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Mac vs. PC VI: Boxx 7400 Dual Opteron 275 Workstation

Who's your daddy, Mac G5? Dual core, dual processor Opteron, that's who

When I ran our original group of six After Effects benchmarks, the Boxx 7400 performed slightly better than Power Mac G5 2.7. In the first six of the tests the total of the Mac G5 was 418 seconds, while the total of the Boxx 7400 running Windows XP was 380 seconds. However, when I booted into the 64-bit edition of Windows XP, the Boxx machine pulled way ahead. It completed the first six After Effects benchmarks in 325 seconds compared to the Macs 418. Thats the kind of speed difference I would classify as not even close.

The most dramatic difference in speed was revealed with the Maxon CineBench 2003 benchmark, a cross-platform test where raw rendering speed is rewarded and all the PR-speak in the world does no good. My jaw dropped as I noticed that the Boxx 7400 slaughtered the Mac G5, registering nearly double its speed in both CineBench rendering time and the CineBench CPU test. Read em and weep, McWhiners, because your baby got beaten, again, in a non-After Effects benchmark?thats optimized for the G5?by a score of 40 seconds for the Mac, 21.1 seconds for the PC. The most astonishing result was in the CineBench CPU result, where the Macs paltry 658 score was not even close to the PCs blazing 1250, the best score Ive ever seen on this test.  

Then, as a final test, I ran Nightflight, an After Effects comp that Apple likes to trot out when its trying to convince innocent visitors to its Web site that the Mac is the fastest personal computer on the planet. To quote,

?The PowerPC G5 out-shoots the Pentium 4 in a battery of tests. But its in the rough-and-tumble of real-world performance that the G5 really shines ? shredding the PCs reputation in the process?.Video Effects: Nearly Two Times Faster Than Pentium 4?. Video editors and producers add innovative motion graphics and effects to film, video, DVD and web projects using tools like Motion and Adobe After Effects. To demonstrate the performance of Power Mac G5 hardware when rendering effects for video, Apple tested After Effects on the Power Mac G5 and an array of PC systems. After Effects has been optimized for both the G5 and PC architectures. See this breathless propaganda for yourself and the out-of-date table that goes with it on Apples Web site. 

OK, I know, they were talking about the Pentium 4 and the dual Xeon 3.6 processors, so Apple wasnt exactly lying. They were just hoping for an asymmetry of information, where Web visitors wouldnt realize what Apples testers certainly knew: That there are chips far faster than the year-old Xeon and P4. Well, Im here to tell you, Apples two whipping boys, the Intel Xeon 3.6 and P4, are ancient history compared to the Opteron 275. After running this Nightflight benchmark (download the file here -- nightflight.aep -- if you want to try it yourself) on Opteron 275s, it was plain to see that the mighty Mac G5 was smoked by our current champ, even on Apples own hand-picked test. Here's the table that tells the tale:

Results in minutes: seconds
Boldface indicates winner. After Effects Version used: 6.5.1
Apple Mac G5, Dual 2.5GHz, 4GB DDR 400 SD RAM ($4398) Dell Precision Workstation 470 Dual Intel Xeon 3.6, 2GB DDR2 RAM ($4639)

Dell Precision Workstation 380, single Intel Dual Core Pentium D 3.2GHz processor, 2GB DDR2 RAM ($3496)


Apple Mac G5, Dual 2.7GHz, 4GB DDR 400 SD RAM ($4598) Boxx 7400 Workstation, two dual-core Opteron 275 processors running at 2.21GHz, 3GB DDR400 RAM ($5669)


1. After Effects : Simple Animation :06 :03 :03/
:05 :02/
2. After Effects : Video Composite :42 :37 :40/
:40 :45/
3. After Effects : Data Project 1:21 1:16 1:22/
1:15 1:02/
4. After Effects : Gambler :23 :19 :21/
:17 :20/
5. After Effects : Source Shapes 2:26 2:46 2:53/
2:15 2:16/
6. After Effects : Virtual Set 2:49 1:58 2:00/
2:36 1:55/
Maxon CineBench 2003 Rendering Time (lower is better) 45.3 sec. 39.2 sec. 43.1/
36.8 sec.
40.0 sec. 25.9 sec./
21.1 sec.
Maxon CineBench 2003 Rendering (CB-CPU score -- higher is better) 581 672

715 (2.17x/2.06 multiprocessor speedup)

658 1014 (3.24x multiprocessor speedup)/
1250 (3.07x multiprocessor speedup)
TotalBenchmark comp 1 83 sec. 83 sec. 92/
87 sec.
78 sec. 84 sec./
85 sec.
TotalBenchmark comp 2 1277 sec. 960 sec. 1057/
992 sec.
1202 sec. 983 sec./
953 sec.
Night Flight       44:24 (2664 seconds) 37:59 (2279 seconds)
Hard Disk Speed Not tested Read: 130MB/sec.
Write: 133MB/sec.
Read: 121MB/119MB-sec.
Write: 97MB/98MB-sec.
Read: 52MB/sec.
Write: 66MB/sec.
Read: 66MB/sec.
Write: 145 MB/sec.

For those of us who are unaffected by the Steve Jobs ?Reality Distortion Field, this drubbing that the Mac took on these benchmarks should lay to rest, for now, the question of which platform is faster for content creation. In fact, here at the Midwest Test Facility the fastest Mac has never beaten the fastest PC in any of our overall head-to-head testing. Could the G5s consistently slower performance have anything to do with Apples decision to abandon its ?incredible G5 platform? It doesnt look so incredible any more, at least not when youre looking at the truth, with its cold, hard numbers. But when you factor in religion, emotion, adept marketing, persuasiveness and sheer hype, perhaps the equation gets fuzzy, even for the sane and sober. Of course, this isnt taking into account the outstanding software applications available on the Mac such as Final Cut Pro, and the gorgeous operating system OS X that is some consolation for those of us who have no choice but to use the inferior Mac hardware. Yes, sure, thats all going to change, someday, but it hasnt yet, and its impossible to review future products.

This testing also shows that the current crop of AMD dual core/dual processor machines are faster than the best that Intel can offer at this point, too. The fastest Intel box available thus far has just one dual core processor, though, and although it was beaten in our testing by the dual core Opterons, the competition between Intel and AMD was certainly closer than the one between either of them and the fastest Mac G5. This bodes well for AMD, which has found itself significantly ahead of Intel. The AMD Opteron 275 stands at the top, king-of-the-hill of all processors weve tested, the fastest one yet. That raises the question, has Apple picked the wrong horse again, jumping onto the Intel bandwagon when AMD has a clear lead at this point? Roadmaps are all well and good, but again, as a reviewer, Im reporting whats available today. Anything else is guesswork, with the help of optimistic PR representatives spinning whatever self-serving information their bosses will let them release to the press and public.

Summing up, the Boxx 7400 workstation is the fastest computer weve seen yet, Mac or PC. Its relatively quiet, it has 1394 on the motherboard with ports on the front and back, its well-designed, and includes the first-rate support of Boxx Technologies. Its an excellent machine which can rapidly crunch through any content creation chores you throw at it. There is that pesky matter of price, though. At $5,669, the Boxx 7400 is over $1000 more expensive than the best Mac G5, and over $2000 more expensive than the dual core single-processor Intel box from Dell we tested a week ago. So your best overall value would be with the dual core Dell machine, which still beats the Mac even with one hand (chip) tied behind its back and costs $1100 less. If you care about looks, style and cachet, have a superiority complex, and dont mind buying into a platform thats slower and already obsolete, go with the Mac G5. But if you care about the ?rough-and-tumble of real-world performance and can afford it, the Boxx 7400 should be your first choice. Highly recommended. 9.7 out of 10 stars.

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Related Keywords:Mac vs. PC, Boxx Technologies, dual processor, dual-core AMD Opteron, Boxx 7400, Opteron model 275 processors, dual core technology, Mac faithful, Charlie White, review, After Effects benchmarks


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