differ from yours. ) Also note that you can sometimes increase signal strength by rotating the PowerBook a bit (downstairs I've seen increases from 3 dots to 5 dots just by rotating the powerbook). Often by rotating the Powerbook I could increase or decrease the signal strength (sometimes dramatically).
As noted here last week, the 2002 PB G4s apparently use a 7455 based CPU, which I think is running a lower core voltage than previous models. They've also added a 2nd fan inside. During casual use the fans rarely come on - and in other than apps that really stress the CPU and graphic chip (like 3d gaming, etc.) - when the fans do come on they run very quietly on this sample. However when running tests in Quake3, the fans kicked into high speed and were about as loud as the past 667 with fans on high. (The Radeon 7500 mobility chip has a heatsink also - it's adjacent to the CPU heatsink/heatpipe visible when removing the keyboard.)
After 1/2 hour of so of Quake3 in OS X the bottom of the PB was hot, but I can't say if it was really any hotter than the 667 after the same tests. There's a new section on the bottom that looks like some sort of plastic (?) sheet that doesn't seem to get as hot as other areas, where the previous models had a solid titanium bottom cover. Not sure if this area is related the heatpipe assembly or what. (The tech info I have seen on the new PB's still note only 2 antennas, so I doubt it's airport related as some have thought.) I've not removed the bottom cover to determine what this area is related to however.
Again in casual use the PB G4/800 seems to run quiet and basically cool - but as with the previous models, running 3D games for example (or other apps that really stress the system), the fans will kick into high gear and the bottom of the case does heat up quite a bit. Even at high speed, the fans doesn't seem quite as loud as older models however. In general use, the fans when they do come on seem to run at a lower/quieter speed than past models. OS 9 apps seem to run hotter than OS X in my experience. The DVD player in OS 9 for instance runs the system hotter than the DVD Player in OS X. However taxing apps like 3d games in either OS will kick the fans into high gear pretty quickly in my experience. Just a FYI to those that may have read some comments that the 800 runs cool all the time. (In casual use it does, but not in apps that really exercise the CPU and graphics chip.) Choosing some of the Advanced settings in the Energy saver can help reduce heat (reducing CPU speed/allow processor cycling, etc.) - at the cost of some performance.
The 2002 Powerbooks support a lower-power mode called "PowerStep" that allows software to reduce the processor's clock speed (800Mhz model only) to conserve power or speeding it up when more performance is needed. For the 800-MHz model, the lower clock speed is 667 MHz (and the
L3 cache is turned off). PowerStep on the 667MHz model doesn't reduce the CPU speed, only the L3 cache is turned off. PowerStep can be enabled by the system software, applications and by the user via the Energy Saver control panel. Here's some examples of where the system software uses PowerStep to conserve power:
- During system startup
- When battery charge is low
- When there is no battery installed
- When using airline power
- Applications that need to change the speed setting can use the API
provided by the Energy Services Library in the system software.
- When the user enables "Reduce Processor Performance" in the Advanced Settings of the Energy
Saver Control Panel.
The power management protocols support 2 power-saving modes: Idle & Sleep.
- Idle: The system is idle with the main processor stopped in Nap mode.
All clocks are running so the system can return to normal within a few
nanoseconds. (Cache coherency is maintained.)
- Sleep: The system is completely shut down with only the main meory state
preserved for quick recovery. All processors are powered off with their
state preserved in RAM. All clocks in the system are suspended except for
the crystal used by the PMU99 IC (Power Management Unit).
Idle mode is automatically entered after several seconds of
inactivity. If the computer is connected to a network, it can respond
to service requests while in Idle mode.
When connected to AC power, the PowerBook can also respond
to network activity when in Sleep mode if the user has enabled this
option by selecting "Wake on LAN" in the Energy Saver Control Panel.
(The PowerBook uses less than 1 watt of power in sleep mode.)
PCMCIA cards and USB devices attached must conform to the power management
protocols or they will prevent the computer from entering sleep mode. (As with
desktops, the Mac will display a dialog box informing you of any non-complaint devices
if they are present when trying to enter sleep mode.)
[Note: as I'm typing this a DVD movie in OS X has played about 3/4 way through and I have yet to hear the fans running. (By putting my ear near the case, it sounded like the fans were running at their lowest speed mode - but it's not something I noticed from a normal distance.) With my PB G4/400 first model, the fans would turn on (loudly) several times during DVD playback. The system seems to run noticeably cooler when using the OS X DVD player than the OS 9 DVD player.]
Radeon 7500 Mobility Performance:
As I've said here before - the 7500 mobility is a big plus for 3d/gaming performance - it's basically a higher clocked version of the original Radeon AGP chip with dual head (dual monitor) support. (As I noted last year in my PB G4/667 2001 tests page - the Radeon Mobility does not have hardware T&L, it's a subset of the original Radeon chip with dual head support basically, where the 7500 Radeon does have T&L as well as much higher clock rates/fill rates than the Radeon mobility.) The PowerBook G4's Radeon 7500 Mobility chip has a core clock speed of 230Mhz and 32MB of DDR memory running at 183Mhz (DDR, so it's 366MHz effective rate). Quake3 1.31b5 tests in OS X showed slightly better than Apple's quoted 68FPS at 1024x768/32bit HQ settings. (69.x FPS). I applied the 's_chunksize 4096' tweak I've noted in some past AGP card reviews and saw 77.8 FPS at that resolution. The PB G4/667 (2001) with Radeon Mobility (16MB ddr) scored about 34FPS in that same test with no tweaks - so the PB G4/800 w/7500 mobility has twice the Quake3 1024x768/32bit performance of the previous 667 model.
In fact the PB G4/800 w/7500 Mobility scored almost exactly the same Q3 FPS rate at 1024x768/32bit as a Dual 1GHz G4 with the original Radeon AGP card. (See below for graph of test results.)
Until I've run 2D tests, I don't want to comment on that other than to note it feels responsive overall. [Update - see below for PShop 7.0 and Appleworks scroll tests.] (OS X hasn't been a 2D speed demon even on desktops with faster graphics cards - but Quartz Extreme [QE] should make a major change in that, and some say even on systems without Quartz Extreme support the 10.2 developer versions seem much faster than 10.1.x.)
Like the PB G4/400 and 667 I had - this one also has a perfect screen - no bad pixels seen in LCD tests (so far at least - any LCD can develop them over time). I've been very pleased with all the PB G4 displays compared to other notebooks, and this one looks at least as good. (I don't have the older models to compare side-by-side.) The system shipped set to max brightness, but when adjusted back to my normal setting (appx. mid-point), it's still bright enough for my tastes (and saves battery power).
I used the "SuperCal" profile utility I noted last year to make the color accuracy even better in my opinion (I'm no graphics professional though). It's linked in the FAQ's monitor/displays section here for those that missed it.
Text at the default sizes are a bit smaller on the higher res. LCD, but still very legible and not as small as some PC notebooks w/15" 1600x1200 LCDs. Viewing angle was much better than the one Dell 16x12 LCD notebook I saw, but that was not one of the new enhanced LCD models they're now selling. (Viewing angle vertically was very poor on that notebook.)
Here's the modes supported by the LCD display:
(Lower than native 1280x864 modes that are not
stretched leave a black border around the display area)
PB LCD Display: (15.2" diagonal)
- 640 by 480 (std and stretched version)
- 720 by 480
- 800 by 600 (std and stretched version)
- 896 by 600 (full screen)
- 1024 by 768 (std and stretched version)
- 1152 by 768
- 1280 by 854 (native/max res)
(FYI: Stretched modes do not have square pixels.)
External Monitor Resolutions: Per specs - available resolutions will depend on monitor used. Note: Mirror mode limits ext. monitor to 1280x854 max - modes listed
are for dual display mode. In dual display mode the 32MB framebuffer
is divided between the two displays. (A DVI to VGA
adapter cable is included with the DVI Powerbooks.)
Analog Monitor Modes: (VGA using DVI-I adapter)
- 512 by 384 (60hz)
- 640x480 (60,72,75,85Hz)
- 640 by 870 (75Hz)
- 800 by 600 (56,60,72,75,85Hz)
- 832 by 624 (75Hz)
- 1024 by 768 (60,70,72,75,85Hz)
- 1152 by 870 (75Hz)
- 1280 by 960 (75Hz)
- 1280 by 1024 (60,75Hz)
- 1600 by 1200 (60,70,75Hz)
- 1792 by 1344 (60Hz)
- 1856 by 1392 (60Hz)
- 1920 by 1440 (75Hz)
- 2048 by 1536 (75Hz)
Digital Monitors: (DVI - 60Hz)
- 640 by 480
- 800 by 500
- 800 by 512
- 800 by 600
- 960 by 600
- 1024 by 600
- 1024 by 640
- 1024 by 768
- 1280 by 800
- 1280 by 1024
- 1344 by 840
- 1600 by 1024 (native 22" Cinema display mode)
- 1600 by 1200
- 1920 by 1200 (native 23" Cinema Display mode)
Combo DVD/CDRW Drive:
This is the first PowerBook G4 I've used with the combo drive - which is the same drive model noted here last year that was used with the late fall 2001 models. (FAQ notes the specific mechanism/brand model number.) The combo drive does not 'pull' the discs in like the DVD ROM drive models did. You literally insert a CD fully in and then the disc snaps down into the drive. It ejects with a spring-loaded type mechanism. I actually prefer this to the strain (almost) seen with the previous DVD ROM drives that probably stress the drive more and use more power with the insert/eject mechanism. (Although the net effect on battery life would be tiny unless you constantly change discs.) The specs on the Combo drive are the same as the late fall 2001 model - 8x DVD ROM read, 8x writes (CLV) for CDR/CDRW and 24x max (CAV) read speeds.
(Note: after less than a dozen insertions, I had the combo drive fail. It ejected a CD and stuck in the eject position (internally). I called Apple support and they shipped out a padded box for return/repairs which were completed quickly. I had the PB back in less than a week.)
I've not used the audio-input jack yet but that feature is a welcome addition, based on past reader comments on that missing feature from Digital Audio and later G4s and the previous model PowerBook G4s.
The IR port is gone, but I'd take the DVI port over the IR port personally. (As well as the benefits of all the other changes in the new model.) With the Radeon 7500, faster CPU, L3 cache and other changes - these are clearly the most feature-rich PowerBook G4s to date.
I have some previous test data with a PB G4/400 and /667 model (fall 2001) to compare to the new G4/800 PB after I finish installing all my apps, etc. on it. For those that asked about GaugePro memory bandwidth, I don't consider that a great test as it can vary so much and reports lower rates than other memory tests, but it's showing from 220-258MB/sec rates - significantly up from the PowerBook G4/667 model where I saw rates of 144-192MB/sec. (I ran Cachebasher on the 667 but have not ran that test yet on the 800.)
From what I have seen so far, the new 2002 PowerBook G4s have some very beneficial changes that many readers have been waiting for. The new CPUs with L3 cache, Radeon 7500 mobility chip with more video ram, DVI port and higher resolution screen make them clearly (IMHO) the best PowerBook G4s to date.
Notes on Finish Problems:
Some PowerBook G4 owners in the past have had problems with paint flaking off the trim area . I noted a few months back that one company was even selling 'ti paint' to touch up this sort of thing. I personally have not had this problem in the past, but I handle the PB G4s more carefully than previous powerbooks due to their metal/painted chassis which is easily scratched. I can't say if the new models are better about this however. I wish it were possible to have the trim ring molded in the final color, rather than have a finish applied over it. (I had heard the trim was carbon fiber and not sure if it's possible to have it molded in that color or not.) I'd prefer it being made of a standard plastic or nylon molded in solid color if that's the case.
Update: After about a week of use I noticed that I do have a small thin area of paint that popped off the trim bezel just above the Firewire port in the back and another chip on the bottom edge below the port cover. Hopefully it won't get worse over time, but I'm still disappointed.
A friend in California said that two PB G4s on display in a store there showed quite a few areas of missing paint on the trim ring (including on a new G4/800 model). This may be aggrivated by users with metal watchbands, but this is a reason why I wish the bezel ring was molded in a solid color and not painted. Apple's forums also have posts about the paint issue last I checked. I'm not sure what the warranty policy is on this sort of thing.
I also noticed that there's a thin scratch through the apple logo on the top lid (which extends into the gray painted surface). I didn't notice it at first since it's really only clearly visible from an angle. I'd heard of reports of scratches like this out of the box, but I did not see where there was anything in the packaging (no ac adapter prongs exposed, etc.) that could have caused it.
As with any computer (and perhaps especially so on the first of a new revision) - there are going to be some problem reports. Sometimes these are 'infant failures' seen in any mass produced product. So far of emails I've seen from new PowerBook G4 owners, only one noted a problem - some sort of screen flickering issue that I have not seen with this sample.
(Since this was first posted I've heard of some other issues - like the paint chipping off the trim ring. No sign of that yet here though.
I've also seen two reports from 2002 PB G4 owners saying the 'glue' had come loose on the bottom cover near one of the from edges (showing a gap). I find this strange if they're talking about the bottom cover to the trim ring surface - since the bottom cover is not glued on - it's screwed on. If you see a gap between the bottom cover and the trim ring - in my experience that's a sign that one of the 'hooks' in the trim ring that engages in the bottom cover has broken, or it's not properly engaged.)
I've not tested it personally yet - but one owner said using a Sony FW900 with the new PB G4 (w/DVI-VGA adapter) didn't show any widescreen resolutions. (I'll check for this in OS 9 and OS X soon. I also have a DVI Cinema display to try.)
Comparing Fall 2001 PowerBooks to 2002 Model Features:
||Fall 2001 model
||Early 2002 model
(reportedly 7455 variant)
|CPU clock speed
||550 or 667 MHz
||667 or 800 MHz
||256 KB (full CPU speed)
||256 KB (full CPU speed)
||1 MB DDR
(Effective 1/2 CPU speed)
|System bus speed
||100 (550) or 133 MHz (667)
||133 MHz (both 667/800)
||ATI Mobility Radeon
||ATI Mobility Radeon 7500
||16 MB of DDR
||32 MB of DDR
|LCD Display Res.
||1152 by 768 pixels, 91.1 dpi
||1280 by 854 pixels, 101.4 dpi
|Ext. Digital Monitor
|Std Hard disk drive
||20GB (550), 30GB (667)
(up to 60GB will fit)
|30GB (667), 40GB (800)
||Incl. w/667MHz model
||Incl. w/800MHz model
|Audio line in (analog)
PowerBook G4 S-video to Composite Adapter Fulfillment Program
Waymen Askeys sent a note that some new PowerBook G4s shipped without an S-Video to Composite video adapter cable and that Apple has a page where you can request the missing adapter.
(a clip from that page)
The S-video to composite adapter pictured below enables PowerBook G4 users to connect to a television, VCR, video projector that features a composite connector.
Some new PowerBook G4 systems with an integrated DVI port may not have the S-video to composite adapter included in the accessory kit as stated in the product manual. If your PowerBook G4 did not come with an S-video to composite adapter, use this Web
page to order a free replacement.
The form there has a serial number check, which said the PB G4/800 here shipped with the adapter - but it did not. It did have the DVI to VGA adapter cable, but not the Svideo to Composite cable. (I called Apple about this and they are going to send the adapter.)
Performance Test Comparisons: Here's some comparison tests I've done with the new PowerBook G4/800 (last updated 5/24/2002)
Logic Audio Tests: The Logic Audio test results are reader submitted as I do not that software. I'm listing the results since many readers saw the past reports of lower 'platinumverb' test results with the fall 2001 PB G4 models than the original PB G4 (7410 cpu based) systems.
(The scores below were the max number possible before the CPU started to 'choke' and playback was affected.)
Logic Audio Platinumverb Test:
- PB G4/667 (2001) - 9 platinumverbs
- PB G4/550 - 7 platinumverbs
- PB G4/500 - 13 platinumverbs
- PB G4/800 (2002) - 18 platinumverbs
The PB G4/500,550 and 667 results were run by the same reader (John P.) and all tests used 16bit/44.1KHz sound files. Here's his past comments on how he ran the test.
Place a single, stereo audio file on a stereo Logic audio track.
Apply Platinumverb plugins to the track inserts until it won't play.
If you run out of inserts (8 per track), use a second stereo track
with the same audio file on it, and so on.
My Umax S900/G4/473 managed 6 Platinumverbs on 67MB/sec memory bandwidth
The PBG4/500 will run 13 on 230MB/sec
Current top-speed Pentium 4s will run 30 or so I believe...
iMovie 2 (OS X) Movie Export Tests:
I used the same test I've used in past reviews (stacking the "tutorial project" 6 clips end-to-end
and timing how long it took to complete the QT movie export using the standard "CDROM Medium" settings.)
Photoshop 7.0 Tests - PB G4/800 vs PB G4/667 2001:
I used the same PSBench5 action script used in past reviews to compare Photoshop 7.0 in OS X 10.1.4 and OS 9.2.2 with both the 2001 PB G4/667 and 2002 PB G4/800. PShop allocated enough ram to avoid any swap file activity with the 10MB image. (I had only recently bought the PS 7.0 upgrade, so I don't have v7.0 results with other systems yet.)
The following graph shows the results of the same tests run in OS 9.2.2.
Since I have previous test results using Pshop 5.5 with a larger sample of systems, here's a graph showing how the PowerBook G4/800 compares to some other systems. (Note: Desktop systems have faster hard drives than notebooks - these 21 filter tests used enough ram allocation to avoid any swap file activity, so hard drive speed isn't a factor in the test.)
Appleworks 6.2.x Scrolling Tests:
(100 page newsletter with images/multiple columns). Time in seconds to scroll from top to bottom of the document using the scroll arrow. (OS 9 and OS X tested)
Appleworks in OS 9.2.2:
- PB G4/800 (OEM drivers) = 24.8 sec
- PB G4/667 (2001 model) = 34.8 sec
(used March 2002 ATI driver update)
Appleworks in OS X 10.1.4:
- PB G4/800 (OEM drivers) = 23.1 sec
- PB G4/667 (2001) = 29.1 sec
(used March 2002 ATI driver update)
Note: The PB G4/800 scores in the Appleworks OS X test were close to those from a Dual 1GHz G4 with several graphics card
(Radeon 8500 AGP, GeForce3, etc.) - they had times in the 21-22second range for this test but were run at 1600x1200 mode, where the PB G4/800 resolution is 1280x854. OS X 2D
should get a good boost when Quartz Extreme/OS 10.2 is released. Quartz Extreme requires a Radeon AGP or Nvidia AGP based graphics card/chip however. Rage128 series are not supported due to a lack of support for non-power of 2 texture sizes.)
Photoshop 7.0 Scrolling Tests:
Time in seconds to scroll from top to bottom and left to right of the zoomed image using the scroll arrows. 16MB image zoomed to 1600%. (OS 9 results shown - scrolling with the arrows in OS X was 10x slower than OS 9 for both systems - so those results are not shown here. Using the scroll 'thumb' was smooth/fast with both.)
PS 7.0 Vertical Scrolling in OS 9.2.2:
- PB G4/800 (OEM drivers) = 7.1 sec
- PB G4/667 (2001 model) = 13.4 sec
(used March 2002 ATI driver update)
PS 7.0 Horizontal Scrolling in OS 9.2.2:
- PB G4/800 (OEM drivers) = 8.6 sec
- PB G4/667 (2001 model) = 13.5 sec
(used March 2002 ATI driver update)
Quake3 (OS X) Performance:
Using the standard config file (deleted to force a clean re-created file) here's
a comparison of Quake3 framerates with the "High Quality" game settings/32bit mode. (All game options on, no config file tweaks). [The PB G4/400 (Rage128 Mobility w/8MB vram) rates are just for reference, based on tests from last year.]
As a FYI, with "s_chunksize 4096" config file mod, the PB G4/800 delivered 87.7 FPS (640x480/HQ) and 77.3 FPS (1024x768/HQ). (For a reader's Quake3 tests of a 2002 PB G4/667 vs iMac G4/700 - see below.)
CineBench 2000 Tests:
Cinebench's 3D benchmark results; includes a reader's PB G4/500 comparison scores. (For an explanation of this benchmark, see this page.)
- Software Shading:
PB G4/800 = 6.73
PB G4/667 (2001) = 5.22
PB G4/500 = 5.42
PB G4/400 = 4.51
- OpenGL Shading:
PB G4/800 = 8.74
PB G4/667 (2001) = 6.98
PB G4/500 = 6.50
PB G4/400 = 5.43
PB G4/800 = 9.84
PB G4/667 (2001) = 7.99
PB G4/500 = 6.64
PB G4/400 = 5.35
ThroughPut 1.5 Tests:
Throughput benchmark results (includes a reader's PB G4/500 comparison scores). As shown in Throughput results in previous articles like the G4/733 vs Dual G4/500 comparison, the later UniN chipset, faster CPUs/graphics cards can show much better rates in this "pure" benchmark. (And even driver versions can affect scores, esp. the "CopyBits" score.)
Throughput 1.5 Scores
PB G4/800 (OEM drivers) = 170.4 MB/sec
PB G4/667 (2001) = 166.3 MB/sec
PB G4/500 = 50.1 MB/sec
PB G4/400 = 50.1 MB/sec
PB G4/800 (OEM drivers) = 178.0 MB/sec
PB G4/667 (2001) = 177.3 MB/sec
PB G4/500 = 83.3 MB/sec
PB G4/400 = 83.2 MB/sec
PB G4/800 (OEM drivers) = 210.8 MB/sec
PB G4/667 (2001) = 196.4 MB/sec
PB G4/500 = 125.7 MB/sec
PB G4/400 = 125.6 MB/sec
PB G4/800 (OEM drivers) = 323.5 MB/sec
PB G4/667 (2001) = 178.2 MB/sec
PB G4/500 = 170 MB/sec
PB G4/400 = 169.1 MB/sec
Reader Quake3 Tests PB G4/667 (2002) vs iMac G4/700: (from the 5/20/2002 main news page)
Quote from a reader email this weekend:
I compared my new PowerBook 667 to my 700 Mhz Flat panel iMac in Quake 3:
I used the following settings:
Texture quality: 32bit
max Texture detail
Color Depth: 32bit
Trinilinear Texture filter
Geometric Detail: High
PB: 53.2 FPS / 23.7 seconds
iMac: 39 FPS / 32.3 seconds
PB: 57.3 FPS / 22 seconds
iMac: 48.5 FPS / 26 seconds
PB: 58.7 FPS / 21.5 seconds
iMac: 50.2 FPS / 25.1seconds
For benchmarking, I used the demo four, that could be downloaded seperately.
Interestingly, during the game the FPS went well over 110, something that Q3
never did on the iMac.
settings were not tweaked using any console commands
The 7500 Mobility chip runs a 230mhz core/366mhz [effective] memory clock, faster than the GF2MX used in the new iMacs.
Related Links: For full details on the latest Powerbooks, see http://www.apple.com/powerbook/ (they also have a PowerBook FAQ page). For other PowerBook related articles here (reviews, upgrade guides, etc.), see the Systems Page, PowerBook section.
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