14 November 2006

MacBook Pro C2D Video Performance

In my recent quick first impressions of the MacBook Pro C2D I mentioned about doing some video tests. Here are some results.

Test Machine 1: MacBook Pro C2D 2.33Ghz, 2GB, 160GB 5400 rpm drive.
Test Machine 2: Powerbook G4 1.67Ghz hires, 1.5GB, 120GB 5400 rpm drive.

The Powerbook had been running for some time, and dashboard apps had been loaded. But all other apps had been quit. Free disk space is down to about 11GB though. On the MBP, no other apps were running in my space, but I was in Fast user switching mode with mail and safari running in the other user's space.

I took a 1.32 minute DV file from a camcorder and converted it to H.264 at 640 by 480 resolution with "Go Nuts" quality (ie ultimate) using the wonderful utility iSquint (v 1.5). I also specified De-interlace (otherwise a PAL DV looks real bad), and set size to 1500kbps (max possible for iPod ready movies). I checked both movies for quality and compatibility with a first gen iPod video. Both movies were superb, similar in end size and were sharper than the DV file though lacking in a bit of detail (eg trees were sharper, but tyre treads were less detailed).


The MBP completed the conversion in 2 minutes and 24 seconds. The Powerbook G4 took 10 minutes and 53 seconds. A factor of 4.5 times slower. In addition the MBP had around 20% idle time for most of the test. The Powerbook had zero idle time throughout running on max. Presumably (though I did not try) I could have done a few less demanding tasks on the MBP.

When performing the same task at 320x240 resolution (native iPod) the file was converted in faster than realtime on the MBP - 64 seconds (for a 92 second file) versus around 5 minutes on the Powerbook G4. An interesting aside is that the end result files whether 640x480 or 320x240 are the same total size - the key being the data rate I guess which is the same 1500kbps. So, no disk space penalty for having iPod-compatible files at 640x480 resolution (though a time penalty for conversion).

While limited to one application (iSquint) this confirms my original view that the new MBP's are massively improved over the last generation Powerbook G4s. This factor of 4.5x plus headroom is very impressive indeed.

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