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Thursday, October 27, 2005, 02:00 pm PT (05:00 pm ET)

Nvidia 7800 GT and Power Mac G5 Quad in final testing

Apple's new high-end Power Mac G5 Quad and NVIDIA's GeForce 7800 GT graphics card are both in the final testing stages at Apple and could begin shipping in the second half of November, according to reports.

Apple's online store currently lists lead times of 3 to 4 weeks for the Power Mac Quad and 6 to 8 weeks for the NVIDIA 7800, but Apple representatives recently told an AppleInsider correspondent that the company hopes to ship the first batch of both products in mid-to-late November.

Power Mac G5 Quad Ultimate configuration

In the weeks that will follow, Apple retail stores nationwide will begin to stock a special Power Mac G5 Quad configuration that will include the 7800 GT as standard, according to reliable sources. The configuration will be called the "Power Mac G5 Quad Ultimate" and will retail for around (US)$4000 with 1GB of DDR2 RAM and other component upgrades.

NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT delays

Slowing the release of the 7800 appears to be a stringent set of Apple acoustic guidelines which the graphics cards must meet before they can be included inside the new Power Macs. Since the 7800 packs its own fan in addition to its 256MB of GDDR3 SDRAM, Apple wants to be sure the cards do not contribute significantly to the noise already produced by the Power Mac's own cooling system.

Apple reportedly uses a sophisticated set of software algorithms to active or deactivate specific fans inside the Power Macs depending on the type and size of the data being processed. In addition to the two inlet and outlet fans present in each Power Mac G5, the Power Mac G5 Quad requires a liquid cooling system to help regulate the temperature inside the computer.

Liquid Cooling System

Once again, it appears that Apple has tapped Troy, Mich.-based Delphi-Harrison for the cooling systems, which are manufactured in Mexico and flown to Apple's manufacturing facilities in the Far East. The cooling systems resemble an automotive radiator and consist of approximately 80% water with an added mixture of corrosion inhibitors and bacterial growth preventatives.

Though it's uncertain, reasonable speculation suggests that the Power Mac G5 Quad may be seeing delays associated with its few specialized components — mainly the liquid cooling system and faster 2.5GHz IBM PowerPC 970MP processors.

Apple performance benchmarks

Although Apple has not shipped any Power Mac G5 Quad systems that could be used to perform benchmarks calculations, tests run by the company in September show the Quad to be 88% faster in double-preciscion math calculations than the previous-generation Power Mac Dual 2.7GHz model. Likewise, the Quad proved to be 39%, 55% and 85% faster than the Dual in BBSv3 multiple-processor tests, Cinebench multiple-processor rendering tests, and floating-point calculations, respectively.

Power Mac G5 Quad vs Power Mac G4 Dual

Apple also compared the performance of the Power Mac G5 Quad to the Power Mac G4 Dual 1.42MHz in a series of software tests. According to the results, the Quad performed a 45-filter Photoshop CS2 test 184% faster than the Power Mac G4. In After Effects 6.5.1 the Quad faired even better, completing a visual effects rendering test 272% faster than the G4.

Real-world benchmarks

However, the only real-world Power Mac G5 Quad benchmark comes from Luxology, developers of the Modo surface modeling environment. According to a recent posting by the company's Allen Hastings, the Power Mac G5 Quad renders over twice as fast as Apple's previous Power Mac G5 Dual 2.5GHz systems.

"We had the opportunity to try one of the new quad G5s with modo 201 and I must say I was impressed with its speed," Hastings wrote in a message to the Luxology online forum. "As an example, it rendered the global illumination test image shown above in 17 seconds flat. The scene includes 244,000 polygons with 8 sample antialiasing and 200 indirect rays."

By comparison, Hastings said the Power Mac G5 Dual 2.5GHz took 38 seconds to render the same scene.