Mac mini Xbench Comparative Performance Benchmarks | iLounge Article

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Mac mini Xbench Comparative Performance Benchmarks

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2005
Articles Categories: Features

The XBench test results for eight Mac OS X computer configurations are shown below. Six of the configurations are Mac mini computers with different amounts of RAM. Two are high-end PowerBook G4 computers, one running under typical, unoptimized conditions, the other optimized for maximum benchmark performance. All tests except “PowerBook 1.5Ghz 1GB RAM” were run at 1024x768 resolution. The 1.5Ghz 1GB RAM test results were taken from the peak performing 1.5GHz PowerBook listed on the comparisons page at XBench.com.

Higher scores are better. A score of 100 on any test shows equivalent performance to a dual-processor G4 Macintosh that was touted by Apple as 83 percent faster on Adobe Photoshop than a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 Windows PC. In every case except disk speed, the lowest-priced Mac mini configuration was over 11% faster than that reference machine, and frequently upwards of 30% faster. More expensive Mac mini configurations show 25% to 75% performance increases. As such, even the cheapest Mac mini will likely represent a performance improvement for low-end PC users who have not upgraded over the last several years.

The results also broadly suggest that an increase of Mac mini RAM from 256MB to 512MB yields a noticeable performance increase for both CPU-intensive tasks and regular use of a Mac mini’s user interface, regardless of clock speed. Mac minis use slower hard disks than the PowerBooks and therefore had lower disk speeds.

In many cases, the Mac minis outperformed the unoptimized PowerBook 1.5Ghz machine in the benchmarks despite lower CPU clock speeds; however, an ideally optimized PowerBook can outperform all competitors by some margin. For reference, a well-oiled but not perfect PowerBook will score closer to the 150 mark overall, and will not see the dramatic performance jumps indicated in the User Interface and Disk Test sections below.

Overall Score

Overall Score reflects the cumulative results of seven major tests of system performance (and their associated sub-tests), as broken down below.

Model Processor Memory Time (seconds)
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 256MB 114.36
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 512MB 116.01
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 1GB 116.12
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 256MB 144.99
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 512MB 144.60
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 1GB 145.30
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 512MB 115.21 (unoptimized)
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 1GB 182.43 (best measured)

CPU Test

CPU Test consists of five tests that collectively measure one processor running one application with different sorts of math processes.

Model Processor Memory Time (seconds)
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 256MB 137.60
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 512MB 151.97
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 1GB 152.59
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 256MB 161.67
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 512MB 172.25
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 1GB 169.04
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 512MB 116.82 (unoptimized)
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 1GB 180.97 (best measured)

Thread Test

Thread Test uses two tests to simulate multiple applications or a single application running multiple processes at once. Shows dramatic benefits on a machine with multiple processors, which none of the test machines here have.

Model Processor Memory Time (seconds)
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 256MB 111.06
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 512MB 112.16
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 1GB 126.95
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 256MB 124.95
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 512MB 124.22
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 1GB 122.97
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 512MB 114.31 (unoptimized)
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 1GB 131.82 (best measured)

Memory Test

Memory Test includes seven tests to show computer’s ability to perform memory operations, measuring memory bandwidth.

Model Processor Memory Time (seconds)
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 256MB 131.25
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 512MB 131.46
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 1GB 132.89
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 256MB 132.20
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 512MB 130.01
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 1GB 135.63
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 512MB 123.42 (unoptimized)
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 1GB 137.65 (best measured)

Quartz Graphics Test

Five tests of the Quartz Graphics system challenge the machine’s graphics card, memory bandwidth, CPU, and floating point capabilities at once.

Model Processor Memory Time (seconds)
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 256MB 136.73
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 512MB 160.83
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 1GB 155.63
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 256MB 173.55
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 512MB 179.39
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 1GB 175.79
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 512MB 137.54 (unoptimized)
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 1GB 278.85 (best measured)

OpenGL Graphics Test

A single test uses the graphics card and CPU together to determine 3D performance.

Model Processor Memory Time (seconds)
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 256MB 111.56
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 512MB 111.26
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 1GB 113.35
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 256MB 121.92
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 512MB 123.11
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 1GB 120.11
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 512MB 106.86 (unoptimized)
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 1GB 117.09 (best measured)

User Interface Test

The single UI Test shows a system’s performance in drawing "standard system controls." Again, the graphics card and CPU are tested.

Model Processor Memory Time (seconds)
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 256MB 213.02
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 512MB 217.16
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 1GB 217.56
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 256MB 219.97
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 512MB 227.79
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 1GB 222.73
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 512MB 181.60 (unoptimized)
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 1GB 300.64 (best measured)

Disk Test

Four disk tests together show typical throughput to the hard disk and seek time of the drive. A less fragmented, empty drive does better than a full and/or fragmented one.

Model Processor Memory Time (seconds)
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 256MB 56.97
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 512MB 57.38
Mac mini 1.25Ghz 1GB 57.25
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 256MB 63.01
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 512MB 60.89
Mac mini 1.42Ghz 1GB 62.83
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 512MB 75.72 (unoptimized)
PowerBook 1.5Ghz 1GB 393.55 (best measured)

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Comments

1

Intesting isn’t it?!
Mac mini might be “entry level”, but managers to perform like a “mid level” !
I am waiting for a trip to Singapore and I will purchase a 1.42 Ghz 80Gig with extra RAM, bluetooth and Superdrive.

Just wish you had an option for a Nvidia Graphics card like the powerbooks.
I’m guessing this would be possible? They seem the same size physically?

Anybody have any reports on upgrading the Graphics card on a mini? Is it possible? If so how?

This thing will become my main work station, and replace my crappy work PC as my main computer.

Posted by macdaddie in thailand on February 1, 2005 at 7:04 PM (PDT)

2

A graphics card upgrade of the Mini would to mere mortals be impossible, it’s all embedded into the motherboard so unless you could find another better chipset that would drop straight in to where the existing one is AND had the skills to desolder and resolder AND could hack the firmware of the Mini to accept the new chipset AND rewrote the driver to get it recognised .... when you crack open your new Mini you’ll see grin

For what the Mini is aimed at doing, the ATI 9200 is more than adequate, but I bet in 6-12months time an upgraded Mini will be available that has meatier graphics and CPU, and if/when the G5 PowerBooks come out a G5 Mini would only be a few months behind.  For now Apple can happily sit back watch the Minis roll out and the cash roll in. (They certainly pursuaded me to sell the PC and get a Mini)

Posted by Mark Smith on February 22, 2005 at 10:52 AM (PDT)

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