Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Power Mac Radeon 9650: Slower than previous 9600 XT

In a previous article we commented on the specs of the (then rumoured forthcoming) new Power Macs. One curious spec was the inclusion of the new ATI Radeon 9650 GPU.

We stated that the 9650 appeared to be RV351, which would be a 9600 Pro class CPU. If true, that would mean that the newer 9650 would actually be slower than it's predecessor, the 9600 XT. That seems to be borne out by recent benchmarks done by Macworld. The dual G5 2.7 wins every test as expected, except in gaming. Here, the dual G5 2.7 with Radeon 9650 loses to the dual G5 2.5 with Radeon 9600 XT. Furthermore, the dual G5 2.7's scores improve when the 9600 XT is installed in it.

It should also be mentioned that according to forum posts around the net listing Mac GPU clock and memory speeds, Apple does not clock its cards at the same speeds at the PC cards. A 9600 Pro on the Mac side is actually slower than a 9600 Pro on the PC side, and the same goes for the 9600 XT. I was hoping that the new 9650, despite likely being a rehashed 9600 Pro, would be equivalent to the Mac 9600 XT. However, this does not seem to be the case.

Assuming Macworld's benchmarks are accurate and representative, it seems that Apple has simply scrimped on the GPU in the new Power Macs for the sake of cost. That in itself is annoying, but not nearly as annoying as the fact that no other video card besides the US$450 GeForce 6800U DDL is available as a build-to-order upgrade. Apple no longer offers the 9800 series GPUs as upgrades.