Low End Mac Benchmarks

Barracuda!

Dan Knight - 2002.01.23 - Tip Jar

How much faster is a 7200 RPM Ultra 100 hard drive than the Quantum Fireball SE 4.3A that came with my beige Power Mac G3? Lots!

Two years ago the Barracuda was the fastest 20 gig UltraATA drive on the market, according to Bare Feats. The world has moved on, but it's still a very fast, very responsive drive.

The new 20 GB drive was set as a master drive and replaced the CD-ROM drive. All files were then copies from the Quantum drive, the system booted from the Barracuda, and testing begun.

As with our earlier beige G3 benchmarks, the CPU is running at 267.28 MHz with a 512 KB 133.68 MHz level 2 cache and a 66.82 MHz system bus. The computer has 288 MB of RAM installed.

Speedometer 3.06

The system was tested on 23 January 2002 using a full install of Mac OS 9.2.2. Computer attached to a 12" mono monitor and tested in 8-bit video mode at 640 x 480 resolution. Results are relative to a Mac SE or Classic, which rates 1.0. Numbers rounded off to one or two decimal places.

Keep in mind that Speedometer 3.06 is written for the old 68K Macs and runs in emulation on Power Macs.

The first set of numbers compares performance with a 256K disk cache with virtual memory disabled.

cache       CPU  graphics  disk   math 
Quantum    125.1    51.4   9.14   633.3
Barracuda  134.8    49.5  28.09   631.0

Speedometer uses a small file size when testing the hard drive, so the Barracuda drive scores over 3x higher than the aged Quantum. At the same time, graphics and math performance suffer slightly.

Based on results from our earlier tests on the beige G3, we next turned virtual memory on at the 320 MB setting. Here are our results:

cache       CPU  graphics  disk   math 
Quantum    125.1    50.1   9.36   631.9
Barracuda  134.8    49.5  28.62   632.4

We again find the hard drive score of the Barracuda over 3x that of the older Quantum, again with slightly reduced graphics and math scores.

For the next test, we set the default disk cache of 8 MB and left VM on:

cache       CPU  graphics  disk   math 
Quantum    125.1    50.1  11.49   631.9
Barracuda  134.8    50.7  20.50   629.8

Although we have double-checked that low CPU score, what's most significant here is that the graphics score with the Barracuda is higher than with the Quantum, indicating that the larger disk cache demands less system resources than direct access to the drive. And instead of triple the Quantum's drive score, the Barracuda only scores 78% higher when a huge cache is used.

Finally, we set the default disk cache of 8 MB and turn off virtual memory:

cache       CPU  graphics  disk   math 
Quantum    134.8    50.7  11.76   631.5
Barracuda  134.8    50.7  21.37   633.3

The Barracuda again outperforms the several year old Quantum, this time by 82%. Considering the cost (about $100 for a 20 GB Barracuda IV), if it weren't worth it for the space, it would be worth it for the speed.

Speedometer 4.02

The system was tested on 23 January 2002 under a full install of Mac OS 9.2.2. Computer attached to a 12" mono monitor and tested in 8-bit video mode at 640 x 480 resolution. Results are relative to a Quadra 605, which rates 1.0. Numbers rounded off to one or two decimal places.

The first set of numbers compares performance with a 256K disk cache. Virtual memory was disabled for these tests.

cache       CPU  graphics  disk    math
Quantum    21.03   n/a     3.47   745.2
Barracuda  21.04   n/a     3.77   745.0

Speedometer 4 uses a larger data set than Speedometer 3, so the Barracuda doesn't score at 3x the Quantum's speed. Instead, we measure an 8% improvement using a 256K disk cache.

Based on results from our earlier tests on the beige G3, we next turned virtual memory on at the 320 MB setting. Here are our results:

cache       CPU  graphics  disk    math
Quantum    20.99   n/a     3.60   743.7
Barracuda  21.00   n/a     3.59   743.9

Here we see virtually identical scores, even on the drive benchmark.

For the next test, we set the default disk cache of 8 MB and left VM on:

cache       CPU  graphics  disk    math
Quantum    20.99   n/a     4.49   743.3
Barracuda  20.99   n/a     3.97   743.2

The Quantum was at its best in this test, actually managing to outperform the much newer Barracuda.

Finally, we set the default disk cache of 8 MB and turn off virtual memory:

cache       CPU  graphics  disk    math
Quantum    21.03   n/a     4.51   745.4
Barracuda  21.03   n/a     4.16   744.5

The Quantum wins the second benchmark using an 8 MB disk cache. Impressive.

Based on Speedometer 4, we'd be hard pressed to recommend replacing the old 4 GB Quantum drive unless we needed more space - but Speedometer 4 is only one of four benchmarks we used.

MacBench 5

The system was tested on 23 January 2002 using a normal installation of Mac OS 9.2.2. Computer attached to a 12" mono monitor and tested in 8-bit video mode at 640 x 480 resolution. The disk cache was set to 256 KB for all tests. Results are relative to a beige Power Mac G3/300, which rates 1000.

Virtual memory was turned off and tests were run with a 256K disk cache.

test        CPU    math    disk
Quantum     828     890     622
Barracuda   830     891    1113

MacBench 5 measures the Barracuda at 79% faster than the Quantum in this disk test.

Based on results from our earlier tests on the beige G3, we next turned virtual memory on at the 320 MB setting. Here are our results:

test        CPU    math    disk
Quantum     804     884     603
Barracuda   813     889    1311

The Barracuda does even better with VM enabled, while the Quantum did worse than on the earlier test. Overall, the Barracuda scored 117% higher on the disk test.

For the next test, we set the default disk cache of 8 MB and left VM on:

test        CPU    math    disk
Quantum     804     884    1000
Barracuda   818     889    1781

While the Quantum reaches the 1000 mark on the disk benchmark, the Barracuda soars to 1781, giving it a 78% advantage over the Quantum on this disk test.

Finally, we set the default disk cache of 8 MB and turn off virtual memory:

test        CPU    math    disk
Quantum     830     890     984
Barracuda   830     890    1838

Although tied on the CPU and math scores, the hot Barracuda cleaned up on the disk test yet again, this time with an 87% advantage over the Quantum.

ATTO ExpressPro

For the final performance test, we tested both drives using ExpressPro-Tools 2.4.1 from ATTO. We tested both drives with VM off and with both 256K and 8 MB disk caches.

Quantum 256K test

Using a 256K disk cache, the Quantum Fireball peaks at roughly 10.4 MB per second.

Barracuda 256K test

The 7200 RPM Barracuda really shows its stuff, offering an average 40% performance improvement over the Fireball drive that came with this beige G3.

Quantum 8 meg test

Testing the Quantum with an 8 MB disk cache made no significant difference compared with the earlier 256K test.

Barracuda 8 meg test

If you thought the Barracuda was doing nicely before, compare the peak and sustained performance using an 8 MB disk cache with the 256K disk cache. Nice becomes even nicer. Overall we're averaging 44% better performance than using the Quantum drive with the same disk cache.

Conclusion

Although we had mixed results under Speedometer 4, the other benchmarks and simple things like faster boot times and quicker program launches demonstrate the benefit of a fast hard drive - even in a 1997 beige G3 using an old IDE bus that tops out at 16.67 MB per second. In fact, a Mac with a faster drive bus might see even better scores with this big, fast, inexpensive drive.

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