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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

CPU CRUNCH TIME:
'mid 2010' iMac Core i7
versus other Macs

Posted Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

HOW BIG OF A BUMP?
The 'mid 2010'
iMac Core i7 is rated at 2.93GHz. That's ony 5% faster than the 'late 2009' iMac Core i7. But the memory rating is 25% higher (1066 vs 1333MHz). Let's see what difference those to stats make when running multi-core aware apps.

NOTE: On the graphs you will see two 2010 iMac Core i7s. The "A" has 1066MHz memory installed and the "B" has 1333MHz memory installed. In the first three graphs, the SHORT bar means faster.

The next two graphs are ratings instead of time. So the LONG bar means faster.

GRAPH LEGEND
Mac Pro 4870 = 8-core 'early 2009' Mac Pro 2.93GHz with 12G of 1066MHz RAM
iMac Core i7 '10
B = 4-core 'mid 2010' iMac 2.93GHz Core i7 with 16G of 1333MHz RAM
iMac Core i7 '10
A = 4-core 'mid 2010' iMac 2.93GHz Core i7 with 16G of 1066MHz RAM
iMac Core i7 '09 = 4-core 'late 2009' iMac 2.8GHz Core i7 with 16G of 1066MHz RAM
MBP Core i7 '10 = 2-core 'mid 2010' MacBook Pro 2.66GHz Core i7 with 8G of 1066MHz RAM

THE NEW IMAC -- HOW MUCH FASTER?
The 'mid 2010' iMac Core i7 was 3% to 23% faster than the 'late 2009' iMac Core i7 in our various CPU intensive tests. If you are comparing it to the MacBook Pro with a 'mobile' Core i7, the new iMac Core i7 is 43% to 120% faster running our "multi-core aware" suite.

Our comparison to the 8-core Mac Pro Nehalem is a bit unfair. But suffice to say that if you are comparing the 'mid 2010' iMac Core i7 to the 4-core Mac Pro Nehalem running at the same core frequency (2.93GHz), the Mac Pro is at most 20% faster. Good news if you don't need the expandabilty of the Mac Pro.

HOW DOES FASTER MEMORY FACTOR IN?
We ran the 'mid 2010' iMac Core i7 with both 1066 and 1333MHz memory to see how much gain there would be in performance. As you can see there is a tiny (0% to 3%) advantage in using the faster memory -- at least in the case of our test apps. If you run pure memory tests, the 1333MHz equipped iMac is 8% faster in the Geekbench memory performance test and 12% faster in the memory bandwidth test. In the DigLloydTools memory stress test, the 1333MHz equipped iMac was 23% faster.

The small advantage of faster memory in our tests is likely because those apps (and most apps) don't saturate the memory bus. (Big mahalo to Trans International for sending us the 1333MHz iMac memory.)

WHAT ABOUT THE CORE i5 and CORE i3 IMACS?
I hope to add results from the
iMac Core i3 and i5 soon, but being a small operation, we can't afford to buy all permutations of the new iMac. If you have a Core i3 or Core i5 iMac and want to be a "remote mad scientist," we will provide the instructions and test files required to benchmark your machine if you promise to share the results with "the rest of us." Feel free to email me, , mad scientist.

One question I get a lot is "Isn't the Core i5 fast enough? Why do I need a Core i7?"
My answer goes something like this:
"I have some partial data on the Core i5 27" thanks to a remote mad scientist, Mongo Mike. His 'mid 2010' Core i5 iMac (2.8GHz) took 172 seconds to run the iMovie HD export test versus 141 sec on the Core i7. His iMac scored 8053 on the Geekbench test versus 10825 on the Core i7. His iMac rated a 3.8 on Cinebench versus 5.5 on the Core i7. So based on those results, the Core i7 is 18% to 44% faster.

"So the question becomes, is it worth paying 10% more to get 18% to 44% more CPU crunching performance? Throw in the better GPU and Hyperthreading (8 virtual cores), then the Core i7 is well worth the extra 10% in my mind. And even if you don't use or need the full power of the Core i7, you are future proofing your investment. When more a capable or demanding OS and apps are released, you can handle them. And when you get ready to sell it, it will bring in more."

Apple Online Store

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APPLE RESELLERS and VARs with iMAC deals

IF YOU NEED MEMORY FOR YOUR iMAC, we recommend...

STORAGE UPGRADES FOR 2010 iMAC
If you order your 2010 iMac with a single HDD or SSD, you can upgrade it later with a second drive, thanks to Other World Computing's new iMac upgrade program.

And if you want to move your slot-load SuperDrive to an exernal enclosure and put two SSDs or notebook HDDs in its place, MaxUpgrades has a kit for that.

LOOKING FOR ADOBE SOFTWARE?
Order your copy of Adobe Photoshop CS4 (or the Creative Suite CS4) direct from Adobe USA. Or click these links to Adobe France, Adobe Germany, Adobe Sweden, or Adobe UK. (Clicking our links helps us earn a commission.)

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copyright 2010 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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