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Titanium PowerBooks performance: 550 MHz model really so slow?

dan.dem

Well-known member
I am contemplating about getting a Titanium PowerBook. A friend has a 550 MHz, 2nd series Gigabit Ethernet, so pre-PCI. It is a decent device I know well since I helped him upgrading it in the 2000s. There is just one thing:
Everymac.com, usually a very reliable source, shows for the 550 MHz model a comparatively slow Geekbench-2 score of 280, barely more than the original 400 MHz model's 272. Even the first generation 500 MHz model is listed with a higher score of 325.
I know, in practice this isn't a big deal since all Ti-Books are pretty equally slow, however I am wondering why the 550 is particularly so.

Has any owner of a 550 MHz Ti-Powerbook ran own tests or even comparisons with other Titaniums? I would be very curious about your results.
 

herd

Well-known member
Basically, I think that model Ti is the one to avoid. You can look at the barefeats web site; I'm pretty sure he has all the old articles still up.

The early Ti used a 7410 G4 CPU, and at some point they switched to a 7450. I think the first version of the 7450 Ti didn't even have L3. So unless you need some of the other features I think a 500 TiBook would be better than the 550 in terms of speed. Later on they got the clocks higher and added the L3 cache to the 7450 and 7455 models. I think the 1GHz TiBook was the best before the Al-series. I'm sure you could find all this in searches...
 

Byrd

Well-known member
Take the everymac benchmark with a grain of salt; it'll be fast as an OS 9 machine, but in OS X it'll only be passable.
 

Unknown_K

Well-known member
8/16MB ATI video is decent for OS 9 but very shitty with OSX 10.3/4.

All my Ti Books run OS 9 (think they are all 500mhz models). The 1ghz ones have always been in high demand (kind of like 500mhz G3 Pismso's).
 

3lectr1cPPC

Well-known member
That makes me wonder how my Gigabit TiBook performs, mine is the 667MHz, but how much faster is it really than the 500MHz model? It seems to perform fine under Tiger, but the video performance is a little iffy.
 

dan.dem

Well-known member
Oh yes, likely it's a cache issue. I will look into it. Thank you @herd for hinting me to Barefeats.
The situation reminds me on clamshell iBooks: Their second generation tested slightly lower regardless of the higher processor speed because the backside cache was only half the previous size (but moved on die, IIRC).

@Byrd : Yes, Geekbench scores are skewed to the lower side since some people do tests on non optimized machines (background processes or even without battery). But since this effects all tested models direct comparisons should be still possible.

Thank you @Johnnya101 for offering test runs, but your Ti-Book is faster for sure, in fact a very desirable model. It only is very rare on my local market. Actually all Titaniums are rare here, probably because the previous G3s had been so popular, as were the successors, Aluminium PowerBooks.

@Unknown_K : I may have lower expectations or I am just willing to endure some suffering but in 2007 I found the 550 MHz Ti-Book acceptable for some light web browsing, photo loading or so - especially under Panther (in fact I even found my tangerine iBook better than expected under Panther). No longer, however, in 2009 when every useful browser at that time needed Tiger. (I confess, today I am running Tiger even on said iBook - if not booted into 10.0.4 :)).

@3lectr1cPPC : Since yours is also of the Gigabit generation I would in fact be interested what Geekbench 2 score you can achieve. Everymac lists it at 357. On a clean system it should be 5-10% more.

What I like on the Titaniums is, not only do they look cool, they are also a sort of bridge technology, both capable of running OS 9 and X, quite similar to G3 iBooks but often faster and more versatile, offering even a PC card slot.
 

davidg5678

Well-known member
I think that "too slow" may be (in this case) relative. I have an overclocked 300MHz iBook G3 Clamshell that now runs at 400MHz. I use it with OS9 and 10.4 Tiger. To me, overclocking the computer made a pretty big jump in the computer's speed and usability. It even meant the difference between whether or not I could bear to use web browsers on the laptop. If my only goal was running OSX PPC software quickly, I would use my G5 Tower, but to me, much of the charm comes from using the iBook G3 Clamshell itself (even though it is comparatively much slower), so I rarely use my G5.

Since this particular TiBook is a G4 and it is clocked even higher than my G3, I'd imagine that it is probably fast enough for most basic OS9 tasks, and so the speed would come in handy mostly when running OSX. I have an Aluminum PowerBook G4 that sometimes feels too slow when I'm running 10.4 Tiger, but the reason for this is that I typically place far greater demands on it than I do on my iBook G3.

Before getting the new machine, I'd consider the following: What do you want to use the computer for? Do you think that having a faster model would make a difference to you and the way you intend to use the machine, or do you just like using the TiBook itself? Can this machine be overclocked for at least some speed boost if you need it?
 

3lectr1cPPC

Well-known member
@3lectr1cPPC : Since yours is also of the Gigabit generation I would in fact be interested what Geekbench 2 score you can achieve. Everymac lists it at 357. On a clean system it should be 5-10% more.
I can’t find a version of geek bench that runs on Tiger. Tried the website version of geekbench 2 and the version on PPCappstore.
 

herd

Well-known member
I was curious so I looked into it some. I guess there were 3 main editions: 7410, 7450, and 7450 w/L3. The 667MHz was available both with and without L3. Here are a couple of the barefeats tests:

barefeats.com/pb06.html
barefeats.com/pb8a.html

Of interest are the 500 vs 550, and 667 "old" vs 667 "new." There was other stuff changing too, like the GPU.
 

Unknown_K

Well-known member
@Unknown_K : I may have lower expectations or I am just willing to endure some suffering but in 2007 I found the 550 MHz Ti-Book acceptable for some light web browsing, photo loading or so - especially under Panther (in fact I even found my tangerine iBook better than expected under Panther). No longer, however, in 2009 when every useful browser at that time needed Tiger. (I confess, today I am running Tiger even on said iBook - if not booted into 10.0.4 :)).
2007 was a long time ago for web browsing. I actually browsed the web on a Q950 back in the very early 2000's for kicks.
 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
I don't have a /550, but IME TiBooks aren't very fast. I had a 1GHz one and in actual usage at the time, with photoshop, it performed the same doing some heavy tasks in Photoshop CS2 as a Pismo/500 and a 1.83 Core1 MacBook Pro (with Rosetta, at the time.)

Some of that comes down to different things -- the pismo had a faster aftermarket disk installed, the TiBook was using the stock 60-gig 4200rpm (!!) disk and the Intel machine was 2x faster per thread than a 1.67 but PS was running in emulation and also it had, I think a 5400RPM hard disk.

In my experience, all Macs approximately G3/300 and faster feel about the same speed doing day-to-day puttering in OS 9, this includes using it in QEMU-PPC on my ~decade-old desktop PCs, where it benches close to a G3/300 for most things, although floating point suffers significantly.

Lots of that is just because OS 9 was really at the point where it's light enough that things can only really happen so instantaneously.


GeekBench is an OS X benchmark, one of the ideas I've had rattling around has been to build a MacBench database, but even then you have to consider some of the factors mentioned here like thermal paste. Anyway, I mention this because -- are you looking for a 9 or an X machine? If you're looking for an OS X machine, consider a newer PowerBook, or even an Intel MacBook Pro. You can run 10.6.8 on a 2011 MacBook Pro and the machine itself will probably last until the heat death of the universe and it'll be faster than The Quad at any PPC software it runs, although late era PPC software was usually universalbinary so it'll be way faster than The Quad. Especially if you get a 15-inch quadcore model. There's also "all the other Intel Macs" and for the most part they're solid, stable systems.

Though, I realize that if you're looking for a specific aesthetic then suggesting a 2011 mac may as well be suggesting an M1 -- and, I do also suggest an M1 if you need a fast, productive computer.

I think that "too slow" may be (in this case) relative.

Agree completely. OS 9 on a TiBook/550 will be perfectly fine. OS X -- well, OS X on PPC was often characterized entirely by 2 year old machines feeling sluggish with new OS upgrades, even though they usually brought significant logistical and/or productivity benefits.


OS X will be tight on there but it'll probably be fine, especially if you can max the ram, the main thing the upgraded graphics gets you is better graphical smoothness and better performance at things that take time, since if you don't have a QE or CI graphics card, the CPU will be filling in. (You can disable some of the graphical effects to save time, I ran 10.4 on a blue-white G3/450 with a 16meg Rage128, and also on a Pismo/500 with a 16-meg Rage128, and it was fine on both.

Basically, I think that model Ti is the one to avoid.

As ever, inventory on all of this stuff is slim and so my advice is to get whatever you can.

The /550 may have been "the one to avoid" in 2007 when people were giving TiBooks away for free since they didn't really stand up to 2008-09's daily use very well, but most of us aren't using these things today like we're buying one used in 2007.

It depends on the scenario though. If someone doesn't have any portable macs and needs "literally anything" -- yeah get a Ti/550 if it's the first thing appears. If someone already has an iBook/500 or a Pismo or whatever, yeah. sure, hold out or pay more for "the one you want".
 

dan.dem

Well-known member
Too late today, too tired for comprehensive comments, sorry. Just one thing:

@3lectr1cPPC : Links to Geekbench 2 software.
Here are official downloads from Primatelabs website. I _guess_ they are PPC compatible (fat):
http://www.primatelabs.com/blog/2011/11/geekbench-223/
Here is a cracked version, claimed compatible with G3 iMacs, so I think it is Tiger compatible. But you may want to stay away of cracks:
https://www.macintoshrepository.org/26469-geekbench-2-2-7-ppc-and-intel
Downloads and discussion about GB2 on macos9lives:
http://macos9lives.com/smforum/inde...ml?PHPSESSID=815836c7f75377a11fbb9ba301de00b1
 

3lectr1cPPC

Well-known member
Thanks! Got a score of 333 on my 667MHz Gigabit Ti. So, barely better than the 500MHz Ti. Strange since everymac lists it much higher. Mine has 512MB of RAM and a 60GB 4200RPM HDD. It does what I need it to though and it's in real good shape. It's a shame I can't ever swap a 1GHz board due to the port layout changes.
 

dan.dem

Well-known member
@3lectr1cPPC : Thank you for testing! It is actually only less than 7% lower than reported in everymac. Probably Tiger taxes the little Ti quite a lot. E.g. my 300 MHz iBook should have a score of 155, but achives only 140 under Tiger (unsupported, but enough RAM: 544MB). 10 to 15 percent difference between everymac figures and own tests is not uncommon. My iBook was slower but my previous 1.33 GHz PowerBook reached flat out a score of 800 against 685 in everymac.

Which brings me to "speed". As some of you mentioned, this is very relative. Neither G4 is up to the task of browsing modern script- and media-rich websites. TFFox on my little iBook is (mostly) useless. Vintage computer technology is for running vintage computing tasks/software. And here is where the Ti-Books shine, since they are the fastest laptops for running 68k and classic PPC software "bare metal" not in the TrueBlue virtualisation. TrueBlue is often great but sometime sucks, especially in Tiger. Plus Ti-Books are able to run early, not too demanding OSX software too. That's a wide range. That's great.
The /550 may have been "the one to avoid" in 2007 when people were giving TiBooks away for free since they didn't really stand up to 2008-09's daily use very well
I totally agree. For most of the classic/vintage software every Titanium is good. Only when running OSX software the model's speed sets the limit which programs can be run pleasurably well. I can clearly feel the difference between my clamshell iBook and a G4 Powerbook.
I am still looking into the Ti speed differences and may have found some hints. I will come back with this.
 
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Unknown_K

Well-known member
Using Norton Utilities 6.0.3 the CPU in the 500 (with 1MB L3) is rated much faster than the 550 with 256K L2. Of course it could be the whole program runs in cache on the 500.
 

volvo242gt

Well-known member
2007 was a long time ago for web browsing. I actually browsed the web on a Q950 back in the very early 2000's for kicks.
Yep, and, as another anecdote, I was using my original C650 as a daily driver until the day after thanksgiving in 2000. Replaced it with a 7100/80.
 

dan.dem

Well-known member
If you compare processor and bus speeds with Geekbench scores you find that all but 2 Ti-Book variations scale their performance scores quite well along the two determinants (less than 3.5% error in my simple linear model). Only the 550 and 667 MHz Gigabit Tis show 18% and 16% lower GB2 scores than their processor and memory speed would let you expect.

That's not a huge variation but may be noticeable since the 550 MHz is already at the lower end of the processor speed spectrum. OTOH Barefeats' results show that their graphic card is a clear improvement over the first generation model's (thanks @herd for pointing me to the page).

Possible reasons for the lower performance: First, only the Gigabit-Tis use a 7440 processor, but I cannot say if this is of significance. Second, Gigabits have the least amount of combined 2nd and 3rd level cache (256k L2, no L3). While also later models have the small 256k level 2 cache (compared to 1 MB in the original model) later series compensate this with a 1 MB level 3 cache - missing in 550/667 Gigabit models.

Interesting: Predicting Geekbench scores with the same model works up to the latest PowerBook G4 model (just with a slightly higher 10% margin). And this shows that G4 processors over 5 or 6 years never made any progress regarding processing power per clock cycle. Compare this to Intel and we find the reason for Apple's move to Intel in 2006.

Using Norton Utilities 6.0.3 the CPU in the 500 (with 1MB L3) is rated much faster than the 550 with 256K L2. Of course it could be the whole program runs in cache on the 500.
Faintly remember that you can select if test are run in emulation or PPC-native. The 68k emulator was known to like cache. Thank you @Unknown_K for running the tests!
 

herd

Well-known member
Possible reasons for the lower performance:

I think the L3 is what you're seeing. Comparing the old/new 667MHz TiBook (the same chip at the same clock speed), the main difference in terms of CPU performance is the L3 cache. A similar thing happened when the Quicksilver came out. The low end 733MHz version had no L3 and was slower (again talking CPU speed) than most of the earlier DA models. In the barefeats tests, you can clearly see which models of the G4 had L3 cache because they are significantly faster than the models without, some even with higher clock speeds. This shows up with the TiBook too, where a 800MHz TiBook with L3 is faster than a 800MHz Quicksilver without.
 
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