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Gateway Publishes Report That Shows Its PC Outperforming The iMac

Gateway Publishes Report That Shows Its PC Outperforming The iMac

by , 3:15 PM EDT, August 26th, 2002

"Gateway Corporation: Profile PC versus Apple iMac Performance Comparison Test" reads the title of a new report released by Gateway Corporation in PDF. The company has released the report, which it commissioned, to help promote its newest PC, the Profile. Gateway has been gunning for Apple's customers since the release of the Profile, specifically targeting potential iMac customers. The Mac Observer reported on the Gateway Profile and its iMac comparisons last week, but the PDF report is new (see below for information on mainstream coverage). Not surprisingly, the report shows the Gateway Profile outperforming the iMac, both the 15" and 17" models, in every category. From the intro to the report:

Gateway Corporation commissioned eTesting Labs to conduct a performance test comparing two Gateway Profile 4 PCs against two Apple iMac systems. The Gateway Profile PCs are designed as "all-in-one" systems with flat panel video screens incorporated with the PC as a single unit. We tested a Gateway Profile 4 SE system and a Gateway Profile 4 XL system. The Profile 4 SE is equipped with a 15-inch flat panel screen, a 1.7 GHz Intel Celeron processor and 256 MB of system RAM. The Profile 4 XL system has a 17-inch flat panel screen and is equipped with a 2.66 GHz Intel Pentium P4 processor and 512 MB of system RAM. For the comparison systems, we used two Apple iMacs. We tested a 15-inch flat panel screen iMac with a PowerPC G4 700 MHz processor and 256MB of system RAM, and a 17-inch flat panel screen iMac with a PowerPC G4 800MHz processor and 256MB of system RAM.

eTesting labs compared the performance of these four systems in the following areas:

  • 3D video performance using ID software's Quake3 Arena demo test.
  • JavaScript web page loading using Ziff Davis Media's iBench 3.0 Javascript load test.
  • Boot up timing, including cold (power off) rebooting with and without a network cable attached.
  • Time to load a 2.41 MB, 104-page .pdf file with Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0.

The Gateway systems returned higher scores in the 3D video performance tests and the JavaScript web page loading tests, and returned faster times in the cold boot-up tests, and the .pdf file loading tests.
The following sections of this report provide the results of our test results in detail and outline the methods we followed to conduct these tests, The Appendices provide full disclosure on the hardware and software we
used.

Key findings
The Gateway Profile PCs returned higher scores than the Apple iMac systems in the 3D video performance tests and in the JavaScript web page loading tests.

In our boot up timing tests, the Gateway Profile PCs reached a ready state faster than the Apple iMac systems.

In our tests of the time required to load a large .pdf file, the Gateway Profile PCs loaded the file quicker than the Apple iMacs.

Read the full report in the PDF file, which you can download from the eTesting Labs Web site. CBS Marketwatch reported the introduction of the Profile PC today, focusing on the products good points. From that coverage:

In one of its most direct attempts to court the consumer market, Gateway unveiled Monday its new all-in-one Profile 4 computer and went out of its way to pit the device against Apple Computer's IMac [sic].

Gateway's Profile 4 closely mirrors the look of Apple's floating, flat-screen IMac, with either a 15- or 17-inch flat-screen monitor connected to the computer's keyboard. Like the IMac, the Profile 4 offers various CD and DVD disk-drive options.

Unlike the IMac, the Profile 4 runs on either Pentium 4 or Celeron high-speed processors, both produced by an Intel. It also includes graphics delivered via chips made by Nvidia [sic].

What the CBS Marketwatch report leaves, in addition to the proper spelling of "iMac," out is that the low end Profile comes only with a CD-ROM drive, and that none of the models come with a DVD-R drive. ZDNet's coverage of the story last week was much more balanced.

Thanks to Observer Rich Hudgins for the heads up on the Gateway study.

The Mac Observer Spin:

It truly is surprising to see Gateway targeting iMac customers so strongly. Gateway's market share is still higher than is Apple's, but it would seem that the company sees potential growth from Apple's niche. It is also possible that Gateway sees market share erosion from Apple's assault on the PC.

In any event, the report focuses on three areas: startup, loading PDF files, and Quake III frame rates. Windows has started up faster than the Mac OS (Classic or X) for some time, so there are no surprises there. We also aren't surprised to see shut down time *not* included, as the Mac OS beats Windows by as much as several minutes in most cases when shutting down.

Windows has also typically loaded apps and files faster than the Mac OS, though Apple has made some improvements in that area since Steve Jobs returned. Again, there are few surprises in this category, and the results are probably very legit.

Gaming frame rates have been another strong point for the Windows world for some time. According to the methodology for the testing released in the study, it seems like a fairly straight forward Quake III demo test, but that brings us to our point. Who cares? Hard core gamers are not likely to buy an iMac in the first place.

For that matter, if these are the best three things Gateway cam come up with, the company must be hoping that few consumers read past the headline. Startup times and opening PDF files are not great selling points, and hard core gamers -- the people most likely to care about 40 frames per second versus 120 frames per second (the human eye reportedly can't distinguish anything more than 30 fps anyway, leaving the quest for framerates today as an exercise in geek machismo) -- are not likely to buy either the Profile or the iMac. So what's the point? Perhaps we're just nitpicking. It does bear pointing out that the American consumer is not known for looking much past the headline in the first place, so Gateway's strategy may well pay off.

We are not Apple apologists at TMO, far from it, and we have often said that Gateway is one of the PC companies we respected. This report, however, and indeed Gateway's entire assault on the iMac consumer, is just a bit pointless.

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