In this corner, from the Land of the Setting Sun of CA, we
have the gorgeous, easy-to-use, "I'm an incredibly-expensive
cheese-grater" Power Mac G5. And in this corner, the "Hide me under
your desk before I scare small children" utilitarian black box from
Austin, the Dell Precision 470. Which will whip through progress bars
so fast your hair blows off? Let's find out.

Mac Design Pro has a comparison
of a 3.6G Dell Xeon versus Apple's flagship 2.5G dual G5 running Adobe
After Effects. Dell wins the smackdown hands-down, though the Mac holds
its own. If you want to recreate the contest, it'll cost you — got
US$4500
burning a hole in your pocket? Even if you do, you might want to wait:
Apple's line is long overdue for a major update (3G was promised for
nearly a year ago), and the Xeon should also get a speed bump; both are
expected this summer.

Can audio users learn something from a graphics benchmark? Absolutely,
if for no other reason that real-world audio benchmarking is nearly
impossible; at least a graphics battery gives a somewhat fair
number-crunching test. (Apple infamously cooked up a bogus benchmark in
Logic and Cubase for its G5 unveiling, demonstrating, um, 'real-world'
performance for the next time you need to run a few dozen reverbs at
once.)

But I wouldn't sweat the details. I've tested Ableton Live, Logic Pro
7, Cubase SX3, and other apps on a dual-2.5G G5, and I can safely brand
the combination "pretty freakin' fast." And I'm someone who can
normally bring any CPU to its knees. High-end PC? Ditto. So basically
at this point, it's not chip performance we're waiting for: it's faster
laptops, and cheaper high-end desktops.

  • Guest

    This desktop PCs benchmarks are good and all, but, are there any laptop benchmarks like this? I would really like to go portable with the "new" Powerbooks (I'm thinking of a 15 inch) and I am wondering how "good" is it for Logic Pro 7.
    Anyone would like to share their experience of running Logic Pro 7, Apleton Live, Cubase or similar on laptops?

  • admin

    I haven't tried these apps on a new machine. I have a 1G 17" PowerBook, the older generation, and honestly it's a little sub-par for Live and Logic. It'll run, but you'll get squeezed. More than enough for pre-set loop triggering in Live and basic effects, but not nearly enough for CPU-intensive stuff like Sculpture in Logic or extended effects and processing in Live.

    That said, it's working well for many people — and the newer generation is faster than what I have — but I'm really ready for a new generation of PB with a significant processor improvement.

    We could run the benchmarks, but I don't think people would like the results. ;)

  • Guest

    I understand. Actually, I would love a G5 Powerbook. Am I alone here? I don't think so. But we all know that it is far from being a reality. I used Logic 4 on a B&W G3@450 Mhz so I believe anything new will be faster for me :grin
    Thanks a lot for your input and if you or anyone has something else to say about this I would really appreciate it. :)

  • admin

    No, you're not alone. But I don't care if it's G5, faster G4, hell, call it a G3 if you want — anything for a significant processor improvement. The new PowerBooks are fantastic, but there's just a huge gap between laptop and desktop performance and value, and it's not nearly as bad on PC.

  • Guest

    I'm with you! I wish I didn't need a computer right now, so I could wait for a next generation PB.
    But, here I go. 8)

  • Guest

    You may think that these Monster machines are fast enough…. but in the pro audio market they still have a long way to go. right now im doing 300 channel mixes and i need 3 computers with $100,000 of DSP to keep up with it. as we move into higher resilution and multi-channel audio we will see the audio track count tripple and the bandwidth needed soar. I can't wait to see where we are in five years. maybe the cell processor will be able to handle it but i think that latency might become more of an isue.

  • Guest

    You can look here – http://systemshoutouts.org

    to compare Macs with Dells at (virtually) every price point and model type.

  • Guest

    I hate to put it like this, as I am an ecumenical person (i.e. I use both Macs and PCs all day every day. I'm writing this on a Mac, FWIW…) but you don't want to see benchmarks of high-end PC laptops versus Powerbooks. You just don't.

    It's really very sad how much Apple has lagged in the last two years. While their industrial design is second to none, and OSX is an incredible operating system, we're going to see a gigantic increase in PC speeds in the next few months with dual-core AMD and Intel chips; the price-to-performance ratio is going to get completely ludicrous for high-end users.

    Now, that said, you can have my iBook when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. But I'll be rendering on a PC for the forseeable future.

  • Guest

    I've been using macs with music for a number of years, starting with an old SE-30 running a basic midi sequencer. One thing I've noticed in newer machines of the past 4 years or so, is that the backside cache arrangements have seemed to have a huge impact on the computer's ability to handle large amounts of DSP (at least, on a mac). The newer iBooks and Powerbooks certainly lag behind in this department, compared to older G4 towers that had up to 2MB L3. A couple of years ago, my main machine where I worked was an older 733MHz G4 (Digital Audio). That thing, despite its "age", could run sessions of Live and Reason, with a full range of DSP on multiple channels, without breaking a sweat. At the time, my then-new iBook (800MHz G4) couldn't even keep up.

    I now run a 1GHz iBook, and couldn't run half the demo songs on the new version of Reason. But, what other folks said is correct – the Apple portables are suitable for live performances and minor session work, but if you're doing serious studio work, get a tower (or a PC).

  • Guest

    So, Windows is the best choice for virtual studio work? :x how sad, I really like OSX, but, yes, even my "Power"-Mac G4 cannot but barely boot Live4 and chokes on a single Reaktor instance…I thought the year of "studio in a box" had come? :?

  • Guest

    PS macs are bad for gaming/not great for productivity, who, then, other than graphic artists/ dv editors are they for, especially if not for musicians? :?

  • admin

    I think we've blown this out of proportion. Desktop Macs for 99% of music users are going to be more than sufficient. Most of us are NOT doing 300 channel mixes (see above.)

    Speaking as a big mobile advocate, I'm just looking for bigger gains in the laptop space from Apple. I love going mobile, hate feeling like I'm giving something up vs. the Power Mac G5 (or even iMac G5 — notice Sasha is using that now in his gigs.)

    Deal breaker? Not at all. Vast majority of the live laptop people I see are on the Mac.

    And bad for gaming, I'll take, though I prefer the console systems anyway because you can sit down on the couch, fire them up, and get away from the computer for once. But bad for productivity? On what grounds? Office on Mac runs just like Office on PC for me.

    Macs remain great for musicians, partly because Windows XP is still so far behind as an OS. I have a PC and Mac side by side here, and I can't bring myself to use the Windows machine very often, great Cakewalk software notwithstanding. The Mac is simply the better OS: looks better, runs better, more reliable, easier to troubleshoot, faster to use. Period. (And I'm an old PC/DOS/Win guy, believe it or not.)

    Both platforms are stalling a bit in pure processor speed, so it's all about dual core (on both platforms) and new mobo architectures. I think we'll see big things from Apple in the coming months, and I look forward to it. I hope this article is outdated real soon.

    Peter

  • admin

    Another point — I've been very impressed with the way the dual G5 runs under 10.3. Pretty much all code gets to take advantage of dual processing. I think you'll see even bigger gains in 10.4 — gains across all apps for dual processors AND the G5, not just those optimized for the setup.