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My informal MacBook iTunes rip speed tests

post #1 of 122
Thread Starter 
Below are preliminary test results. The final MacBook Pro Performance Analysis can be found on craigtheguru.com.

Today I tested iTunes on the new MacBooks as well as older PowerBook G4 and PowerMac G5 systems. On each Mac I converted songs using the "Convert Selection to AAC..." feature and noted the rip speed as displayed in iTunes. The sources were unprotected AAC files and they were re-encoded using AAC. Unfortunately, identical files were not used on all machines. The machines were updated and had plenty of RAM. Here's the results:

Machine Model - iTunes Rip Speed
MacBook Pro 2x1.83 (Macworld demo unit) - 4.5x (Actually 20x)
PowerBook G4 1.67 (15" 1280x854 model) - 12.5x
PowerMac G5 2x2.0 (rev A) - 25x

Now I expected the PowerPC processors to win, but not by so much! I'm sure the G4 and G5 processors outperform the Core Duo chip using their vector processing units. I am surprised how far behind the new MacBook is, especially since it is dual core. However, the MacBook's testing environment was the least controlled and the media file was relatively small, so perhaps it was just getting warmed up.

Aside from this test, my other experiences with the MacBook are positive and favorable, including using Photoshop under Rosetta. The GPU in the new MacBooks played HD video very well, far better than G4 PowerBook I'd expect. And the boot speed of the intel systems is insane!

I could write more about using the MacBook but this concludes my test.

--
Followup Notes: My initial Macworld MacBook test produced erroneous results and an encoding speed of 4.5x. Later I returned to Macworld and performed a much more structured test and got a far better result: 20x. Since much of this discussion is based around the original results I'm leaving this post as-is, however MacBook performance is far better than indicated. Please read the rest of this thread for more information.

Also, I will post fully revised results later this weekend.
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post #2 of 122
Were you ripping from a CD?
post #3 of 122
He just said he was converting pre-existing songs.

More importantly, Rosetta runs fast Photoshop you say?
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post #4 of 122
Hmm, odd. You used the term rip as if it was from a CD, but they were already AAC files? I don't understand why the new machine would be so much slower, unless it was the optical drive.
post #5 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Hmm, odd. You used the term rip as if it was from a CD, but they were already AAC files? I don't understand why the new machine would be so much slower, unless it was the optical drive.

True, "ripping" generally implies two aspects: reading data from an audio CD and encoding it. However, to eliminate the CD mechanism as a bottleneck, I skipped that step by reading music off the HD and only encoded the music files. So yes, technically I should probably say "encode speed", but I thought I was clear in the testing methods and besides, the key part of ripping music is the encoding process anyhow.
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post #6 of 122
so i'm shocked!!!! so slowwww!!!
ripping speed is important for me .... hey the speed of the macbook pro is the worst i've heard about.. my old old emac do the job at 7,5x .. i can't believe what i read!!!
me, who wanted this new macbook pro.. never never never...
post #7 of 122
There's something very wrong with the OS X intel version of iTunes. My 1.4 GHz Duron with 384 MB RAM running Windows 2000 and iTunes 6.0.2 converts aiff to 128 Kbps AAC at 10 x speed. Hopefully Apple will fix this quickly.
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post #8 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. H
There's something very wrong with the OS X intel version of iTunes. My 1.4 GHz Duron with 384 MB RAM running Windows 2000 and iTunes 6.0.2 converts aiff to 128 Kbps AAC at 10 x speed. Hopefully Apple will fix this quickly.

The guys at the booth said they were prototypes, not production models. Chances are the that these problems will be dealt with (or have been dealt with) by the release date.....I hope
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post #9 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by taliesin
The guys at the booth said they were prototypes, not production models. Chances are the that these problems will be dealt with (or have been dealt with) by the release date.....I hope

Except the iMac, which has actually been released, has the same problem:

see Xool's post in this thread

The problem is with iTunes, not the hardware.
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post #10 of 122
Yup, agreed iTunes under OS X intel is either not native or has another problem it's not the same.

You should test it on something other than itunes. You even said yourself that other things "were insane"

Trust me the new notebooks a "freaky" fast.

Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. H
There's something very wrong with the OS X intel version of iTunes. My 1.4 GHz Duron with 384 MB RAM running Windows 2000 and iTunes 6.0.2 converts aiff to 128 Kbps AAC at 10 x speed. Hopefully Apple will fix this quickly.
post #11 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by webmail
Yup, agreed iTunes under OS X intel is either not native or has another problem it's not the same.

I thought that converting to universal binaries was very easy? Shouldn't all the apple applications in 10.4.4 already be in universal binary format?
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post #12 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by e1618978
I thought that converting to universal binaries was very easy?

Converting them is one thing, make them work properly is another.
post #13 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by e1618978
I thought that converting to universal binaries was very easy? Shouldn't all the apple applications in 10.4.4 already be in universal binary format?

Probbly parts of the apps. The converting mechanism probably not. And besides sjobs doesn´t always tell the truth
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post #14 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by e1618978
I thought that converting to universal binaries was very easy? Shouldn't all the apple applications in 10.4.4 already be in universal binary format?

Easy for some apps that were written natively on OS X right from the start. But remember that iTunes was written on OS 9 and comes from the SoundJam codebase. There's probably some very ugly code in there.

I've been hoping that Apple would rewrite iTunes from scratch for over 3 years now. It hasn't happened so far...and look at what trouble iTunes gets into now.

Still doesn't explain why the Windows version of iTunes is faster but oh well.
post #15 of 122
seems to me that itunes 6.0.2 is "universal" .. i did chek with right click on itunes and "read the informations" (in french macosx LIRE LES INFORMATIONS..) and it mentions "Universal".. so i guess iTunes is ready for intel. So i can't explain the so slow import speed...
post #16 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by keikojaa
seems to me that itunes 6.0.2 is "universal" .. i did chek with right click on itunes and "read the informations" (in french macosx LIRE LES INFORMATIONS..) and it mentions "Universal".. so i guess iTunes is ready for intel. So i can't explain the so slow import speed...

Perhaps you did not understand what kim kap sol said above. iTunes is an old Mac application with code from the OS 9 days, something that would make it difficult to convert it properly into a Universal Binary. Mind you, it has been converted but it is not yet optimal. So it seems at least.
post #17 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by PB
Perhaps you did not understand what kim kap sol said above. iTunes is an old Mac application with code from the OS 9 days, something that would make it difficult to convert it properly into a Universal Binary. Mind you, it has been converted but it is not yet optimal. So it seems at least.

Not yet optimal????

Let's not kid ourselves, 4.5x encoding speed is total, utter and complete crap. My 500 MHz PowerBook G4 (originally introduced exactly 5 years ago) is faster than that.
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post #18 of 122
yes. i did understand about 0s9. but what i dont understand
is that itunes, at my job, on a pentium 4, is encoding fast at 20x minimum. so pentium is intel x86, itunes is apple and it is possible to make itunes scream on a pc.. why not on a intel mac?
post #19 of 122
Guys, really I don't know what's going on here. We discuss on the basis that the test Xool ran is correct. If so, then there is an obvious problem with the conversion of iTunes to UB, since the new iMac hardware should be on par with a dual core Power Mac. I don't think that we can tell anything more without more info or evidence.
post #20 of 122
right. i can't wait to see real test of the macbook pro that people will have next month, not the proto. So we'll know exactly. Hope folks of macworld (the journal) will have it soon to test it..
post #21 of 122
Don't panic yet.

This is very unscientific, and we know that the computers are fast.

If a proper benchmark is shite, you can panic *then*.

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post #22 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by Harald
Don't panic yet.

This is very unscientific, and we know that the computers are fast.

If a proper benchmark is shite, you can panic *then*.


Speaking of which, the iMac has been available for three and a bit days, and still no tests? What's going on?
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post #23 of 122
Thread Starter 
People seem to be forgetting that this simple test targets aspects of iTunes and QuickTime that are core strengths of the G4 and G5 PowerPC chips. I expect that in the coming months, QuickTime will be further optimized to use the new intel chips which will likely benefit XP users too.

Later today I plan to return to Macworld and test the MacBooks with a standardized file and better control the test environment. That is, if they'll let me.
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post #24 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by Xool
People seem to be forgetting that this simple test targets aspects of iTunes and QuickTime that are core strengths of the G4 and G5 PowerPC chips. I expect that in the coming months, QuickTime will be further optimized to use the new intel chips which will likely benefit XP users too.

Later today I plan to return to Macworld and test the MacBooks with a standardized file and better control the test environment. That is, if they'll let me.

Er... no. 4.5 x ripping speed is not just due to improperly optimised code. Something is wrong. See the posts about running Windows iTunes on x86. There is no excuse for this abysmal performance.
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post #25 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. H
Er... no. 4.5 x ripping speed is not just due to improperly optimised code. Something is wrong. See the posts about running Windows iTunes on x86. There is no excuse for this abysmal performance.

Yes...I think we've established over and over again that something *is* indeed wrong.

And I'm 100% sure that Apple will rectify the problem in the coming months. Believe me.
post #26 of 122
Thread Starter 
I went back to Macworld today and performed more scientific tests with the new MacBook. I'll post more details later tonight but I'll post my revised iTunes times now.

I brought the same track I used with my G5 to MacWorld and re-encoded it using iTunes. It was read off the HD from the iTunes library and all other apps were closed.

Today the MacBook ripped at 20x which is far better than I expected.

I'm not sure what impacted the previous test and it might have been related to the source file, but this time it was fairly controlled and I'd stand by these results. Again for comparison, an existing G4 PowerBook ripped at 12.5x and my Rev A G5 tower ripped at 25x.

I'll post more tonight regarding Video transcoding performance using QuickTime Player and H264 iPod content.
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post #27 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by Xool
Today the MacBook ripped at 20x which is far better than I expected.

Phew. Panic over.

Will be interested to hear of the video encoding speeds.

Could you ask Apple if they plan to support ATI's hardware encoding?
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post #28 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by Xool
I went back to Macworld today and performed more scientific tests with the new MacBook. I'll post more details later tonight but I'll post my revised iTunes times now.

I brought the same track I used with my G5 to MacWorld and re-encoded it using iTunes. It was read off the HD from the iTunes library and all other apps were closed.

Today the MacBook ripped at 20x which is far better than I expected.

I'm not sure what impacted the previous test and it might have been related to the source file, but this time it was fairly controlled and I'd stand by these results. Again for comparison, an existing G4 PowerBook ripped at 12.5x and my Rev A G5 tower ripped at 25x.

I'll post more tonight regarding Video transcoding performance using QuickTime Player and H264 iPod content.

Could you also try playing a 1080p movie and check the CPU usage as well as look for any dropped frames?
post #29 of 122
Yes!!! Thank you and that is good news to hear about you again and the 20x for ripping! Thank you
post #30 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by kim kap sol
Could you also try playing a 1080p movie and check the CPU usage as well as look for any dropped frames?

I did and I'll report in later tonight.
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post #31 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by Xool
I did and I'll report in later tonight.

Someone on MacNN claims he was able to run three 1080p trailers without a single dropped frame. I can't wait to hear you confirm this.
post #32 of 122
Well, I don't know about MacBook Pro, but my now 3 years old Sony VAIO with a P4 2.4Ghz and 768MB or RAM, using iTunes, rips CDs at 14x.

So it definitely isn't the chip, as others have pointed out too.
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post #33 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by kim kap sol
Yes...I think we've established over and over again that something *is* indeed wrong.

I know exactly what the problem is: Intel infested Macs.
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post #34 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by Gene Clean
Well, I don't know about MacBook Pro, but my now 3 years old Sony VAIO with a P4 2.4Ghz and 768MB or RAM, using iTunes, rips CDs at 14x.

So it definitely isn't the chip, as others have pointed out too.

I ripped a CD using a new T60 IBM/Lenova Dual Core 1.86GHz. It rips at 24 times so the iTunes in the MacBook was definitely a non-Intel version.The new chips leave the G4's in the dust in EVERY aspect.
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post #35 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by Relic
I ripped a CD using a new T60 IBM/Lenova Dual Core 1.86GHz. It rips at 24 times so the iTunes in the MacBook was definitely a non-Intel version.

Read Xool's latest post.
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post #36 of 122
Thread Starter 
I'm putting together comprehensive results for all tests I've performed but its taking slightly longer than planned, sorry guys. I'll get it up here later today, but to whet your appetite I'll say that HD content playback was silky smooth and better than my G5, which says a lot.

Anyhow, more details later.
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post #37 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by Xool
I'm putting together comprehensive results for all tests I've performed but its taking slightly longer than planned, sorry guys. I'll get it up here later today, but to whet your appetite I'll say that HD content playback was silky smooth and better than my G5, which says a lot.

Anyhow, more details later.

I just unwrapped my new iMac Core Duo (20"), so if anyone would like something specific tested, give a yell. Caveat: It will have only 512MB for the next two days (Newegg time...).

Picked it up from one of the local Apple Stores. Seems most stores got in at least a couple (I have been calling several bay area stores checking regularly), but most are simply putting them on display. Finally found a small store (which might have helped since they have limited shelf pace) that got in some 20" models (2) and was selling them (they just got them in today, Saturday, around noon).

They had 1 left at 2PM (Santa Rosa, CA).
post #38 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by ciparis
I just unwrapped my new iMac Core Duo (20"), so if anyone would like something specific tested, give a yell. Caveat: It will have only 512MB for the next two days (Newegg time...).

Congratulations!

Could you download a 1080p trailer from Apple, play it, and use activity monitor to gauge processor usage?

Do you have QuickTime Pro? Or any DV video files?
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post #39 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. H
Congratulations!

Could you download a 1080p trailer from Apple, play it, and use activity monitor to gauge processor usage?

Do you have QuickTime Pro? Or any DV video files?

Okay, I currently have some Google Maps mashups open in Safari (we're doing real-estate searches), with iTunes streaming CBC Radio 3, and I played the X-Men 3 trailer in 1080P, zoomed to fit width (it was too large otherwise).

CPUs were evenly loaded, and ranged between 25-50% usage while all this was going on. No frame drops were visible. Scrubbing was smooth. I don't have QT Pro.
post #40 of 122
Quote:
Originally posted by ciparis
Okay, I currently have some Google Maps mashups open in Safari (we're doing real-estate searches), with iTunes streaming CBC Radio 3, and I played the X-Men 3 trailer in 1080P, zoomed to fit width (it was too large otherwise).

CPUs were evenly loaded, and ranged between 25-50% usage while all this was going on. No frame drops were visible. Scrubbing was smooth. I don't have QT Pro.

Nice

Thank you. Not to worry about QT pro. Hope you enjoy your new machine.
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