Professional Application Performance with Final Cut Pro, Xcode and CineBench

Our first "Pro" application test uses Apple's famed Final Cut Pro 5.1.1.  The test is simple, we are just rendering a video we dragged into our project:

Final Cut Pro 5.1.1

If you spend a lot of time in Final Cut, you can't get faster than the Mac Pro.  At 2.0GHz it's already faster than the PowerMac G5 (even when you extrapolate out the performance of the 2.7GHz G5). 

Our next test is for all you developers out there, we're simply measuring build time using Xcode 2.4 and building our favorite OS X IM client: Adium.  Compiling is very disk intensive but it's also quite CPU bound as well; while there's no benefit to quad processors when only compiling a single application there is a benefit to higher clock speeds.

Xcode 2.4

The Mac Pro completely demolishes the PowerMac G5 in build time, cutting the time to build Adium almost in half.  The performance improvement is tremendous and it echoes some of the feelings we've had when using Intel based Macs; anything involving I/O seems to be faster and smoother. 

Our final professional benchmark is CineBench 9.5, which measures 3D rendering performance.  Two versions of the benchmark are run, one that's single threaded and one that spawns as many threads as you have cores. 

CineBench 9.5

The single threaded test shows a reasonable advantage over the PowerMac G5, about 8% at the same clock speed.  The PowerPC G5 architecture was no slouch and floating point performance was its strong point, thus even the almighty Woodcrest can't really put it to shame too much. 

CineBench 9.5

The multithreaded test shows the advantages of having four cores, as the Mac Pro maintains a significant lead.  Note that the Mac Pro 2.66GHz held a 15.4% performance advantage over the PowerMac G5 in the single threaded test, but that grew to 19.4% in the multithreaded test.  The performance scaling shows one of the advantages of Intel's shared L2 cache, making for better performance scaling when going from one to two cores. 

iWork '06 Performance with Pages and Keynote Multitasking Performance - The Quad Core Advantage


View All Comments

  • rockinphotog - Saturday, August 19, 2006 - link

    AS a matter of fact, I often use my apple keyboard for my digital camera, printer, syncing my treo and even my wacom tablet. Reply
  • aaronlyon - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link

    In next week's article, please evaluate Parallels Workstation for running Windows apps simultaneously with Mac OS. If this works smoothly, why not use Windows versions of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator? That would be a good solution while waiting for Universal Binary updates.
  • Zebo - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link

    Great pics and article Anand.

    What a deal for such a clean system. They don't build PCs that pretty and this is the best yet from Apple's industrial design squad. I definity want one but don't need four cores.

    Can I run Windows fully with this machine? Or maybe I should wait until a single processor (dual core) version comes. If Apple sells $1500 Conroe boxes and it ran windows they counld'nt keep them in stock.
  • plinden - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link


    Can I run Windows fully with this machine?

    There's an issue with the speed of SATA hard drives, as Anand mentions here:">

    It will probably be fixed eventually but if you're relying on this to run Windows, you should wait.
  • FutureMedia - Thursday, August 17, 2006 - link

    You are not comparing the Quad G5 Rear Ports to the Mac Pro Rear Ports. Quad G5 has 3 USB 2 ports as well as 2 Gigabyte Ethernet ports just like the Mac Pro. IE the Quad G5 rear set of ports is IDENTICAL to the Mac Pro rear set - just laid out differently. Only the front adds a fifth USB 2 and second FW800 port not on the Quad G5 which is the same layout as what you show from OLDER not last generation October 2005 PowerMac G5s.

    Moreover I was looking forward to a Quad G5 comparison with the 2GHz and 2.66 GHz Mac Pros. That is what I want to know. Especially Is even the 2GHz Mac Pro faster than the Quad G5? Is the problem that you don't have a Quad G5 in house to compare it to? I am so bummed out that you didn't compare Mac Pro two bottom speeds with the Quad G5. Please can you do it after next week? I would really appreciate it. Thanks.
  • PhilG5 - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link

    Thank you so much for pointing that out! In fact, Anandtech uses mid-2004 PowerMac G5 (still using AGP graphics and DDR-400 memory!) and doesn't take into account the whole "late 2005" series (which first supported DDR2, PCI-E and had the "Antares" PPC970 core). If you look at Barefeats benchmark results ("> ) the Quad G5 still seems to be pretty much competitive with the new Mac Pros. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link

    We did not have a Quad G5 on hand, however the performance results woult not have been that different. The benchmarks that show little or no scaling between the Dual and Quad Mac Pros would show the same scaling between dual and quad G5s (which were most of the benchmarks). None of our tests were GPU bound, so difference in graphics interfaces should also minimally impact performance. The only real variable that could have changed things is DDR2, however seeing as how none of the DDR-DDR2 transitions we've seen on the PC side have done anything for performance, hopes aren't too high for a tremendous impact on G5 performance.

    Take care,
  • Konq - Thursday, August 17, 2006 - link

    Anand - I think something is wrong with the 2 vs. 4 core Xcode test. As with gcc, you can tell it to compile with as many threads as you like. This will compile 4 source files at the same time for instance on 4 cores (multitasking). Perhaps the code was too small to really see a difference, or the environment was not set right? Reply
  • Konq - Saturday, August 19, 2006 - link

    OK, now another interesting 4-core note: MacWorld did a test with iTunes and a quad core, 2.5 Ghz G5 beat a dual-core, 2.7 Ghz G5 system when converting 45 minutes of AAC files to mp3. Maybe this was due to having multiple files to work on? AAC->mp3 vs. Wave->mp3?

    One thing I am interested in now: An article that covers how to get the most out of 4-core systems. Which software benefits and how. Since 4-core processors are coming out soon, this will be needed in purchasing decisions.
  • Konq - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link

    I verified on the Apple Xcode users list that Xcode can indeed take advantage of every core. You might want to modify the test you do and configuration if needed.

    Great article btw. I enjoy reading reviews from you that can be counted on for true pro's and con's instead of overly rosey approach from fan sites.

    In spite of "horrid memory system", it sounds like the system kicks butt! One is in my future...

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