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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

'late 2012' 27-inch iMac 3.4GHz Core i7
versus five recent Macs

Originally posted Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Many of you are curious as to whether the 27-inch 'late 2012' iMac can handle pro apps with aplomb. This page is PART ONE showing how it handles Apple's Pro Apps. See PART TWO for Adobe and Blackmagic Design apps.

MP 3.3 = 'mid 2010' Mac Pro 3.33GHz Hex-Core Xeon, 24G RAM, Radeon HD 5870 GPU
iMac 3.4 '12 = 'late 2012' (27") iMac 3.4GHz Core i7, 32G RAM, GeForce GTX 680MX GPU
iMac 2.9 = 'late 2012' (21.5") iMac 2.9GHz Core i5, 8G RAM, GeForce GT 650M GPU
rMBP 2.7 = 'mid 2012' (15") Retina MacBook Pro 2.7GHz Core i7, 16G RAM, GeForce GT 650M
mini 2.6 = 'late 2012' Mac mini 2.6GHz Core i7, 16G RAM, Intel HD 4000 GPU
iMac 3.4 '11 = 'mid 2011' (27") iMac 3.4GHz Core i7, 16G RAM, Radeon HD 6970M GPU

All Macs were running the latest version of OS X Mountain Lion.


Noise Ninja is a Plugin for Aperture for removing noise and grain from digital photographs. It is a must-have tool for anyone shooting in low-light or fast-action situations. We applied it to 50 RAW images of a Soccer match. (LOWER number means FASTER.)

Aperture's second task was to convert 50 RAW images into original size JPEG versions and export them. (LOWER number means FASTER.)

When Final Cut Pro X tries to Analyze two video clips for stabilization, rolling shutter, color balance, and audio problems, it stresses the CPUs. (LOWER number means FASTER.)


Final Cut Pro X leans hard on the GPU when rendering the Directional Blur effect on our 30 second sample Apple ProRes 422 (HQ), 1920 x 1080 project. (LOWER number means FASTER.

Final Cut Pro X's Rain Effect is another GPU intensive task. (LOWER number means FASTER)

Motion has an option to render a project in memory (RAM Preview > Play Range) so it can be previewed in real time (29.9FPS). This is not only a GPU stress test but a memory hog. Because the iMac 2.9 i5 had only 8G of RAM, it could only render 311 of the 600 frames. So instead of posting the render time in seconds, we calculated how many frames per second each Mac rendered. In this case, HIGHER number means FASTER.

The newest, fastest CTO iMac, the 'late 2012' 3.4GHz Quad-Core i7 with the NVIDA GeForce TX 680MX, beats the 6-core 3.33GHz Mac Pro with the Radeon HD 5870 GPU in every test except one (Analyze Clips in FCPX). So that tells you the latest, greatest iMac will handle the tasks of any low range to mid range Mac Pro when it comes to Apple's Pro Apps.

Let me point out that we presented a balanced presentation. Half of the tests stressed CPU primarily while half of them stressed GPU.

As indicated, this page (PART ONE) features Apple Pro Apps. The next article (PART TWO) features Pro Apps from Adobe and Blackmagic Design.

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OWC has an upgrade kit for the 21.5" iMac. It requires disassembly but they provide the tools and the installation video. They also offer memory upgrade kits for the 27" iMac.

Check with Trans International for memory kits for the 27" iMac (2012) and other Mac models.

MaxUpgrades has memory kits for various models of iMac.

MaxUpgrades has memory kits for various models of iMac.

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copyright 2012 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"