Mac vs. PC III: Mac Slaughtered Again
Dell's $2964 3.06 GHz P4 Trounces Fastest Mac on the Market

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Mac vs. PC III Benchmark DuelDell has just introduced a new workstation featuring the latest Intel Pentium 4 3.06GHz processor with hyperthreading and faster PC1066 RDRAM. Accordingly, we decided it was time for another Mac vs. PC duel, created especially for digital video editors and compositors. So we got our hands on one of those new 3.06GHz Dell boxes and the fastest Mac on the market, fired up our trusty After Effects 5.5 and Photoshop 7.0 benchmarks on both of them, and man oh man, you wonít believe what happened this time. It was just downright startling.

We published an extensive and somewhat favorable review of our Mac dual 1.25 GHz G4 box in a recent DMN report, so if you haven't seen that article yet and would like deep background on the Mac side of this duel, click here for the full scoop. That said, here's the lowdown on the PC entry in this Mac vs. PC Duel III.

A few months ago, we reviewed a Dell system that packed the fastest PC processor available at the time, the Pentium 4 2.53GHz. Since then, the chipsters at Intel have topped themselves twice, and this time, the newest chip runs at an unprecedented 3.06 GHz. The big story, though, is the new hyperthreading technology included inside the processor that promises to speed up the festivities even more. Coupled with faster RAM, the new $2,964 Dell Precision Workstation 350 was startlingly fast.

All the things that were great about the last Dell Precision Workstation reviewed here are still present in this newest iteration, and a lot of the features have been enhanced. For example, this unit is even quieter than the last one tested, while its neatly arranged components inside and its sleek, easy-open black case all look the same as before. The computer still uses RDRAM, the same Intel 850e chipset and 533MHz frontside bus as its predecessor. But thereís more than meets the eye here, and itís these certain modifications, along with a faster processor with its remarkable new hyperthreading feature, that are the reason for this newfound speed.

So what is this hyperthreading, anyway? Without boring you to tears, Iíll tell you that hyperthreading is a new technology from Intel that makes one processor act like two. It doesnít double the speed of a processor, but makes it able to do most operations faster, and is particularly effective if youíre doing more than one thing at a time with your computer (multitasking). Hyperthreading comes in handy, for example, if youíre watching a DVD and working with documents at the same time. You could drop frames without hyperthreading, but with it switched on, all is smooth. A neat trick is that applications donít even need any special programming to use this new feature, although you will have to be using either Windows XP Professional or Windows XP Home to take advantage of the hyperthreading.

We'll talk more about hyperthreading later, but for now, let's get to the benchmarks. Put succinctly, this is the fastest workstation weíve tested, too, by a long shot. Wow. We ran our After Effects and Photoshop benchmarks on this machine, nine in all, and saw a speed improvement that was far beyond what we anticipated. Mac users will be disappointed to see that this new Dell machine, while priced $629 less than the Mac Dual G4 1.25 GHz machine, was nearly twice as fast on most of the nine benchmarks we ran.

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