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Need ideas... G5 or not?


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I'm an architect. I work mainly in Vectorworks 11, Artlantis 4.5.6, Photoshop and Freehand. Initially I used an iMac DV for my work and now I'm using an iBook G4 with a 933 Mhz G4 processor and 640 Mb of RAM. For most tasks the iBook has been enough, but right now I am extremely worried because I'm unable to work in a decent speed.

Currently I'm drawing and 3d modeling a group of houses with its site, roads, etc, and I'm experiencing noticeable slowdowns in both Vectorworks and Artlantis. In Vectorworks It's a 22 Mb huge file, and rotating in 3D, updating the model and exporting is taking several minutes. Opening the exported file in Artlantis is also taking several minutes and I have lost all the day trying to make just small changes. I feel very unproductive.

The thing is the iBook is still responsive in other tasks while these operations are being performed. I still can surf the web and even burn a DVD while these happens in the background. Right now I'm posting this while Artlantis takes ages to open the file. If I close all apps and wait, it takes almost the same time.

I'm thinking on buying a G5 for all this 3D stuff, but I'm not sure if I will really notice a big improvement. Will these two apps, Vectorworks and Artlantis, run faster on a G5 with 1 Gb of RAM, compared to my 933 Mhz iBook G4 with 640 Mb? I hope so, but the fact the computer still can do other things efficiently, makes me worry if the problem are the apps and not the computer.

Is there any architect or 3D person who has experienced something like this? Any architect using a G5 and this apps? Do they run faster?

Also, will I notice a significant difference between a single 1.8 Ghz G5 and a dual 1.8? I have a very tight budget but still want to make the best decision.

Thank you!


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Getting a G5 has got to improve these times, but it sounds strange with regard to the time taken. Do other files this size cause the same slow problems.

22 mb is not a huge file, not in my line of work anyway, exhibition stand design, with 3D elements making up nearly all my files. I can't really comment on G5's as I only experienced G4's at work before switching back to Windows PC's now I'm freelancing again.

I tried a 25 mb file which opens in around four seconds from clicking it in "open recent files" in Vectorworks, changing from plan to isometic view about 3 seconds, exporting and updating an existing 23 mb Artlantis file takes 35 seconds max. Opening that file in Artlantis, 15 seconds. Recalculation when going into edit camera view in Artlantis around 10-15 seconds.

I had a 105 mb file recently which would take about 20 seconds to open in Vectorworks and about 10 minutes to export to Artlantis.this was slow to move around.

I'm sure comparable results are achievable with a G5 stacked out with ram. Mines a single processor 3.2 Mhz Pentium 4 with 1.5 gb of ram which in my opinion would be comparable to a G5 twin 2 ghz machine with the same ram.

Dual processors only make real major speed differences when the program in question is designed to use them. Vectorworks and Artlantis are not.

Other renders do, such as Cinema 4D and I believe Renderworks (Vectorworks rendering program) but not 100% sure on Renderworks using both.

I'd say you are the very limit of usable computing with the present set up you have and the work you are trying to do. If you can go the extra I'd go dual 2 ghz machine with plenty of ram. Buy good quality ram, but not from Apple, it's overpriced. If you are very tight on budget get the single 1.8 with loads of ram rather than 1.8 duals with less ram.

The set up will cost you about twice what I paid for my set up but your Apple based and don't want to change platforms as well as machines do you.

Also take note about comments on the slow speed thread regarding OSX 10.3. posted here recently.Here is the link if you don't see it on the page. http://techboard.nemetschek.net/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=12;t=004213

[ 11-16-2004, 05:50 PM: Message edited by: alanmac ]

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Originally posted by Kevin:

Note that the single processor 1.8 has a slower bus speed. The Dual 1.8 will run faster with only one processor working.


I agree with your statement but after rereading Hugo's post he sayes he is on a very tight budget. Would you not agree if, for the money a single 1.8 with much more ram for the same money as a dual 1.8 with less ram, will be faster?

In other words using the money it would cost to buy the dual for ram instead.

In an ideal world we'd all buy the fastest but I know only too well you have to draw the spending line somewhere.

My wife knows were to draw it all the time !!

[ 11-16-2004, 05:39 PM: Message edited by: alanmac ]

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The point of my post was to let Hugo know that the difference between the Dual and Single was more than just the number of processors. It would be tempting to buy the Single processor unit knowing that VW cannot use the second processor. One might assume that the Single and Dual would be equally fast running VW if the second processor is not being used anyway.

I for one would sure like to know how RAM affects the usage of VW. I remember upgrading my Mac SE 30 from I meg to 4 meg. That was a huge difference. But how much RAM is enough? Is 1.0 gig enough. How about if I load up to 4.0 gig. Is that money well spent or would the money better be spent on a faster CPU.

Or as Ion Webster has pointed out, would that money better be spent on a faster video card?

We need some form of information that will allow us all to make informed decisions on these matters.

Personally I think I would stay away from the single processor 1.8 with its reduced bus speed. Apple shows speed tests on its website and the 1.8 is significantly slower than the dual.

One might be able to get a used first generation 1.8 at a price comparable to a new single 1.8. Consider too that Renderworks does use both processors.

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I took a look at the Apple website. It would seem that the 17 inch iMac and the single 1.8 G5 have the same specifications. From what I can see, they are the same price and same specification. The difference of course is that the iMac comes with it's own 17 inch monitor.

I think that if I were going to buy the single processor 1.8 G5 that I would take a serious look at the iMac.

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Hi you all, thank you for your replies!

I have been reading a lot about new computers, I have several projects in mind, architecture and video, and I think I must take a decision soon. As I said, up to now my iBook has been enough. But as time goes by, new projects and higher requirements come, and I'm thinking a new computer may be a good investment.

I've been a Mac user since 1999 and I really don't want to go back to PCs. I constantly work fixing PCs and viruses and drivers and all that stuff and definitely I feel much comfortable with a Mac. I have searched about both the iMac G5 and the Powermac G5 and it seems they are not so similar between; I've read the Powermac is faster.

My main doubt is between a single 1.8 G5 and a dual 1.8 G5. I think buying any of them, I will also buy an additional 1 Gb of RAM from crucial.com (I always buy there). I obvioulsy think a dual processor G5 is better, but my doubt is... How much better? Has someone tested this? How much faster is Renderworks with a dual processor setup?

About the slowness, this is the first time I experience this, but it is also the first time I work in a file big like this. I must say VW is not so slow most of the time, but sometimes it takes several minutes updating my site model. Usually, Artlantis will take 1-3 minutes opening the file exported with the Artlantis Export plugin for VW 11.

[ 11-16-2004, 10:14 PM: Message edited by: Hugo ]

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This is a link to a Macworld test. They tested using Cinema 4D. As you can see, the Dual processor G5 was twice as fast as the Single processor iMac.


I would guess that Cinema is capable of using both processors.Likewise I would guess that since the processors work in tandem that twice the processors yield half the time as is shown in the tests.

I have run Renderworks on a Dual 1.8 G5. You can see both processors working as two sections of the image render at the same time. Don't know the speed difference but I would guess that the results would be similar to the Cinema tests.

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How much faster is Renderworks with a dual processor setup

In the VW website, somewhere but I don't know where.., is written that Renderworks with dual is 30/40% faster. Only with VW 11. VW 10.5 doesn't gain the benefits of dual machines.

You have to calculate how much time do you spend in rendering.

I have to buy a G5 too, and I don't know if it's better to put my money on video card, ram or processor... help us Nemetschek!

They make some generic test with G5 and VW 10.5 and is quite fast (if I am not wrong, a Ghz 1.8 SP should be 5 time faster then your iBook). But I don't know what happen with VW 11.. and the differences with video cards and ram, SP and MP...

If you wanto to know how much G5 Mac is faster then PC go here:


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Today I worked a bit faster, but have reached a point where updating the site model leaves VectorWorks with the spining beachball forever. All the other apps respond without problem. The file also hangs VW in a PC.

I'm really not sure if this slowness is due to my iBook.

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there could be something wrong with your file.

VW 11 is now multi-processor aware, you can check the online brochure.

Renderworks (sounds like you are not using it) uses the cpu for rendering, not sure about Artlantis. I am using Renderworks and I am pretty impressed with the speed, with 15-30MB files.

I have a 1.6 G5. There is a lot of differences between G5 tower models and imacs in the bus speeds and other internal systems, they may look comparable at a glance but . . .and higher end models need matching pairs of ram, and so on. The towers are easier to set up for multi monitors, but you can hack the imac for monitor spanning, According to somewhere on the VW site, Open GL in Panther is done by the video card, so a an up to date card will make a difference, your iBook is not upgradeable in that regard.

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Originally posted by wv_vectorworker:

...VW 11 is now multi-processor aware, you can check the online brochure...

The online brochure states

"Support for Multiprocessors (RenderWorks)

Support for multithreading means that raytraced renderings on dual-processor machines will be up to 40% faster."

No mention is made regarding the base program. Only Renderworks is mentioned as far as I can see.

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Today a VW expert/seller told me that only rendering can be supported by multiprocessor (+30/40%). Vector tracing can only be made by one processor a time, so it is not possible to have benefit from two processor during cad drawing, even in future versions of VW.

The video card too can bring some benefits, but 128 is enough (he uses 64).

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Well, this means that any CAD application won't benefit from dual processors... So then, video ram, RAM and the processor speed are the most relevant things in order to have a speedy Vectorworks experience? How does the bus speed, the HD speed and others affect VW performance? Vectorworks uses or not the velocity engine from G4s and G5s?

[ 11-18-2004, 11:50 AM: Message edited by: Hugo ]

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