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Fastest Core i7 iMac model rated best buy

post #1 of 70
Thread Starter 
Performance site Bare Feats has compared the performance of Apple's new Core i3, i5, and i7 27 inch iMacs and determined the high end model offers the best performance per dollar.

The report contrasts the performance benchmarks rankings of Cinebench 11 and Geekbench 2 to compare the the $1699 entry level dual core 3.2GHz Core i3 against the midrange $1999 quad core 2.8GHz Core i5 and the high end $2199 quad core 2.93GHz Core i7.

Overall, the performance scores indicate that the Core i5 offers a performance boost up to 41 percent at just 18 percent more cost, while the high end Core i7 is up to 45 percent faster than the Core i5 while being just 10 percent more. It's also 104 percent faster than the Core i3 model while being just 29 percent more expensive.

"Going by the Cinebench rating, you pay $400 for each rating point on the Core i7, you pay $526 for each rating point on the Core i5, and you pay $629 for each rating point on the Core i3," the site noted, concluding, "the top iMac model is the best buy."

Factors influencing performance

The test results reflect numbers published in our review of the new iMac models, which show a marked increase in performance between the Core i3, i5, and i7 processors (below).



The entry level Core i3 CPU design does not support Intel's "Turbo Boost," a feature that enables individual CPU cores to dynamically speed up when only one is being actively used. It does support Hyper Threading however, which enables the dual core chip to act like a virtual quad core when running software that is optimized for multiple cores.

The Quad Core Core i5 and i7 also pack twice as much L3 cache; 8MB, compared to 4MB on the dual core models. All of the machines use a faster new 1333MHz bus for RAM, although in testing, the site reported that using faster RAM only appears to offer a slight advantage up to 3 percent on the new machines.

However, despite the newest 2.93GHz Core i7 model only being clocked 5 percent faster than last fall's Core i7 iMac, the site noted that "the new Mid-2010 iMac Core i7 was 3 to 23 percent faster than the Late 2009 iMac Core i7 in our various CPU intensive tests."

Compared to the mobile Core i7 used in the MacBook Pro, "the new iMac Core i7 is 43 to 120 percent faster running our 'multi-core aware' suite," the site reported.

Additional considerations when upgrading

The site also points out that while some users may decide they have light uses that don't demand top performance, there are good reasons to pay extra to "future proof" for new apps and uses that will end up making the machine useful longer.

It also recommends considering future resale value, where the additional residual value of a higher end model may recover enough to warrant the additional initial cost.
post #2 of 70
C'mon guys, these look like (or similar to) the same graphs and specs that were in yesterday's report, and there are still faux paux's! There is no mid-2010 2.66 Ghz i5!!!!! Get it right, will ya?
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post #3 of 70
Also are you sure that the i7, listed with the wrong speed, had 8GB of ram? That is NOT standard. it's a $200 or $400 upgrade depending on being 4 or 2 sticks.

And, the 2.8 Quad is an i5 not an i7... the chart shows i7 2.8Ghz with 8GB ram..
the i5 isn't 2.66Ghz either, as noted in first reply. Is the 2.66Ghz is a typo? Are you sure which i5 is being tested? the Dual core 3.6Ghz with 4MB L3 or the Quad core with 8MB L3?
Says Quad, but as far as typos' go 3.60 would be closer since 2.8 doesn't have a 6 anywhere in the spec.


I don't think any of this chart is legit.
post #4 of 70
Ignoring the minor details in the other posts, I agree with the conclusion. The i7 would be my choice.
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post #5 of 70
Future proofing is a bad goal to set for most people. Look at the jumps in technology within a year. I don't see future proofing as a motivator for up buying.
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post #6 of 70
There is one key mid-2010 model that is missing from this comparison:
$1699 dual-core 3.2GHz Core i3
$1899 dual-core 3.6GHz Core i5
$1999 quad-core 2.8GHz Core i5
$2199 quad-core 2.93GHz Core i7

Since the dual-core Core i5 is the one that fits in my budget (with 8 GB RAM), I would be curious to see how that one stacks up.
post #7 of 70
AppleInsider, thank you for this interesting article. However, you really need to clarify the exact model as defined by "Late 2009 iMac" in your performance comparison bar graph. I assume that late 2009 model was NOT an i7 as the bars show the 2010 i7 to be almost 200% faster, which doesn't make sense. So what CPU and Clock is it?
post #8 of 70
It's been my experience over the years, that if you do any kind of professional work at all on a computer, BUY THE HEAVIEST IRON YOU CAN POSSIBLY AFFORD that gets the job done. Stuff it with as much RAM and HD space as you can pry out of your budget. Buying low end will make a machine, however capable, be obsolete twice as fast. The higher end machine will give you a much longer service life.

Software only grows more complex and hungrier. Files ever larger. My first machine has a whopping 48 K of RAM and no drives at all!

Whoa, Flashback!
post #9 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDW View Post

AppleInsider, thank you for this interesting article. However, you really need to clarify the exact model as defined by "Late 2009 iMac" in your performance comparison bar graph. I assume that late 2009 model was NOT an i7 as the bars show the 2010 i7 to be almost 200% faster, which doesn't make sense. So what CPU and Clock is it?

The CPU is cited in the chart directly above the graph.
Late 2009 iMac - Core 2 Duo 3.06 Ghz, 4GB RAM.
It's the previous year's model.
post #10 of 70
Synthetic benchmarks like these are near pointless as a basis for comparison. They over estimate, by far, the performance difference that users will actually experience.

As far as "future proofing" goes, with these new iMacs, that concept is rather silly. In all likelihood, these will be the last iMacs without USB 3.0. This will also adversely affect their resale value.

Frankly, with Apple's current line up, unless you are a professional and can justify the expense, I think most users would be best served by waiting until another round of hardware updates before buying new machines if at all possible.

-kpluck

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post #11 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by stonefingers View Post

C'mon guys, these look like (or similar to) the same graphs and specs that were in yesterday's report, and there are still faux paux's! There is no mid-2010 2.66 Ghz i5!!!!! Get it right, will ya?

If you're going to use a term like "faux pas," it would be a good idea to learn how to spell it first.
post #12 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuraiartguy View Post

The CPU is cited in the chart directly above the graph.
Late 2009 iMac - Core 2 Duo 3.06 Ghz, 4GB RAM.

Thank you, Samurai! My feeble eyes overlooked that part.

Being an owner of the Oct. 2009 iMac i7 2.8GHz (8GB RAM), it would be interesting to see that older i7 iMac model added to the same performance graph. The 0.13GHz faster CPU alone probably wouldn't make the 2010 i7 model "feel" noticeably faster than the 2009 model, but I am curious about the impact of the 1066 RAM vs. 1333 RAM.

Anyway, thank you.
post #13 of 70
The $1699 3.6GHz would be the best value IMO. The quad i7 and i5 machines use 45nm as opposed to 32nm for the dual core.

The 3.6GHz i5 gets about 8000 in Geekbench (same as the quad 45nm i5) vs 10000 for the older quad i7. It also reaches that with a 73W TDP vs 95W TDP so it should run cooler.

The i5 has a spare IGP so power consumption can be lower too if Apple uses it, it supports VT-d unlike the i3 as well as Turbo Boost so Parallels/VMWare gaming may become far more viable.

The quad core models do have GPUs with double precision support and 27" displays but if you don't need double precision, the 5750 is only 30-50% faster than the 5670 and the 27" display is overkill for most people.

I'd say the best value is determined after purchasing a machine and then weighing up how much you regret your purchase based on usage and for the vast majority of people, spending the extra $500 to get from the dual 3.6GHz i5 to the quad i7 won't be worth it.
post #14 of 70
The comment above about the machines not having USB 3.0 is indeed relevant. And many folk were surprised that it was not included on the Mac Pro update, along with eSATA and upgraded FireWire. As for native Blu-Ray support, Steve doesn't like Blu-ray, so dream on.

But strictly speaking, there are a lot us us digging our heels in with our current gear till we're forced to upgrade. Dead Power supply. Blown Motherboard. Or... getting that Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign file from a client or vendor that we CAN'T OPEN and have to pull the trigger on a software upgrade that requires new gear.

Adobe CS5 requires minimum Intel Core 2 Duo... good bye to all those aging Power PC machines in Art Departments and Design Studios out there.

Be nice, I resemble that remark
post #15 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuraiartguy View Post

It's been my experience over the years, that if you do any kind of professional work at all on a computer, BUY THE HEAVIEST IRON YOU CAN POSSIBLY AFFORD that gets the job done. Stuff it with as much RAM and HD space as you can pry out of your budget. Buying low end will make a machine, however capable, be obsolete twice as fast. The higher end machine will give you a much longer service life.

Agreed, in part. RAM and a larger HD can always be purchased later, and will likely be cheaper in the future. Processor speed, graphics cards, & bus speed, are all things that you would be stuck with (are not likely upgradeable).

So, I generally go with the Mac that has the best non-user replaceable components I can afford.

A side note... I was at the Apple Store the other day, helping a friend purchase a MacBook Pro. She wanted the 15" model. The salesman tried to talk her down to the 13". Then when she insisted on the 15", he tried to talk her down to the entry level model, when she wanted the mid-range one.
I was first surprised, then kinda annoyed... But I guess the salesman was just trying to save her some money.
post #16 of 70
If you had to choose upgrading the CPU -OR- the GPU on the lower-end 27" model, would you choose the

ATI Radeon HD 5750 w/ 1GB GDDR5 VRAM over the ATI Radeon HD 5670 w/ 512MB GDDR3 VRAM

-OR-

Quad Core i7 2.93GHz (turbo up to 3.6GHz) over the Quad Core i5 2.8GHz (turbo up to 3.33GHz)???

Both upgrades are $200 each.

(Mid-2012) 15.4" MacBook Pro w/ IPS Retina Display | Quad Core i7-3720QM 2.6GHz / 3.6GHz Max. Turbo | 16GB DDR3-1600MHz RAM | 256GB Samsung 830 SSD-based NAND Flash ETA 9/5

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(Mid-2012) 15.4" MacBook Pro w/ IPS Retina Display | Quad Core i7-3720QM 2.6GHz / 3.6GHz Max. Turbo | 16GB DDR3-1600MHz RAM | 256GB Samsung 830 SSD-based NAND Flash ETA 9/5

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post #17 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crunch View Post

If you had to choose upgrading the CPU -OR- the GPU on the lower-end 27" model, would you choose the

ATI Radeon HD 5750 w/ 1GB GDDR5 VRAM over the ATI Radeon HD 5670 w/ 512MB GDDR3 VRAM

-OR-

Quad Core i7 2.93GHz (turbo up to 3.6GHz) over the Quad Core i5 2.8GHz (turbo up to 3.33GHz)???

Both upgrades are $200 each.

I'd say it depends on your intended use...
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post #18 of 70
I think barefeats is a great site, but I think their conclusions were a little overstated here. I have nothing against quad core processors (I've got two of them in my Mac Pro, after all), but not everyone can really make good use of them. It's not too hard to imagine scenarios where a dual-core 3.6 GHz chip is the better solution. Indeed, I just ordered an iMac with the 3.6 GHz dual core CPU precisely because it will be used in a context where a quad core just wouldn't add much value at all, either now or down the road (plus, I've got my Mac Pro for situations where lots of cores really are helpful).
post #19 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by aplnub View Post

Future proofing is a bad goal to set for most people. Look at the jumps in technology within a year. I don't see future proofing as a motivator for up buying.

I disagree. I bought my late 2006 Macbook Pro with the top processor for this very reason. In the past, I waited for the "deals" on clearing models when new ones were introduced. While I paid less, I also got a much less useful life out of the machine.

My MBP is still very usable and it's almost 4 years old. My strategy in the future will be to buy the fastest model; I think it costs me less in the long run in terms of upgrades.

Perhaps if you're a geek and buy the latest and greatest every year, you would be correct.

Tommy
post #20 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by serranot View Post

My MBP is still very usable and it's almost 4 years old.

Yes, but you could have got the enrty level model, and had enough left over to have bought a brand new MBP last year that currently beats your model in performance.
post #21 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Yes, but you could have got the enrty level model, and had enough left over to have bought a brand new MBP last year that currently beats your model in performance.

The difference between the high and low end MBP is around $400... that's hardly enough to buy a brand new MBP... Changing $400 to $1800 in 4 years would be quite an investment! (though AAPL would bring you close if you got in at the right time! LOL)
post #22 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by OllieWallieWhiskers View Post

The difference between the high and low end MBP is around $400... that's hardly enough to buy a brand new MBP... Changing $400 to $1800 in 4 years would be quite an investment! (though AAPL would bring you close if you got in at the right time! LOL)

Until you start adding RAM and hard drive options...
post #23 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Until you start adding RAM and hard drive options...

well, adding RAM and upgrading the hard drive through the Apple Store is throwing your money away.
post #24 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crunch View Post

If you had to choose upgrading the CPU -OR- the GPU on the lower-end 27" model, would you choose the

ATI Radeon HD 5750 w/ 1GB GDDR5 VRAM over the ATI Radeon HD 5670 w/ 512MB GDDR3 VRAM

-OR-

Quad Core i7 2.93GHz (turbo up to 3.6GHz) over the Quad Core i5 2.8GHz (turbo up to 3.33GHz)???

Both upgrades are $200 each.

What do you intend to use your iMac for? Games, or video editing, or...?
post #25 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by kpluck View Post

As far as "future proofing" goes, with these new iMacs, that concept is rather silly. In all likelihood, these will be the last iMacs without USB 3.0. This will also adversely affect their resale value.

That assumes that the average iMac purchaser cares about USB 3. The only things I use USB for are:
- downloading images from my camera, but this is limited by camera speed, not bus
- Backing up to Time Machine. Not time sensitive
- keyboard and mouse (on some Macs).

USB3 is going to be great for some people who can use it. For most people, it's a big yawn.

Not to mention, of course, that in most cases, resale values are not significantly affected by one 'missing' feature since most people who buy a used Mac aren't concerned about the latest and greatest features.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aplnub View Post

Future proofing is a bad goal to set for most people. Look at the jumps in technology within a year. I don't see future proofing as a motivator for up buying.

So you don't. Since no one else asked for you to choose their computer for them, that's relevant only to you.

SOME people keep their computers for a long time. Adding a CPU upgrade for a couple hundred dollars may extend the life considerably.

I bought my iMac a few years ago with the top available processor. I paid a couple hundred dollars extra. Yet, even today, I don't see any reason to upgrade, but if I had bought the base processor, I'd be looking at it very seriously. If a couple hundred dollars allows you to extend the life of a $2 K computer by a couple of years, it can be a great bargain. PLUS, you probably get a large chunk of the upgrade price back on resale.
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post #26 of 70
I have a pet peeve about the new line up. I have a 24" iMac that is just perfect for me size-wise. To upgrade, I must either get a smaller screen or pay for more screen space than I want or need (or that may even fit under my shelf). In short, 21 is a step down and 27 too big for many people. I am going to wait and see what happens next round before deciding on an upgrade. Maybe they'll offer a midsize screen.
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post #27 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

If a couple hundred dollars allows you to extend the life of a $2 K computer by a couple of years, it can be a great bargain. PLUS, you probably get a large chunk of the upgrade price back on resale.

I agree that it is a great bargain and just a better idea overall (at least for me), the notion that you would get that "large chunk" back is unlikely. the extra money that you would potentially get back would be negated by the fact that the machine is an extra 2 years older than when you would have originally considered reselling it. The extended timeline (say, 4 years rather than 2) cancels out the additional value of the high end upgrades.
post #28 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by DCJ001 View Post

If you're going to use a term like "faux pas," it would be a good idea to learn how to spell it first.

It would, unless it was intented to draw attention to how laughable the information in the article is...but thanks for noticing
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post #29 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by kstlouis View Post

I agree that it is a great bargain and just a better idea overall (at least for me), the notion that you would get that "large chunk" back is unlikely. the extra money that you would potentially get back would be negated by the fact that the machine is an extra 2 years older than when you would have originally considered reselling it. The extended timeline (say, 4 years rather than 2) cancels out the additional value of the high end upgrades.

I guess it depends on what comparison you make.

Let's say I could buy a low end model and sell it after 2 years or a high end model and sell it after 4 years.

The resale value of the high end model after 4 years is probably comparable to the low end model after 2 years, true. However, if you compare the high end model after 4 years to the low end model after 4 years, you'll still get more. Either comparison is a win, even if the first comparison is more likely.
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post #30 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by SendMe View Post

Actually, increasing the RAM and HD at the time of purchase is a very reasonable charge, compared with the hassle of sending the machine away to be upgraded by Apple later.

Yes, but his point was that it's idiotic to do it at the Apple Store when you buy the machine, rather than buying the components separately and installing them yourself.
post #31 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by SendMe View Post

You got me beat.

I used to work on mainframes via a remote teletype timeshare, but the first computer I actually bought was 128k of RAM and it had an external 5 inch floppy drive.

It now resides in my kid's friend's Apple Museum. I still use the 10 inch green/black monitor as an aux monitor for headless stuff. After 27 years, Apple's monitor is STILL a useful piece of equipment.

Before my family bought a C64, we had a Vic-20. Beat that.

But actually, the first computer I bought with my own money was a Performa 450 at Sears with my Sears card. The Performa 450 was a 25MHz LCIII minus the FPU sold in a package with an Apple 14" 640x480 monitor, but in a few months I went to Sonnet Technologies (yes, the same one that exists today) and bought the FPU for $19. It had 4MB of Ram, if I recall correctly.
post #32 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by eizzumdm View Post

There is one key mid-2010 model that is missing from this comparison:
$1699 dual-core 3.2GHz Core i3
$1899 dual-core 3.6GHz Core i5
$1999 quad-core 2.8GHz Core i5
$2199 quad-core 2.93GHz Core i7

Since the dual-core Core i5 is the one that fits in my budget (with 8 GB RAM), I would be curious to see how that one stacks up.

A person I work with built an i5 rig and says it's awesome. I have a feeling it would be the most practical route for someone who isn't doing process-intensive work on their machine, ya know what I mean?
post #33 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by SendMe View Post

I used to work on mainframes via a remote teletype timeshare,

Young whippersnappers.

Back in MY day, we had to carry boxes of punch cards around. Our backs got a workout as well as our brains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SendMe View Post

I'd say that nobody who buys the i7 will have any regrets whatsoever. The first time they want to convert a movie into Apple format to watch on their iPad, they will be amazed at how fast it goes.

QFT.
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post #34 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by SendMe View Post

I understand that. But what he doesn't take into account is that Mac computers are [often] for normal mom and pop type people, and he assumes that the typical Mac user is some sort of ubergeek who opens up the case.

And mom and pop users who spend money upgrading RAM and HD via Apple are throwing their money away.
post #35 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by SendMe View Post

I'd say that nobody who buys the i7 will have any regrets whatsoever. The first time they want to convert a movie into Apple format to watch on their iPad, they will be amazed at how fast it goes.

It's only 25% faster than the i5 though, which is $500 cheaper. For example the i7 would take 6 minutes to convert a 20 minute TV show and the dual i5 would take just under 8 minutes. Both machines perform to the point where you won't notice the difference between them outside of raw benchmarking so you are left thinking about the $500 difference, which might have bought that iPad to put movies onto.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SendMe

The dual core is never a better solution. It may be cheaper, but as a solution, it is inferior to the quad core.

We are talking about a 32nm 3.6GHz dual core (boosts to 3.86GHz) vs a 45nm 2.93GHz quad (boosts to 3.33GHz) though. Plus the dual core is hyper-threaded so shows up as 4 processors. The 32nm chips draw less power too so they run cooler.

Once they hit 22nm in 2011 with quads in the low end that hyper-thread to 8 virtual cores, it's game over for the high end models.
post #36 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I guess it depends on what comparison you make.

Let's say I could buy a low end model and sell it after 2 years or a high end model and sell it after 4 years.

The resale value of the high end model after 4 years is probably comparable to the low end model after 2 years, true. However, if you compare the high end model after 4 years to the low end model after 4 years, you'll still get more. Either comparison is a win, even if the first comparison is more likely.

I always buy the model I want for the intended purpose and after a few years I donate it to a worthy cause like a school. Trying to sell an older computer on Craigslist is just too much effort and risk for the small sum of money gained over the amount of the tax deduction.

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post #37 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I always buy the model I want for the intended purpose and after a few years I donate it to a worthy cause like a school. Trying to sell an older computer on Craigslist is just too much effort and risk for the small sum of money gained over the amount of the tax deduction.

That's OK, too, but it doesn't change things. You'll get a greater tax deduction in the end on the higher end system (or be able to use it longer before giving it up), so you get back at least some of the purchase price difference.

BTW, 'small sum of money' doesn't really apply to Macs. I've sold 4 year old Macs for over $1,000. Realistically, the resale value is so high that it would be impossible to claim a value higher than that, but even if I claimed $1400 or 1500, I still have a lot more in my pocket by selling it. Of course, you may be donating for other reasons than purely economic.
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post #38 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

. Of course, you may be donating for other reasons than purely economic.

Not having strangers come to my home or business to inspect and try out the computer, priceless.

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post #39 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by stonefingers View Post

C'mon guys, these look like (or similar to) the same graphs and specs that were in yesterday's report, and there are still faux paux's! There is no mid-2010 2.66 Ghz i5!!!!! Get it right, will ya?

Well, it's good that you argue for "getting it right."

It's "faux pas." It means, "false step."
post #40 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Before my family bought a C64, we had a Vic-20. Beat that.

But actually, the first computer I bought with my own money was a Performa 450 at Sears with my Sears card. The Performa 450 was a 25MHz LCIII minus the FPU sold in a package with an Apple 14" 640x480 monitor, but in a few months I went to Sonnet Technologies (yes, the same one that exists today) and bought the FPU for $19. It had 4MB of Ram, if I recall correctly.

Mine was a TRS80 I think, a computer my dad brought me home from TI.
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