Why does an 800mhz PowerMac feel faster than my new eMac?

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Jigglelicious, Nov 29, 2004.

  1. Jigglelicious macrumors 6502

    Jigglelicious

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2004
    Location:
    NYC
    #1
    Maybe i'm going crazy, so i've come to see if any of you guys have experienced something similar. Today I spent some time in my school's library (how novel), and noticed that they actually have some Macs in the computer lab, which unfortunatly, no one was using. Seems everyone has more attachment to the plethora of Dell's we have littering the place.

    So like a good Apple lover, I sat down by one of the Macs. They were 800mhz Quicksilver Powermacs with 512 RAM. Now, this was my first experience with a Powermac. But I was completly blown away. This computer which is a whole 600mhz slower than my eMac at home - nearly double the speed - actually felt faster than my eMac! I'm not talking about hardcore Photoshop rendering or anything. Just casual web browsing. The scrolling speed, genie effect, and app responsiveness was a GOOD deal faster than my eMac with nearly double the clock speed and twice the RAM. Even worse, the Powermac was running 10.2.4. As far as I recall, everyone said that Panther feels faster than Jaguar, so i'm even more confused.

    I thought that the speed might have to do with a better video card, or the L3 cache in the PowerMacs. However, after checking Apple History.com, it seems that the 800mhz Quicksilver had NO L3 cache, and shipped with a Radeon 7500 - the same card in my eMac.

    Now those of you who say that there is something wrong with my eMac - yes it is performing like a 1.4ghz eMac. My xbench score is 140, double that of an 800mhz Powermac. So my question remains, why the heck does the Powermac *feel* faster? Or at the very least, smoother in UI operations? One of the first thing I noticed when I got my eMac was how choopy it felt when scrolling up and down in Safari. The Powermac in comparison was smooth as butter. I'm at a loss here.
     
  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #2
    What you describe is a little odd, though not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

    Two questions: Did you overclock your eMac, as Apple hasn't yet made one faster than 1.25GHz? Also, are you sure it wasn't a DP Quicksilver, which would make a difference in the speed? (It wouldn't be twice as fast for the most part, but would feel significantly snappier on account of both the second processor and the bigger cache.)

    Assuming you didn't make any mistakes (and that your eMac overclock didn't screw something up), then you do seem to have covered all the major potential factors: Processor speed, cache (though I doubt that'd make much difference in this case), graphics card, and OS version.

    The speed of the hard drive (were the tower to be 7200 and the eMac 5400, which I'm not sure about) could make a significant difference with app launching, but it shouldn't affect web browsing or the fancy graphics effects. 10.2.x should feel noticably slower than any version of 10.3, however, backed up by every computer I've ever run both on, so that's particularly weird.

    I don't like to say this, but the issue really does seem to be with your eMac. Based on direct experience I'd expect the Quicksilver to be reasonably peppy, if not blazing (I'm basing this on a 733 Quicksilver running 10.2.8 here), but I just walked over and tried a 1.0GHz eMac with 10.3.5, and it feels VERY snappy. Outside of slightly slower app launching (the hard drive and maybe ATA bus), it feels on par with my DP 1.0GHZ Quicksilver, in fact.

    One posibility is that the library computers get turned off nightly, and are very basic system installs, in which case they'd tend to feel pretty crisp. If, in contrast, you leave your eMac on for weeks at a time and run a lot of apps, things can start to slow down a bit after a while. A restart would tell you right away whether this was the case, though.

    Are you running any 3rd party utilities or hacks on your eMac, perhaps? Just because XBench reports everything is running fast doesn't mean there isn't something causing hiccups in the GUI or your actual use. You might also have a look at Activity Monitor, and see what it tells you.

    Just some suggestions, as I'd be feeling the same way in your situation.
     
  3. Jigglelicious thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jigglelicious

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2004
    Location:
    NYC
    #3

    Thanks for the lengthy reply. Yes my eMac is overclocked (800mhz -> 1.4GHz), however it has caused no strange effects, and the speed boost was noticible. I am running a 7200rpm HDD, so thats not a factor. And I am sure that it was an 800mhz quicksilver and not a dual cause... thats what "About this Mac" told me :) Not running and strange utilities, and I restart my Mac often enough so that shouldn't be an issue. Actually, my Mac feels faster the longer its been left on, due to the great memory management and everything being in cache (my record is about 45 days).

    Actually, i think i've started to come up with a few explanations as to why it might feel faster.

    1.) The school mac's use the standard 1 button Apple Mouse. Thus, when I go to scroll down on web pages, I pretty much have no option except to click on the scroll bar and drag up and down. At home however, I have a mouse with a wheel, and since its like 2nd nature for me to scroll using the wheel, thats how I navigate web pages.

    Now, i've noticed a few ways in which OSX "cheats" in trying to make things seem faster where OSX doesn't do a very good job of rendering. One of these has to do with web pages and animated gifs and/or flash objects. On windows, when you have a page that displays an animated gif and scroll down, the animated gif continues to animate. However, on OSX, as soon as you click and hold onto the scroll bar, all animations stop. This is because OSX seems very bad at handling the rendering of these moving images which in turn eats up a lot of CPU (i've heard talk that this is due to inefficiencies in the "WindowServer" app. So in effect, the animation of these objects stops to make scrolling smoother.

    So what does this have to do with my eMac and the Powermac? Well, the thing is, when you scroll down using a mousewheel (like i do on my eMac), those flash/gif animations do NOT stop, which in turn causes the "choppiness" or slugishness that I notice at home. When I used the PowerMac, I was forced to scroll the old fashioned way, which appeared smooth. I just tried holding onto the scroll bar and scrolling that way, and it does indeed appear as smooth as the PowerMac.

    2.) The issue with the "fluidity" of the genie effect I think has to do with the 15" Apple Studio Display the PowerMac is hooked up to. Those old studio displays have a really high pixel response time (40+), which causes blurring. Its quite possible that the genie effect is being blurred, which makes it appear smoother than it really is. Well, thats the only explanation I can think of anyway.

    My brain hurts now.
     
  4. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #4
    I like both of your theories, and especially the former sounds like what I've seen in the past. (Though I'm not so sure it's WindowServer--the part of OSX's core that draws windows--that is the source of the slowdown; weak Flash and/or QuickTime's handling of animated GIFs seems more likely.)

    The fact that the guts of your eMac are fromthe 800MHz model makes a difference as well, though. Lower-end components aside, it's running at a 10.5:1 processor:bus ratio now, which isn't exactly optimal in most situations. Yours should still be faster, but the speed increase will not be proportional to the processor clock increase except in some specific situations.

    Food for thought, anyway.
     
  5. saabmp3 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    Location:
    Tacoma, WA
    #5
    I bet the school mac's don't have a page file the same size as yours, maybe they even have a scripts to clean it out (they get restarted regularly and as you said, don't get much use). This is probably reason #1 why they're faster.

    BEN
     

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