Price: £2,499 plus VAT
I first looked at Apple’s Quicksilver Power Mac G4 867MHz Power Mac a while back, and now I’ve got to take out the dual processor Quicksilver for a spin. Surprisingly, when it comes to simple ROI I have to recommend the 867 system for most Mac users – at least for now. The dual 800MHz machine includes five slots, including four 64-bit 33MHz PCI slots and an 4x AGP slot; a SuperDrive combination CD-RW/DVD-R drive; two 400Mbps FireWire ports and two 12Mbps USB ports; Gigabit ethernet; and three 3.5-inch hard disk drive expansion bays with one pre-installed Ultra ATA hard drive (80GB in the dual processor system). The difference in the two comes down to sheer power. The dual 800MHz Power Mac G4 has double the memory and 3D graphics power – 256MB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce2 MX with TwinView graphics card and 64MB RAM in 4x AGP slot. When the rubber hits the road, it comes down to one question: is the dual processor system £700 faster than the single processor 867 machine? For some software the dual processors do provide a slight edge. In an overall Photoshop test using nine actions and filters, the dual processor QuickSilver usually jumped through the hoops about 26 per cent faster than the 867 machine – but this was only true with files bigger than 60MB. A Final Cut Pro test which utilized a suite of six actions consisting of transitions, text over video, frame blending, Gaussian blur, colour balance and scaling ran about 36 per cent faster. Where I did notice a speed difference, if not an earthshaking one, is in running Mac OS X, as it offers the benefit of symmetric multiprocessing. The Nvidia Geforce2 MX TwinView that comes with the dual processor is really nice. It lets you attach an Apple ADC monitor and a CRT monitor and use both at once. If you’d like a dual-monitor setup, this could be a deciding factor. To sum it up, if you’re a heavy duty Photoshop or Final Cut Pro user (which means you’re probably still using Mac OS 9.x), the dual processor system is probably the way to go. Ditto if you’re planning on buying a system and plan on running the Mac OS X native versions of these applications.