"... For the functions that people use most often, the 1986 vintage Mac Plus beats the 2007 AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+: 9 tests to 8! Out of the 17 tests, the antique Mac won 53% of the time! Including a jaw-dropping 52 second whipping of the AMD from the time the Power button is pushed to the time the Desktop is up and useable.
"We also didn't want to overly embarrass the AMD by comparing the time it takes to install the OS vs. the old Mac. The Mac's average of about a minute is dwarfed by the approximately one hour install time of Windows XP Pro.
"Is this to say that the Mac Plus is a better computer than the AMD? Of course not. The technological advancements of 21 years have placed modern PCs in a completely different league of varied capacities. But the "User Experience" has not changed much in two decades. Due to bloated code that has to incorporate hundreds of functions that average users don't even know exist, let alone ever utilize, the software companies have weighed down our PCs to effectively neutralize their vast speed advantages. When we compare strictly common, everyday, basic user tasks between the Mac Plus and the AMD we find remarkable similarities in overall speed, thus it can be stated that for the majority of simple office uses, the massive advances in technology in the past two decades have brought zero advance in productivity."
Hmmm... "zero advance in productivity."
Perhaps. More than 20 years ago, I recall using an original Macintosh running spreadsheets, accounting software, word processing, email, page layout and graphics, all quite smoothly. (To accomplish these tasks, it had been upgraded to a screaming 1MB, and waited for a year or two for software.) I replaced with a powerful 68030 powered Mac SE, courtesy of a third party accelerator card. Yes, it was a small screen, but Radius changed all that when they brought out their full page displays. (Remember the pivoting CRT?)
Of course, I could then also stay up for nearly two days at a time without any negative impact...
I'll guess that for most of the tasks, the findings would be similar with a modern Intel processor running on a Windows platform or a similarly configured Macintosh running Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger.