Power Consumption and Performance per Watt

Compared to the G5, Intel's Core Duo has no problems offering lower power consumption, but what about when pitted against the G4? The whole reason the G4 was kept in Apple's notebook lines was because of its low power consumption; while the Core Duo can easily be a better mobile CPU than the power hungry desktop G5, how does it compare to an already low power G4?

First off, I measured idle power consumption of the entire notebook at the wall outlet. The battery was removed from both notebooks so we're only testing the power consumption of the computer + display.

Total System Power Consumption at Idle

At idle, the PowerBook G4 running at 1.5GHz manages to come in at 21W total system power consumption, a full 3 Watts lower than the Core Duo 2.0GHz system. The number of variables between the two systems are really too many to count, thus making it difficult to declare this a clear victory for the G4 processor over Core Duo, but it does mean that the older PowerBook G4 notebooks consumes slightly less power as a whole at idle than the newer MacBook Pros.

Next, we ran our QuickTime H.264 encode test and looked at peak power consumption under full CPU load. Keep in mind that QuickTime's H.264 encoder is multi-threaded so both cores are under full load in the MacBook Pro:

Total System Power Consumption under Load (Quicktime H.264)

Under full load the PowerBook G4 jumps up to 40W while the MacBook Pro falls 3W short and peaks at 37W, giving us a role reversal. It looks like although the older G4 systems consume less power at idle, the MacBook Pro is greener under full load. Of course low power consumption itself is meaningless if you don't have the performance to back it up (remember Transmeta?). Now let's look at the performance per Watt in the previous test.

What I did for this graph was take the average frame rate during the H.264 encode task and divided it by the peak power consumption during the test thus giving us performance measured in frames encoded per second, per Watt.

Performance per Watt - Quicktime H.264 Encoding

Using QuickTime's H.264 encoder as our benchmark, the new MacBook Pro offers around 62% better performance per Watt than the previous PowerMac G4. For a notebook, that sort of increase in performance per watt is extremely important.

Interestingly enough, despite the relatively similar power consumption characteristics the new MacBook Pro uses a noticeably larger AC adapter than the PowerMac G4 rated at 85W instead of 65W.

Inside the MacBook Pro Performance Comparison: G4 vs. Core Duo
POST A COMMENT

52 Comments

View All Comments

  • Sengir - Saturday, July 22, 2006 - link

    I'm mainly a PC guy, but while working on Apple notebooks at a Notebook Depot, I've become interested in the Mac OS. Previously I had little to no exposure to it.
    I will say this. Apple has made alot of improvement with the Macbook/Pro in terms of repairing. Alot easier to get to the motherboard, hard drive, memory or anything.

    Unfortunately they didn't redesign for the heat of the CPUs, the ventilation just doesn't seem adequate and as a result, overheating is common.

    There are other issues with the hardware, but none I can really go into. I believe people buy Macs for the OS and not the hardware. Since some of the design/materials are cheaper than an HP notebook, for more cost. If I buy a Mac, it will probably be a mini, due to cost. The Macbooks are very nice, but have several flaws that need to be addressed.
    Reply
  • redison - Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - link

    "I've become interested in the Mac OS ..... believe people buy Macs for the OS and not the hardware"

    Right on, and check out the Leopard ( OS X 10.5 )Preview on Apples website, even better if you have the time see Jobs Kenote

    Reply
  • phillock - Sunday, January 28, 2018 - link

    I've also bought a Macbook one week ago, and I also had a keyboard issue... My 'e' button wasnt working sometimes... When i lifted the key off the keyboard i could see the plastic under the key was kind of broken: there was a little crack in it. https://tinyurl.com I went back to the apple shop, and because I only had the laptop for like 2 days they just gave me a complete new one.../y83723ww Reply
  • phillock - Sunday, January 28, 2018 - link

    I'm most interested in a smaller model though, so I have to wait regardless. I suspect the smallest model may get a 13" 1280x800 widescreen too, considering that as of the Aperture 1.1 update, Apple https://tinyurl.com/y83723ww has arbitrarily (and very annoyingly) removed support for my 1024x768 iBook G4 12" 1.33 GHz, and is saying that a minimum 1280x780 screen is required, even though no such laptop is available yet from Apple. Reply
  • hasapi - Monday, April 17, 2006 - link

    Excellent reading - I just received my 2GHz MBP - and its just fantastic in every way. My only gripe which was noted in the article is the battery life of just over 2.5hrs!, its probably unrealistic but my old PB was getting 3.5hrs - maybe a new third party battery might help but would have been nice to see upwards of 5hrs imo? Reply
  • Eug - Sunday, April 16, 2006 - link

    quote:

    I would recommend waiting for a Merom version if you can. By the time Merom is introduced later this year there will be even more Universal Binaries available for the platform and hopefully by then all of the issues with the current MacBook Pros will have been worked out.

    I agree. Moreover, Boot Camp and Parallels' Workstation both will be improved by then, and Apple's pro line of laptops may just have Blu-ray drives as well available as an option. Even if we don't get Blu-ray drives by the time Merom is incorporated into MacBook Pros, in the very least we'll have 8X DVD-R support as well as dual-layer support.

    I'm most interested in a smaller model though, so I have to wait regardless. I suspect the smallest model may get a 13" 1280x800 widescreen too, considering that as of the Aperture 1.1 update, Apple has arbitrarily (and very annoyingly) removed support for my 1024x768 iBook G4 12" 1.33 GHz, and is saying that a minimum 1280x780 screen is required, even though no such laptop is available yet from Apple.
    Reply
  • tekkstore - Monday, April 17, 2006 - link

    http://www.tekkstore.com">tekkstore.com Reply
  • gamehack - Saturday, April 15, 2006 - link

    Hi there,

    I have a question to any owners of a MacBook Pro - Is the keyboard suitable for heavy use? I planning to get a MBP and use it as my main dev machine so I would typing quite a lot.

    Kind regards,
    gamehack
    Reply
  • bertd - Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - link

    in my opinion, the keyboard is one of the best keyboards i've ever used on a laptop... and i code a lot of html, php and css so i use it a lot too Reply
  • bertd - Saturday, April 15, 2006 - link

    Anand:
    great review!

    I've also bought a Macbook one week ago, and I also had a keyboard issue... My 'e' button wasnt working sometimes... When i lifted the key off the keyboard i could see the plastic under the key was kind of broken: there was a little crack in it. I went back to the apple shop, and because I only had the laptop for like 2 days they just gave me a complete new one...

    I've also experienced the 'heat' problems.. the first macbook i had was an 'earlier' version of the macbook : the serial number was W8611*****... With the new one, the one they have given me to replace the one with the broken 'e' key, the serial number started with w8612****, and I've read that macbooks starting with these numbers in their serial should be newer revisions...
    The heat problem is not as bad as with the first one, but still the bottom gets kind off hotter than with any other laptop i've ever had...
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now