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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

3D SHOOTOUT at 2560x1440:
'mid 2010' iMac Core i7
versus two other Macs

Posted Saturday, July 31st, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Updated August 2nd, with '2009' iMac Core i7 results booting from cloned '2010' drive.

The inclusion of a Radeon HD 5750 in the top 'mid 2010' iMac is the most intriguing new feature. So we chose to start with 3D Game tests.

RED BAR means FASTEST; See LEGEND for explanation of ORANGE bar

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars' advanced settings were all maxed out plus we set Multisamples to 4X. Resolution was 2560x1440. We used our recorded demo file which we call "BF." (Graph numbers are "frames per second.")

Our World of Warcraft graph shows the average FPS of our Narache Village "run" at "Ultra" settings, 4X 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. I realize that when you are in the heat of conflict surrounded by many active characters, your WoW performance is more of a function of CPU speed and memory than GPU. But that's not what we're testing here.

Bioshock Demo (Mac version by Feral Interactive) -- After the plane crashes into icy uncharted waters, you discover a rusted bathysphere and descend into Rapture, a city hidden beneath the sea. We captured the frame rates as the whale swims past the bathysphere. (Resolution was 2560x1440.)

Using a recorded flight of the X-15 being dropped from a bomber, we used the Terminal app to benchmark X-Plane 9.22 at 2560x1440, high quality textures, 2X AA, and 4X Aniso. (Graph numbers are "frames per second.")

Valve Portal -- Using a recorded timedemo and tested the toughest scenario:
Full Screen, 16:10 Aspect Ratio, 2560x1400
Model Detail = High, Texture Detail = High, Shader Detail = High
Water Detail = Reflect All, Shadow Detail = High, Color Correction = Enabled
Antialiasing Mode = 4X MSAA, Filtering Mode = Anisotropic 4X, Vertical Sync = Disabled
Motion Blur = Enabled

Mac Pro 4870 = 8-core 'early 2009' Mac Pro 2.93GHz with 12G of RAM and Radeon HD 4870 and 30" Cinema LCD display
iMac Core i7 '10 = 4-core 'mid 2010' iMac 2.93GHz Core i7 with 16G of RAM and Radeon HD 5750
iMac Core i7 '09
** = 4-core 'late 2009' iMac 2.8GHz Core i7 with 16G of RAM and Radeon HD 4850 booted with a clone of the 2010 iMac drive (see ORANGE bar in graph)
iMac Core i7 '09 = 4-core 'late 2009' iMac 2.8GHz Core i7 with 16G of RAM and Radeon HD 4850

The tests were run at 2560x1440 resolution which is the native resolution of the iMac Core i7 27" screen. The exception is the Mac Pro's with its 30" Cinema display which forced is to use 2560x1600 except in the case of X-Plane.

The 2010 iMac Core i7 gets the 2010 iMac OS X update that "resolves compatibility and performance-related graphics issues." That installer won't run on the 2009 iMac or any other older Mac. That inspired us to clone the 2010 iMac's HDD and boot the 2009 iMac with that drive. The graph bar in ORANGE shows the results we got when we re-ran the tests. Clearly the updated ATI drivers give the 2009 iMac a boost. The 2010 iMac is stll faster but not quite as dramatically as first thought.

If history repeats itself, Apple will soon offer a point release for all Macs that will include updated drivers for the ATI GPUs.

I hope to add results from the iMac Core i3 and i5, but being a small operation, we can't afford to buy all permutations of iMac. If you have a new (or old) iMac and want to duplicate our testing, 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.

OTHER ARTICLES on the new iMac
See our "CPU CRUNCH" page.

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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"