Low End Mac Benchmarks

Quadra 950

Dan Knight - 2000.11.23 - Tip Jar

The Quadra 950 is a hulking monster of a Mac, obviously designed as a server. It has a 33 MHz 68040 CPU, making it the second-fastest Quadra ever. Mine came used with 208 MB of memory and two internal Quantum Fireball 1080S drives, one formatted with FWB Hard Disk Toolkit and the other with Apple Drive Setup 8.0.9. The system was also tested with our benchmark drive, an external Quantum ST2.1S formatted under System 7.5.5

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 23 November 2000 using System 7.5.5 with extensions off. Computer attached to a 19" color monitor and tested in 8-bit video mode at 832 x 624 resolution. The disk cache was set to 128K. 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.

OS/drive       CPU   graphics  disk    math
7.5.5/ST2.1S  21.90   22.78    7.29   137.7
7.5.5/FWB     21.90   23.44    6.29   137.7
7.5.5/Mac     21.90   23.44    6.17   137.4
7.5.5/ramB    22.18   22.27   45.97   137.7

The CPU and math scores match the Quadra 650, which also sports a 33 MHz 68040 processor. Graphics are about 4% slower, not something the user is likely to notice, and may be due to the higher screen resolution. Disk performance is very impressive, although direct comparison with the Q650 is not possible since it was tested with a different hard drive.

Speedometer 4.02

The system was tested on 23 November 2000 under System 7.5.5 with extensions off. Computer attached to a 19" color monitor and tested in 8-bit video mode at 832 x 624 resolution. The disk cache was set to 128K. Results are relative to a Quadra 605, which rates 1.0. Numbers rounded off to two decimal places.

These numbers compare performance of different drives and operating systems.

OS/drive      CPU  graphics  disk    math
7.5.5/ST2.1S  1.19   1.29    2.83   20.02
7.5.5/FWB     1.19   1.30    2.46   20.02
7.5.5/Mac     1.19   1.31    2.42   20.02
7.5.5/ramB    1.19   1.30    4.29   20.03
8.0/ST2.1S    1.19   1.29    2.85   20.03
8.0/FWB       1.19   1.30    2.45   20.03
8.0/Mac       1.19   1.31    2.41   20.03
8.0/ramB      1.19   1.31    4.14   20.03

The CPU and math scores are virtually identical to the Quadra 650, which uses the same processor. The graphics score is a few percentage points slower than the Q650, which is probably due to the 832 x 624 screen resolution. These hard drives handily outperform the 250 MB Quantum drive tested in the Quadra 650.

PowerPC Upgrade

On March 14, 2001, we installed Apple's Power Mac Upgrade Card in the 950, which had since been upgraded to Mac OS 8.1. This card runs a PowerPC 601 at twice CPU speed - 66 MHz, just like a Power Mac 6100. The card has a 1 MB level 2 cache.

cache  CPU  graphics  disk    math
128KB  3.48   1.63    2.42   115.2
256KB  3.48   1.65    2.43   116.0

Speedometer 4 can run in either PowerPC or 68k mode; however, we only tested it in PowerPC mode. If you're not running PowerPC programs, there's really no point to the upgrade, which is especially impressive on the CPU and math scores, offering 2.9 and 5.8 times the performance of the 68040 processor. Even graphics performance is improved by about 25%.

CPU, graphics, and math scores are virtually identical to those of the Power Mac 6100/66. Disk scores are higher, but that's probably due to the newer, faster hard drive in the Quadra.

MacBench 3

The system was tested on 23 November 2000 under System 7.5.5 with extensions off. Computer attached to a 19" color monitor and tested in 8-bit video mode at 832 x 624 resolution. The disk cache was set at 128K for all tests. The variable is the hard drive: our external Quantum ST2.1S and a pair of internal Fireball 1080S drive (one formatted with FWB Hard Disk Toolkit, the other with Msc OS 8.0). MacBench 3 will not test RAM drives. Results are relative to a Power Mac 6100/60, which rates 10. Numbers rounded off to two decimal places.

drive          CPU    math     disk  graphics
ST2.1S        4.84    1.03    14.04    11.16 
1080S/FWB     4.84    1.03    12.65    11.16 
1080S/Mac     4.84    1.03    12.31    11.16 

The CPU score is almost exactly twice that of the Mac IIfx, while math performance is nearly triple the IIfx. Graphics are over 2.5x faster, but the disk benchmark is slightly slower.

Hard Drive and Memory Speed

The newest addition to our benchmark suite is TimeDrive 1.3 (available here), which measures drive throughput. This can test a floppy, Zip, hard drive, or RAM Disk. TimeDrive is fairly primitive; the benefit of that is being able to run it on very old Macs.

The Quantum Fireball 1080S is a very impressive performer and probably faster than the original drive in the Quadra 950. We also tested our default external drive, a Quantum Fireball ST2.1S. Finally, to measure how fast the computer accesses memory, we also tested ramBunctious, a great little shareware RAM Disk program. (Numbers are KB/sec.)

drive              write     read 
Quantum 1080S/FWB  7,340K   3,786K
Quantum 1080S/Mac  6,291K   3,641K
Quantum ST2.1S     4,493K   4,493K
ramBunctious      15,728K  15,728K

The Fireball 1080S formatted with FWB Hard Disk Toolkit yielded the best write speeds we've seen yet, far in excess of the 5,120K (5 MBps) ceiling for regular SCSI-2 or Apple's claim that Quadras can sometimes hit 6,144K (6 MBps).

Although write speeds were very impressive, read speeds trailed those of the Quadra 650: the ST2.1S performed only 85% as well here as on the Q650.

The ramBunctious test is consistent with both the Quadra 605 and 650, giving a write score twice that of the fastest hard drive.

We also ran TimeDrive under Mac OS 8.0, which yielded some impressive results.

drive              write     read 
Quantum 1080S/FWB 15,728K   4,493K
Quantum 1080S/Mac  8,738K   3,641K
Quantum ST2.1S     4,493K   4,493K
ramBunctious      15,728K  15,728K

We ran the write test three times to verify that the Quantum Fireball 1080S formatted with FWB Hard Disk Toolkit 2.0.6 matched RAM disk performance with ramBunctious. That's absolutely stunning performance, although read performance lagged considerably. (We've concluded that 4,493 KBps is the maximum read performance for the Q650 and Q950.)

The Quantum 1080S formatted under Mac OS 8.0 also performed very well. It wasn't nearly as fast as the FWB-formatted one, but it was far faster than our benchmark Quantum ST2.1S drive.

We're very impressed with performance of the two Fireball 1080S drives under Mac OS 8.0.

Go to the Quadra 950 profile.

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