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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

3D SHOOTOUT at 1920x1200:
iMac Core i5 and Core i7
versus other Macs

Posted Friday, December 4th, 2009, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Updated Monday, December 7th, 2009, with corrected Core i7 results.

Since many 3D apps don't use more than 2 cores and none of the older iMacs run higher than 1920x1200, we ran our suite of 3D apps using "High Quality" (versus Ultra or Max settings) with no Anti-Anti aliasing or Multi-sampling. Resolution was 1920x1200 Full Screen in all cases. We included the Mac Pro Nehalem running five different GPUs.

MP G285 = 8-core 'early 2009' Mac Pro 2.93GHz with GeForce GTX 285
MP 4870 = 8-core 'early 2009' Mac Pro 2.93GHz with Radeon HD 4870
ic7 R4850 = 4-core 'late 2009' iMac 2.8GHz Core i7 with Radeon HD 4850
ic5 R4850 = 4-core 'late 2009' iMac 2.66Ghz Core i5 with Radeon HD 4850
ic2d R4850 = 'early 2009' iMac 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo with Radeon HD 4850
MP G8800 = 8-core 'early 2009' Mac Pro 2.93GHz with GeForce 8800 GT
MP 3870 = 8-core 'early 2009' Mac Pro 2.93GHz with Radeon HD 3870
ic2d G130 = 'early 2009' iMac 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo with GeForce GT 130
MP G120 = 8-core 'early 2009' Mac Pro 2.93GHz with GeForce GT 120

In all cases, the tests were run at 1920x1200 "High Quality" settings with no Anti-Aliasing and no Multi-Sampling. Anisotropy was set to 8x in all apps but X-Plane where it was set to 4x.


Enemy Territory: Quake Wars -- We used our recorded demo file which we call "BF." Settings are "High Quality." (Graph numbers are "frames per second.")

Call of Duty 4's -- We used a demo file called "mac_pipeline." Shadows and Soften Smoke Edges were set to "No." Textures Filtering was Trilinear with High Resolution. All other settings were "On" or "Normal." (Graph numbers are "frames per second.")

Our World of Warcraft graph shows the average FPS of our Narache Village "run" at "High" settings, 1X Multisampling.

Our WoW test occurs in FireTree realm. Our warrior stands next to the totem pole at the entrance to Camp Narache (Red Cloud Mesa). He runs East toward the large tree at the top of the hill. Turns around and runs West back to the totem pole. Using Titan Performance addon, we are able to capture min, max, and average frame rate. This test has proven to be a reliable measure of GPU power.

Using a recorded flight of the X-15 being dropped from a bomber, we used the Terminal app to benchmark X-Plane 922 at high quality textures, no AA, and 4X Aniso. (Graph numbers are "frames per second.")

OpenGL Extensions Viewer has a Test tab. We chose Standard Framebuffer, 1X Multisampling, 8X Anisotropy, Fog, Benchmark, and Transparency. (The graph below shows the framerates of the OpenGL 2.0 Extension.)

Aspyr Prey is tested using a timedemo file from Overclockers Australia. Settings were High Quality with Anisotropy = 8x and Anti-Aliasing = OFF. (The graph below shows frames per second.)

Depending on what 3D app you run and what settings you use, a dual-core iMac with a good GPU often run just as fast as a quad-core iMac or octo-core Mac Pro.

Note that the iMac Core i5 and i7 are within one or two "ticks" of each other. That's because, though the Core i7 has a higher clock rate, the bottleneck is the Radeon 4850 GPU -- which is identical in each. We removed the Halo graph because the numbers didn't make sense. Until we can borrow a Core i5 again, we're leaving that graph out of this article.

If you want to see results for the iMac Core i5 and i7 at "max" quality, 4x multi-sampling, and 2560x1440, check out our "extreme 3D" article.

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