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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

Low Rez 3D Games
on iMac "early 2009" vs others

Posted Wed, May 13th, 2009, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

In order to compare the newest iMac with the Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce 130 GT to as many older Macs as possible -- some with smaller than 24" displays -- we ran some 3D Game benchmarks at 1280x800. Plus used some older games since we have test data for older iMacs running them.

RED bar indicates the fastest.

i3.1 R4850 = early 2009 iMac 3.06GHz with Radeon HD 4850
i3.1 G13 = early 2009 iMac 3.06GHz with GeForce 130 GT
i3.1 G8S = early 2008 iMac 3.06GHz with GeForce 8800 GS
i2.8 R26b = early 2008 iMac 2.8GHz with Radeon HD 2600
i2.8 R26a = mid 2007 iMac 2.8GHz with Radeon HD 2600 Pro
i2.3 G76 = late 2006 iMac 2.33GHz with GeForce 7600 GT
i2.4 R26 = mid 2007 iMac 2.4GHz with Radeon HD 2400 XT
p2.8 94M = late 2008 MacBook Pro 2.8GHz using GeForce 9400M
m2.4 94M = late 2008 MacBook 2.4GHz with GeForce 9400M
i2.2 G73 = late 2006 iMac 2.16Ghz with GeForce 7300 GT
i2.0 R24 = mid 2007 iMac 2.0GHz with Radeon HD 2400 XT
i2.0 R16 = late 2006 iMac 2.0GHz with Radeon X1600

X-Plane benchmark uses our record movie of the X-15 dropped from a bomber and diving for the mountains below. Settings included 2X Multisample, and 4X Anisotropy.
OpenGL Extensions Viewer graph shows the benchmark results for the OpenGL 2.1 extension in Fullscreen, with Standard Framebuffer, 4X Multisample, 8X Anisotropy, Fog and Transparency.
All numbers are FRAMES per SECOND

The 1280x800 setting is a "common denominator" for comparing old and new Macs with different sized screens. This page dramatically illustrates the progress Apple has made over the last few years in the graphics processor area.

The only caveat is that you will need to spend at least $1949 to get good 3D gaming performance from the newest iMacs. That's the price of a 24' iMac with the GeForce 130 GT. And for $50 more, you can have the 'smoking' Radeon HD 4850. The only Mac that runs games faster is a Mac Pro with the Radeon HD 4870.

If $1949 is too rich for your blood, look for used iMacs with the GeForce 8800 GS or GeForce 7600 GT -- both excellent gaming GPUs.

We were not yet able to test the iMac with the GeForce 9400M but included results for the same GPU running in a MacBook and MacBook Pro. You don't want to go there if you are a gamer. And as for the GeForce 120 GT, it's also wimpy as we found out testing it in the Mac Pro. In this context, suffice to say it's faster than the iMac with the Radeon 2600 but slower than the iMac with the GeForce 8800. The Radeon HD 4850 is twice as fast as the Geforce 120 GT.

If you want to see results at 1920x1200, we have those numbers, elsewhere.

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copyright 2009 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"