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Please note that the Power Macintosh G5 series was discontinued on August 7, 2006.
How fast are dual processor Power Mac G5 models compared to single processor models?
According to Apple-published benchmarks of the original Power Macintosh G5 models, the dual-processor Power Macintosh G5/1.8 DP (PCI-X) and G5/2.0 DP (PCI-X) models are roughly 30% and 45% faster, respectively, than the entry-level single processor Power Macintosh G5/1.6 (PCI). MacWorld also published a review with real-world performance tests that you may wish to read as well.
The other single processor model -- the Power Macintosh G5 1.8 (PCI), introduced as a low-cost model with a 600 MHz system bus (one third of processor speed), not surprisingly, is substantially slower than the "June 2004" dual processor models available at the time of its introduction -- the Power Macintosh G5/1.8 DP (PCI), G5/2.0 DP (PCI-X 2), and G5/2.5 DP (PCI-X), which have faster processors, faster system buses (one half of processor speed), and faster architectures.
MacWorld reviewed this single processor model as well and concluded that it is not the system for "anyone who does computation-intensive work" but could be worthwhile for those "who need an expandable desktop system but don’t require maximum performance".
According to Apple, the top of the line Power Macintosh G5 "Quad Core" (2.5) is 88% faster than the previous top of the line model, the Power Macintosh G5/2.7 DP (PCI-X). Using the Linpack Benchmark, the "Quad" model produced 21.0 Gigaflops of computational power, compared to 11.1 Gigaflops for the previous model.
According to Apple-published SPEC CPU2000 benchmarks, and independently tested by Veritest, the Power Macintosh G5 destroys comparable Windows PCs. In "SPEC rate" tests, the Power Macintosh G5/2.0 DP (PCI-X) was 95% faster than a Windows PC with a single 3.0 GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor and 42% faster than the Windows PC with dual 3.06 GHz Intel Xeon processors.
Some claimed that Apple's benchmark testing was rigged, but the Power Macintosh G5 systems trounced the comparative Windows PCs in a series of real world application tests as well. In an Adobe Photoshop "45-filter function test" the original Power Mac G5 models -- the Power Macintosh G5/1.6 (PCI), G5/1.8 (PCI-X), and G5/2.0 DP (PCI-X) -- were 1.5 times, 1.7 times, and 2.2 times faster, respectively, than a Windows PC with a single 3.0 GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor. In similar testing, the dual-processor Power Macintosh G5/1.8 DP (PCI-X) was 76% faster than a Dell Dimension XPS with a single 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 processor.
According to Apple-published benchmarks, the "June 2004" Power Mac G5 models -- the Power Macintosh G5/1.8 DP (PCI), G5/2.0 DP (PCI-X 2), and G5/2.5 DP (PCI-X) -- continued to smoke similarly priced Intel-based systems. In a series of 45 Photoshop filters, these models were 66%, 82%, and 98% faster, respectively, than a 3.4 GHz Pentium 4-based Dell Dimension XPS, and 48%, 63%, and 75% faster, respectively, than a dual 3.2 GHz Xeon-based Dell Precision 650.
The lower-end, and less expensive Power Macintosh G5/1.8 (PCI) -- introduced October 19, 2004 and discontinued October 19, 2005 -- still is faster than comparable Intel-based systems. In the same series of 45 Photoshop filters used to test the "June 2004" models, the Power Macintosh G5/1.8 (PCI) was 20% faster than a 3.4 GHz Pentium 4-based Dell Dimension XPS.
The "Early 2005" Power Mac G5 models -- the Power Macintosh G5/2.0 DP (PCI) and G5/2.3 DP (PCI-X) and G5/2.7 DP (PCI-X) -- again, according to Apple-published benchmarks, are 59%, 78%, and 98% faster than a 3.6 GHz Pentium 4-based Dell Dimension XPS Gen4, and 38%, 56%, and 72% faster than a dual 3.6 GHz Xeon-based Dell Precision 670 in a series of 45 Photoshop filter tests.
Not surprisingly, given that Apple decided to transition to an Intel-based architecture prior to their introduction, the company did not release benchmarks that show the "Late 2005" Power Mac G5 models -- the Power Macintosh G5 Dual Core (2.0), Dual Core (2.3), and "Quad Core" (2.5) -- continuing to trounce comparable Intel-based systems.