Benchmarks for high-end iMac 5K show 75 percent speed gain over 2017 model

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited March 27
A set of new benchmarks for what appears to be the high-end iMac 5K have surfaced, with the published results from Geekbench suggesting it will be a considerable upgrade compared with the 2017 refresh of the Mac product line.




Appearing on the Geekbench results browser as "iMac19.1," the model tested is described as having an Intel Core i9-9900K processor, an eight-core chip with a base frequency of 3.6GHz. Reportedly running macOS 10.14.4, the device is also equipped with 16 gigabytes of DDR4 memory.

The results claim it has a single-core score of 6314 and a multi-core score of 33,713. Both are considerable improvements on the mid-2017 27-inch iMac, which was equipped with an Intel Core i7-7700K in one set of benchmarks, with single-core and multi-core scores of 5,684 and 19,372 respectively.

In AppleInsider's own testing of the 2019 iMac 4K, the test unit achieved a single-core score of 4,819 and 14,410 for multi-core tests. That particular model had the base configuration of a Core i3 processor clocked at 3.6GHz and 8 gigabytes of memory.

Apple refreshed its iMac lineup on March 19 as part of a collection of product changes. Among the changes includes upgrades to 8th-generation processors for the 21.5-inch iMac, 9th-generation six-core and eight-core processors for the 27-inch iMac, and GPU options for the Radeon Pro Vega 20 and Vega 48 respectively.

The current 5K iMacs start from $1,799 with a 3.0GHz six-core processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB Fusion drive, and Radeon Pro 570X graphics. The higher-priced $2,299 configuration boasts a 3.7GHz six-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 2TB Fusion drive, and a Radeon Pro 580X, with options to upgrade to a Core i9 processor for $400 and Vega 48 graphics for $450.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,745member
    I think I will have to get one. My questions are:
    • will it take faster RAM?
    • Will it be noticeably faster to insert a 256GB SSD than the 2TB fusion drive?
    • will it be noticeably faster with a bigger SSD?
    • Will the i9 throttle, especially with the Vega 48?

    edited March 27 watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 22
    Interesting to see the difference in how two different AI writers present similar benchmarks (about different machines).

    In the review of the 4K iMac, Mark Linsangan writes:

    "In our testing, the iMac 4K posted a CPU score of 1472. For comparison, our 2018 MacBook Pro with a six-core i7 Processor posted a CPU score of 2396 which is only about 1.6x higher than the iMac 4K."

    In this article, Malcolm Owen, writes:
    "The results claim it has a single-core score of 6314 and a multi-core score of 33,713. Both are considerable improvements on the mid-2017 27-inch iMac, which was equipped with an Intel Core i7-7700K in one set of benchmarks, with single-core and multi-core scores of 5,684 and 19,372 respectively."

    So a 63% difference (between a high end MacBook Pro and an iMac; 1,472 versus 2,396) is no big deal, but a 11% different (between newer and older iMacs; 6314 versus 5684) or 74% (33,713 versus 19,372) is "considerable."

    I don't think I'd call 11% "considerable" and I wouldn't dismiss the 63% difference between a MacBook Pro and an iMac.
    bshankDon.Andersenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 22
    entropys said:
    I think I will have to get one. My questions are:
    • will it take faster RAM?
    • Will it be noticeably faster to insert a 256GB SSD than the 2TB fusion drive?
    • will it be noticeably faster with a bigger SSD?
    • Will the i9 throttle, especially with the Vega 48?

    • No, or if even if it would it wouldn't run any faster.
    • Absolutely for large I/O intensive tasks (which blow through the fusion cache).
    • No.
    • Dunno.
    bshankbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 22
    neilmneilm Posts: 618member
    Well duh, a new 8-core is faster than an old 4-core. News at 11.
    chemenginchiabaconstangrandominternetpersoncharlesatlasDon.Andersenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 22
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,094member
    entropys said:
    I think I will have to get one. My questions are:
    • will it take faster RAM?
    • Will it be noticeably faster to insert a 256GB SSD than the 2TB fusion drive?
    • will it be noticeably faster with a bigger SSD?
    • Will the i9 throttle, especially with the Vega 48?

    The Fusion drive is a paired small SSD + large HDD that operates as a single logical storage device. The macOS determines how applications and data are managed between the SSD and the HDD. I suppose they try to keep the most recently used apps, paging files, and the kernel on the SSD part. If your entire app and its working set and data fit into the SSD part then I'd assume you'll get near pure SSD performance. I think the 2TB and 3TB Fusion drives have 128GB SSDs while the 1TB Fusion has a 32GB SSD.

    Most every computer and microprocessor/microcomputer are highly invested in taking advantage of statistical locality of reference, spatial and temporal, for optimizing all memory operations. So coming up with a blanket statement about performance for a broad range of applications is a bit tough. But it is very safe to say that having an all-SSD configuration will always be as fast as a hybrid (Fusion) configuration and will continue to be just as fast in cases where the Fusion configuration is on the wrong side of the statistical gamble that the Fusion configuration benefits from in a lot of cases. If you want fast all the time, go full SSD and have lots of RAM.
    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 22
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,745member
    Can you control what is stored on the SSD part of the fusion drive?

    My thinking is i9, basic RAM to then upgrade myself, Vega 48, and then either a 2TB fusion drive or a 256GB SSD For the boot drive and hang more SSD storage off the back in a TB external case.

    Or maybe, just stick with the 2 TB fusion drive, get a TB3 external NVME interface case, and boot off a big SSD. The internal drive would just be a backup clone.

    Coming from a mid 2011 i7 with upgrade RAM, Radeon Pro 6990 and booting off an external 1TB SSD SATA drive in a thunderbolt case, it should be quite an update.

    Apple’s prices for storage upgrades are ludicrous. I don’t know how you could measure it, but I would not be surprised if Apple lost sales (or at the very least, suffered longer, delays update paths of long term customers) that exceeded the financial benefit of its high margins on storage upgrades. 
    edited March 27
  • Reply 7 of 22
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,042member
    entropys said:
    Can you control what is stored on the SSD part of the fusion drive?

    My thinking is i9, basic RAM to then upgrade myself, Vega 48, and then either a 2TB fusion drive or a 256GB SSD and hang more SSD storage off the back in a TB external case.

    Coming from a mid 2011 i7 with upgrade RAM, Radeon Pro 6990 and booting off an external 1TB SSD SATA drive in a thunderbolt case, it should be quite an update.

    Apple’s prices for storage upgrades are ludicrous. I don’t know how you could measure it, but I would not be surprised if Apple lost sales (or at the very least, suffered longer, delays update paths of long term customers) that exceeded the financial benefit of its high margins on storage upgrades. 
    No you can’t determine where files are stored. 

    Agree with 256GB boot drive and use external SSD in TB3 enclosures. 

    I use MacSales for RAM. 

    It’s difficult to open newer iMacs except for RAM in 27” models so get the most you want for several years when you buy it. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 22
    killermike2178killermike2178 Posts: 9unconfirmed, member
    Not to be *that* guy, but how do we know this score in question isn't that of a Hackintosh? I'm seeing several i9 9900K iMac 19,1 scores on Geekbench, and they have wildly fluctuating scores that are several hundred points off from each other on the single core tests and several thousand points off from each other on multi-core tests. I'm even seeing an iMac 19,1 score from a test that was taken back on March 3 with i5 3450.


    edited March 27 randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 22
    killermike2178killermike2178 Posts: 9unconfirmed, member
    According to Wikipedia's info regarding the current iMac line, the iMac 19,1 is the 21.5" 4K model and the iMac 19,2 is the 27" 5K model. Yup, it looks like these are Hackintosh's...
    edited March 27 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 22
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,042member
    Search Geekbench results, https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/search?utf8=✓&q=imac19%2C2

    iMac19,2 
    Intel Core i5-8500 3000 MHz (6 cores) (base model)
    Mac OS X 64-bit

    5176 20021
  • Reply 11 of 22
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,220member
    As I mentioned on the other new iMac article...

    If you do video encoding work, carefully consider that these don't have the T2 chip (where as the mini or MBP do). I didn't care much about the T2 when I bought my 2018 mini, but now I do! The HEVC/h.265 encoding is several times faster than even the six-core i7, AND it keeps things quiet as an added bonus.

    If that matters to you... I'd save up for the cheapest iMac Pro, or wait until a future iMac, or get a mini/MBP, etc.
    edited March 28 randominternetpersonbshankdocno42watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    cgWerks said:
    I didn't care much about the T2 when I bought my 2018 mini, but now I do! The HEVC/h.265 encoding is several times faster than even the six-core i7, AND it keeps things quiet as an added bonus.
    May I ask what App you are using for doing the HEVC encoding?  FCP X?  Which six core i7 and on which computer are you comparing it to, the one that it is several times faster than?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 22
    entropys said:
    I think I will have to get one. My questions are:
    • Will it be noticeably faster to insert a 256GB SSD than the 2TB fusion drive?

    At least in the previous Gen (2017), the fusion drives maxed out around 2000 MBps read and 750 MBps writes. The SSDs could regularly get about 3000 MBps reads and 2000 MBps writes. So yes the SSDs are a lot faster, and consistently faster. But the fusion drives are no slouch either.

    We will know a lot more as people start actually getting their hands on these new machines and running some benchmarks. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 22
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,796member
    OWC sells a 2.0TB SSD for $449.99, while Apple charges $1,100.00 to step up to a 2TB SSD from the 'Best' config of the iMac.
    And in modern Apple fashion, there's no way to upgrade the SSD yourself. 

    Given that I am working with a pure 1TB SSD in my current 2009 iMac, I'm unwilling to 'step down' to a Fusion Drive for my next-gen machine.
    Even if the actual working difference is small. I may end up keeping my next machine for another decade.

    Everything else looks fine. It's powerful, the RAM is upgradable and even if the graphics card is soldered in, 8GB should be fine for awhile.

    The only real problem here for me is the lack of a replaceable SSD, so I wait to see what the Mac Pro brings.
  • Reply 15 of 22
    killermike2178killermike2178 Posts: 9unconfirmed, member
    frank777 said:
    OWC sells a 2.0TB SSD for $449.99, while Apple charges $1,100.00 to step up to a 2TB SSD from the 'Best' config of the iMac.
    And in modern Apple fashion, there's no way to upgrade the SSD yourself. 

    Given that I am working with a pure 1TB SSD in my current 2009 iMac, I'm unwilling to 'step down' to a Fusion Drive for my next-gen machine.
    Even if the actual working difference is small. I may end up keeping my next machine for another decade.

    Everything else looks fine. It's powerful, the RAM is upgradable and even if the graphics card is soldered in, 8GB should be fine for awhile.

    The only real problem here for me is the lack of a replaceable SSD, so I wait to see what the Mac Pro brings.
    Not trying to defend Apple here, but if you'll forgive the expression, it's not an apples to apples comparison. That 2 TB SSD option from Apple is an NVMe drive, while the OWC 2TB SSD is a SATA III drive. NVMe is significantly faster than SATA III, so Apple's SSD actually is better than the OWC SSD, though I don't know if it's "more than twice the price" better, but it is better. Apple is also using a proprietary NVMe drive with special connector, so you can't buy an NVMe drive of your own to put it in, only Apple can do it. The price is evil, but it's a necessary evil if you want the most speed out of your iMac.
    edited March 28 frank777watto_cobraescargot
  • Reply 16 of 22
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,796member
    Not trying to defend Apple here, but if you'll forgive the expression, it's not an apples to apples comparison. That 2 TB SSD option from Apple is an NVMe drive, while the OWC 2TB SSD is a SATA III drive. NVMe is significantly faster than SATA III, so Apple's SSD actually is better than the OWC SSD, though I don't know if it's "more than twice the price" better, but it is better. Apple is also using a proprietary NVMe drive with special connector, so you can't buy an NVMe drive of your own to put it in, only Apple can do it. The price is evil, but it's a necessary evil if you want the most speed out of your iMac.

    Thanks, that's really helpful. I searched 2TB NVMe drives for a better comparison, and the pricing doesn't seem to be that far off.

    It's unfortunate about the special connector, but we probably can't open the new iMac's case anyway.

    I think I'm holding off for either a future iMac rev with a less-expensive SSD, or maybe the cheapest version of the Mac Pro.
  • Reply 17 of 22
    bshankbshank Posts: 162member
    cgWerks said:
    As I mentioned on the other new iMac article...

    If you do video encoding work, carefully consider that these don't have the T2 chip (where as the mini or MBP do). I didn't care much about the T2 when I bought my 2018 mini, but now I do! The HEVC/h.265 encoding is several times faster than even the six-core i7, AND it keeps things quiet as an added bonus.

    If that matters to you... I'd save up for the cheapest iMac Pro, or wait until a future iMac, or get a mini/MBP, etc.
    I’ve also read that the iMac has Quick Sync which is better for H.264, a feature iMac Pro doesn’t have. If true it may depend on what type of file, H.264 or H.265 one is using
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 22
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,220member
    escargot said:
    May I ask what App you are using for doing the HEVC encoding?  FCP X?  Which six core i7 and on which computer are you comparing it to, the one that it is several times faster than?
    ScreenFlow and Handbrake so far.
    I'm comparing it to using the i7 on my 2018 Mac mini with h.264 (vs. h.265 which uses the T2). So, the same computer, just exported using different methods.

    Note, I'm not a video expert, so I've just tried to match what I think is similar quality settings. But, the difference is so obvious, that it doesn't really matter. I can double the quality settings on the h.265 export, and it is still way, way faster. (ex: just making it up for discussion... say the h.264 would take an hour to export, the h.265 might take 15 minutes and if I double the quality, then it might take 17 minutes) I'm also only working with 1080p output (sometimes higher input), so YMMV, but I think the difference is even more profound working with 4k from what I've read.

    escargot said:
    At least in the previous Gen (2017), the fusion drives maxed out around 2000 MBps read and 750 MBps writes. The SSDs could regularly get about 3000 MBps reads and 2000 MBps writes. So yes the SSDs are a lot faster, and consistently faster. But the fusion drives are no slouch either.
    I think my concern is more that the Fusion Drive seems to be a kind of interim odd-duck solution that even Apple has been a bit slow in properly supporting. But, otherwise, it kind of solves the problem of speed/storage size for the average user.

    bshank said:
    I’ve also read that the iMac has Quick Sync which is better for H.264, a feature iMac Pro doesn’t have. If true it may depend on what type of file, H.264 or H.265 one is using
    Hmm, that's interesting. My Mac mini (2018) should have that too, but the h.265 is considerably faster (which, I think uses the T2). I'm not sure how slow it would be without either (assuming I'm using Quick Sync).

    The trick is picking the right export, though. It is more straight forward in ScreenFlow. It was just recently added to Handbrake, and isn't entirely clear how to do it (you have to setup the video for H.265 (VideoToolbox) ).
    watto_cobraescargot
  • Reply 19 of 22
    Thanks CgWerks, that’s very helpful. So the apps have to be specifically updated to use the T2 for HEVC encoding or it’s automatic?  Did they mention adding that support in their release notes for recent updates?  Thanks. 
    cgWerks
  • Reply 20 of 22
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,220member
    escargot said:
    Thanks CgWerks, that’s very helpful. So the apps have to be specifically updated to use the T2 for HEVC encoding or it’s automatic?  Did they mention adding that support in their release notes for recent updates?  Thanks. 
    Yes, I think they need to be adjusted to use Apple's VideoToolbox codec. Both Screenflow and Handbrake released updates supporting it, and did mention it in the release notes (though I'm not sure if they listed it out as something like 'supports T2' but it was more listed as support for HEVC or h.265, etc.)

    Screenflow just worked. Like, I pick the HEVC setting and it uses the T2. For Handbrake, it is a bit more obscure, in that you have to go to the Video tab and specifically pick the VideoToolbox codec.


    I just noticed that there is also h.264 VideoToolbox... hmm. Anyway, I pick the 'H.265 (VideoToolbox)' one. Basically, I picked what I thought was a good preset for me, then went to the video tab and changed it to that codec. Then, I think I tweaked the bitrate a bit based on a forum post I read (upped it some).

    I think in AppleInsider's recent article on the T2 and video encoding performance, they noted that you can end up with settings, which when combined with this H.265 (VideoToolbox) codec, create a problematic output. I haven't run into that yet, but I've only tried a couple settings (and I guess lucked onto good ones from the start). I'm only doing 1080p output for YouTube or ripping Blu-Rays so far, so I haven't experimented much beyond that. (It's supposed to be even better - ie: more dramatic gains - when working with higher rez stuff.)
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