Low End Mac Benchmarks

Mac LC III

Dan Knight - 1998.10.03 - Tip Jar

The LC III uses a 25 MHz 68030 CPU, so performance should be comparable to a IIci without a cache. Drive is a 100 MB Quantum ProDrive LPS formatted with a patched version of Apple HD SC Setup 7.3.5 (which otherwise doesn't support non-Apple drives).

The drive was tested with Norton and optimized before benchmarking.

Remember that benchmarks are arbitrary. They measure certain types of performance that may or may not reflect the way you work.

Speedometer 3.06

The system was tested on 3 October 1998 under System 7.5.5 with all inessential extensions off. Computer attached to a portrait monitor and tested in both 1-bit and 4-bit video modes. Results are relative to a Mac SE or Classic, which rates 1.0. Numbers rounded off to two decimal places.

The first set of numbers compares performance at different cache settings.

cache  video   CPU  graphics  disk   math 
 32KB  4-bit   6.84   6.81    2.20   10.10
 64KB  4-bit   6.92   6.60    2.18    9.87
128KB  4-bit   6.92   6.68    2.16   10.13
256KB  4-bit   6.95   6.69    2.23   10.26

The cache setting should have little influence on non-disk tests, which these numbers bear out. With this particular setup, cache size makes no appreciable difference.

The second set of numbers compares performance at different video settings.

cache  video   CPU  graphics  disk   math 
 64KB  1-bit   6.92   8.68    2.00   10.24
 64KB  2-bit   6.87   7.36    2.15   10.23
 64KB  4-bit   6.92   6.60    2.18    9.87

Unlike the IIsi and IIci, which rely on DRAM for video, the LC III has VRAM for video. This keeps performance fairly consistent except on the graphics test, where lower bit-depths yield faster performance - 31% faster when switching from 4-bit to 1-bit on a portrait display.

Speedometer 4.02

The system was tested on 3 October 1998 under System 7.5.5 with all inessential extensions off. Computer attached to a portrait monitor and tested in both 1-bit and 4-bit video modes. Results are relative to a Quadra 605, which rates 1.0. Numbers rounded off to two decimal places.

The first set of numbers compares performance at different cache settings.

cache  video   CPU  graphics  disk   math
 32KB  4-bit   0.43   0.38    0.85   1.50
 64KB  4-bit   0.43   0.38    0.85   1.50
128KB  4-bit   0.43   0.38    0.84   1.50
256KB  4-bit   0.43   0.38    0.86   1.50

The cache setting should have little influence on non-disk tests, which these numbers bear out. As above, with this particular setup, cache size makes no appreciable difference.

Speedometer 4 shows no perceptible difference at different video settings.

The hard drive matters

On 14 May 1999, three LC IIIs running freshly installed copies System 7.5.5 were tested with Speedometer 4.0.2. Each had been run through Norton Disk Doctor and Speed Disk prior to benchmarking. The disk cache was set at 256 KB. The only difference was the drive mechanism.

drive                      CPU  graphics  disk   math
IBM WDS-L160*              0.43   0.37    0.70   1.49
Quantum ProDrive LPS 80*   0.43   0.37    0.71   1.48
Quantum ProDrive LPS 100   0.43   0.37    0.78   1.50
* Apple-branded hard drive                      

Except for the 100 MB drive, these were stock drives provided by Apple when the computer shipped. Although the IBM and Quantum are virtually identical in performance, the Quantum ProDrive 100 is roughly 10% faster. Newer drive mechanisms will generally be even faster.

What about Mac OS 8.1?

On 30 August 2000, I tested an LC III with Mac OS 8.1 (installed on an external drive using Born Again), a 256 KB disk cache, and Speedometer 4.0.2. This was the same system tested earlier with Mac OS 7.5.5.

drive                      CPU  graphics  disk   math
IBM WDS-L160/7.5.5*        0.43   0.37    0.70   1.49
IBM WDS-L160/8.1*          0.43   0.37    0.93   1.50
ProDrive LPS 80/7.5.5*     0.43   0.37    0.71   1.48
ProDrive LPS 80/8.1*       0.43   0.38    0.96   1.48
External Quantum 2 GB      0.43   0.37    1.70   1.49
* Apple-branded hard drive                      

I'd call Mac OS 8.1 a significant improvement in the disk department! Both tested drives benchmarked roughly one-third faster under OS 8.1 than they did with System 7.5.5. The external 2 GB Quantum drive, which is the one I use for testing 8.1 on older Macs, shows what the LC III is really capable of in the throughput department - well over twice as fast as the ProDrive 100, the fastest drive tested above, and 70% faster than a stock Quadra 605.

Go to the LC III profile.

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