by July 11, 2001 0 comments



Apple has always been known to bring about revolutionary changes in computer designs. After the success of the iMac, came the G4 Cube, which needs no introduction. Though the machine didn’t do as well in the market as the iMac, it’s still a definitive style statement. Something that top guns at an ad or design agency would want to keep on their desktops. 

Design

If looks could kill, everybody at our test labs would have been long gone. Because, when it comes to looks, the G4 Cube is something you won’t be able to resist. This 8” cube, encased in a transparent Lucite case, is ethereal. And to top it, the Cube’s operation is completely silent. This is achieved by not having any cooling fan, neither for the processor or the chassis. Cooling is done by convection through the central duct that runs through the Cube’s
center.

The mainboard, cards, hard disk and the slot-loading DVD drive fit nicely around the central duct, giving the Cube its compact size. Another reason for the compactness is that the power supply has been taken out from the main case. 

Apple PowerMacG4 Cube
Price: Rs 124,890 + Rs 35,000 for Apple 17” Cinema Display
Features: 2 FireWire ports, all-in-one display connector for monitor, inbuilt LAN/Modem
Pros: Stylish design; Good 
performance for graphics apps
Cons: Expensive
Contact: Apple Computer International. 5th Floor, Du Parc Trinity, 
17, M.G. Road
Bangalore-560001, India, 
Tel: 080-5550575; 
E-mail: parminder@asia.apple.com
 

Completing the picture are a pair of globe shaped speakers, encased in transparent Lucite again. Even though they are small in size, the clarity, depth of sound, and volume are good enough. The connecting cord for the speakers could have been a little longer for good stereo separation. The mouse is an optical mouse that does not have a visible click button. Instead the whole mouse clicks! An optical mouse does away with the problems of dirt accumulating on the roller ball in a traditional mouse. The keyboard (of course a USB one) is built in the same material and we found the keys ‘softer’ in operation than keyboards used in some conventional PCs. It has special keys for volume control and
CD/DVD eject.

The G4 Cube comes with a 17” Apple Cinema Display flat monitor, which has a transparent casing revealing all the circuitry inside. The power to the monitor is through a special display connector, called the all-in-one Apple Display Connector. This carries the video signal, USB and power, all through one cable. So no separate power cable runs into the monitor. You also have a standard VGA-out port to connect a standard monitor to it. In all, the Cube has 6 USB ports, two of which are taken up by the keyboard and speakers and another by the mouse (on the keyboard). So you still have 3 effective USB ports free, two on the monitor and one on the keyboard. Another neat feature is the touch sensitive power switch on top of the G4 Cube, which wakes up the machine or puts it to sleep. A disadvantage with this though is that you could unknowingly put it to sleep just by running your hands over its top surface.

Opening the Cube is also a breeze in case you feel the need. Unplug the power and other cables, turn it upside down, press the handle and the insides slide out smoothly. You can see the RAM slots, the ATI Rage 128 display card and the Airport slot. However, you won’t find any PCI slots in this compact case. All the Cube’s ports are underneath it, so you have to tip it over to plug in all cables.

Performance

The Cube comes with a G4 450 MHz processor, 64 MB SDRAM and a 2x AGP ATI Rage 128 graphics card. It has a 20 GB, 5400 rpm HDD and a DVD drive. The Cube also has an inbuilt 56 kbps modem and a 10/100 Mbps LAN.

Apart from these regulars, it has 2 FireWire ports for connecting high bandwidth devices.

We checked out the performance of the machine using the MacBench 5.0 benchmark. This checks out the various sub-systems like the processor, video, hard disk and the CD/ DVD drive, of a Mac. Apart from these, the benchmark also measures the graphics playback performance of the machine in actual applications. It uses a G3/ 300 as the reference, with a score of 1000. The G4 Cube gave a CPU score of 1442 and an FPU score of 1692. The overall graphics score was where is really excels. At 4167 points it was far ahead of the reference machine. We also tried running all sorts of applications, ranging right from simple productivity applications to graphics’ intensive ones and they ran well. In fact, we could even play four MPEG videos simultaneously in QuickTime without any frame drops! Truly amazing graphics performance. The machine comes pre-loaded with 64 MB RAM, but by putting in more RAM we found a good amount of difference in the performance.

The machine comes bundled with apps like QuickTime, iTunes, iMovie 2, Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, FAXstf and Palm Desktop. It is priced at Rs 124,890, plus Rs 35,000 for the 17” Cinema Display monitor, making a total of Rs.159,890. Now that’s definitely not something that everybody can afford.

Ashish Sharma

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