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2004-01 - Continued

For this reported we assembled four of the fastest PC and Mac desktop computers available as testing commenced:

  • Dell Precision 450: Dual 3.06GHz Xeon processors, 2GB RAM and twin 120GB hard drives

  • Apple Power Mac G5: Dual 2.0GHz G5 processors, 2GB RAM and 160GB hard drive

  • Dell Precision 360: 3.2GHz Pentium 4 processor, 2GB RAM and twin 120GB hard drives

  • Apple Power Mac G5: 1.8GHz G5 processor, 2GB RAM and 160GB hard drive

The pace of change in the computer world being what it is, the single-processor Power Mac G5/1.8GHz tested has already been supplanted by a dual processor model. In addition, the twin 3.2GHz Xeon processor configuration of the Precision 450 was not available, so the slightly-slower 3.06GHz took its place. On the PC side, we eschewed overclocked or otherwise heavily modified specialty computers in favour of machines that resemble what photographers actually use now or are likely to purchase.

Specifications

Key specifications for the four computers are below.

Specification/
Model
Dell Precision 450
Apple Power Mac G5/2.0GHz
Dell Precision 360
Apple Power Mac G5/1.8GHz
Processor Type
Xeon
G5
Pentium 4
G5
Processor Speed
2 x 3.06GHz
2 x 2.0GHz
3.2GHz
1.8GHz
Frontside Bus
533MHz
1GHz
800MHz
900MHz
RAM Type
266MHz DDR SDRAM
400MHz DDR SDRAM
400MHz DDR SDRAM
400MHz DDR SDRAM
RAM Total
2GB
2GB
2GB
2GB
Internal Hard Drive Type
IDE (ATA100)
Serial ATA
Serial ATA
Serial ATA
Internal Hard Drive Capacity
2 x 120GB
160GB
2 x 120GB
160GB
Video
nVidia QuadraFX 1000 (1 CRT at 1280 x 1024 pixels, 75Hz connected)
ATI Radeon 9600 Pro (1 CRT at 1280 x 1024 pixels, 75Hz connected)
nVidia QuadraFX 1000 (1 CRT at 1280 x 1024 pixels, 75Hz connected)
nVidia GeForce FX 5200 Ultra (1 CRT at 1280 x 1024 pixels, 75Hz connected)
FireWire
Adaptec DuoConnect PCI: 2 x FW400
Built-in:
2 x FW400; 1 x FireWire 800
Adaptec DuoConnect PCI: 2 x FW400
Built-in:
2 x FW400; 1 x FireWire 800
USB 2.0
Built-in:
6 ports
Built-in:
3 ports
Built-in:
8 ports
Built-in:
3 ports
Operating System 
Windows XP Professional SP1
Mac OS X 10.3.2
Windows XP Professional SP1
Mac OS X 10.3.2

Update, January 7, 2004: We've received a number of queries about the impact of the hard drive on the tests we performed. Please note that only one hard drive in the two-drive PC's was used for all operations, and that the drives were similarly configured in all four computers to ensure this was not a variable that would unfairly skew performance.

Also note that the nature of all the tests in this report is such that they are only minimally affected by hard drive performance. This isn't true of other operations that pro digital photographers might perform, such as opening and saving 200MB TIFF files or copying large number of files within the same drive or from one drive to another.

But as none of the tests in this report included this type of operation, more aggressive hard drive configurations would have had a minimal impact. This isn't our gut feeling, but rather what we determined through testing prior to the commencement of the benchmarking for this report.

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