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MacBook Pro Performance Analysis

by Craig Wood

Introduction

On the last day of Macworld 2006 I revisited the prototype MacBooks and performed a series of benchmarks to measure the new system's performance. I conducted four real-world tests on Apple's new MacBook Pro and previous G4/G5 systems, including audio/video encoding and HD video playback. The goal was to evaluate the performance of the new Intel-based MacBook Pro and compare it to previous Macs.

Test Systems

Four systems were tested to provide results for a broad range of Macs, including various generations of Mac laptops and desktops. Each system was running off its AC power adapter and used the "Better Performance" power management setting. Only the primary display was active and it was set to its native resolution. Exact specifications for each test system and their introduction dates are as follows:

  • MacBook Pro Core Duo 1.83 GHz, 2 GB DDR2, ATI X1600 Mobility 128 MB @ 1440x900 - January 2006 Preproduction
  • PowerBook G4 15" 1.67 GHz, 1.5 GB DDR, ATI 9700 Mobility 64 MB @ 1280x854 - January 2005
  • PowerMac G5 Dual 2 GHz, 2.5 GB DDR, ATI 9800 Pro 128 MB @ 1680x1050 - July 2003
  • PowerBook G4 Titanium 500 MHz, 768 MB SDRAM, ATI Rage 128 Mobile 8 MB @ 1152x768 - January 2001

Benchmark Methods

To best judge the performance of the new MacBooks I conducted four media-related tests on each system: audio encoding using iTunes, video encoding using QuickTime Player, and HD video playback using QuickTime Player for 720p and 1080p content. These tests stress various aspects of each system, including the CPU and graphics cards. All test files resided on the machine's internal hard disk and other applications were closed unless otherwise noted. Each test system had the latest versions of iTunes, QuickTime, and MacOS X installed, versions 6.0.3, 7.0.4, and 10.4.4 respectively. All applications are Universal Binaries and were running CPU native code.

iTunes Encoding Test
The iTunes encoding test converted audio using the "Convert Selection to AAC..." feature and reports the encoding speed as displayed in iTunes 6.0.2. The source file was a 16 minute, unprotected AAC file of "It's A Fast Driving Rave-Up With The Dandy Warhols" by The Dandy Warhols (sample). The source file is 160 kbps and was previously ripped from the CD "Dandy's Rule OK?" using iTunes 4.0.1 and QuickTime 6.3. The output format is iTunes' AAC default settings at 128 kbps.

QuickTime Encoding Test
The QuickTime encoding test converted video to iPod format using the "Export..." feature in QuickTime Player 7.0.4. A stopwatch was used to measure the time taken to encode each video. Then, the video's length was divided by this encoding time to produce the encoding speed. For example, if a 60 second video clip was encoded in 30 seconds the encoding speed is 2x because 60 divided by 30 is 2. The source file is Apple's latest Intel Mac ad and was downloaded from the Apple.com website. The clip duration is 35.66 seconds at 640x360 resolution playing at 23.98 fps and is encoded in H.264 format with AAC audio. The filename is "intel20060110_h.640.mov". The output format is QuickTime player's "Movie to iPod (320x240)" default settings which uses H.264 and AAC codecs.

QuickTime Playback Tests
The QuickTime playback tests played HD video in QuickTime Player at both actual and fullscreen window sizes. Both 720p and 1080p HD versions of the King Kong movie trailer (Trailer 7) were used. These files were downloaded from Apple's QuickTime Movie Trailer website. The files were loaded from the internal Hard Drive and no downloading or buffering was needed during testing. QuickTime's "Movie Info" window was open to record the Playing FPS and an average value was recorded for the clip. If the clip played seamlessly the Activity Monitor was used to monitor QuickTime's CPU usage via the "% CPU" column.

Benchmark Results

As you can see below, the new MacBook Pro encoded audio 33% faster than the previous PowerBook, at 20x compared to 15x. Unfortunately, the MacBook Pro is still 20% slower than the original PowerMac G5, which encoded audio at 25x, and more powerful G5 quad systems are now available.

iTunes and QuickTime Encoding Speeds Chart


The new MacBook Pro proved to be far more adept at encoding video, at rate of 1.3x. The MacBook Pro is 160% faster than the previous PowerBook, which encoded video at 0.5x. The MacBook Pro encodes video only 24% slower than the G5 system, which encoded video at 1.7x.

1080p Video Framerates and CPU Usage Chart


When playing fullscreen 1080p video the MacBook Pro never dropped a frame, unlike the PowerBook G4 which played at 8 fps. The PowerMac G5 system also maintained the full framerate of 23.98 fps but used more system resources. The MacBook Pro used 80% of total CPU resources whereas the PowerMac used 110%. (Since these are both dual processor systems, the total CPU resources for these systems tops at 200%, 100% for each processor.) The MacBook Pro is playing the video back with far less effort than the PowerMac G5 and may not even need the second processor core, unlike the PowerMac which is leveraging both processors. The Titanium PowerBook G4 never had a chance.

720p Video Framerates and CPU Usage Chart


When playing fullscreen 720p video most systems performed well. Neither the MacBook Pro nor the PowerMac G5 dropped frames. While the PowerBook G4's playback was consistent, it did occasionally drop a frame. Like the 1080p tests, the MacBook Pro bested the other systems, using the least system resources to display the video.

Analysis and Conclusion

The new MacBook Pro performed admirably in all tests and surprisingly well in the video playback tests. While the Core Duo processor used in the MacBooks is very different than previous G4 and G5 processors, that did not seem to hinder it. In addition to dual processors, the MacBook features a fast ATI X1600 graphics chip and both of these are responsible for the new system's improved performance.

While these tests paint a glamorous picture of the MacBook Pro, this analysis could be improved in many ways. Firstly it would be beneficial to include iMac G5 and iMac Core Duo systems as well as cutting edge PowerMac G5s and PCs. This would round out the analysis and provide deeper comparisons. Repeated trials for existing tests and additional tests would improve accuracy. A more precise and less subjective methodology for testing video framerates would also be preferred. The results of this analysis also lead to new questions, such as would an upgraded graphics card improve the PowerMac G5's performance?

The overall results of this analysis indicate that Apple's new MacBook Pro is an improved machine in many ways. While some areas are yet to be examined, it is safe to say that the new MacBook is Apple's fastest laptop yet.



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Related Reading & Other Benchmarks



Reader Comments

Joshua Ochs
Something is a bit odd here. Maybe it's just that it's a preproduction model, but the 1.83Ghz configuration of the MacBook Pro on Apple's web site has 256MB of video ram. Not that it should affect these tests.
craigtheguru
Actually, the Macworld preproduction units were high-end but only featured 128 MB of VRAM. (This slipped my mind for a minute as well.) This differences between the preproduction and final shipping units should not impact the test results though.
TLR
The MacBook encoding performance under iTunes is probably not representative as Apple has undoubtedly fine-tuned this app. Other vendors that wrote code optimized for Altivec will suffer big performance hits without it. Does anyone know if Apple and intel have something in the works to replace Altivec?
tango
Rosetta is going to replace Altivec... I was also at MacWorld and had a first hand experience at trying out the new MacBook Pros. First, they wouldn't let me close the lid. Very suspcious. Second, the MacBook did indeed perform faster. I tried iPhoto with about 160 thumbnails shown... no slow down, smooth as silk. Finally, the response on Safari was super fast. A little too fast actually. I think there was some type of web cache in place... I went to sites that should take about 5 seconds to load and display... no aparent slow down on the MacBook. Overall, nice machine though!
Joakim Arfvidsson
"Rosetta is going to replace Altivec"

That's completely wrong.

The Intel processors have their own vector instruction set – SSE3. It is not as good as Altivec, but it's always a bit task-dependent and with work I think it can often be made to perform quite similarly.
Mark B.
Hey, I hear Rosetta is going to replace Altivec...

LOL! Nice work.
deluxe
Intel's equivalent to AltiVec is called SSE and it's already well estabilshed in Intel processors (it's been extended to SSE3 already). Apple and Intel have been working hard to vectorise Apple's OS and applications. Also mid-year, Intel's compilers will be final for Xcode, which offer greatly improved performance than the compiler Apple currently uses, gcc.
laurent
replace Altivec?
You can't really "replace' it. Altivec is a well designed piece. Far beter then those MMX 1 and MMX 2 instruction sets that Intel added to there processors. But Intel's now at MMX 3. Don't know how the performance is exactly of the latest MMX instruction set but I do know that it expanded a lot over the years. If Apple wants to inprove al vectorized code or multimedia encoding it will be forced to optimize 100% for the latest MMX procs that the Intel Core Duo has. That's about it. personaly I think the code isn't optimized well yet. They will need beter compilers from Intel (surely not gcc) and as far Apple has his methods this will only occure with a new system release ( with Tiger apple went from gcc 3.x to gcc 4.0) and this will be due with Leopard. So patience people... in fact the Desktop line has to come out yet. This will come with the new Napa line from Intel. This includes Conroe for desktop, Merom for Portable and I think Pressler for servers. The Napa platform has 64bit (witch the Yonah - core duo - hasn't), has also Hyperthreading and virtualization.
That's about it. So if you want Intel rocks the sky then you will have to wait the new processors and new - more optimzed - compilers, expected for Leopard. And then Jobs will again show off that the new OS X (leopard) is far more faster and so on.
I hope this fills your questions.
Shawn Erickson
Actually Apple is asking developers to stick to using SSE and SSE2, not to depend on having SSE3 available. Apple has and will continue to optimize Core Image, Core Audio, QuickTime (codecs), Accelerate framework, etc. to use SSE/SSE2 when on Intel and AltiVec when on PowerPC. So applications that use those will automatically gain the optimization work that Apple has and will be doing.

Apple also has documentation up to help developers deal with SSE and AltiVec...

http://developer.apple.com/documentation/Performance/Conceptual/
Accelerate_sse_migration/index.html

http://developer.apple.com/hardware/ve/sse.html

http://developer.apple.com/performance/accelerateframework.html

etc.
laurent
Sorry. mistake
MMX should be SSE.
calm down
wow.. um . ever heard of clicking submit once?
name
Well, I'm convince. Rosetta is going to replace Alticec. ;)
Rich
Hmm. I wonder if Rosetta will replace Altivec. Way to go doofus.
name
Ooops. Corrected spelling errors.


Well, I'm convinced. Rosetta is going to replace Altivec. ;)
laurent
The problem with SSE was that, when a SSE has to process something the main core of the Intel stopped and waited until it was finished. The core units (int, fp) cound't work simutaniously with the SSE unit. I don't know if this was fixed with SSE3 and the redesign of the Intel Core Duo.
Can't someone tell me more about this?
S. Jobs
anyone hear if Rosetta is going to replace Altivec??
craigtheguru
Looks like I need to make some upgrades to my comment system. :)
Frank
Those sure are some nice benchmarks on 1080p video. Looks like with the built-in S-Video and FireWire 800 ports, this MacBook Pro will make a great mobile video editing studio!

Oh, wait...
Paranox
Rosetta Is not going to replace rosetta, Rosetta is an emulator, it emulates altivec (badly).
Apple stated Accellerate framwork will be the Tool for dev to make the transition from AltiVec to SSE (2 3 or 4 soon)
Shawn Erickson
Laurent you are thinking of MMX in regards to it sharing the floating point register space. MMX was a bad start to SIMD for Intel but that was a long time ago now, SSE and later are much better.
Timothy Dorr
Not to burst anyone's bubble, but the video playback is more a result of the video card upgrade than the CPU itself. You'll notice that the latest Windows drivers from ATI support hardware-accelerated H.264 playback: https://a248.e.akamai.net/f/674/9206/0/www2.ati.com/drivers/
Catalyst_513_release_notes.html

So, stick that video card in a PowerBookG4 and it would probably perform just as well in the video playback tests.
Jay
iTunes encoding has become a pretty standard tests on these benchmarks which I suppose is good for easy comparison, but I have some issues with it. 1. I've never encoded an AAC file from my harddisk into another AAC file on my harddisk. Tests from CD's would give us numbers on something that people are actually going to spend a lot of time doing. 2. Encoding speed varies widely for no apparent reason. I've had my powerbook g4 encode at 20 times. I've also had it encode at 5 times, and both those record speeds were from the same book-on-cd, although not the exact same disc, so who the hell can figure that out? But overall the tests are very informative, thanks!
Joe Maller
Thank you for the report and for providing the sample files. Now I'll can know for sure exactly how slow my current PowerBook is.

Frank, Apple DVI to Video Adapter, $19:

http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/72403/wo/
L3462QE3VTru2D1oeIN1j6aDKVp/2.0.19.1.0.8.25.7.11.5.3

Damn that's an ugly url. (site wouldn't preview/allow? links)
madman
You may not have built in s-video but you can use the adapter like any other mac and you get composite video too. Firewire 800 ports are being lost are a shame, and I suppose they were useful with hardrives, but it did share a bus with the 400 port on the powerbook and audio devices actually work better on the 400 port. Besides intel doesn't make firewire 800 ports on their motherboards.
Adam M
Have you heard?
Altivec's is dead and Rosetta's the box they're gonna bury it in!
Ray
I think this is the adapter you meant.
It is a "Mini-DVI" to "Video" (S-video and composite)

http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/72403/wo/
L3462QE3VTru2D1oeIN1j6aDKVp/14.0.19.1.0.8.25.7.11.7.3
martin
the part that sticks out to me, and the reason why i dropped my bread on the macbook, is that the video encoding is at least in the realm of the dual g5, whereas my pb 1.33 encodes for my ipod video at an intolerable rate.

besides, i really wanted to step up to the backlit keyboard for long, dark airline flights and that was a good enough excuse. i mean, 1.3x versus less than .5x is a pretty steep jump.
Ray
My Bad,
That mini DVI is for the new iMac and old 12" G4 powerbook. Forgot the 15" are using a full size DVI even though I'm typing on one (1.67G4 not an intel, YET)
James Watkins
What did you expect from the PowerBook G4. 1st is has 1/3 less memory and only a 64 MB video card. The recent PB G4's have a 128 mb card. Put 2GB in one of those and then do a fair comparison against the new Macbook Pro
Nate
With the QT playback, the videocard is going to make a big difference here. The X1600 accelerates the H.264 video unlike the other GPUs. That might explain why there is more CPU usage in the G4 and G5 systems.
Alex Kac
I doubt Apple has the h.264 video playback working directly on the GPU just yet. They might, but I doubt it mainly because they rarely get something like that right on the first try, and two if it did I'd think it would get closer to a 5% CPU usage instead of 80%.
Stephen
Was the model tested a 5400 RPM hard drive instead of 7200RPM? That would explain some of the Intel Core Duo MacBook being so much slower than Dual G5 2.0 in some of the tests.
azxel
no Photoshop and 3D tests?
craigtheguru
@Stephen - All the Macworld units had 5400 RPM drives. I bet a 7200 RPM drive would help the new MacBook out, but only slightly. At the speeds shown I doubt the bottleneck is disk I/O.
Troy McClure
Asumming these tests were done with the mac book pros at macworld, they did infact have 128MB of video memory. The models show were all prototypes. It's correct that the models released in feb will have 256MB, so things should get even better.
ray
MacBook Pro's graphics card is one of the latest x1k series gfx cards from ATI, which support avivo. I'm not sure if avivo is supported with the mac gfx drivers yet, but it offers hardware-accelerated h.264 playback, something that would definently help the macbook's cpu utilization. A more accurate comparison would be a pci-e powermac with the upcoming x1800xt gfx card previewed at macworld.
BDAqua
A new Mac faster than an old Mac!?

Except for the 33/66 '040 over the 60/80/100MHz 601s , and the 533/7410s over the 733 Cachless 7450s... what's new?

Seems only the Graphic Card & somewhat the Bus speed that's causing this speedup.

PS. For those unwieldy URLs try... tinyurl.com!:)
Lane
Interesting Benchmarks I might just follow up with a test on my 15" HD Powerbook and my AMD 3400+ Windows desktop. It can't hurt to see what the "competition" has to show against the Intel beast.
alex
a comparsion between laptops using their power-saving settings would also be interesting, since Apple switched to Intel to be more powerful per watt
GuruX
What about the noise and fans? Is it a quiet machine?

What about temperature and heat? Does it run cool?
dude
Hey, was that really Steve Jobs who asked if Rosetta was going to replace Altivec?
arne
Is it true that Rosetta replaced Altivec lateley?
Arse Veteran
well,tango is correct in a way. The new macbooks don't have altivec anymore but they do sport Rosetta, that translates altivec code.
*crawls back under rock*
olisindri
A PowerBook G4 1.67 GHz with only a 64 MB Video Card and 1280x854 res? I don't think so. Either you have the wrong video specs there, or you have a 1.25 GHz PowerBook on your hands. Which changes the results quite a bit.
Rosetta
Yes, I am replacing Altivec. So suck it.
Altivec
*sigh* I feared it would come to this :(
Math
Math lessons needed.

"The new MacBook Pro proved to be far more adept at encoding video, at rate of 1.3x. The MacBook Pro is 260% faster than the previous PowerBook, which encoded video at 0.5x."

MacBook Pro is 2.6 times as fast as the previous powerbook OR
MacBook Pro is 160% faster than previous powerbook.

It is all in the words
Terry
Somebody mentioned that Apple "suspiciously" wouldn't let them close the lid...

The MacBook Pro contains a totally new power management chip, and I was told by Apple employees at Macworld that they had some bugs in the preproduction units. That's why they didn't want the lids closed. There's nothing suspicous about that.... really... what did you expect? :P
AL T. VEc
I am an App-tel insider and i know for sure that rosetta is the replacement for altivec. GET READY!
James Grinter
The Feb 2005 (the author says Jan, but Apple say February) PowerBook G4 1.67MHz came with a 64MB Mobility Radeon and 1280x854 display. (128MB VRAM was BTO.)
See http://developer.apple.com/documentation/Hardware/Developer_Notes/Macintosh_CPUs-G4/
15inchPowerBookG4_Feb05/1Overview/chapter_2_section_3.html#/
/apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40001814-CH205-TPXREF103 (15-inch PowerBook G4 Developer Note for the older model.)
Ingo Keck
Can you explain why the Mac Book Pro in your test has much better results in quicktime-coding than the Intel iMac testet by arstechnica.com?

http://arstechnica.com/reviews/hardware/imac-coreduo.ars/5

In your results the G5 dual is just a little bit faster than the mac book pro, in the results of arstechnica it is two times faster than the mac book pro.
Better Maths
If you are going to get anal about giving lessons in maths, then you could at least avoid promoting the use of the impossible value of 160% (1.6 fold, or 1.6x but never, ever anything more than 100%). Thanking you. ;-)
James Poo
But is this computer ultimately going to replace my SE FDHD for all around utility?

My SE is already max'd out with 4MB of RAM, and has ultra-contrast video. I've been waiting for the next move upward, just not sure if this is the one.
James Poo
But is this computer ultimately going to replace my SE FDHD for all around utility?

My SE is already max'd out with 4MB of RAM, and has ultra-contrast video. I've been waiting for the next move upward, just not sure if this is the one.
TomHagen
Timothy Dorr has right when he talks about hardware accelerated H.264 in X1600 radeon. I've tested 720p playing FPS on my dual 2.0 G5 PM 3 GB ram and radeon X800 256 MB and it was about the same performace as configuration with radeon 9800 from tests shown above (both cards without hardware accelerated H.264 playback) around 60% of 200% CPU usage. So I think X1600 is the biggest performance saver in case of new MacBook Pro with intel duocore.
160% Correct
Sure, you can't be 160% correct or hold up 160% of your fingers but to be 160% faster than another computer makes perfect sense. And, as Math explained, 160% faster means the same as 2.6x not 1.6x.
Doktor Bodén
looking forward to test this puppy myself.
errolbert
As far as I know, any of the Macs that support the Apple DVI to video adapter also support this lovely gem, that gives you component output.

http://sewelldirect.com/dvivideoadapter.asp
someone who knows
okay, for the record, the demo units DID have a 1.83 AND only 128 MB of VRAM. FYI. Have faith in your original reports man. Sheesh. These were preproduction REMEMBER.
Trust me, the units ONLY had 128 MB of VRAM.
nhmacusr
<So I think X1600 is the biggest performance saver in case of new MacBook Pro with intel duocore.>

Don't forget that the Intel chip has a 667 MHz FSB. The PowerBook has 167 MHz. That is a huge speed improvement.
craigtheguru
Re: PowerBook G4 w/ 64 MB VRam
This PowerBook does indeed have 64 MB of VRam and I double checked the system profiler just now. It was the stock high-end unit at the time and the first time we didn't go BTO. But I doubt the extra VRAM would improve this machine's numbers, at least in these tests.
avkills
According to ATI the X1600 GPU offers hardware accelerated H.264 decoding which totally skews this test since the G5 is doing everything CPU bound and the MacBookPro is not.

A better test would be to show a Dual Core G5 system with ATIs soon to be announce X1800, which also offers hardware accelerated h.264 decoding.

-mark
Shawn
Folks just because the X1600 GPU has the ability to decode H.264 does NOT mean that Apple has mapped the H.264 codec in QuickTime to use that hardware (will they... who knows). So don't assume anything... in fact since it is still taking considerable CPU time it is safer to assume it isn't utilizing hardware to decode the H.264 stream.

When in doubt fire up Shark to understand what it is doing during playback. I offer my service to read such a Shark trace if needed.
kL
Latest version of QuickTime changed iPod preset from 2-pass to single pass. Did you check that files output by all systems are identical?
sumilux
No mention on Battery life. Any word on this?



A side note of possible interest:

My flat mate just got back from Tokyo where the apple store had the MBP available for sale a couple of days ago.
craigtheguru
@sumilux - The units shown at Macworld were preproduction and final Battery life hasn't been determine, although Jobs is quotes as saying it should be similar to the previous generation PowerBooks which is slightly disappointing IMHO. Also, they're not going to ship until probably late February so I'm not sure what you flat mate thinks he saw. I'm certain no MacBook Pros were available for pickup, only pre-order.
CheeseMan
Hey! I just heard from my secret source at Apple where I work. Rosetta is replacing Altivec!!!!! Can you believe it? I can't wait!
ScorpionZ
OTL ..
ac3boy
Actually, from what I have read, Rosetta really only emulates (translates) a G3 processor so anything that makes direct calls to Altivec will not run at all. Also any software that makes direct calls to certain functions on the G5 will not run either. This may have changed since I gained this info a couple months back. Please correct me if this has changed.

Thanks.

Cheers, John.
craigtheguru
I'd have to recheck Apple's developer docs, but I'm pretty certain Altivec functions are translated by Rosetta now.

I think the main reason the Pro apps aren't supported yet is twofold: (1) they perform poorly in Rosetta and (2) all the various plugins aren't universal and a native app requires native plugins. There's probably other reasons too but these are part of it.
ac3boy
Hi Craig,

Pulled this from Latest Rosetta dev doc from Apple:

Rosetta is designed to translate currently shipping applications that run on a PowerPC with a G3 or G4 processor and that are built for Mac OS X. That includes CFM as well as Mach-O PowerPC applications.

Rosetta does not run the following:

* Applications built for any version of the Mac OS earlier than Mac OS X —that means Mac OS 9, Mac OS 8, Mac OS 7, and so forth
* The Classic environment
* Screensavers written for the PowerPC architecture
* Code that inserts preferences in the System Preferences pane
* Applications that require a G5 processor
* Applications that depend on one or more PowerPC-only kernel extensions
* Kernel extensions
* Java applications with JNI libraries
* Java applets in applications that Rosetta can translate; that means a web browser that Rosetta can run translated will not be able to load Java applets.

Rosetta does not support precise exceptions. Any application that relies on register states being accurate in exception handlers or signal handlers will not function properly running with Rosetta.

So it looks like it does do some Alitvec now but I cannot imagine it would be only for compatibility (duh, ;-) ) reasons since I cannot see Rosetta being able to do anything with vector data.

Cheers, John.
MacDude
Just forget using the MacBook Pro for anything serious, it winds up turning into a desktop system eventually and the pokey small 5,200 RPM hard drive, lack of Firewire 800, lack of hard drive and video card upgrades, tiny RAM upgrades just wind up bogging one down.

It's just too much of a waste of money when a desktop machine will last a lot longer and provide so much more performance and upgrades.

I went the laptop route as a professional machine and it was a mistake twice, once from leaving it in a hot car and another when tripped it went airborne.

Get a Quad and a small iBook or something, even a Palm.

People look so patheticly lonely using their laptop computers in a airport, shunning human contact it's just sickening.
nikster
@Jay: iTunes encoding from CD is too dependent on the CD drive speed to use it as benchmark. If your speeds vary widly it could be:
- Scratched CDs, the drive will spin wayyy down in order to be able to read bad CDs. I had some CDs encode at 0.5 speed.
- Unplug the powerbook and the speed goes to 1/2 or less - this is the processor going into power saving mode. You can change the behavior in the energy settings. Plug the PB in for max. performance
mike
How does a lack of FW800 "bog one down"? If you're using it in a desktop situation, just hook up a fast FW400 drive. Or get the bigger 7200 rpm option, it's not that expensive.

A laptop is a great fit for someone who needs speed, but not as much as a quad. Don't forget, a quad is more than 50% more expensive than a base macbook. And looking at the numbers, a dual doesn't seem to provide much more performance. Not to mention that the G5's will be replaced in a few months, if you're dying for a machine I'd get a quad, but if you can wait I'd see what intel towers bring.
Dbug
I'd like to see how the new machines behave recompressing ripped DVD data with DVD2OneX. The developers of that also have a multi-PCU-friendly-Intel version, so I'd guess any of their hand-optimized assembled SSE-whatever compression code could be linked to the Mac GUI code (even emulated?). Testing this app will allow comparison Between PC-G5-and Rossetta now (confirming that Rossetta attempts Altivec emulation).
Hopefully there will be a native/universal version soon too.

Another benchmark I was thinking of for Rossetta was Xbench 1.2. It's throughput numbers could be compared against version 2 (Universal) on MacBook and G5. Note that the author renormalized for different reference machines between 1.2 and 2.0, so the raw data must be used instead of the "score" numbers.

I suspect that the G5's Altivec beats Intels SSE3 currently, and Apple if working pretty hard on the high-end video apps to get decent compression times. Considering that they've had a while to do this and were bragging about having everything they built already running on Intel, it is surprising that it has taken them this long. Perhaps the core-duo alone can't quite beat a dual-G5. It is basically a mobil chip after all. Perhaps they are having to use the GPU to do some of the work too, just to avoid embarrassing numbers.

With Apple and Intel working together, and Intel dumping the x86 hardware from the Itanium, maybe they can add AltiVec or more cache to improve that chip. Of course the high-end should be 64 bit to have a good roadmap. Make it dual or quad-core and bring it down to 65 nm for speed, cost, and power, and it might be a decent desktop chip? Apple had contract terms with Motorola that let them take Altivec to IBM when they couldn't deliver, which happened. Perhaps the same terms would let them bring some technology to Intel. I'm sure Intel would be happy to have help beating AMD, and I'd bet they'd let Apple have the chips ahead of the dull-box people if it was Apple that helped them.

If Intel could strip some of the old x86 crap out of their chips I'm sure they could be improved. Some instructions are supported 3 or more ways just for backwards compatibility with the PC dark ages.

The dual-core Intel is great, but Apple actually didn't ship either of the machines I was ready to rush out and buy - a dual-core G5 iMac, or a dual-core Intel Mac Mini (still at $500). (or some mystery media center). It's a little hard to get excited about paying $2000 to upgrade to a machine that really won't give me wild speeds yet. If they managed to ship a Mini with the same chip as a Powerbook before, let's hope they can do it again with the MacBook.
James
looks good, interested to know what's doing the video, video card or CPU. Most people don't seem to think SSE is as good as AltiVec and it would be interesting to have comparisons of the two, benchmarks and real usage.
S. Jobs
I've just heard that the onboard video, ATI's latest 1600 GPU, is being utilized to the fullest... to replace both AltiVec and Rosetta. All emulation on the GPU!
Guillaume Thomas-Collignon
Regarding the SSE / Altivec debate : it's right that Altivec is slightly superior to SSE in some minor cases that make use of a nice permute operation that does not exist in the SSE world. For the rest, it's just very similar.

The bad thing is that you have to write the altivec code by hand. No compiler (not talking about the exotic ones or the beginning of vectorization in GCC / XLC) will write vector code for you.

On Intel, different story. Intel's compiler do a very good job at vectorizing nearly every loop. It's been doing it for years, it's very mature and does a pretty good job.
Those compilers are now available in beta for OSX on the Intel website.
You can bet the performance will be increased dramatically once most the developers will use those compilers.

So on the performance side, the best is yet to come !
friend-of-steve
What's Rosetta?
Heinrich.Lehmann
Rosetta + SSE1,2,3 = Altivec ?

Even if Intel gets 10.000 developers to work on SSE3 optimization they will not replace anything other than their ego ! It is not about glorifying anithing, but the Altivec (VMX) instructions are the Masterpiece of SIMD technology, that's all. My sources say Intel developers have achieved 50% of the performance of Altivec by optimizing code on the assembler level. And not one tenth percentage more. And this on the highest clocked Intel compared to a 2.5Ghz G5.

What about this ?

regards,

H.
VideoMac
From what I could deduce from Jobs'address, the move sparked by the roadmap ahead in re to CPU throughput per watt is mostly aimed at the laptop market. To be able to offer a competitive laptop which wouldn't have been the case with what IBM had to offer with the G5. I don't think we'll see a significant difference between the Core Duos and the G5 once the Core Duo is ported to the tower format. Especially with the new G5 Quad. Do you see the Core Duo significantly outperform the Quad G5 when it comes to Real-Time rendering in FCP 5 HD for example ? Without spending mucho dineros on a video capture card ?
The RISC technology (+Altivec) was great for that kind of application. I really don't know what to think of the move to Intel when it comes to video editing, especially with the HD format. We'll see...
SiliconAddict
You guys have it all wrong. Rosetta isn't replacing Altivec. Microsoft BOB is replacing Altivec. Apple licensed BOB technology from MS. BOB is insanely fast. At least 4x the speed of Altivec. Once OS X is optimized for BOB expect great things to occur.
Sy
OK to summarise G5 are still the computer with the biggest dick. but Macbook pro has bigger dick and bigger balls than powerbook but with a crap name and little style (ie firewire/modem/s-video/pc card gone) joking about pc card who wants that crap anyhow
ac
I would LOVE to see some metrics on J2SE/J2EE. I'm a Java developer and very tempted to get a core duo...
Sod Rearling
"Once OS X is optimized for BOB expect great things to occur."

Thumbs up to SiliconAddict. Finally, a FUNNY one! Some'o you guys really need to get your Altivecs out of your Rosettas... or would that be backwards? (Talk about driving it into the ground!) 8^p

"G5 are still the computer with the biggest dick. but Macbook pro has bigger dick and bigger balls than powerbook but with a crap name and little style (ie firewire/modem/s-video/pc card gone...)

"Yeah, sounds like it, eh, Sy?

"The RISC technology (+Altivec) was great for that kind of application."

Roger that, VideoMac.

"People look so patheticly lonely using their laptop computers in a airport, shunning human contact it's just sickening."

As for YOU, MacDude, imagine if you will...




...BILL THE CAT! 'Ack, ack, ack!'
Bobby Bee
It's all very funny guys & it makes great reading but how is all this going to affect my Photoshop
dukeib
I'd like to see a MacBook Pro and PowerMac DP 1.8 (970 not the 970fx) comparison. Say a PowerMac DP 1.8 configured with 2GB of Memory, and an ATI x800xt 256MB video card compared against the high end MacBook Pro.
Fin
Many thanks for this. My Ti Powerbook took a recent and fatal tumble down three flights of stairs! I have been agonising over it's replacement and have now decided to take the plunge on a new Macbook pro (I'll have to get used to the name as well!). I've gone for the high end model with the faster hard drive and 2GB Ram.
Good to see that someone takes the time and effort to produce a pre production review (along with a self critique of the review) - it certainly helps those of us who have to make a choice now - make that choice.
Thanks again.
bishopdante
"I don't think we'll see a significant difference between the Core Duos and the G5 once the Core Duo is ported to the tower format."

Surely not! Apple will be putting desktop chips in their desktop computers. Dual core Pentium 4 type things.
craigtheguru
It will take a lot of horsepower to best the Quad G5, although I look forward to it.

@dukeib - I'm looking in to getting better graphics cards for the G5. Hopefully I'll retest it with an ATI X800, although it is still not an X1600.
robbi Luscombe-Newman
I have the last of the Ti powerbooks and have been waiting for the jump for ages. As a pro photographer I know the practical side of useing a powerbook with an external monitor for photoshop and all the other business apps. Its akiller combo for field work and studio work as well, so without the moolah to have a fixed tower in the office as well....I have never felt wanting at all. If the performance increase in photoshop is as good as indicated, I will be very happy!!!
As for sitting in an airport working on my laptop...yep do it all the time, same as listeneing to music, watching movies etc...so I dont bother with ipods or fancy mobiles that pretend to be mini computers.
May just wait to see how pro#1 goes tho and go for pro#2 which I am sure will resolve any user feedback issues that crop up.
...but then pro#3?....may as well wait 4ever...lol
computadoras
But the Macbook Pro still is a very fast computer compared to the rest of the laptops ot there.
hoyanf
cant you use latest ati graphics for the powermac g5 for this comparison ?? hardware not supported ?? on pc i normally try to use similar set-up excluding memory n cpu for comparison's...

it seem's unfair to hav 2.5g ram on G5 n having the old Radeon 9700... whats additional 512mb will do in comparison of newer gpu?? think that should be taken under consideration..

i would always prefer the G5 or AMD64 than the Intel EMT64, the pure 64 is better on 64bit os'es..
craigtheguru
Now that Apple bumped the CPU speeds of the MacBooks, it makes sense why the Macworld units were 1.83 GHz but with only 128 MB of RAM! They wanted to demo and announce top-of-the-line units but those weren't really them, plus they got a nice PR move!

Now that the MacBook Pros are shipping I'll re-test all the systems using updated apps and some new hardware. In addition to re-testing the MacBooks I have an X800 upgrade for the G5 which will indicate the role the GPU plays on older PowerPC systems. Expect these results in the coming weeks.
paulo carvalho
As regards macbook pro overall performance, is there a real gain from having a 7200 rpm hard disk instead of 5400? And what about going from 1,83GHz to 2.GHz?
jazzdoc
interesting how few people understand the power of the new expresscard/34 slot in MPB. it runs way faster than pcmcia. in fact, at 250MBPS, (mbps would be 2000) a raid ext 4 drive system could easily stream 1080p UNCOMPRESSED (about 10 to 20x the typically compressed version hi def camcorders record at) for near motion picture quality editing (4:2:2 color space). what more than this do you expect from your laptop?
MJ
I just bought a Macbook Pro and installed Final Cut Pro. It wont open however, as it says I haven't got an AGI Graphics card. Surely the most advanced laptop in the market should have the best Graphics card, has anyone got any ideas why FCP isn't working? It worked fine on my Powerbook
AH
I just installed Windows Xp on my Macbook Pro, it works great! So far I'm happy with performance and everything except the heat issue, it gets hot...I mean real hot, I can barely even touch it! I intentionally left some water on the surface and it vaporized in seconds! I'm really really disappointed. But the "heat" is a nice feature during winter though... Well, just because of this, I give Apple two thumbs down.
craigtheguru
@MJ - It sounds like you're attempting to use the PowerPC version of Final Cut Studio on your x86 MacBook Pro. Upgrade the app to the Universal version and it should behave normally. You should also see a performance boost, besting most G5 towers!

@AH - BootCamp and the Windows XP drivers are still in Beta and not all of the MacBook Pro features are enabled under Windows, this includes the iSight camera and full power management. Most laptops are indeed hot nowadays (they're no longer called laptops industry-wide for fear of a lawsuit) and the lack of full power management doesn't help!
Costas
I want to buy a laptop so I can edit video anywhere. Will a MacBook Pro handle Final Cut Pro as fast as a desktop?
Any advice on choosing hardware? I'm thinking of getting the 2GB ram and the 7200rpm drive. Will it handle HD as well?
Costas
Chris T
Macdude wrote:
"Just forget using the MacBook Pro for anything serious, it winds up turning into a desktop system eventually and the pokey small 5,200 RPM hard drive"

Total crap, idiot - what about running live audio? External USB2 drive... durrrrr durrr..

Mindless drone.
Freefly
For those trying to make a buying decision, I thought I would post mine and how it's worked out so far. I need desktop performance at home but have decided to wait for the new intel towers to come out. I also needed a new laptop. So in the meantime I have bought a 15" 2.0 128vram macbook, and a 23" display which I can use with the tower later. I was tempted to get the 17" macbook pro, but I had grown tired of the bulk of my 17" powerbook which is now brandishing a cracked screen due to a fight with gravity. The 15" and 23" display is a great setup. I have been impressed by the speed so far. Photoshop under Rossetta runs faster than it did on my 1.5gz 17" powerbook. The most significant improvement I have noticed so far is internet download speed. evrything is so much snappier. I always assumed my broadband provider was a bit crap. Looks like Apple have improved the wifi performance on these macbooks.

If the macbook is going to be your only machine I would be tempted by the higher spec of the 2.16 machines. However if you just want a powerful laptop this base 2.0 macbook is great.
freefly
Quick update. Well so far things have been dissapointing. I have had multiple crashes for various reasons. Not all reasons have been resolved yet. CS2 hangs when I try to install it. I get the black screen of death randomly when I have the USB from my 23" display connected. I had crashing with my firelite drive but that was resolved with a firmare update for the firelite. So right now I feel like I just bought a PC. I understand some teething problems with a newly released platform and os however I am feeling like a guineapig who paid $3500 to run R&D for apple.

Anyone else suffering the same way?
matthias mederer
I just got the 13.3" intel core duo 2GHz macbook. Aside from much improved performance in iMovie editing over my old G4 800Mhz iMac I use it for ruinning ProTools LE7 and the waveforms of the audio files sail past smoothly while using all kinds of plug-ins and other features of the application.

it gets hot on the bottom left corner, but for the puch they packed into this thin little case it doesn't surprise me.

it burns DVD's much faster than any G4 I've ever seen.

great computer. i'd recommend it any time.
Kristo
LemonBook . . .

I've been a mac user since 1984! In the past 10yrs used G4 PB and ibooks. Thus far my experience of the 2ghz MacBook has been poor at best. I have been unable to have a stable session with business or audio software that was not packaged with it and have had some strange periphery conflicts.

DVD and CD have repeatedly hung up (factory/burned), causing the HD to heat up quickly, forcing a restart. I find it pauses often and intermitantly between tasks, although my ibook 2ghz was more stable and seemless. Honestly, it reminded me of unpleasant "Windows" experiences.

Lastly, after extensive Apple assistance and HD reinstalls, it begins OK, then after some updates all hell arises. It hangs up at the "Starting OSX" screen and eventually starts up to a blue screen via HD or install disk.

Looks like this is going back to apple for some TLC. It will be good to finish up $$$$ business now on hold for over a month. Sure wish that ibook did not sell so quick!

:c(
Young Engineer
I like the discussion about AltiVec and Rosetta. I started a discussion of it at http://www.engineersvoice.com/discussion/8/powerpcs-altivec-vs-intels-rosseta/

Cheers!

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