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GVS 9000 Dual 1GHz G4 ReviewReturn to News Page

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GVS 900 Rack mount

GVS 9000 (Rack Mount) Dual 1GHz G4 Review
By Vladimir Mikle 3/31/2002

Before I get started on my review, I'd like to thank Mike for letting me submit it on XLR8YOURMAC.com. This website is a great resource for news and info, and I think that at least half of what I know about the Mac platform I've learned here. Keep up the great work, Mike.

First, a little background. I bought a Dual 1GHz G4 from Club Mac when they were first announced. I liked the speed, but was very dissatisfied with the expandability options, especially when it came to adding more than 1 Optical Drive to the G4. I could've used an external Firewire CDRW with the G4, but having a 21" CRT & an 18" LCD on my desk, there isn't alot of room left for external devices. After 2 weeks, I sold it and gave serious thoughts to going back to the PC world (yes, again) - mainly because I love the idea of building your own computer - and because most PC cases offer more expandability options than the El Capitan (Blue & White G3 & Later) cases that Apple uses. My main (MAJOR) gripe I have with PC's is Windows, any form of Windows (thought the reliabilty of XP I think is decent), the usability I can't stand, especially the way it organizes and forces you to search for files. So, after about 2 weeks of having a new custom-built overclocked 2.3GHz P4 PC, I decided I couldn't deal with Windows, or without OS X. I've got to hand it to Apple - They've built a rock-solid, powerful, photo-realistic Unix-based OS that I've become addicted to.

I decided to sell my 2-week old PC (again) and started scouring eBay for deals on Power Mac G4s, since I thought about trying to save some money instead of buying a new one. Eventually I came across an auction by a company called Grande Vitesse for a Dual Power Mac G4. No big deal I thought. Being the curious type, I decided to check out the company website, to see what other goodies they might have. After a couple of minues of browsing I came across this:
http://www.gvstore.com/apg4wor53.html
. . . and I knew I had to have it. Being able to have a Dual 1GHz G4 with all this expandability (3 external 5.25" optical CD drives & 1 3.5" external Zip or Magneto Optical drive) was just too good to pass up. I have 3 Hard Drives in the GVS now, and can add 2 more in the future if need be.

First Impressions:
My general impressions of the system. Well thought-out, well constructed, high attention to detail. The 4U Rackmount case itself is sturdy & well-made. I have a strong preference for black cases, so this helped too. The vintage Apple stickers you see on the top and side of the case were added by myself to give the system some color.

The two handles on the front of the case are removable and the fold inward to a certain degree, which I'm assuming is common for most rackmountable cases (this is the first rackmountable computer I've owned, and the first "desktop" form-factor computer I've owned in at least 10 years).

Photos:
And now some pictures:

Front/Open
Front (Open)

  1. Power Switch
  2. Reset Switch
  3. Power LED
  4. Beige Plastic Housing for Air Filer, behind which is a 120mm Fan that cools the Hard Drives
  5. Front Panel Breadboard/Housing

Under this housing is the 3.5" Hard Drive Tray which is now full, and holds my 3 HDDs. It is held in place with 4 screws (2 on each side) and is lifted straight up out of the case. It is a major pain to put back into place. Drives sit horizontally, the front of the drives face the Left side of the case, the rear of the drives (where the power & IDE cables are of course) face toward the 5.25" Drive Tray. There is a very small amount of space between the rear of the drives/cables & right wall of the Hard Drive Tray & it is very easy to scrape or even cut (which I came very close to doing) one of the power or IDE cables. YUCK!!! Being a contortionist with very thin fingers woud've helped ALOT! All I can say is, I hope that I don't have to upgrade my hard drives for A VERY LONG TIME! 6 - 5.25" Drive Tray - Drops into place, very easy to remove. Just remove 2 screws & lift up. 7 - Black Lite-On LTD-163B 16X/48X DVD-ROM Drive Boots Mac OS 9.2.2 & OS X.1.3 and all CDs so far beautifully. I LIKE IT! 8 - Black Plextor 40X/12X/40X CDRW Drive

Inside Front
Inside Front

  1. Front Panel Breadboard/Housing
  2. 3.5" Hard Drive Tray


All Inside
Inside (All)

  1. DVD-ROM Drive & under it is my CDRW Drive - Imagine that, Apple. Two Optical drives in one G4. What a concept!!!
  2. Brace that runs from the front of the case to the rear. Directly under this brace is my new ATI Radeon 8500 :-)
  3. SIIG ATA-133 RAID PCI controller.
    What a little PITA! The backplane of this card was TOO TALL, SIIG!!! As a result it didn't fit correctly. The tab that holds the screw was too high to fasten to the case. When if forced the tab down to be able to insert a screw, the rear of the card lifted out of the PCI slot. Luckily, I had an old SIIG ATA-66 PCI controller for PCs that had a shorter backplane. You can guess what I did, right? I switched the two & now my ATA-133 RAID controller fits correctly (more or less).
  4. 80-Wire Black rounded IDE Cables. Cool ! They're supposed to improve air flow too.
  5. Black Rubber CPU Fan Housing Thingy. Luckily, GVS saw the wisdom of not getting rid of this little fan, even though they provided 2 80mm fans at the rear of the case.

Inside (angled view)
Inside (angled view)

  1. ATI Radeon 8500
  2. Apple-supplied stock Power Supply
  3. 80mm Cooling Fans. The more the better IMHO. The case is louder than your average Dual G4, but it's not too bad. Not like some PCs I've heard.


Top/Front
Top/Front

  1. Looks like GVS decided to add an ADB port? If I'm correct? It's been a while since I've seen one of these.
  2. Lock & Keys
  3. Klipsch Pro Media 4.1 Speakers - I love these things!


Top/Side
Top/Side


Rear View
Rear View

Comparison of Apple Dual G4 1 GHz Power Mac & GVS 9000 4U Dual G4 1GHz Power Mac:

APPLE Dual 1GHz G4
(standard config)
GVS-9000
(rack mount)
*Dual 1GHz G4 CPUs
*Dual 1GHz G4 CPUs
*512MB SDRAM (1 DIMM)
*1.5GB SDRAM (3 DIMMs)
*80GB Ultra ATA Hard Drive
*80GB Ultra ATA Hard Drive + 40 GB Ultra ATA Hard Drive (1)(2)
*Apple SuperDrive
*Apple SuperDrive
*nVidia GeForce 4MX Video
*nVidia GeForce 4MX Video (3)
*56K Internal Modem
*56K Internal Modem
*Apple Pro Keyboard & Mouse
*Apple Pro Keyboard & Mouse
*Mac OS (X and OS 9)
*Mac OS (4)
*G4 (El Capitan) Case
*4U Rackmount Case
*500MB Storage Sub System Hardware/Software and Backup Software Free ($500 value)(5)
$2999
(plus Sales Tax/Shipping)
$3499 Shipped FedEx 3-day on my account

Notes:

  1. The 40GB HDD is now in my Crappy Celeron PC (my official name for it), which I rarely use.
  2. Added SIIG ATA-133 RAID PCI Card & 2 Maxtor 7200RPM ATA-133 HDDs - Nice & Quick in RAID 0!!!
  3. Ordered with ATI Radeon 7500, but got a GeForce 4MX. $100 savings for me. No complaints. Replaced the GF4MX with Radeon 8500, which connects to my 18" Sony LCD thru DVI. WoooHooo!!!
  4. Got the typical set of Mac OS install & restore CDs, Hardware Test, Applications, etc. Got OS 9.2.2 & OS X.1.2 .Had to get X.1.3 thru Software Update. No Biggie. Only received Mac OS X Manual & License Agreement. They forgot the Apple Power Mac Setup Guide & Manual. Oh well, it's not like I actually need them.
  5. There is software for this under OS 9, but not OS X. It appears to act like a RAM Disk. More info Below.

*Lead time was 7 days from date of order to shipping day. Not Bad. I called them 3 or 4 times to check status on the order and a couple of times with questions on their SSS, and they were very curtious, knowledgable, & professional. A very good experience!

BENCHMARKS:
All tests run off 2 Maxtor ATA-133 7200RPM 80GB drives in RAID 0, with Sony 18" LCD has max. 1280x1024 native res.

Quake 3 Arena: (500MB RAM allocated under OS 9.2.2)
These benchmarks were taken with the Radeon 8500, driver version 7.1.
All settings are the same for both the OS 9.2.2 (Q3 1.30) & OS X.1.3 (Q3 1.31). The only settings that change are the Color Depth, Texture Quality, & Resolution. Otherwise:

  • Lightmap (lighting)
  • Geometric Detail High
  • Texture Detail Max
  • Texture Trilinear
  • Sound Quality High

All Game Options are On, except Sync Every Frame, Draw Team Overlay, & Auto Downloading which are Off.

OS 9.2.2 Q3 Version 1.30:
16-bit Color, Texture Quality 16-bit

    1024x768 - 83.9fps
    1280x1024 - 75.3fps
    1600x1200 - 77.9fps
    [ I asked how the 1280x1024 Max Sony LCD ran this test-Mike]

32-bit Color, Texture Quality 32-Bit

    1024x768 - 76.3fps
    1280x1024 - 68.9fps
    1600x1200 - 68.7fps
    [ I asked how the 1280x1024 Max Sony LCD ran this test-Mike]

OS X.1.3, Q3 Version 1.31:
16-bit Color, Texture Quality 16-bit

    1024x768 - 116.5fps
    1280x1024 - 86.8 fps
    1600x1200 - N/A

    [Sony LCD max res= 1280x1024]

32-bit Color, Texture Quality 32-bit

    1024x768 - 90.4fps
    1280x1024 - 63.2fps
    1600x1200 - N/A

Let 1000 Windows Bloom:

    OS 9.2.2 - 4 seconds
    OS X.1.3 - 33 seconds

Cinebench 2000 1.0 (1280x1024 res. millions):

[Note: Test should be run at 1024x768 per readme-Mike]
OS 9.2.2

    Shading (Cinema 4D) 8.56CB
    Shading (OpenGL) 10.41CB GL-Factor 1.22x
    Raytracing (Single CPU) 12.52CB
    Raytracing (Multiple CPU) 21.61CB MP-Factor 1.73x

Throughput 1.5:
OS 9.2.2

    CPU 32-Bit Stream - 500.4MB/sec
    FPU 64-Bit Stream - 900.5MB/sec
    Altivec 128-Bit Stream - 957.4MB/sec
    Copybits 256-Bit Busmaster - 307.6MB/sec

CD Burning:
I used Toast Titanium 5.1.2 Under OS X.1.3 to burn a Data CD (CD Copy) from the Lite-On DVD Drive to my Plextor CDRW. I didn't time it but it took about 3 minutes on the Plextor 40x/12x/40x CDRW Drive. I was able to burn at 40X with Buffer Underrun protection, 64MB Cache. It was BEAUTIFUL!!! And I used Memorex 12X Media!!!

Screen Shots:

System Profiler
System Profiler


Devices/Volumes ASP Listing
(Too large an image for a web page)


OS X Desktop
OS X Desktop


Conclusion:
I'm extremely happy with this purchase, especially after adding the Lite-On DVD Drive, Plextor CDRW, and Radeon 8500. The price is expensive, but you get some worthwhile extras compared to the standard Power Mac G4. If you'd like to have the latest Dual 1GHz Power Mac G4 with more expanability options than what Apple offers, I highly recommend getting a GVS 9000 4U Power Mac. You even get to keep the standard Apple 1-year warranty.
-Vladimir Mikle


Related Articles:
For other Dual 1GHz G4 tests/reviews see the G4 macs section of the Systems page.

For Radeon 8500 tests in a Dual 1GHz G4 (from Apple) vs other Mac AGP cards (GeForce3, GeForce4MX, GeForce2MX, Radeon 7500, Radeon AGP, etc.) in apps/game tests, pages on software controls, etc. - see the previous Radeon 8500 review.



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