Benchmarks of 2009 iMacs, Mac minis show negligible speed-ups

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Although Apple is touting the performance of its new iMac and Mac mini desktops, a new test shows that newer processors from Intel have had little impact on the computers' true speed.



Benchmarks run by Primate Labs through its own Geekbench test suite have confirmed that any benefit from the updated Core 2 Duo processors comes purely through clock speed.



When clock speeds are identical between systems, such as with the new low-end 2.66GHz iMac and a mid-range predecessor from last year, the difference in test scores becomes almost unnoticeable, coming down to 11 points in the case of the two all-in-ones. Even the 2.93GHz iMac, which replaces a 2.8GHz model, has only a 189-point advantage -- or about a 5 percent speed difference that directly maps to the higher clock rate.



The largest relative gain in tests is for the Mac mini, which still only gains about 7 percent despite leaping two generations ahead in processor technology at 2GHz.



Primate isn't shocked by the results as it notes that both of the home computers' performance is dictated by a processor architecture fundamentally identical to what has existed for the past two years. This won't advance for the notebook-grade chips used by Apple until Intel brings its "Nehalem" architecture to the processors through the "Calpella" platform due this summer. As such, the test developer warns that those solely interested in clock speed may want to avoid buying new.



Geekbench tests of the 2009 iMac and Mac mini updates, courtesy of Primate Labs.



"You might be better off getting a discontinued (or refurbished) previous-generation Mac rather than one of the new Mac models," the company says.



However, Primate also acknowledges that Geekbench only tests CPU- and memory speed-intensive features such as floating point math, not video performance. As a result, it's possible for the systems to be much faster in 3D and other areas that depend as much or more on graphics processing, such as the Mac mini's 5X speed-up in moving from the Intel GMA 950 chipset to NVIDIA's GeForce 9400M. The iMac's GeForce 9400M and GT120 are also claimed to accelerate performance over the Radeon HD 2400 and 2600 in older versions.



The tests also downplay disk-related factors such as newer hard drives and more RAM; most of the new Macs have twice as much memory as their predecessors and don't have to page to disk as often as earlier systems.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 246
    g3prog3pro Posts: 669member
    But, but, but, but Apple says they're better!



    If they're not, why did I stop paying my mortgage so that I could buy 5 each of the newest computers with 2 new iPhones to go with each computer?
  • Reply 2 of 246
    I should think Xbench is a better tool in this case.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    However, Primate also acknowledges that Geekbench only tests CPU- and memory speed-intensive features such as floating point math, not video performance. As a result, it's possible for the systems to be much faster in 3D and other areas that depend as much or more on graphics processing, such as the Mac mini's 5X speed-up in moving from the Intel GMA 950 chipset to NVIDIA's GeForce 9400M. The iMac's GeForce 9400M and GT120 are also claimed to accelerate performance over the Radeon HD 2400 and 2600 in older versions.



    The tests also downplay disk-related factors such as newer hard drives and more RAM; most of the new Macs have twice as much memory as their predecessors and don't have to page to disk as often as earlier systems.



  • Reply 3 of 246
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Not surprising.



    The updates were pathetic. I surprised the mini didn't see more of a benefit from the decent 9400 graphics. Just goes to show that cpu speed does count for something and that imply adding a faster fsb and memory only give negligible improvements.



    I am beginning to question Apple's commitment to desktop machines at this point. They just don't seem to care.
  • Reply 4 of 246
    mrjoec123mrjoec123 Posts: 223member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    Not surprising.



    The updates were pathetic. I surprised the mini didn't see more of a benefit from the decent 9400 graphics. Just goes to show that cpu speed does count for something and that imply adding a faster fsb and memory only give negligible improvements.



    I am beginning to question Apple's commitment to desktop machines at this point. They just don't seem to care.



    Did you bother reading the whole article? The tests they ran don't account for any gains that might be present in video speed. They are only talking CPU by itself here, not the whole user experience.
  • Reply 5 of 246
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    This whole iMac update sucks:



    1.) Tapered stand. Woo-hoo!



    2.) Same racoon face- the only Mac with this fugly look. Either make it all metal or all black.



    3.) White cord and white keys left over from the White Duke.



    4.) The godawful mouse.



    5.) Keyboard - don't get me started , don't even get me started.



    6.) And now these benchmarks???????????



    I'm thinking of buying the Mini now- at least I'll save $1,000.
  • Reply 6 of 246
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,951member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrjoec123 View Post


    Did you bother reading the whole article? The tests they ran don't account for any gains that might be present in video speed. They are only talking CPU by itself here, not the whole user experience.



    I think the article is structured in a bit of a troubling way. The headline and first 80% of the column space talks about how there's little improvement, and then the last 20% talks about the limitations of test in testing what was actually improved. I don't think Apple said much about the iMac and mini having faster processing. The marketing for mini says the mini is more powerful, which is true, the graphics are much improved, and as the article says, pretty much untested.
  • Reply 7 of 246
    BuffyzDeadBuffyzDead Posts: 344member
    I like the results in these charts.



    Show's that my iMac 24" 3.06 GHz, from last June, is still KING of this heap.
  • Reply 8 of 246
    bastulabastula Posts: 3member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BuffyzDead View Post


    I like the results in these charts.



    Show's that my iMac 24" 3.06 GHz, from last June, is still KING of this heap.



    Yep I love it! That machine rocks! Especially with the 8800 GS.
  • Reply 9 of 246
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrjoec123 View Post


    Did you bother reading the whole article? The tests they ran don't account for any gains that might be present in video speed. They are only talking CPU by itself here, not the whole user experience.



    Good point. Missed that.



    The updates still suck (Mac Pro not included). If this is all you get for waiting 19 months in the case of the mini and 11 months in the case of the iMac, that sure doesn't give me a lot of optimism fro the future.



    PS. Isn't anyone at Apple embarrassed that the fastest iMac is the one from last year?
  • Reply 10 of 246
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    Good point. Missed that.



    The updates still suck (Mac Pro not included). If this is all you get for waiting 19 months in the case of the mini and 11 months in the case of the iMac, that sure doesn't give me a lot of optimism fro the future.



    PS. Isn't anyone at Apple embarrassed that the fastest iMac is the one from last year?



    Actually, you should include the Mac Pro. They removed the only professional video card from the list of BTO options. In addition, they are only offering a single PCIe 16X slot. This is not acceptable for a machine that's targeted at scientific computing, high-end video compositing and 3D design.
  • Reply 11 of 246
    cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    Not surprising.



    The updates were pathetic. I surprised the mini didn't see more of a benefit from the decent 9400 graphics. Just goes to show that cpu speed does count for something and that imply adding a faster fsb and memory only give negligible improvements.



    What it actually shows is that CPU speed doesn't matter for shit.
  • Reply 12 of 246
    warpdagwarpdag Posts: 26member
    Inconvenient truth?
  • Reply 13 of 246
    gmcalpingmcalpin Posts: 266member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    This whole iMac update sucks:



    blah blah blah blah blah fucking blah



    Yeah, we read it from you in twenty other threads. Stop, already.



    You're thinking of buying a Mini now? Really? So then you already own a keyboard and mouse, and your complaining about the ones that come with the iMac is... just for the sake of complaining?
  • Reply 14 of 246
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cameronj View Post


    What it actually shows is that CPU speed doesn't matter for shit.



    Sure, whatever.



    Hey do you work for Apple?
  • Reply 15 of 246
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    Not surprising.



    The updates were pathetic. I surprised the mini didn't see more of a benefit from the decent 9400 graphics. Just goes to show that cpu speed does count for something and that imply adding a faster fsb and memory only give negligible improvements.



    I am beginning to question Apple's commitment to desktop machines at this point. They just don't seem to care.



    CPU performance is always important, which is why this release of hardware is pretty much a NON-UPGRADE, except in the case of the Min which is actually a fairly solid update. Even on the Mini though they could have managed a bit more clock rate on the high end model. Lets face it separating two models by a measly 0.2 Giggle Hertz is pretty stupid.



    So contrary to some post here I support your position that Apple doesn't care as the IMac update is disgusting! They have this vast and ever widening gulf between the performance of the iMac and the high end with the Mac Pro. If you need or want something that is not two to three years behind PC performance you are pretty much out of luck. To the detractors that wish to respond yes it is now two to three years behind as Apple has overlooked both Penryn and i7 based machines and is effectively now using CPUs that are very old laptop parts. One can only hope for Apples sake that these machines are short term improvements.



    Of course they aren't short term machines as they are using new Nvidia system chips. In my mind this means the platform will be around a lot longer than is reasonable. I really hope that Apple has something more up its sleeves that is due out very soon.



    Dave
  • Reply 16 of 246
    mark2005mark2005 Posts: 1,158member
    Quite a few caveats at the end there for these tests.



    So in recapping, these tests really only test CPU speed and we can see that the CPU-speed has only increased marginally. So tell me again, what's the point or value of these tests?
  • Reply 17 of 246
    mark2005mark2005 Posts: 1,158member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    Not surprising.



    The updates were pathetic. I surprised the mini didn't see more of a benefit from the decent 9400 graphics. Just goes to show that cpu speed does count for something and that imply adding a faster fsb and memory only give negligible improvements.



    I am beginning to question Apple's commitment to desktop machines at this point. They just don't seem to care.



    The tests didn't test video performance. It's best to read the whole article and all those caveats before commenting.
  • Reply 18 of 246
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cameronj View Post


    What it actually shows is that CPU speed doesn't matter for shit.



    Clearly you must have had problems in school grasping facts and reality. The reports clearly indicate that the machines have gained nothing from this update as far as CPU performance goes. For many of us that CPU performance is pretty good as some things will never be speed up via GPU processing.



    Which brings up an interesting point, I expect in the future that we will see many reports of much better graphical performance on the new machines. That is all well and good if it applies to the way you use the machine, if not it is just a way to detract from the fact that each new iMac sold these days is in effect grossly outdated hardware. In a nut shell you are paying for 2 year old CPU performance.



    Dave
  • Reply 19 of 246
    warpdagwarpdag Posts: 26member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mark2005 View Post


    Quite a few caveats at the end there for these tests.



    So in recapping, these tests really only test CPU speed and we can see that the CPU-speed has only increased marginally. So tell me again, what's the point or value of these tests?



    The point is simple: Apple on their website is saying their new "beasts" are faster (please have a look). Very misleading, as they should actually stress "faster graphics". The point is, when you release something that is about the same as what you released up to 2 years ago (mac mini), at the same price (or even more for some countries outside of the US), it's a real shame. Come on, how many mac users are hardcore gamers? These guys use windows/xbox/ps3 for that, not a mac... Nvidia 9400? Real joke for the average Joe.
  • Reply 20 of 246
    winterspanwinterspan Posts: 605member
    - I still cannot even BELIEVE they didn't use a low-power quad-core part, even in the highest end model. Clearly they think everyone is a sucker and didn't bother to revise the cooling system to support a low-power quad core. They hardly use any more power than the fastest Core 2 Duo.



    - Integrated graphics as standard in the first two models?? Pathetic..



    - Although it SHOULD BE STANDARD in a freaking $2000 machine, At least the ATI 4850 is available as an option. It's an excellent card for this type of computer. The GT120/GT130 are crap.
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