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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

'mid 2010' iMacs Compared
to 2007-2009 iMacs

Posted Friday, August 13th, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Updated on September 1st with Cinebench and Geekbench results for iMac Core i5 3.6GHz
Updated October 18th with iMovie HD export results for iMac Core i5 3.6GHz.

I often get requests to include many older Macs in my shootouts. It's difficult because the older Macs have been tested with older versions of the OS and older versions of the apps. And we don't run a museum for old Macs but are forced to sell them to help pay for the new Macs we buy. But with the help of some 'remote mad scientists' (aka readers), I'm making a stab at showing how the older iMacs compare to the newest iMacs.

I tossed in one 4 core Mac Pro Nehalem for good measure since you are sometimes deciding between a high end iMac and low end Mac Pro. I'm still waiting for more results to be contributed for other apps but here's some to get you started.

In the first two graphs, LONGER bar means FASTER.

In the second graph, SHORTER bar means FASTER.


Mac Pro 4c 2.93 = 'early 2009' Mac Pro 4-core 2.93GHz Nehalem
iMac i7 2.93 = 'mid 2010' iMac 2.93GHz Core i7

iMac i5 2.8 = 'mid 2010' iMac 2.80GHz Core i5
iMac i5 3.6 = 'mid 2010' iMac 3.60GHz Core i5
iMac i3 3.2 = 'mid 2010' iMac 3.20GHz Core i3
iMac i7 2.8 = 'late 2009' iMac 2.8GHz Core i7
iMac i5 2.66 = 'late 2009' iMac 2.66GHz Core i5
iMac c2d 3.06 = 'early 2009' iMac 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo
iMac c2d 2.8 = ''mid 2007' iMac 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo
iMac c2d 2.4 = mid 2007' iMac 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo
iMac c2d 2.16 = 'late 2006' iMac 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo

The 'mid 2010'
iMacs are incrementally faster than the 'late 2009' iMacs. Because of that, many readers reported they are pouncing on the closeout prices of the 'late 2009' iMac.

Both the 2010 and 2009 iMacs are signficantly faster than the 2007 and older iMacs -- at least in some cases. Cinebench and Geekbench are designed to show the maximum potential of the Mac. iTunes shows the other extreme. It is representative of many apps we use daily that don't take advantage of multiple cores and may be slowed by multiple disk accesses.

Some of you are waffling between the low-end Mac Pro and high-end iMac. As you can see, the performance is very close. The main advantages of the Mac Pro are ease of upgrades and choices (displays, drives, GPUs). The main advantages of the iMac are cost and compactness.

If you want to see more iMacs (or other Macs) included in this comparison or more apps included in this comparison, we need your help. Calling all remote mad scientists! Email me, , mad scientist.

We want to compare the old iMacs to the new iMacs running some 3D Games. The difficulty comes when you have different size screens with different native resolutions. However, as we work through that issue, here's a teaser graph. The Core i3 has the 21" screen (Radeon HD 5670) running at 1920x1080 native. The two Core i7 models have the 27" screen (Radeon HD 5750) running at 2560x1440 native. So I "dumbed down" the Core i7s to 1920x1080 to produce a "fair fight" running Valve's Portal First Slice (DEMO version of Portal).

If you want to run Portal First Slice (or Portal full version) on your older iMac, Email me, , mad scientist, for the instructions and timedemo file.

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