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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS:
'mid 2010' iMac

Posted Tuesday, July 27th, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Updated at 7PM PST with comments on the Mac Pro update.
Updated on July 29th, with addendum.

Here are the key changes to the iMac which appeared on the Apple online store today:

1. GPU upgrade
We list this first because it is the most significant update. The top model now sports a Radeon HD 5750 with 1GB of GDDR5 video memory. That's a serious GPU. We're looking forward to running our 3D graphics tests comparing it not only to the 'late 2009' iMac Core i7 with the Radeon HD 4850, but also to the Mac Pro with Radeon HD 4870 and GeForce GTX 285.

2. Dual internal drives
This is cool. You can custom order it with a 256G SSD and a 1TB or 2TB HDD. What's not cool is the cost for having both: $750 to $900. Hopefully the drive bay is "user serviceable" so you can add the SSD at a later time.

3. CPU speed bump
The Core i7 is now available at 2.93GHz -- same top core frequency as the fastest Mac Pro. It can run as fast as 3.60GHz when Turbo Boost kicks in and create up to 8 virtual cores when Hyper-Threading kicks in.

Which iMac to Choose?
We prepared this table to highlight the key differences in CPU and GPU:

Processor Name

Core i3
-540

Core i3
-550

Core i5
-680

Core i5
-760

Core i7
-870

iMac models

21" only

21" and 27"

21" and 27"

27" only

27" only

Core Frequency

3.06GHz

3.20GHz

3.60GHz

2.80GHz

2.93GHz

Turbo Boost?

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Max Boost Frequency

3.06GHz

3.20GHz

3.86GHz

3.33GHz

3.60GHz

Number of Cores

2

2

2

4

4

Hyper-Threading?

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Max Virtual Cores

4

4

4

4

8

Level 3 Cache

4MB

4MB

4MB

8MB

8MB

Radeon GPU

HD 4670

HD 5670

HD 5670

HD 5750

HD 5750

(See Intel's processor specifications for more details.)

CONCLUSION (updated)
These are welcome upgrades to the iMac which was already very good. As we wrote last November, the iMac Core i7 more than ever brefore, bridges the gap between the iMacs and Mac Pros. But in August 2010, the Mac Pro will increase the gap with the Mac Pro 'Westmere' and optional Radeon HD 5870 GPU.

We're still puzzled by the lack of an external eSATA port on the iMac -- an option that would allow the user to take advantage of external SATA enclosures capable of 140MB/s with a single HDD or Port-Multiplier multi-bay SATA enclosures capable of 230MB/s. One FireWire 800 port maxing at 80MB/s is lame by today's standards. NEWS FLASH: OWC will add an eSATA port to your iMac.

ADDENDUM
If you are wondering if you can add a second drive after you received the 2010 iMac, the answer "yes and no." For details, see the Other World Computing "reveal" of the insides.

There is an OS X update for the 2010 iMac which "resolves compatibility and performance-related graphics issues." It will not install on 2009 or older iMacs -- for now.

ADDENDUM #2
We posted some 3D Game results for the 2010 iMac Core i7 versus the 2009 iMac Core i7 versus the 2009 Mac Pro.

ADDENDUM #3
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.

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