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G4 vrs G5

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We need to purchase an addition Apple computer for our office in the next few weeks.

There are a few options I am considering.

1. Single processor 1.25 ghz G4 Machine ($1299, w/o Super Drive)

2. Duel processor 1.25 ghz G4 Machine ($1599, w/o Super Drive)

3. Single processor 1.6 ghz G5 Machine ($1799, w/o Super Drive)

The computer sill primarily be used for 2d drafting using Vectorworks 10.2. I plan on keeping it in service for this purpose for the next 3 years (at least).

Any thought on the relative merits of these machines for running Vectorworks? Would we derive any immediate benefit from the G5 processor with VW, or does the program need to be updated to take advantage of the processors capabilities?

As I understand it, VW does not currently benefit from duel processors.

Any thoughts or guidance would be appreciated!

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My 1.42 GHz DP shows approximately equal processor utilization when I am in Vectorworks. I think I would pick the G4 DP from your list. If there was a G5 that was 2 Ghz or more, I would consider it similar to the G4 DP.

Just my opinion, I haven't used a G5 yet.


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Do you have other programs operating at the same time? It has always been my understanding that VW does not support dual processors.

I would like to hear feedback from others on this topic. I posted a similar topic a few days ago and the feedback that I got was that the faster the CPU the better.

I do not have a DP machine. From what info I have gathered so far, it seems that the G5 would be the fastest.

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To be honest, you probably wouldn?t notice a whole lot of performance difference between the three machines when using VectorWorks for 2D stuff.

If you were to get into 3D work in the next few years, however, the G5?s advantages would become very clear cut. The geometry engine in Vectorworks 9 and 10 uses double-precision floating point maths and it just so happens that the G5 performs these kinds of calculations quicker than any current desktop processor. This exceptional ability isn?t obvious when an application performs a computation in milliseconds as is the case with VectorWorks when handling most 2D routines. However, when task durations start to span minutes and hours as is the case with certain 3D functions, the superiority of the G5 will become very obvious.

Currently, nobody really knows how great the G5?s speed advantage when running VectorWorks will be but my guestimate is that a 1.6GHz G5 would be at least twice as quick as a 1.25GHz G4. The performance deficit would be the same for the dual 1.25 GHz G4 as VectorWorks only utilises a single processor. Of course, in multitasking situations, the dual G4 would show marked speed advantages over it?s single processor G4 sibling.

The PowerMac G5?s performance advantages aren?t simply limited to the new processor either, as the new models? sport vastly superior interface, memory and video subsystems.

It is also worth noting that the new PowerMacs are much, much quieter than the current crop of machines.

The only real caveats I see in regard to the G5 are:

1. Will they ship on time or will you still be waiting for your new machine at the end of September?

2. Will Apple have ironed out all the hardware bugs in the first crop of machines?

If you still want to go down the G4 road, be aware that the dual 1.25GHz model is now discontinued and the single processor version features a year-old motherboard - ie no ATA 100, Airport Extreme, FireWire 800 or internal Bluetooth.

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That is some great information. Where I get frustrated is in screen redraws. If I have a lot of information on the screen and make a change to anything, the whole screen redraws. This can take a lot of time. Draw a line wait 3 seconds then draw another line. i am talkin about plan view in wireframe, not a rendering operation.

Do you, or anyone, know what i need to speed this up? Is it CPU or perhaps is it the video card?

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to look at it a different way

have you considered the new 17" 1GHz iMac

hehe yes it's ment to be a kids machine.

but if your mostly working on 2d the speed is more than enough (working on a large master plan that 2-3 sec to redraw on a G3) is not noticable on the iMac

and for about the same price as just the box of the other systems, your eyes will love you at the end of the day for that crisp clean LCD screen.

the only real way to tell for sure is burn your VW application folder and a couple of big files on to a cd

(this should be in acceptable in the agreement)

and take that to your friendly apple dealer.

i'm sure most of them would be happy to let you test drive the machines with some real world files.

(seeing as it's all on the cd and doesn't need to install anything on their machine)

anyway happy shopping :-)

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Video cards accelerate a very specific set of 2D and 3D calculations which means that applications using proprietary screen drawing routines do not receive much of a performance benefit. VectorWorks is just such a piece of software and as such, 2D screen redraw performance is almost totally CPU bound.

Having said that, you would need to have a pretty massive drawing to experience anything other than instant screen redraws on something like a 1GHz PowerMac. If you can?t afford a new machine, you might want to play around with Classes and Sheets to set-up ?views? of your drawings which exclude extraneous details, thus improving redraw performance.

The one aspect of VectorWorks which does benefit from the provision of a modern Video Card is the interactive OpenGL rendering. This is another reason why the new G5 with it?s AGP 8x graphics interface is the natural choice for any Mac users doing 3D work in VectorWorks.

I would also agree with iboymatt?s 17? iMac recommendation - I know a couple of architects who use these and have nothing but praise for them.

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If the need is not imminent there are a few other advantages to the G5 that Applefan didn't bring up. The SATA drives are significantly faster than the current crop of (parallel) ATA drives. These are tied to a System bus that runs up to 4 times as fast; fast enough that the need for a L3 cache has been eliminated. From my reading most of the speed improvements will be do to the system architecture rather than the CPU.

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I didn't intend to have other programs running, but FreeBSD has a lot of processes going all the time. I can't tell if VW itself is using both processors, just that both are being used, and approximately equally, when I run VW.

I tried the 'experiment' because another family member is taking a computer architecture course and the subject of multiprocessors was discussed. I picked VW to test the system because I had heard they did not used DP systems. I was surprised by the results.

The question for the VW programmers: "Do you compile VW to support multi-threading or do you disable the option?"

Compiling for multi-threading will use as many processors as there are available without extra coding effort and without distributing different versions. I have no guess on the efficiency of the processor usage.


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ionw is absolutely right to point out the other architectural improvements ushered in with the new range of Powermacs. The list of enhancements is a long one and can be seen at http://www.apple.com/powermac.

Andrew Bell (where is he when you need him?), one of the Nemetschek software engineers, gave a wonderfully lucid exposition of the reasons why VectorWorks is not multithreaded on this board a year or so ago. As I remember, it all boiled down to resources and reliability. Not only is it extremely time consuming to thread an application like VectorWorks but you also end up with code that is orders more difficult to debug. Apparently Renderworks is a totally different proposition, however...

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